Diksita Galuh Nirwinastu is a faculty member of the English Letters Department of Universitas Sanata Dharma, Yogyakarta, Indonesia. She earned a master’s degree in literature from the English Language Studies, Universitas Sanata Dharma. Her research interests are literature teaching, children’s stories, and digital literature.


Exploring the Agency of Animal Characters in an Indonesian Children’s Story

Abstract: Animal characters in children’s stories are often used symbolically and metaphorically to reveal moral values, implying the anthropocentric perspective that human beings are superior to animals and other creatures. Animal characters are usually depicted as lacking agency insofar as they act based on orders given by human characters and rarely show initiative. This study aims at exploring how animal characters are portrayed in an Indonesian children’s story entitled “A Tale of Two Sisters,” focusing on the agency of the animal characters in the story. “A Tale of Two Sisters” is a children’s story from Bali. The story exposes the relationship between two sisters who finally reconcile after their experiences with numerous animal characters. It has some similarities with the famous story of Cinderella. In the story, the agency of animal characters can be seen through their capacity to act, initiate, and choose. This study focuses on the literary representation of animal characters in the tale by highlighting the authorial voice and the distribution of speech of the animal characters. The study argues that the animal characters in the story display the capacity to initiate actions without being given orders by human characters. They also show the capacity to choose what actions they will perform. However, to a certain extent, the animal characters in the story are still silenced and muted, as shown by their limited utterances.
Keywords: agency, animal, characters, children’s stories, folktale