The Importance Of Masculinity In Literature

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Masculinity has been a topic popularly explored by various authors for decades. Although the traits that are often paired with masculinity are portrayed as great, they can often be very problematic, as seen through various stories and characters such as “The Snow’s of Kilimanjaro” by Ernest Hemingway, “Separating” by John Updike, and “The Man Who was Almost a Man” by Richard Wright. Strong is often defined as being emotionless and being intelligent is often associated with never being wrong or making little mistakes. However, though these stories all embody the same general idea of exploring what it means to be masculine, they all have very different portrayals of manhood. He implies that in order to be a real man, one must possess a quality of hyper-masculinity, which is paired with arrogance, feelings of invincibility, and violence. However, through this self confidence and self-proclaimed manhood, a sense of superiority and pride follows, causing an askew view of life and lack of respect towards others. These qualities surface as soon as the reader learns Harry’s reasons for being on his death bed. He got gangrene from an injury he failed to clean properly because he claimed that he never got infected; this immediately showcases Harry’s “masculinity” stemming from a place of haughtiness. As this reality sinks in, Harry begins to reflect and the narrator reveals, “the horror had gone and all he felt now was a great tiredness and anger” (Hemingway 1022). The fear of
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