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Desiring Brotherhood


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.