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The Wounded King: Bobbie Ann Mason's "Shiloh" and Marginalized Male Subjectivity

The Wounded King: Bobbie Ann Mason's "Shiloh" and Marginalized Male Subjectivity The Wounded King: Bobbie Ann Mason’s “Shiloh” and Marginalized Male Subjectivity by Greg Bentley Several of Bobbie Ann Mason’s works have been approached from the perspective of myth-ritual criticism—especially the Grail motif—with mixed results. Perhaps the most central element of the Grail motif is the king’s wound, which is clearly sexual in nature, and critics who approach Mason’s work from this perspective have pointed out how she develops central characters, most notably Emmett in In Country y and Leroy in “Shiloh,” who seem to play analogous roles to that of the wounded king in Grail legend. However, if we approach these characters—and most particularly their wounds—from the perspective of psychoanalytic semiotics rather than myth-ritual criticism, we arrive at some very different observations about them, observations which pro- duce some strikingly different conclusions about their identities and the texts they inhabit. In this essay, for example, I argue that Leroy’s wound, although it incapacitates him physically, is not synonymous with sexual impotence. Instead, Leroy’s wound functions as a psychic symptom, an externalization and a representation of his fi gurative castration within the family structure and his psychic emasculation within the symbolic order. That is, Leroy’s wound signifi es his lack, http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Southern Literary Journal University of North Carolina Press

The Wounded King: Bobbie Ann Mason's "Shiloh" and Marginalized Male Subjectivity

The Southern Literary Journal , Volume 37 (1) – Jan 11, 2005

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2004 the Southern Literary Journal and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Department of English.
ISSN
1534-1461

Abstract

The Wounded King: Bobbie Ann Mason’s “Shiloh” and Marginalized Male Subjectivity by Greg Bentley Several of Bobbie Ann Mason’s works have been approached from the perspective of myth-ritual criticism—especially the Grail motif—with mixed results. Perhaps the most central element of the Grail motif is the king’s wound, which is clearly sexual in nature, and critics who approach Mason’s work from this perspective have pointed out how she develops central characters, most notably Emmett in In Country y and Leroy in “Shiloh,” who seem to play analogous roles to that of the wounded king in Grail legend. However, if we approach these characters—and most particularly their wounds—from the perspective of psychoanalytic semiotics rather than myth-ritual criticism, we arrive at some very different observations about them, observations which pro- duce some strikingly different conclusions about their identities and the texts they inhabit. In this essay, for example, I argue that Leroy’s wound, although it incapacitates him physically, is not synonymous with sexual impotence. Instead, Leroy’s wound functions as a psychic symptom, an externalization and a representation of his fi gurative castration within the family structure and his psychic emasculation within the symbolic order. That is, Leroy’s wound signifi es his lack,

Journal

The Southern Literary JournalUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Jan 11, 2005

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