Essay about A Lesson Before Dying By Ernest Gaines

2360 Words Nov 28th, 2016 10 Pages
Traditionally, society has implemented the gender binary of male/female. This binary stays constant due to the power society places in the concept. The details of the separate categories may change a little, but the binary has stayed in place. “Gender is an identity tenuously constituted in time, instituted in an exterior space through a stylized repetition of acts,” (“Gender” 2552). Different portrayals of gender change how the society views the binary but never is the binary completely destroyed. To counteract this, feminist criticism gave birth to queer theory to destabilize the power of the binary, and acts of subversion occurred to upset the binary’s power. Literature is a vehicle for multiple acts of subversion, and A Lesson Before Dying is one of them. In Ernest Gaines’s A Lesson Before Dying, the four of the main characters Grant, Tante Lou, Miss Emma, and Jefferson subvert the traditional male and female gender binary through their nontraditional performances of gender. The theories surrounding gender in criticism vary in their portrayals. However, Judith Butler and Susan Bordo pioneer the queer theory view of gender as a subcategory of their brand of feminism. The overall view these two theorists share is the belief that gender is a performance, and that performance has little to do with the physical sex of the body. “The body is not only a text of culture. It is also…a practical, direct locus of social control,” (Bordo 745). Bordo sees the body as without an…

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