Drawing the Line
The Father Reimagined in Faulkner, Wright, O'Connor, and Morrison
Publication Year: 2013
In an original contribution to the psychoanalytic approach to literature, Doreen Fowler focuses on the fiction of four major American writers—William Faulkner, Richard Wright, Flannery O'Connor, and Toni Morrison—to examine the father's function as a "border figure." Although the father has most commonly been interpreted as the figure who introduces opposition and exclusion to the child, Fowler finds in these literary depictions fathers who instead support the construction of a social identity by mediating between cultural oppositions.
Fowler counters the widely accepted notion that boundaries are solely sites of exclusion and offers a new theoretical model of boundary construction. She argues that boundaries are mysterious, dangerous, in-between places where a balance of sameness and difference makes differentiation possible. In the fiction of these southern writers, father figures introduce a separate cultural identity by modeling this mix of relatedness and difference. Fathers intervene in the mother-child relationship, but the father is also closely related to both mother and child. This model of boundary formation as a balance of exclusion and relatedness suggests a way to join with others in an inclusive, multicultural community and still retain ethnic, racial, and gender differences.
Fowler's model for the father's mediating role in initiating gender, race, and other social differences shows not only how psychoanalytic theory can be used to interpret fiction and cultural history but also how literature and history can reshape theory.
Published by: University of Virginia Press
Title Page, Copyright
Download PDF (90.4 KB)
Download PDF (76.3 KB)
Download PDF (86.0 KB)
All books are in some sense collaborative, and, in ways large and small, I owe a debt to more people than I am able to acknowledge here. To begin with, my book builds on the work of previous scholars of race, gender, and community, and my citations document this large scholarly indebt-edness. Of the many colleagues who supported the writing of this book, ...
Download PDF (213.1 KB)
The question I think one ought to ask . . . is: what is to be done I think that what interferes with that access is the underestima-plex, question: How and when is it permissible for one to say âweâ so as to express solidarity with those of different ethnic, gender, and sexual con-fi gurations? As Barbara Christian rightly reminds me, when I say âwe,â I ...
1 Beyond Oedipus
Download PDF (266.0 KB)
...ing questions, challenging patriarchal, white conventions. . . . At some point, . . . we will have to leave the opposite bank, the split Read for its latent meanings, Intruder in the Dust traces the cause of racial lynchings to a model of identity formation based in exclusionary tactics. At this symbolic level, the novelâs two central developments, the ...
2 Crossing a Racial Border
Download PDF (241.3 KB)
...indictment of the warping effects of racial oppression in America. While the fi ctionâs status as one of Americaâs foremost racial protest novels is uncontestable, still the widely accepted interpretation that it denounces racial victimization and condemns a âwhite American societyâ that drives Bigger to âa futile, murderous, and self-destructive rebellionâ (Kinna-...
3 Flannery O’Connor’s Prophets
Download PDF (224.9 KB)
These critics . . . see no connection between Godâs grace and Flannery OâConnor famously insisted that the subject of her fi c-tion âis the action of grace in territories largely held by the devilâ (Mystery 118). While, as James Mellard notes, OâConnor largely has âhad her way with criticsâ (âOâConnorâs Othersâ 625), her interpreters have been hard-...
4 “Nobody Could Make It Alone”
Download PDF (203.6 KB)
Toni Morrisonâs Beloved exposes the societally sanctioned, insti-tutionalized terror tactics used by white slave owners to rob black women and men of subjectivity and agency. As the novel begins, the ex-slave Sethe and her daughter, Denver, are still experiencing the psychological wreck-age infl icted by slavery some years after slavery has been abolished. Sethe ...
5 Cross-Racial Identificationin Blackface Minstrelsyand Black Like Me
Download PDF (282.6 KB)
...boundary crossing, from safe circle into wilderness;. . . . It is the circle. . . . The transgression is dizzyingly intense, a reminder of what it is to be alive. It is a sinful pleasure, this willing trans-gression of a line, which takes one into new awareness, a secret, In the preceding chapters, I explored literary representations of ...
Download PDF (91.0 KB)
We think of a boundary as a place that distinguishes identities by shutting out. But this is a popular misconception. A boundary is the middle, a mysterious, dangerous, two-in-one place that differentiates be -tween the one and the other precisely because it is both the one and the other. It is not exclusion but doubleness that forms a boundary; and when ...
Download PDF (183.7 KB)
Download PDF (155.7 KB)
Download PDF (112.7 KB)
Page Count: 184
Publication Year: 2013