The problems of defining the male self: Masculinity in Earl Lovelace's "The Dragon Can't Dance" and George Lamming's "In the Castle of My Skin"

Essay by szenkriUniversity, Master'sA, September 2006

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In order to construct an identity one has to relate to other people and the environment in which that person exists. Behavior patterns, traditional social indicators and other signs that one picks up from the surrounding culture are all important factors in how a person perceives himself. When an individual identifies or belongs to a culture he constructs himself and defines how people perceive him based on what others know from the generally accepted set of norms and stereotypes. In this way, the creation of one's identity is strongly influenced by belonging to a culture. Ultimately, an individual becomes a part of that cultural identity. There are various components to one's social and cultural construction, but the one I am going to focus on in my paper is the gender identity, more specifically, the gender identity that is associated with males and masculinity.

" [masculinity] has inevitably been reinscribed as a complex and discursive category that cannot be seen as independent from that of other productive components of identity".

One of the key conceptual issues in defining the male self is how that person relates to, or differentiates himself, from the given culture. Masculinity is a socially constructed attribute, which is developed though social interactions.

Caribbean culture has been in the shadow of Western colonization for hundreds of year, thus the construction of the colonial identity raises interesting problems of its own. Caribbean people, in general, have to struggle to define their identity, as they are torn between the state authority imposed upon them by British imperialism and their desire to clutch to their own roots. As Maurice Berger writes:

"...the category of 'masculinity' should be seen as always ambivalent, always complicated, always dependent on the exigencies of personal and institutional power".

This division can result in a state of...