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Title: Masculinity, Femininity, and Androgyny in Gabrielle Roy's 'Alexandre Chenevert'
Contributor(s): Brotherson, Lee Bruce (author)
Publication Date: 2007
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Abstract: Alexandre Chenevert is characterized by insignificance and antagonism. He is first described as "un homme petit, chetif, avec un immense front soucieux" (15), the attribute "petit" being repeated over fifty times in the text. Unremarkable and blending so closely with the crowd as to be "innombrable" (129) or "invisible" (32, 47), Alexandre suffers from a deeply anguished mind that sets him apart from others whom he often distrusts and dislikes. How then, by the end of the book, can one explain his reconciliation with those about him? The object of this article is to show how Alexandre, heavily circumscribed by his masculine role in the early part of the novel, experiences a radical change at lac Vert where he is sensitized to the feminine, a development that may be explained in terms of the androgynous myth, signifying an integration within the hero of male and female dimensions. An examination of Alexandre's state of mind in part one of the novel will show him to be strongly defined by masculine characteristics as reflected in two leitmotifs: newspapers and paid work. We shall see that subservience to both makes of this man a self-absorbed individual, justifying his wife's complaint about their marriage and "l'égïosme des hommes" (94). Only by reassessing these traditional male attitudes will Alexandre eventually turn from a preoccupation with the public sphere of international affairs and professional status in favor of the private sphere of family, friends, and intimate emotion. It is no surprise that critics and even the novelist herself have long been fascinated by Alexandre's character development and the question of identity that it raises. For Pierrette Daviau, he is a puzzle even to himself: "Le probléme majeur d'Alexandre est un d'identité personnelle. Qui est-il? Pourquoi est-il si malheureux? Alexandre se cherche. Il poursuivra cette quête jusqu'au fond de lui-même, jusqu'en dehors de son milieu, jusqu'à la mort" (112). By paralleling Alexandre's search for himself with an ancient myth concerning the male-female dichotomy, this article hopes to throw further light upon Gabrielle Roy's enigmatic hero.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Quebec Studies, v.43, p. 83-97
Publisher: American Council for Quebec Studies
Place of Publication: Orono, United States
ISSN: 0737-3759
Field of Research (FOR): 200511 Literature in French
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
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