Thursday, July 25, 2013

Gender in The Unvanquished

I know I'm a little weird and may be the only person in the world that has a fascination with William Faulkner and Toni Morrison.  Yes, both.  (More on that another day.)

I'm currently reading The Unvanquished.  It's brilliant.  And a difficult read - maybe inaccessible for people that don't enjoy having to check a dictionary every three pages.  I'm taking it as an exercise in building my vocabulary.

It's a Civil War story told from the point of view of a white man who is remembering his experience as a twelve year old boy.  So it combines the innocence of a child's point of view with the vocabulary and pensiveness of an adult.

I decided to read it to examine the writing craft - how he handled point of view, leaps in time, and setting, things I am working on in my writing. 

I'm only half-way through it, but what has jumped out and grabbed me is the presentation of gender.  The novel was written in the early 1930s at a time when women were in no way liberated.  I am so surprised by the characterization of Civil War-era Confederate women (just after they lost) as undeniably strong and of men as strong if the light is hitting them just right, as if the appearance of masculine strength is an illusion or something that can be destroyed very easily. 

I totally recommend reading it if you have (or strive to have) a great vocabulary. 


  1. I'll have to check this book out, Tonja. I do enjoy the old classics.

  2. Sometimes I think everything about me is an illusion. Except my weight. That's depressingly real. :-)