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“White pussy is nothin but trouble”: Hypermasculine Hysteria and the Displacement of the Feminine Body in Cormac McCarthy's Child of God

Harriet Poppy Stilley
The Cormac McCarthy Journal
Vol. 14, No. 1 (2016), pp. 96-116
DOI: 10.5325/cormmccaj.14.1.0096
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5325/cormmccaj.14.1.0096
Page Count: 21
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“White pussy is nothin but trouble”: Hypermasculine Hysteria and the Displacement of the Feminine Body in Cormac McCarthy's Child of God
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Abstract

This article explores the crisis of masculinity in Cormac McCarthy's third novel, Child of God (1973), so as to stress a detrimental linkage between the modern masculine condition and that of the late capitalist economic structure. By way of an interrelated interpretation of contemporaneous feminist and Marxist theory, this paper will forepart Lester Ballard's murderous misogyny as a means to a practical, sexual end, emphasizing the theme of necrophilia to highlight the reality of women as sexual property, and the extent to which man uses “objects” to know himself at once as man and subject. Child of God can then be read further as a gothic allegory, condemning the social ills of nationalistic ideals by positioning the serial killer as both reflective and symptomatic of an American culture of materialism. An examination of the progressive perversion of this “child of god” in such terms therefore will effectively signal the novel's resolute engagement with the epochal processes of capitalist restructuring in which it arises, and, what is more, position this particular reading of the text as a discourse of men in crisis that stands apart from any previous feminist criticism offered on Child of God or its author, Cormac McCarthy.

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