peace would start at the top of his muddled brain and seep down through his

Peace would start at the top of his muddled brain and

This preview shows page 4 - 7 out of 10 pages.

peace would start at the top of his muddled brain and seep down through his tired and tensed-up body. Lord, he loved to draw.” However, if Jess were to “display the feminine trait of [an] “artist”” (Ryan and Hermann-Wilmarth 164) in stating to his peers that his favourite hobby is drawing (Paterson 42), he would be committing the “ultimate sexual transgression” (Ryan and Hermann-Wilmarth 164). This external force impels him to conform to social norms to avoid alienation by his classmates. In addition, his father’s evident displeasure with his artwork and the “expect[ations for Jess] … to be a man” (Paterson 43) drives Jess to hide his drawing pad and pencils beneath his mattress, ensuring that no one – especially his father - will be able to heckle him for “wast[ing]” (14) his time on something as frivolous and effeminate as art:
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Moore 4 He would like to show his drawings to his dad, but he didn’t dare. When he was in first grade, he had told his dad that he wanted to be an artist when he grew up. He’d thought his dad would be pleased. He wasn’t. “What are they teaching in that damn school?” he had asked. “Bunch of old ladies turning my only son into some kind of a–” He had stopped on that word, but Jess had gotten the message. It was one you didn’t forget, even after four years. (14) In an attempt to contrast the homosexuality that his father suggests and prove his worth as a man, Jess begins running in the morning to train for the races at school, aspiring to be “the fastest runner in the fifth grade when school open[s] up” (2). Running evokes in Jess the same passion and freedom that drawing does, an interaction between male and female-typical interests. Although they are separate, femininity and masculinity have the potential of interacting together to elicit a perception of belonging. Even so, Jess’s true masculinity is called into question through his unwillingness to physically fight an individual in the defense of someone else. By using his words and his cunning to solve a dispute, Jess chooses a more ladylike strategy over a definitively masculine trait: physical prowess and the ability to win a fight with fists. “As a family peacemaker and mediator … he avoids conflict with his sisters and his parents” (Fly 20), his “sensitivity” translates to situations outside of the family home as well. When Jess was younger, his father used to “get right down on the floor and wrestle [with him]” (Paterson 5), attempting to instill in his son basic knowledge and the importance of physically overpowering an individual. Although fighting a girl may be immoral, jess is hesitant in defending his sister because of his father’s neglect in developing his son’s self defense skills due to work demands: “She stole my Twinkies!”
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Moore 5 Jess sighed, “May Belle, didn’t I tell you?” “You gotta kill Janice Avery. Kill her! Kill her! Kill her!” … “You gotta beat her up into a million pieces!” He’d sooner tangle with Mrs. Godzilla herself. “Fighting ain’t gonna get back
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