Richard Van Camp 's ' The Night Charles Bukowski Died '

1356 Words Sep 29th, 2016 6 Pages
When defining the term ‘manhood’, many people may use terms such as courage, strength, or bravery. Throughout history there have been many pressures on men to be as stereotypically manly as possible. If men don’t conform to those stereotypes, they may be looked down upon by society as a whole. Richard Van Camp’s short story ‘The Night Charles Bukowski Died’ is a prime example of the dangers of nonconformity to stereotypically manly traits. The story is an intense first person stream of consciousness from the point of view of an unnamed narrator that follows the narrator and three of his peers: Mikey, Jason, and Scott. The use of metaphor, point of view, and setting in “The Night Charles Bukowski Died” exposes how stereotypical expectations of manhood can lead to dangerous situations not only physically, but also socially and emotionally.

Van Camp makes use of metaphor to compare three distinct situations in the story relating to manhood to animals. When Jason and the narrator are encouraging Mikey to be strong, the narrator tells a brief story of an elder who was courageous enough to stand between a grizzly bear and his grandson with just an ax and an attitude of surrender being completely out of the question (33). In this situation, the narrator is doing his best to instill a fighting attitude in Mikey instead of just letting him accept that Scott is bullying him. Later in the story as the narrator, Jason, and Mikey are about to beat up Scott, the narrator recalls “a lion…

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