Chapter

/ “Little Black Man”: Repetition, the Lesbian Phallus, and the Southern Rape Complex in <i>Sanctuary</i>

Dorothy Stringer

in Not Even Past

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780823231478
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823241088 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5422/fordham/9780823231478.003.0002

Series: American Literatures Initiative

/ “Little Black Man”: Repetition, the Lesbian Phallus, and the Southern Rape Complex in Sanctuary

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Freudian theory has specific, original engagements with racial difference, albeit often entwined with its theorizations of sexual difference and sexuality. In many nineteenth-century and modernist U.S. novels, minor, ignoble black characters manage both structural, novelistic failures and moral failures on the part of white protagonists. “Africanist” figures thus free both white protagonists and presumptively-white readers from the necessity of acknowledging weakness, cowardice, and other threatening emotional and moral realities, such as non-normative sexuality. William Faulkner's Sanctuary, published in 1931 but first drafted contemporaneously with the publication of “Womanliness as Masquerade,” articulates similar questions to Riviere's about women's sexuality, psychic experience, and fantasized racial blackness, albeit in fictional mode. Faulkner half-facetiously described Sanctuary as a cynical effort to make much-needed money, and in particular to cash in on the public's desire for sex and violence.

Keywords: Freudian theory; racial difference; Africanist; William Faulkner; Sanctuary; Riviere; sexuality; sex; violence

Chapter.  8752 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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