The Journey is the Destination: Pursuing Masculinity

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Title: The Journey is the Destination: Pursuing Masculinity
Author: Hall, Mark M.
Advisors: Dr. Tom Lisk, Committee Member
Dr. Anne Baker, Committee Chair
Dr. John Morillo, Committee Member
Abstract: This thesis examines the influence of male homosocial relationships on the masculine identity performances men develop in such relationships. Specifically, I argue that three American novels—Herman Melville's Moby-Dick, Jack Kerouac's On the Road, and Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club—illustrate a similar pattern of masculine identity performance and (re)construction. In each novel, the narrator initially experiences a masculine identity crisis. In order to resolve his crisis, he engages in homosocial relationships that refine and reaffirm his masculinity. Furthermore, each narrator examines and reports the life of another man—a man obsessed with a single-minded pursuit. Ishmael of Moby-Dick narrates the events of a whaling voyage led by the Moby Dick-obsessed Captain Ahab. Sal Paradise of On the Road recites the adventures he has on the road following the IT-obsessed Dean Moriarty. And, the unnamed narrator of Fight Club explains the development of Fight Club and Project Mayhem by the revolution-obsessed Tyler Durden. As I reveal, hunting for Moby Dick, traveling the road, fighting each other and terrorizing capitalistic society all represent pursuits of manhood and ways of constructing, performing, and asserting masculinities. By joining these pursuits, the narrators forfeit their agency to these obsessed men; however, as the narrators continue to follow, they realize that to regain their masculine identities they must also eventually establish agency in their lives. Ultimately, the pattern illustrated in this thesis involves the continual remasculation of an emasculated man—or a man under threat of becoming so—through purpose-oriented homosocial relationships and an assertion of agency.
Date: 2004-05-27
Degree: MA
Discipline: English
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/208


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