Abstract

The Best Years of Our Lives () uses melodrama to explore the hardships faced by a disabled male veteran, inverting the gender dynamics of a genre that traditionally explored women's issues during and after World War II, underscoring protagonist Homer Parish's fraught relationship to his masculinity when he returns home after losing his hands in the conflict. Yet Wyler's film also emphasizes disability as a complexly embodied, culturally located identity that destabilizes normative conceptions of masculinity, as Parish is troubled more by newly altered relationships with his loved ones than by the physical limitations facing a double amputee. The article explores how the ex-soldier's disability stages a sudden loss of masculinity in a subject whose physicality once epitomized maleness, challenging assumptions about the boundaries demarcating normative bodies and demonstrating that masculinity cannot be understood apart from the symbolic network of an ableist culture.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1757-6466
Print ISSN
1757-6458
Pages
pp. 159-174
Launched on MUSE
2012-06-30
Open Access
No
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