The Altar of the Family

Topics: Gender, Narrative, Character Pages: 3 (733 words) Published: July 18, 2008
Gender is a concept society often challenges whether by males or females, living up to traditional ideas causes constrictions to the individual. “The Altar of the Family” written by Michael Wilding suggests that conforming to traditional ideas or stereotypes provides constrictions to an individual’s beliefs. The author uses third person narrative in order to position the reader. Characterisation invites the reader to be critical of the father’s perspective on masculinity. Figurative language emphasises the opposing ideas of masculinity and setting described in the text produces different environments in which diverse ideas of gender are challenged.

Point of view used in “The Altar of the Family” enables the reader to empathise with the main character. The text aligns the reader with David and is positioned to reject, therefore challenge the traditional ideas of masculinity.

‘So he played with his younger sister, Lindy, dressing and undressing dolls…’ This quote shows that traditional ideas of masculinity are being opposed upon as David is playing with dolls; what is commonly associated with femininity.

‘till his father came across him one day and snorted in disgust.’ Third person narrative positions the reader to reject the father’s view on masculinity, whilst in an alliance with David, allowing the reader to sympathise.

Tradition ideas about masculinity are challenged through the use of Characterisation. Characterisation allows the reader to become critical of Mr Murray’s views of what it means to be a ‘man.’
‘“Damn grown boy playing with dolls.” And David could hear the reverberations of his father’s shock at night as his parent talked with raised voices.’ Mr Murray’s hostility towards his son’s actions places the reader in a position in which enables them to be decisive of the father’s traditional idea of masculinity.

‘He didn’t rise from his place, but said over his huge steak, “At least I’m not a lily-livered poofter.”’ The stereotypical ideas...
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