The narrator and his friends struggle to understand the meaning of being a man. They comply with the common misconception of being a man in that they try to take the whole thing from their fathers. Being a man according to them is having bulging muscles and being tough. One can see from their earlier existence how they usually fought. The fighting would end with one shedding blood. Another way in which the narrator and his friend envisioned being manly is by avoiding crying. Crying to them is deemed as being weak. According to them, being a man is being strong. Gordon is seen as being different from the rest of the boys. He used to be thin and this led to other friends calling him ET. To the boys in the area, a man should be strong.
Gordon being thinly was considered not normal. As such, he struggles to be a man by constantly fighting with his friend to achieve the manly outlook. The two boys engage in smoking Marlboros and drinking Coca-Cola since they see it as a manly behaviour. “Afterwards, we drank Coca Cola and smoked Marlboros, our chest heaving, our faces all different shades of blacks and reds and yellows” (Percy 1). The passage shows how the boys conducted themselves as a show of being a man and they struggle to become men.
The author first describes the setting of the place at the beginning of the story. He writes “so in the grass, in the shade of the pines and the Junipers…” (Percy 1). This line first shows the reader what kind of plants grows in this place. Pines and Junipers grow mostly in areas that are mostly dry and hardy. The passage introduces the reader to a hardy place that suits “men.” In the third paragraph, the writer introduces the region. Percy writes that “this was in Crow, Oregon, a high desert town in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains” Percy 1). In this paragraph, the author explains that the place is mountainous and a desert. The two are powerful description of a hardy place that can only suit “men” compared to women.
The author uses much detail for the paper because he tries to show how people have a misconception about men. The setting of the area enhances this misconception of how men should lead their life or how tough they are. The setting contributes to the mood of the story since it creates a hardy place in the mind of the reader. When one listens to a story about soldiers, the first picture is an arid or semi-arid place. The author uses an arid place to bring a vivid image of a soldier’s base. The setting enhances the story since the story involves the marines as well. A hardy place suits the story better than it being in the city.
The author has mentioned little about women in the paper. The men being away at home, the author insinuates that they are the helpers at home while they are the bread winners. The narrator and his friends live with their mother most the time while their fathers are away. The first instances where women are mentioned is when the character Dave Lightener is introduced. The author writes “we sometimes saw it parked outside homes of young women whose husbands had gone to war” (Percy 3). The author did this intentionally. He wanted to paint the role of women as satisfying men. According to the author, the women had no other roles apart from taking care of the children and satisfying the men. In conclusion, the author shows how men have a fixation with being masculine while at the same time degrading women to roles that are not “masculine” such as in the article by Kincaid where she mentions the role of women which has been ascribed by men “wash the white clothes on Monday and put them on the stone heap; wash the color clothes on Tuesday and put them on the clothesline to dry; don’t walk barehead in the hot sun; cook pumpkin fritters in very hot sweet oil” (Kincaid 1)
Kincaid, Jamaica. Girl. San Francisco Examiner, 1991.