MASCULINITY – CULTURAL IDENTITY
* Characteristics of masculinity and femininity are naturalised in almost every society, but differ based on diverse environments, values and changing time periods. In literature, these assumptions come to underpin the construction of key characters.
* In Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet, for example, the setting of post- war Australia presents several conjectures regarding gender.
* Men, especially in an economic boom, were expected to help rebuild and drive the economy.
* As a result of this, in the 1940’s and 60’s, there was an intense focus on the proletariat and on physical labour; employment which revolved around a relationship with the tangible environment, engaging the tangible body.
* Winton does not completely discount the physical realm as an essential part of masculine construction. In particular, he values the development of physical and emotional relationships between people, suggesting it help males to ‘find’ themselves and establish a sense of self.
* This is particularly inherent in Winton’s style, employing rhetoric devices to allow reader to form particular connections within the novel. For example, Winton’s construction of Quick as a “lamb” draws on connotations of “the lost lamb”. This implies that, at first, Quick does not have a sense of masculinity nor a sense of self. It is through his relationship with the rest of “the herd”, especially with Fish, which allow him to establish these.
* he has not merely constructed characters that are binary opposites of traditionalist archetypes. Instead, he embraces their historical value and carefully constructs his characters to reflect this. However, to a greater extent, through his style, point of view and use of symbolism and language, they come to...