Sexuality in Social Norms

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Sexuality within Social Norms

The novel The Wars by Timothy Findley whom is a well recognized Canadian author demonstrates the convention of sexuality when Robert Ross, a Canadian solider questions his sexuality. During the 1900s people fell into gender roles and social norms. Homosexuality throughout the 1900s was a very controversial topic. Robert Ross came from an exceptionally religious Christian family. Christian’s do not believe in homosexuality but see it as horrendous: “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” The Wars by Timothy Findley analyzed through the lens of existentialism of queer theory, limits and fixes identities through the categorizations of gender, sexuality, and heteronormativity. Robert Ross is shown disobeying social norms numerous times: having feelings for a fellow soldier, seeing two soldiers having sexual intercourse, and experiencing sexual intercourse with Barbara d’Orsey.

Robert Ross was not one to make friends, he is rather shy and keep to himself, and he felt as if though he is an outsider. Though this is the case Robert was still able to find another soldier he could relate to and create an actual friendship and bond with; this soldiers name is Harris. This could do with the fact that these characters parallel one another. They both had lost someone they had loved: Rowena’s death for Robert and Harris’ ‘mothers’ death when he was young. Also both characters have an estranged relation with one of their parents. Robert not connecting with his mother the night before leaving for the war and Harris with his father is shown when, “…mostly on behalf of Harris with whom he’d become close friends” (Findley, 91). This quotation shows us how the kinship between these characters had grown and how close the two soldiers have become. “…Robert went nearly every day to visit his friend… Harris had no other visitors” (Findley, 92). Robert would spend most of his time with a person who was certain to die, which would seem mad but, the real madness is for Harris’ own father not even coming to visit his dying son. For Robert to be so kind and wanting to be with Harris shows how he has a high level of respect and interest in him. Even Harris’ doctors and nurses could see there is a strong relationship between these two soldiers that they told Robert no one should die alone. Robert took the words of Harris strong to heart, of how he wants to belong in the world and that the sea would be the appropriate place for him to be and Robert gave his friend the freedom he wanted by tossing his ashes into the river, this is indicated when: “In that place-there-in that element-somehow I was safe-even from choking” (Findley, 93). This quotation shows how Harris wanted to be free from the world he lives in, he has come across nothingness before meeting Robert; he had an estranged relationship with his father and his mother had passed away. Quite possibly this was Harris’ realization with himself being a homosexual and how being in the element of water he would purify and cleanse him from this impurity that was alienating him from the world. It is shown when: “…and queer individuals and groups who hold to different, sometimes conflicting, social interests, values, and political agendas” (Nicholson). This quotation shows how individuals with diverse sexual orientations, look at life differently. They have dissimilar social interests and values that of which people live by. Harris is a good example for this quotation because, he felt alienated from the world and did not have the same interest as most men during the twenty-first century. This could be another reason behind his dream of wanting to live in the sea, and making it a place where he belong. Fear and anxiety controlled Robert’s body and emotions after he was raped by three fellow soldiers.

Robert’s identity had been progressing into that of the traditional soldier. However, he felt afraid for his own safety and began to display the conventions of a...
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