'Territory' by David Leavitt: Character Analysis

Powerful Essays
“Territory” by David Leavitt is a short, yet complexly intimate tail of a mother’s futile attempts to accept her son’s homosexual identity and his on-going struggle with internalized homophobia. The story opens with twenty-three year old Neil visiting his mother, Mrs. Campbell, at his childhood home. As they prepare for the first arrival of Neil’s lover, Wayne, the anticipation triggers anxieties both Neil, causing him to have painful flashbacks of the past. As these images reveal, Neil has lived with feelings of shame, embarrassment and guilt over his sexual identity, as well as an exposure to the impactful role that his mother has played in his life. We are also made privy to the numerous effects of her emotional detachment, which she ultimately leaves him to cope with, void of genuine support or feelings of positive self-regard. The narrative carries overtones of how Neil's sexual identity development has been affected by socially constructed ideology, internalization of negative self-identity, interpersonal relationships and institutional oppressive forces in the transitions from the adolescent to emerging adulthood stages. Internalized heterosexism and homophobia Neil has internalized the cultural homophobia and bias that he has experienced both interpersonally and socially (Green, 2003; Sullivan, 2008). Although the polarization of masculine and feminine gender roles had already been established well before he came out to his parents (Gilmore, 1990), his mother's reaction to this life-changing revelation marked the beginning of internalized homophobia for Neil. His mother's stoic reserve and sparse choice of words at the point of his disclosure made an immediate effect, leading him to feel embarrassed, inadequate and pitiful. This also marked a more observable emotional detachment from her son, which inherently brought with it messages of her own internalized biases and lacking acceptance of the man that he had become. Her attention turned to the


References: Alper, L. S. (1993). The Child-Pet Bond. Progress in Self Psychology, 9, 257-270. Retrieved March 13, 2014, from the Progress in Self Psychology database. Appleby, G A., & Anastas, J.W. (1998). Not just a passing phase: Social work with gay, lesbian and bisexual people (pp. 3–43, 44-75). New York: Columbia University Press. Arnett, J.J Collins, D., Jordan, C., & Coleman, H. (2012). An introduction to family social work (4th ed). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole Gilmore, D Green, J. A. (2003). Growing up Hidden: Notes on Understanding Male Homosexuality. The American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 63(2), 171-191. Retrieved March 13, 2014, from doi: 10.1023/A:1024031232244 Kimmel, M Lachman, M. E. (2004). Development in midlife. Annual Review of Psychology 55, 305-331. doi: 10.1146/annurev.psych.55.090902.141521 Lesser, J. G., & Pope, D. S. (2011). Human behavior and the social environment: theory and practice. Boston: Pearson Allyn & Bacon. (Original work published 2007) Obegi, J Sable, P. (2008). What is adult attachment? Clinical Social Work Journal, 36, 21-30. doi: 10.1007/s10615-007-0110-8 Saltzburg, S. (2004). Learning that an adolescent is gay or lesbian: The parent experience. Social Work, 49, 109-118. doi: 10.1093/sw/49.1.109 Sullivan, M

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Good Essays

    “Territory” by David Leavitt Ever since Neil told his parents he was a homosexual there has been a distance between him and his mother. Though she did make attempts to be supportive towards her son’s lifestyle by attending the gay pride parade, Neil soon realizes that it is all just for show. It was during that parade where she showed her true colors. In the story, a drag queen comes from the parade to greet Neil’s mother Barbara and as Neil and he returns to the parade, Neil looks back and sees…

    • 985 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    Author/Illustrator Rating Genre(s) Commens Important Characters Love You Forever Robert Munsch, Sheila McGraw 5 The mother teaches students how much their parents love them and what all they do for them. It teaches them that no matter what their parents will be their for them. The son shows students that it goes both ways. Children also take care of their parents. If not right at the moment they soon will. No, David! David Shannon 4 David teaches students to obey their parents. Often times…

    • 315 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Good Essays

    in the second round of the 2012 NFL Supplemental Draft. He played in two seasons before he got tested and violated the NFL drug policy. In 2013 he was suspended two games and after that season 2014- 2016 he kept repeatedly using marijuana which he caught an addition of off. He had so much potential to become one of the best receivers in the NFL and also could have left his print in the league becoming a potential NFL hall of famer/ legend. He would never know his potential because of the drug test…

    • 1072 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Section C WRIT 100 Instructor: Olga Gertsen Essay II: Critical Analysis November 16, 2014 Rough Draft1 Critique Review to Land, Territory and Identity The article “Land, Territory and Identity” was written by David Storey, who is a famous English playwright and novelist. Moreover, it is a chapter from “Making Sense of Place” which was published in 19th April, 2012. The main purpose of this article was to connect land and territory to our identity through the rural areas and the significance of…

    • 1233 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    1776 by David McCullough Characterization: George Washington: Washington was 43 year old when he was appointed by the Continental Congress to be Commander-in-Chief of the American army. He had almost no formal schooling, and was a self-educated man. He was a brave man who was totally dedicated to America, the country he loved. He was strong and rarely showed his discouragement or despair, even though he suffered greatly through the course of the American Revolution. After seeing Washington…

    • 1545 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Good Essays

    Sales Territories

    • 519 Words
    • 3 Pages

    alesSales territories are composed of group of customers or a geographic area assigned to a sales person who can effectively and economically serve customers of that particular area. However sales territories are just not about assigning geographical areas to sales persons, the following are the steps to follow in designing sales territories; * Select basic control unit. * Analyze workload. * Determine basic territories. * Assign territories. * Customer contact plan. * Evaluate…

    • 519 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    Personal Territories

    • 323 Words
    • 2 Pages

    Personal territories Everyone has his own personal territory and this personal space seems to have an important value to all of us. What makes people feel so defensive about their own personal territory is that we can feel secure and comfortable in our own territory. No other people can interrupt or step into it once you are in your own world. You are the only owner of your territory. Others who come across may be viewed as invaders. Even if they don¡¦t have the intention to take away…

    • 323 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Good Essays

    American Territories

    • 983 Words
    • 4 Pages

    Mirand Tafarshiku Anglo-American Civilization 20 April 16, 2013 Territory of the United States of America1 The United States of America is a federal republic consisting of fifty states and a federal district situated in the North America. The USA has also several territories, islands mainly situated in the Pacific Ocean, which have differing degrees of autonomy.2 Incorporated unorganized territories Palmyra Atoll is administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior. It is an archipelago…

    • 983 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    National Territory

    • 1759 Words
    • 5 Pages

    Encounter with God’s People Anti-Bullying Law Anti-Hazing Law Kasambahay Law K-12 Zaira May T. Lopez Mr. Ricky Pasupil BSBA-IV September 5 2014 Encounter with God’s People This experience is part of my most memorable happenings in my life. Meeting other people in an unexpected time and place. Asking their piece of trust and time to asks some questions is such a thrilling and a little bit awkward experience but honestly I really enjoy this activity…

    • 1759 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    hole in their heart that can never be refilled. Two books that prove this are My Book of Life by Angel, by Martine Leavitt, and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by J. K. Rowling. In Leavitt’s story, Angel loses her mother and her friend Serena, giving her emotional handicaps throughout the story, and stopping her from being able to escape her situation. Rowling’s character, Sirius Black, lost two of his closest friends, and never truly recovers from it. It is true that loved ones are more…

    • 644 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays