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Updike and the patriarchal dilemma : masculinity in the Rabbit novels

Author: Mary O'Connell
Publisher: Carbondale : Southern Illinois University Press, ©1996.
Edition/Format:   eBook : Document : EnglishView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
O'Connell examines the role of socially constructed masculinity in Updike's Rabbit tetralogy - Rabbit Run, Rabbit Redux, Rabbit Is Rich, and Rabbit at Rest - convincingly arguing that the four novels comprise the longest and most comprehensive representation of masculinity in American literature and place Updike firmly with the precursors of the contemporary movement among men to reevaluate their cultural
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Genre/Form: Electronic books
Additional Physical Format: Print version:
O'Connell, Mary, 1944-
Updike and the patriarchal dilemma.
Carbondale : Southern Illinois University Press, ©1996
(DLC) 94039038
(OCoLC)31329492
Named Person: John Updike; John Updike; John Updike; John Updike; John Updike; John Updike; John Updike
Material Type: Document, Internet resource
Document Type: Internet Resource, Computer File
All Authors / Contributors: Mary O'Connell
ISBN: 0585028451 9780585028453
OCLC Number: 42329376
Reproduction Notes: Electronic reproduction. [S.l.] : HathiTrust Digital Library, 2010. MiAaHDL
Description: 1 online resource (xiv, 268 pages) : illustrations
Details: Master and use copy. Digital master created according to Benchmark for Faithful Digital Reproductions of Monographs and Serials, Version 1. Digital Library Federation, December 2002.
Contents: Abbreviations for Updike's works --
Introduction --
Rabbit, run: the mail from Tunis probably --
Gender formation: but what's wrong with that man? --
The power of naming: "Well that explains your oratorical gifts" --
Rabbit redux --
Life in furnace township --
Revolution and chaos --
Is rabbit rich? --
Laius and Oedipus --
Rabbit at rest: more mail from Tunis.
Responsibility: Mary O'Connell.

Abstract:

O'Connell examines the role of socially constructed masculinity in Updike's Rabbit tetralogy - Rabbit Run, Rabbit Redux, Rabbit Is Rich, and Rabbit at Rest - convincingly arguing that the four novels comprise the longest and most comprehensive representation of masculinity in American literature and place Updike firmly with the precursors of the contemporary movement among men to reevaluate their cultural inheritance. A disturbing element exists, O'Connell determines, in both the texts of the Rabbit novels and in the critical community that examines them. In the novels, O'Connell finds substantial evidence to demonstrate patterns of psychological and physical abuse toward women, citing as the culminating example the mounting toll of literally or metaphorically dead women in the texts. Critics who view Updike as a nonviolent writer and strangely overlook Rabbit's repressive and violent behaviors avoid a discomforting but crucial aspect of the characterization.

Although she examines negative aspects of Rabbit's behavior, O'Connell avoids the oversimplification of labeling Updike a misogynist. Instead, she looks closely at the forces shaping Rabbit's gender identity as well as at the ways he experiences masculinity and the ways his gender identity affects his personal and spiritual development, his relationships, and, ultimately, his society. As she discusses these issues, O'Connell uses the term patriarchy in its broadest sense to refer to the practice of centralizing the male and marginalizing the female in all areas of human life. Patriarchal ideology - the assumptions, values, ideas, and patterns of thought that perpetuate the arrangement - is written as hidden text, permeating every aspect of culture, particularly language, from which it spreads to other signifying systems. Contrary to conventional critical wisdom, the Rabbit tetralogy is not a straightforward chronicle; the novels create meaning by challenging, undermining, and qualifying their own explicit content. Updike claims that his novels are "moral debates with the reader," and according to O'Connell, the resisting reader, active and skeptical, is the one most likely to register the nuances and the shifting currents of the discourse.

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""Updike and the Patriarchal Dilemma" is a wide-ranging book with a potentially wide-ranging audience. One of the most impressive things about the book is the way it integrates a close reading of Read more...

 
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