Background Image
Table of Contents Table of Contents
Previous Page  432 / 450 Next Page
Show Menu
Previous Page 432 / 450 Next Page
Page Background






roticism. In Penderton’s sexual fantasies, he creates a mental

picture in which the barracks are the homoerotic background: “the

hubbub of young male voices, the genial loafing in the sun, the

irresponsible shenanigans of camaraderie” plague him with longing

and desire (McCullers, 2001c: 381). In his queer imagination, the

seemingly scrupulous rigor of the Army contains a repressed and

disavowed side. Put differently, his eroticization of a traditional

male zone exposes the dominant masculinity’s hidden relation with

the disavowal of homosexuality. It is only through that disavowal

that hegemonic masculinity, as epitomized by militarism, is

constituted, and through the institutionalization of that disavowal

that the idea of manhood and its heterosexual assumption are


but anxiously


Heterosexism as a prescriptive norm of manhood is

denaturalized by Penderton’s queer rearticulation of desire and

fantasies. Moreover, his critique of heteropatriarchy and his

Unmaking of the social construction of American masculinity are

further illustrated in his bold and outspoken defense of Anacleto’s

effeminacy. In response to Major Langdon’s insistence that

Anacleto should join the Army that “might have made a man of

him” and thus stop this “dancing around to music and messing

with water-colors” (McCullers, 2001c: 384), Penderton responds:

You mean . . . that any fulfillment obtained at the expense

of normalcy is wrong, and should not be allowed to bring

happiness. In short, it is better, because it is morally

honorable, for the square peg to keep scraping about the

round hole rather than to discover and use the

unorthodox square that would fit it? (384)

In this crucial passage, Penderton debunks normalcy’s claims

to universality and points out that normalcy obliges itself to the

regulatory and exclusionary imperative of those claims. Normalcy

suppresses heterogeneity in the name of universality; it dictates the

rules of legitimacy, happiness, morality and fulfillment. Normalcy

aligns itself with the regulatory imperatives of the state against