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Desiring Brotherhood


of Anacleto and Penderton; their camaraderie, as shown in

Penderton’s defense of Anacleto’s effeminacy, is built on their

recognition of the “unorthodox” in a world of normalcy. As a

result, these two most heterogeneous people are brought into some

sort of intimacy by their common experience of being despised and

rejected in a world of norms that they both recognize as false


In opposition to some critics who dismiss Anacleto as a

shadowy figure who plays a marginal role in the novel, I argue that

Anacleto is in fact the key to understanding McCullers’s feminist

and antinationalist project in

Reflections in a Golden Eye



Written just before the U.S. entered into the war against Japan and

asserted army control over the Pacific, the novel’s inclusion of a

made to submit to the hegemony of representation and the social and political

domination that it naturalizes. As Diamond writes, “mimesis patterns difference

into sameness” (iii). She continues: “Mimesis . . . posits a



between world and word, model and copy, nature and image [.] . . . referent and

sign in which potential difference is subsumed by sameness” (iii). In other words,

mimesis proposes a “truth” which in itself is inseparable from a gender/race-

biased epistemology. In

Reflections in a Golden Eye

, Anacleto, as a victim

oppressed by hegemonic representations of gender and race, unmasks this

Platonic idealism of mimesis and indulges in a subversive mimicry of it. The

“grotesque” image that Anacleto sees reflected in the peacock’s golden eye

bespeaks his perverse desire, an excessive sexuality that refuses to be contained

by Plato’s ideal of the unity of self. Also, as a bird with brilliantly colored

feathers and showy strut, a peacock is a slang term for gays who like to dress in

fancy clothes and show them off. Anacleto, with his proud and vain air, fits

perfectly with this image of narcissistic and vainglorious peacock.


Regarded by Lawrence Graver as “the most pompous and disagreeable of all her



is thereby read as “true not to the real world but to the

vagaries of abnormal psychology” (1986: 60). In such a dismissive reading,

Anacleto is never mentioned, to say nothing of further examination. Although

Jan Whitt, in “Living and Writing in the Margins” (2008), draws our attention

to various homosexual attractions in


, she ignores Anacleto’s pivotal

role in the novel’s link of sexuality and nationalism. Gary Richards, in


and Beloveds

(2005), has given Anacleto the critical attention he deserves. Yet his

reading of Anacleto’s sexual nonconformity is confined by the regional category

of the Southern Renaissance, which sets him apart from my take of Anacleto’s

transnational importance in the novel.