“Han Skulle Vara En Kille Som Pappa Inte Kunde Klaga På” : Subversive And Imaginative Masculinity In Lygia Bojunga’s Work

University essay from Södertörns högskola/Litteraturvetenskap

Abstract: This thesis centers on three children’s novel, “Sex gånger Lucas”, “Min Vän målaren”, and “Den gula väskan”, written by the very appreciated and much awarded Brazilian Author Lygia Bojunga. All three of these novels discuss masculinity in young boys and men. In “Sex gånger Lucas”, the centerpiece of this thesis, the essential conflict in the novel is played out in the interchange between Lucas and his authoritarian father. The father, throughout the text, showcases toxic masculinity and its concurrent traits, such as verbal abuse and serial infidelity. This tyrannical parenting attempts to mold Lucas’ personality to what is deemed in the culture as acceptable masculine behavior. Lucas narrative journey finds him firstly internalizing this belief system, but, as the novel progresses, Lucas learns to accept himself, in all his gendered guises, and reject the father's binary opinions. “Min vän målaren” follows the tale of the sensitive young boy, Claudio, who struggles against an environment that doesn’t support him, in his many and varied attempts towards personhood. In “Den gula väskan” the protagonist Rakel confronts an open and oppressive sexism in society, community and the many dismissals of the family. “Den gula väskan” utilizes, at many junctures of the narrative, a fable structure as a means to discuss political oppression as well as the oppressive binary masculine norms. This Fable sub-tale focuses on the character Alfonso, a talking rooster. Alfonso rejects the expectations put on him as a rooster, but his cousin Skräcken is not as fortunate. The cousin, who it is heavily implied is the victim of masculine brainwashing, is unable to stop himself from fighting, even when it ends up killing him. Throughout these three novels lies an illustration of the downfalls of an oppressive and toxic masculinity (that men must be stoic, aggressive and in control) as well as highlighting the freedom for a more fluid gender expression. Lucas, Claudio and Alfonso give subversive, alternative depictions of masculinity, where it is acceptable to feel, be vulnerable, reject violence, and have healthy relationships built on companionship. This thesis explores how Bojunga's novels, through her characters struggles and triumphs, give the young male identified readers alternative ways to be a man. In other words, these novels liberate the male gender from a binary performance.

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