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Novels without heroes The gender origin of war in Norman Mailer's "The Naked and the Dead", Martha Gellhorn's "Point of No Return", and James Jones's "The Thin Red Line"

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Description: World War II fiction has largely been understood as war-affirmative literature that reinforces the "Good War" image made popular by mainstream American culture. This thesis complicates this generalization by discussing how three American World War II novels--Norman Mailer's The Naked and the Dead (1948), Martha Gellhorn's Point of No Return (1948), and James Jones's The Thin Red Line (1962)--debunk the persistent assumption that the Second World War was an ideologically grounded war as they configure warfare resulting from the male imperative of securing masculinity. The masculine origins of combat reflected in these novels, I maintain, can be understood in the context of Kathy J. Phillips's theory that socially induced emasculation anxiety spurs men toward national conflict. By conceptualizing combat as a realm in which men seek, but inevitably fail, to achieve masculinity on the battlefield, Mailer, Gellhorn, and Jones engage in a anti-heroic conception of battle that belies the notion that World War II staged "real" men--i.e. men who possessed a sense of moral obligation and who were certain in their identities as men--and suggests the uniquely unromantic realism of these second-war writers.
Language: English
Format: Degree Work