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Warner tries to understand masculinity in its relation to “shame.”

While dominant masculinity is defined by its “immunity to shame,”

“drag queens, sissies, and bottoms are virtuosi of shame.” When

“shame” sticks to the masculine and becomes a scandal, it is always

associated with “feminizing” (Warner, 2009:

290). In an incident

that occurred soon after the Langdons married, McCullers

illustrates how dominant masculinity hinges upon misogyny and

homophobia. Taking his new bride out quail shooting, Langdon

guns down one quail and “gallantly” presents the bird as a gift to

Alison. However, upon discovering that the bird is still alive,

Langdon kills it mercilessly and then hands it back to her. Holding

“the little warm, ruffled body that had somehow become degraded

in its fall,” Alison “looked into the dead little glassy black eyes”

and “burst into tears” (McCullers, 2001c: 330). Being an

insensitive and heartless brute, Langdon considers Alison’s

softheartedness a personal failing and associates her emotional

susceptibility with feebleness and her weaker gender: “That was

the sort of thing the Major meant by ‘female’ and ‘morbid’; and it

did a man no good to try to figure it all out” (330).

Another pertinent example that demonstrates the dependence

of Langdon’s manhood on a repudiation against other sexually

stigmatized identities is his negative opinion of Alison’s effeminate

friend, Lieutenant Weincheck, who, according to Langdon, has the

same “morbid” temperament as Alison and embodies the scandal of

masculine shame. Nearing 50 years old and still living “in one of

the apartment houses set aside for bachelor lieutenants”

(McCullers, 2001c: 331), this old Lieutenant was frustrated in his

military career because at his age he “had never yet earned his

Captain’s bars” (331). Besides, within a heteropatriarchal culture

that affirms its power in “the traffic in women,” as Gayle Rubin

terms it in her landmark essay, Weincheck’s perpetual

bachelorhood arouses suspicion and suggests something of his