Summary of The Vegetarian by Han Kang | Includes Analysis
Set in South Korea, The Vegetarian by Han Kang tells the story of Yeong-hye, an ordinary woman who decides to stop eating meat. The novel - part satire, part surreal drama, part horror story - provides accounts of Yeong-hye's vegetarianism and eventual anorexia nervosa from the perspectives of her domineering husband, lecherous brother-in-law, and concerned sister.
In part one, titled "The Vegetarian," Mr. Cheong tells the story of his "unremarkable" wife's breakdown. Mr. Cheong marries Yeong-hye because he believes she won't challenge his orderly way of life. Yeong-hye proves to be a hardworking, undemanding wife. Her only quirk is that she doesn't like to wear a bra, which disturbs Mr. Cheong.
Early one morning, Mr. Cheong finds Yeong-hye standing motionless in front of the refrigerator. She tells him that she's had a dream. The next morning, she's there again, this time busily stuffing meat into trash bags. When Mr. Cheong asks her what she's doing, Yeong-hye again replies that she's had a dream.
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