Friday, July 18, 2008

Portraits of the Male in The Fox (Annotation G4-4/Goddard)

In D.H. Lawrence's short novel, The Fox, the overt themes of gender are obvious among the women. Banford and March are the two single, childless woman who work their farm. The two have eliminated all the animals in the barnyard save the chickens, all of which are female. One night March finds a fox and admiringly follows it into the woods. The fox is the first of two male figures in the story. When the soldier arrives, under the guise of a homecoming, he is the second male figure. The portrait of the young man follows the metaphor of the fox.
Interestingly, the young soldier spends most of his time wandering the forest with his rifle. The importance of his wanderings is evident in two ways. The first facet is the loner attitudes he seems to adopt when out on hunting excursions, and the rifle is representing the phallus. While the women are back on the farm tending to various chores, he is out alone with the rifle. The second facet is the direct comparison between the man and the fox. While the fox is sly and tormenting the chickens in their house, the same might be said of the man as he is in the main house with the women.
The insidious happening between the man and the fox happen as the young man has worn his welcome thin with Banford while courting the second woman, March. As the women sleep, he is outside with his rifle, and eventually shoots the fox. The importance of the event is the death of as foreshadowing of the death of Banford.
The questions of gender and sexuality in the novel may have more applications than a short account of various relationships. The idea of childless, single women working in such an environment so overtly female raise questions of gender roles. The male aspect of the story, as stifling as it is the comparison of a young man and a fox.

Lawrence, D.H. The Fox. Bantam: New York, 1968.

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