deviation from normative masculinity.
McCullers depicts him as a
person with a passion for “highbrow things” (330), sewing,
listening to Mozart, and maintains an apartment “crowded [with]
an accumulation of a lifetime, including a grand piano, a shelf of
phonograph albums, many hundreds of books, a big Angora cat,
and about a dozen potted plants” (331). Unlike Langdon, who is
robustly popular with his fellow officers, Weincheck, made
effeminate by his investments in domesticity and dandified
aestheticism, is perceived as an oddball in the Army: “In the service
he cut a sorry figure” (331). The officers, passing along the
corridor and hearing the “naked melody” of Weincheck’s violin
playing, “scratch their heads and wink at each other” (331). This
knowing wink indicates that Weincheck’s “secret” is known in the
Army. Although McCullers does not specify Weincheck’s sexual
identity, she does insinuate a certain aberration related to sexuality
and gender. Moreover, Weincheck’s transgression of normative
gender is linked to his interests toward the aesthetic, the delicate,
and the private
things that have feminine underpinnings and are
therefore denigrated as inauthentic and unmanly, especially in the
male-centric military. In contrast, Langdon is unabashed in his
vulgarity and lack of refinement. Abhorring ballet and classical
music, the uncultured Major compares listening to Bach to
“swallowing a bunch of angleworms” (358). Ironically, the
authenticity of his manhood is further confirmed by his coarseness
and lack of artistic cultivation.
Unlike her husband’s aversion to Weincheck, Alison
appreciates the Lieutenant’s artistic expression and sophistication.
Frequently visiting him in the late afternoon, “she and Lieutenant
Weincheck would play Mozart sonatas, or drink coffee and eat
crystallized ginger before the fire” (McCullers, 2001c: 331).
In her influential essay “The Traffic in Women” (2011), Gayle Rubin debunks
the myth of marriage and its naturalization of kinship and heterosexuality. She
claims that the essence of kinship systems lies in the traffic of women and the
solidification of men’s privileges.