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Queering Sexual Practices in "Mr. and Mrs. Eliot

From: The Hemingway Review
Volume 32, Number 1, Fall 2012
pp. 88-99 | 10.1353/hem.2012.0021



According to Gayle Rubin in "Thinking Sex," sexual values—like other value systems surrounding race, ethnicity, and religion—form hierarchical binaries that counterpose a privileged term residing within a charmed circle against a degraded other residing outside, thereby articulating an imaginary line of difference and implied divergence. The sexual hierarchy is generally constructed from the point of view of heterosexism. From its opening sentence, Ernest Hemingway's short story "Mr. and Mrs. Elliot" establishes reproductive sexual practice within the context of marriage as a central frame of reference: "Mr. and Mrs. Elliot tried very hard to have a baby" (CSS 123). This essay will pursue the meaning and effect of Hemingway's emphasis, considering Hubert and Cornelia's presumed erotic practices with reference to Rubin's critical elucidation of a good sex/bad sex hierarchy.

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