Masculinity In If Rudyard Kipling

850 Words 4 Pages
Every year, during the dreary, seemingly never-ending Baccalaureate, there comes a point when some either unlucky or unknowing senior reads a poem. “If” by Rudyard Kipling, emphasizing the steps a man must take to truly become a man, is representative of the stiff, upper lip attitude that many perceive as identical and essential to masculinity. Unfortunately, sometimes, this belief – that in the face of adversity, men must be tougher, must restrain their emotions, and must remain resolute – can quickly turn to be detrimental, especially in times of war. Pat Barker, in Regeneration, explores this theme of masculinity versus maternity, includes the scene of Yealland essentially torturing his own patients to do two things: make Rivers a more …show more content…
Yealland’s cruel and inhumane practices paint Rivers in a kinder, more compassionate light. First, Barker’s use of visual imagery creates a tense situation right at the start of the scene. As Yealland “began pulling down the blinds” so that “not a chink of light… could get into the room” (Barker 229), the image of a dark, shaded room creates an apprehensive and eerie mood, as Rivers wonders what Yealland is going to do next. Then, the contrast between Rivers’ methods and those of Yealland is highlighted by Yealland’s extreme use of electric shocks, where he puts Callan on an “almost continuous application of the electric current” (230). The most salient difference between Rivers and Yealland lies in their belief set. Rivers ensures that above all, he does not achieve his end goals through inhumane treatment For Yealland, however, the end – a cured patient – justifies the means – torture – and his claim that he “does not want to hurt [Callan], but if necessary, [he] must” further proves this point. This scene – Yealland’s torturous practices coupled with the tense environment – makes Rivers’ methods seem far more humane, caring, and compassionate, which in turn brings about the emotional end of liking Rivers, and his maternal approach to curing his …show more content…
Yealland’s cruel methods, which he justifies by claiming his patients need to regain their masculinity, are actually detrimental when compared to the positive effects of Rivers’ more maternal, compassionate treatment. This comparison of toxic masculinity and maternal instinct demonstrates how in war time, while society often shifts to value masculinity, there must be a balance between the two. However, it is not just in wartime when society attempts to shift towards more masculine, traditional ideals. In the United States, during times of relative peace, some citizens have opted to elect a President who, in their eyes, represents what it means to be a man. They have opted to choose a President who attempts to portray masculinity by fetishizing the military, by forgoing what he calls political correctness, and by deriding all who criticize him under the false pretense of strength in the face of adversity. Yet, just as Barker demonstrates in Regeneration, this approach, causing divisiveness and tension through the nation, only hurts society. Perhaps this President will realize the error of his ways. Perhaps, like Rivers, he will try and connect with those who disagree with him and work with them to find a greater solution for all of us, instead of his manly approach name-calling and twitter-deriding. Perhaps he will opt for a greater maternal approach filled with compassion and unity to ease the hyper-partisanship and

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