Harry Lavender

Topics: Hardboiled, Detective fiction, Crime fiction Pages: 7 (2753 words) Published: August 23, 2010
The Life and Times of Harry Lavender – Related Text
Bill Simon – Subverting the Popular Culture Genre
Marele Day: “it allowed a greater questioning of traditional roles” – On Writing a Feminist Detective Novel •Representation of female roles in our society is an important issue in this text •Use of this genre accommodates the visualisation of the city of Sydney •Day’s feminist concerns are expressed through her subversion of the male dominated hard boiled detective genre •Popular culture tends to walk a very fine line between invention and convention and this is perhaps the reason why a genre can be successful in conveying an author’s message •Valentine proves through her actions alone that she is as good a conventional (‘male’) private eye •Claudia contends with murder, violence and guns – the bread and butter of the genre, and traditionally male domains •The hero must conventionally prove his/her worth and be seen as morally fit to be a heroic figure •The narrative convention of the detective genre focuses on the protagonist and her/his actions so there is little reprieve from the violent world •Other conventions – fast pace, sexual liaisons and escapades •Hard boiled detective genre is strongly connected to sexuality, where the gun becomes a powerful extension of the phallus, and the power and motivation of the detective is his physical strength and power •Claudia does not carry a gun with her at all times, but is perfectly capable of using one if the situation arises. Is this a conscious decision on the author’s behalf to deprive her detective of the masculinist phallic accessory that the genre demands? Or, is it Claudia’s physical fitness, wit and cunning can outsmart most of her opponents without resorting to physical violence? •Claudia does battle with the ‘gun’ in the climatic sauna scene, with both women naked, signifying that both women are stripped of their status, relying instead on cunning and pure strength. Curiously, Sally (Harry’s illegitimate daughter) introduces the gun into this scene, and she is a beautiful model – an object of male fantasy. Claudia strikes her on the face to attack the superficial reality so valued by Sally and her cohorts. On a literal level, this scene is a test of the heroine, and she succeeds in conquering the villain. On a more significant level, the participants in the scene, the setting and the symbolism imbued within the characters make this scene powerful. •Multiculturalism – all the good guys are ‘real’ Aussies, whilst all the bad guys are from Non-English Speaking Backgrounds •The context of the setting – Australia’s colonial past – is represented by Claudia and her band of idiosyncratic mates, who win over the newcomers. This theme connects the novel with traditional Australian literature •The city of Sydney is represented as a place of corruption and violence, and only in the outback is it possible to find solace and a Utopia of sorts – another common trait of traditional Australian literature •Claudia is a role model of a person; a woman who can look after herself and others, and is tough, sexy and sleazy. •Carol Rawlins is parallel character to Claudia – two powerful female role models – unique in CF texts •Popular culture is very powerful presence in forming our identity both as individuals and as a society. Ms Day realised the importance of not being didactic or serious in her attempt to communicate with a mass audience, so therefore the use of a popular culture genre and its very subversion has served her well

Juliana Gallagher – What do you think is the role of Claudia Valentine in The Life and Crimes of Harry Lavender? •As the protagonist, Claudia is the detective responsible for solving the mystery of Mark Bannister’s death •She is distinguished from the conventional detective by her gender, and the fact that no concessions are made for it •Claudia is the main vehicle for conveying Marele Day’s feminist ideals to the modern reader •...
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