AbstractsLanguage, Literature & Linguistics

“I’d Rather Be a Boy Any Day”: Gender Roles in Carson McCullers’s The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

by Nils Alfort

Institution: Högskolan i Halmstad
Year: 2016
Keywords: Gender; Performativity; Butler; Sexuality; Music; Humanities; Humaniora; English; Engelska
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2088486
Full text PDF: http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-30093


This essay explores gender roles in The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1940) by American author Carson McCullers. Theories and texts by Judith Butler, Nancy Chodorow, Raewyn Connell, Don Zimmerman, and Candice West among others, are used to support the thesis statement that stereotypical gender norms serve to compromise the main character Mick Kelly’s identity formation and her early sexual experiences. One important element of this discussion is the idea that gender is socially constructed rather than biologically given. Moreover, it is argued that gender is something that a person does repeatedly according to a strict set of socially constructed regulations. Based on the premise that gender is performativity, the conclusion is drawn that Mick Kelly’s ability to create her own identity within her gender-free world of music is severely diminished. In short, adherence to conventional gender norms makes her go from being a loner to being socially accepted as an equal among her peers; and from being a leader to being a follower, especially regarding her sexual relations.