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2014). That notwithstanding, power is relational; that is, resistance

and domination coexist. As America was emerging as a new empire,

protest and opposition abounded. Dissenters, who can be called

anti-imperialists, were critical of the expansion of American



To be sure, McCullers shared this anti-imperialist

sentiment when she was writing in the late 1930s and early 1940s.

During the late 1930s, the federal militarization of the South was

intensified, preparing for the U.S. entry into World War II.

McCullers’s exposure to the army base in her adolescence and

adulthood sensitized her to the nation’s imperial unconscious. In

Reflections in a Golden Eye

, life in the southern army base in terms

of its hierarchy, repression, and rigidity becomes a microcosm of

the rising American Empire, which is closely linked to a particular

gender ideology that promotes patriotic manliness.

The military’s promotion of hegemonic masculinity and its

concomitant oppression of homosexuality and minority

masculinities were keenly apparent and frequently noted by

McCullers. In

The Members of the Wedding

, one character named

Honey Brown is rejected by the Army because of his homosexuality.

Moreover, his sexual nonconformity is inseparable from his racial

difference and class marginality. In

Reflections in a Golden Eye


Major Langdon epitomizes a military masculinity that, as Aaron

Belkin argues, aligns white-male-straight-man with state-military-

empire (Belkin, 2012: 58). Concerned himself with only two


“a healthy body and patriotism” (McCullers, 2001c: 386),

the Major is proud of his flawless masculinity and robust heroism.

Reckless and shameless, Langdon first made love to Leonora

in a blackberry patch two hours after they met. He is described as


For example, one of the significant opponents of American expansion during this

period is Marine General Smedley Butler, who, during his thirty-three years in the

Marines, had participated in military actions in the Philippines, China, Central

America, the Caribbean and France in WWI. He later became an outspoken critic

of American imperialism. See Robert Buzzanco’s “Anti-Imperialism” for details