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The Fabric of Society: Money, Cloth, and Symbolic Exchanges in Njal’s saga

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Abstract

In Chapter 77 of Njal’s saga, Gunnar of Hlidarendi, the heroic figure who dominates the first half of the saga, is ambushed at home in the middle of the night by his enemies. An outstanding bowman, he barricades himself inside his farm and repels the assault keeping his attackers at bay by shooting arrows at them. Thus, when one of his opponents slashes his bowstring, Gunnar is deprived of a very significant advantage. And he is well aware of this fact: he knows that he cannot be overcome as long as he can use his bow. He therefore asks his wife Hallgerd for help: ‘Give me two locks of your hair, and you and my mother twist them into a bowstring for me’ (Njal’s saga 1997, 89).1 Before answering, Hallgerd wants to know whether anything depends on it. Her husband assures her that his life is at stake and that he needs his bow to defend himself.2 Upon hearing this, Hallgerd refuses to cooperate. Gunnar keeps on fighting courageously but is eventually overcome and dies.

Keywords

Symbolic Capital Queen Mother Symbolic Exchange Introductory Essay Conjugal Bond 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2007

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