Masculinity: Achieved Through Dangerous Situations Essay

2509 words - 10 pages

A raging, oncoming freight train is roaring down the tracks around a slight bend bearing towards a helpless, vulnerable damsel in distress that is tied to the railroad tracks with only seconds to spare. She only has one hope: Superman. Faced with this nearly impossible situation what does Superman do? Naturally, he jumps in front of the locomotive head-on, putting his life in danger, and stopping the train with a screeching halt just inches away from the young lady, of course. What could be more heroic or courageous than succeeding during a dangerous situation? Nothing. As Superman demonstrated, these situations present the chance for traits of masculinity to be displayed. Now, not all situations may possess the severity or extremity of the situation that Superman handled but in all situations that are somewhat perilous masculinity is often associated with the attributes brave, bold, muscular, virile, and forceful, as well as many more. Masculinity requires facing challenges head-on and defeating the dangers; no second guessing, no hesitation. Get the job done. In various short stories from Benjamin Percy’s book Refresh Refresh the male protagonist is always presented with dangerous situations to display his masculinity through his courageous actions. This is executed during multiple different situations, but is often the result of saving a female character. The male protagonist rises to the occasion when an opportunity presents itself, but often they are responsible for creating the dangerous situations. These stories seem to verify Germaine Greer’s view that she expresses in her work Masculinity that “Masculinity requires the creation of dangerous situations, actual or symbolic.” (898)
In Refresh Refresh Benjamin Percy uses the first thing that a reader reads to making a lasting impact, though subtle, throughout the story: the title. ““When the Bear Came””, “Caves in Oregon”, “Meltdown”; all of these titles provide in their key words a sense of danger or mystery in one way or another where a masculine character might take charge during a potential crisis. Bears are one of the most feared animals in the world, towering over humans with teeth and claws ready to inflict carnage. In a less violent sense there is a dark, gloomy, mysterious unknown that all caves radiate. Meltdowns are associated with critical situations where everything has gone wrong, often in an apocalyptic scenario. All of these titles foreshadow that climaxes in these stories will be ones where a character has to risk safety in an unpredictable situation.
In the meat of the stories, the plot, male characters are forced into situations where they must overcome adversity, violence, or harm. The protagonist, Daniel, in the story ““When the Bear Came”” has to deal with many internal and external conflicts. Daniel overcomes the inner struggles and the torment of his problems and uncertainties with his father by facing his fears and looking the bear right in the face. Benjamin...

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