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416

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MERICA

us to the more disturbing aspects of American invasions into the

international sphere. While Bronski’s comment on the novel’s

focus on deviant desire is astute, further extending his discerning

observation and linking McCullers’s challenge of hegemonic

gender models to her political critique of U.S. military aggression

are my major concerns of this paper.

Reflections in a Golden Eye

, I

argue, is a complex exploration of how political and national

identities are constructed around and shored up by particular

sexual identities. My primary questions are as follows: What

purposes does the theme of sexual deviation serve for McCullers at

the very time when the United States was taking on the role of

global hegemon? Why were standards of sexual normality and

deviation pivotal in the construction of respectability and national

identity? How can the novel’s preoccupation with antisocial

jouissance

enable a critique of a nationalist identity based on the

sovereign and masculinist notion of self?

In her groundbreaking book

The Anarchy of Empire in the

Making of U. S. Culture

(2002), Amy Kaplan reveals how American

overseas expansion, as demonstrated in the war with Mexico in the

mid-nineteenth century and later wars against Spain, Cuba, and the

Philippines, influences domestic issues such as segregation, the

ideology of womanhood or domesticity, and the gender ideals of

manhood. She argues that a conventional understanding of

American identity as separate from imperial crimes abroad has

been illusory and an attempt to draw a firm line demarcating the

domestic and the foreign self-debunking. McCullers could not

agree with Kaplan more; throughout her life, the writer had

intimate experiences with the U.S. Army, which attuned her to the

geopolitical significance of the U.S. military expansion, its global

deployment, territorial acquisitions, and impact on domestic affairs.

Spending much of her youth taking piano lessons from Mary

Tucker, an officer’s wife at Fort Benning, McCullers had a

longstanding interaction with members of the U.S. armed forces

and their families. In 1937, she married Reeves McCullers, a Fort