Gender and Fictional Transcendence of Rennie Morgan in John Barth’s The End Of The Road

Abstract

John Barth’s postwar novel The End of the Road is more likely to be read as a phallocentric novel. However, this paper argues that Barth should be called a feminist and a celebrator of gender queerness.The love triangle between the Morgan couple and the protagonist, Jacob Horner, uncovers not only a hidden homosexual implication between Jacob Horner and Joseph Morgan, but also the process of gender transcendence represented by Rennie Morgan, activated through the horse riding lessons with Jacob. However, being excluded from the phallocentric heterosexual cosmos, each character is found struggling and competes within the cosmos of the excluded “other.” Despite Rennie having become a victim of Joseph’s destructive phallocentric authority, her death eventually leads him towards the path of self-annihilation. Furthermore, the death of Rennie becomes the source of Jacob’s artistic creation. The creation of The End of The Road thus symbolizes the rebirth of Rennie Morgan.

Keywords: postwar, transcendence, phallocentric heterosexuality, homosexual implication, self- annihilation

 

This article has been published on Journal of Humanities and Cultural Studies R&D, Vol. 2, No. 4 (July 2017)

You can view the whole article here

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