Misogyny in Cormac McCarthy’s Suttree
American novelist Cormac McCarthy has recently begun to gain long-overdue recognition in the academy. Following the publication of his novel All the Pretty Horses, a National Book Award winner, the production of critical works examining the author’s fiction has surged. However, even in light of this recent attention to the author, a number of problematic critical absences remain. Few critics focus on Suttree, the author’s longest and most complex work. Additionally, although a number of commentators mention the intensely male nature of McCarthy’s fiction, very few pay extensive attention to issues of gender in McCarthy’s novels. My project simultaneously addresses these two needs. The close examination of gender issues in the text of Suttree reveals profound misogyny in the work. I argue that this facet of the novel’s construction restrains it from attaining the high level of artistic achievement one finds in McCarthy’s other novels. One need only examine the roles of the primary female characters in the novel to witness the illustration of this assertion. The novel’s speaker and its main character consistently and unrepentantly devalue the work’s female characters. Furthermore, the narrative voice and protagonist of Suttree denigrate even male characters dominated by females and characters of uncertain sexual orientation. Any departure from a male-dominated world prompts revulsion and rage. Despite the novel’s many other remarkable characteristics—its language and theme are particular strong points—this anti woman core prevents Suttree from achieving the designation of great literature.
Thesis (M.A.)--Wichita State University, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Dept. of English