Becoming Woman Analysis

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The unpleasing experience of becoming-woman is the root cause of Joe’s antipathy to women’s sexuality later in his life. Becoming-woman is not essentially a nugatory experience; rather, it can be a constructive experience of unshackling oneself from one’s socially given self and can be used as a support for artistic creativity as in Gordon’s case in Mosquitoes. However, to someone like Joe whose individuality is already uneven, the experience of becoming-woman can be deeply ominous. What upsets him the most from the incident in the dietitian’s room is neither her genitalia that he might have seen nor castration apprehension. It is the submissiveness and the vulnerability associated with the experience of becoming-woman that he has felt in the…show more content…
Yet his crypto-racial identity stamped by the death of the unknown father makes him the most menacing figure to the Southern white population preoccupied with the “purity” of white blood. The word, “bastard,” not only refers to one’s fatherlessness but also betrays white population’s dread of blood corruption. A set-up in which “a drop of black blood” transforms an individual into a “nigger” demands an intense supervision over family lines and sexual affairs. The problem is the growing number of “bastards” who can pass as white. As a man who was helping Bobbie’s escape says, “…these country bastards are liable to be anything” (219). The language is saturated with the social and cultural panic of corruption of “pure” white blood in a racially prejudiced society. Hellen Lynn Sugarman contends that the town’s aggressive response to Joe is the result of “the murkiness of their own social positions” (96). In so far as Joe cannot state his racial identity in clear-cut terms, the townspeople cannot tell for sure in what way they know “what anyone’s identity is” (Sugarman
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