Shattered Masculinity and Violence in Walker Percy's Lancelot: Apocalypse Now
Although it is not one of Walker Percy’s most popular novel, Lancelot is certainly one of his most complicated. Critics like Vaulthier and Hebert have discussed the masculinity of protagonist Lancelot Lamar in depth, building on theories linking Lamar’s shattered masculinity with male homosocial behavior, particularly homosocial relationships between Lamar and Merlin and Lamar and Percival. Critical discussions leave out, however, an exploration of the violence that pervades the entire text. This is problematic because Lamar’s dissatisfaction with the homosocial roles in the triangulated relationships created by his wife’s affair is what sparks his obsession with violence as a cleansing act. His wife’s lover is not manly enough for Lamar, shattering Lamar’s sense of masculinity and enraging him. As the narrative progresses, it becomes filled with his vision for the future—a world brought on by apocalypse where the women are sexually pure and the men are “pure in heart.” Lamar clearly regards violence as the only way to restore the patriarchal order that his experience of triangulated relationships has thwarted.
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