Toy(ed) soldiers : constructions of white adolescent masculinity in Mark Behr's narratives.
This thesis is a literary thematic analysis of Mark Behr's novels The Smell of Apples (1996) and Embrace (2000). Through these novels, Behr explores the nature of masculine identities and the ways in which they are developed through a process of adolescent males observing and interacting with their parents and the society in which they live. The development of the two protagonists is traced and white hegemonic attitudes to masculinity in South Africa are exposed. The novels are of importance as these hegemonic attitudes continue to exist within South Africa today. The focus of this analysis is on white adolescent masculinities and the ways in which Behr illustrates the effects of apartheid society on their development. The study makes an in-depth analysis of the plot and themes and the way in which these guide the reader into a critical awareness of socially constructed masculine identities. Each of the four themes - namely, sexuality, race, gender and land - is explored in this thesis and careful consideration is given to the techniques Behr uses in his writing. Of importance to this thesis are the interrelationships between character, themes and the context of the novels. While the novels are not regarded as a case study, this thesis repeatedly demonstrates the socio-political awareness that Behr uses in order to offer his reader insight into the significant realities that have faced adolescent males as they construct their identities.