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Integration of Political Facts and Wayang Stories in Modern Indonesian Novels

Anwar Efendi, Burhan Nurgiyantoro


The presence of political events and wayang stories integrated into modern Indonesian novels is an interesting fact. Political events are facts and knowledge, while wayang stories and novels are fiction and imagination. These two things can be brought together coherently in modern Indonesian novels. Political events are used as historical settings, while wayang stories are used as references for character development, plot, and cultural references. This study aims to
describe the way the authors reveal political events in Indonesian history by using wayang as a narrative medium. This article focuses on two novels, namely Amba by Laksmi Pamuntjak and Pulang by Leila S. Chudori. The two novels have one thing in common, both of which highlight the political event of the 30 September Movement of Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) in 1965, which is usually referred to as G30S/PKI, and the political life under the New Order regime which was integrated intensively with wayang stories. From the point of view of Indonesian political history, the two novels raised the issue of the political policies of the
New Order government to dissolve the Indonesian Communist Party and communism. The policy is considered to be imposed also upon people who were actually not involved, were not sympathizers, and did not even know what really happened. From the standpoint of wayang culture, wayang characters are referred to in naming the novel’s characters. In Amba, the plot refers to the wayang story about the love triangle between Amba, Salwa, and Bhisma. In fact, Amba, whose name is the title of the novel, is also the name of a wayang character. In Pulang,
Dimas considers the wayang characters Bima and Ekalaya as a metaphor for himself. Bima is considered as a metaphor for himself in matters of love, while Ekalaya is a metaphor for the love of the country even though he is exiled. Dimas, who lives as an exile abroad, is a victim of the purge of communism by the government.


political setting; wayang story; G30S/PKI; exile; modern Indonesian novels

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13185/KK2021.03603