Representations of masculinity in selected novels with South African settings by Bryce Courtenay.
Van Selm, Damian Richard.
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This dissertation examines masculinities created by Bryce Courtenay as represented within his South African-set novels, The Power of One, published in 1989, Tandia, which appeared in 1991, and Whitethorn, published in 2005. The dissertation analyses the texts to expose how masculinities function within Courtenay’s novels, focussing on representation of characters, particularly the main protagonists of the three novels: Peekay, Tandia and Tom respectively. Building upon work by theorists including Viktor Seidler, Raewyn Connell and Robert Morrell, the formation of individual masculinities within select societies such as apartheid South Africa is explored. In addition, the setting of the novels is used to shed light on both the hegemonic ideal of masculinity and marginalised masculinities within the scope of apartheid South Africa, all of which are essential to understanding the overall societies in which the stories are set as reflections of South African history, and with an influence on contemporary society. The dissertation examines marginal masculinities, the role of fathers and father-figures, and how masculinities function within physical locations. It reveals how masculinities and identity-formation are influenced by personal beliefs and social identities, the presence or absence of an immediate father figure and the resulting influence on identity development in children, and how physical spaces (such as the boxing ring and boxing gym, mines, and sites of education such as schools) contain, enforce and manipulate the formation and maintenance of social, group, and individual identities. This opens up possibilities in using authors like Courtenay (who fall under the banner of popular fiction and are therefore commonly seen as unsuitable for academic study) and their work to examine complicated concepts like gender in an academic setting using a wider range of examples previously discounted and/or ignored by academia.