This dissertation examines various homosocial systems—a rigid system regulated by racial and gender codes and a transformative system conditioned by the postwar capitalist environment—in representative novels by William Faulkner, Richard Wright, Ernest Hemingway, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. It also analyzes masochistic and sadistic masculinities—the introspective, self-destructive self and the reflexive, aggressive self—of male characters depicted as living in these systems.
Faulkner's and Wright's texts describe how the taboo against miscegenation shadows and controls racial relationships between whites and blacks and reveal the self-division and self-punishment of men in a white-dominated society. In Faulkner's Light in August, for example, the southern white community restores order and solidifies male bonding through the castration of a possible black man, Joe Christmas. In castrating Christmas, Percy Grim displays his homophobic reaction to the interracial intimacy between Christmas and Gail Hightower and his negro-phobic reaction to Christmas' sexually approaching a white woman, Joanna Burden. Meanwhile, Hemingway's and Fitzgerald's texts illuminate how postwar disillusionment about the world and the advent of commercialism affect and transform male association and partnership, showing the construction of female subjectivity and male anguish and endurance in an ever-changing environment. In The Sun Also Rises, for instance, Jake Barnes' grouping with war veterans provides space where Brett Ashley can manipulate and control male desires amid the disturbance of fluid values due to the postwar emergence of commercialism. Her manipulation of male desires reflects the circulation of financial criteria for judging love and friendship with the advent of consumer economy.
This dissertation adds to the extant scholarship a clear account of male homosocial relationships that existed in the cultural landscape of America and Europe from the 1900s to the 1930s. The fluidity and diversity of American male sociality suggests that America in the early twentieth century faced turbulent times when southerners sought to maintain and reinforce a rigid racist regime under Jim Crow laws, and when American expatriates and residents of New York repeated the formation and collapse of the fragile, ephemeral male bonding in the emerging and developing commercialized society.
|Commitee:||Bracher, Mark, Floyd, Kevin, Norconk, Marilyn A., Smith-Pryor, Elizabeth M., Trogdon, Robert|
|School:||Kent State University|
|Department:||College of Arts and Sciences / Department of English|
|School Location:||United States -- Ohio|
|Source:||DAI-A 78/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||American literature, Gender studies|
|Keywords:||Faulkner, William, Fitzgerald, F. Scott, Hemingway, Ernest, Homosocial, Masculinity, Wright, Richard|
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