Representations of Masculinity and Femininity in Miguel Street, the character in the book by V.S. Naipaul

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Representations of Masculinity and Femininity in Miguel Street

It has been said about V.S. Naipaul's novel Miguel Street that 'One of the

recurrent themes... is the ideal of manliness' (Kelly 19). To help put into focus what

manliness is, it is important to establish a definition for masculinity as well as its

opposite, femininity. Masculinity is defined as 'Having qualities regarded as

characteristic of men and boys, as strength, vigor, boldness, etc' while femininity is

defined as 'Having qualities regarded as characteristic of women and girls, as gentleness,

weakness, delicacy, modesty, etc' (Webster). The charcters in Miguel Street have been

ingrained with the pre- conceived notions of the roles that Trinidadian society dictates for

men and women. Naipaul not only uses these notions to show the differences of the

sexes, but takes another step in telling anecdotes of characters showing their anti-

masculine and anti- feminine features. This will lead to the discovery that our definitions

of masculinity and femininity prove that those characteristics apply to the opposite sex in

which the women often act like men, and the men often act like women.

All of this will

be discussed through looking at both male and female characters in the book as well as

the boy narrator of the book.

Finding examples of manliness are found with great ease considering that 12 of

the 17 stories in some way deal with the theme of manliness (Thieme 24). It doesnt take

long before the first example, a carpenter named Popo, is introduced. In the chapter titled

'The Thing Without A Name' we are told that 'Popo never made any money. His wife

used to go out and work and this was easy , because they had no children. Popo said '

Women and them like work. Man not made for...