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Together with Alison’s Filipino servant Anacleto, they like to go to

concerts together. In fact, the trio bases their friendship on the

sharing of their marginalized status in the Army.


As a product of

imperial conquest and colonial subjugation, Anacleto was brought

back to the States from the Philippines seven years earlier.

Remembering the time when the 17-year-old Anacleto first came to

their household, Alison notes that his sissiness had made him a

victim of bullying: “He was so tormented by the other houseboys

that he dogged her footsteps all day long” (346). The dandified

Anacleto walks “with grace and composure” and dresses in

“sandals, soft gray trousers, and a blouse of aquamarine linen”

(332). He loves feminine trinkets, fusses over minute household

details, imitates the moves of a ballet dancer, has great talent in

painting, and likes to intersperse his conversation with fancy

French. As Alison’s constant companion, Anacleto gradually

becomes her double. According to Major Langdon’s observation of

this pair, he always feels “rather eerie” when “listen[ing] to them

talking together in the quiet room. Their voices and enunciation

were so precisely alike that they seemed to be softly echoing each

other” (335). In the household of the Langdons, Anacleto is

constantly bullied by his master with the threat of military service:

“God! You’re a rare bird! What I wouldn’t do if I could get you in

my battalion!” (333). However, Anacleto takes pride in his gender

nonconformity. Adoring his mistress and thinking her perfect,

Anacleto opines that “the Lord had blundered grossly in the

making of everyone except himself and Madame Alison”


In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, sexology

became a new field of science that examined and categorized


We can read this trio as a queer defiance against the Oedipal triangle of

“mommy-daddy-me.” It instantiates an interracial intimacy and an alternative

form of sociality that does not conduce to Oedipal reproductivity. Another queer

triangle that recurs throughout the novel is composed of Anacleto, Alison and

her dead infant Catherine.