Being the "Bull goose" : masculinity, male relationships and fatherhood in Bitter Eden, King Rat and The Road.
This dissertation examines the relationships, masculinities and the issue of fatherhood in three different texts, all of which are set in times of extreme crisis and have a male protagonist. The texts are Bitter Eden by Tatamkhulu Afrika (2002), King Rat by James Clavell (1975), originally published in 1962, and The Road by Cormac McCarthy (2006). I begin by comparing the theory of hegemonic masculinity as argued by Raewyn Connell with the theory of homosocial masculinity as argued by Michael Kimmel, and approach the novels from a Gender Studies standpoint, in that I am arguing that, other than hegemonic masculinity, there are other viable masculinities, for example, homosocial masculinity, as seen within the three novels. I argue that the portrayal of men in literature set in times of crisis has changed. Male characters are no longer simply portrayed as being hegemonic and patriarchal but are written as characters showing alternative emotions and reactions to their situations. I also look at the semi-autobiographical aspects of the novels, in that both Tatamkhulu Afrika and James Clavell experienced the situations described in their novels. By including this feature of the two Prisoner of War camp novels (Bitter Eden and King Rat), I believe that one is able to understand why each protagonist is portrayed as choosing an alternative masculinity to hegemonic masculinity, as the authors themselves have chosen to defy the social norms expected of men who fought in the World Wars. In this same line of thought, I have taken into account the fact that Cormac McCarthy is himself a father, and have applied this knowledge to The Road, reading it as a “love story” a father has written to his son, in which the father promises to protect his son, no matter what. The dissertation compares the subversion of the monolithic idea of hegemonic masculinity in each novel.