I found this entry that I wrote a while back about Dogeaters that I never posted. I figured that it is better late then never.
In her novel, Dogeaters, Jessica Hagedorn structurally creates an insecure environment, in which the characters have to continually question whether their statements are correct. This self doubting environment then provokes the readers to wonder about negative pressures concerning the Philippine culture.
There is a prominence of the word “Di Ba” within the novel. According to the Tagalog Dictionary, “Di” translates as ‘no’; while “Ba” acts as a question mark, often asked within a yes or no question. Therefore, this term is an expression questioning whether the speaker’s statement is accurate. Thus, a constant need of approval is created. This can be a cultural outcry from the pressures on the Filipino society. For example throughout the novel, gossip seems to be one of the only ways to discover true events. The term “di ba” seems to reflect this craving for knowledge; it seems to interrogate the reader as an outside source. Also, this quest for approval seems to create a self doubt on the speaker’s confidence.
Translated as “no?,” this statement has a negative connotation. Therefore placed within this context, the speaker is no longer asking whether he/she is wrong, but instead if his/her statement is wrong. Perhaps this negative outlook may have been due to the inferior stereotypes placed on Filipino culture. For example, Western actors and actresses are idolized within this novel. Therefore, they are placed on a pedestal. Their features and clothes are desired. Thus, this forces Filipino features and clothes to be inferior; these are no longer wanted. The negativity placed on the Filipino culture not only impacts the Filipino’s externally (through materialistic objects), but internally (through the way in which they view life and themselves).