In Between Masculinity and Society
As the story line progresses the reader slowly comes to the conclusion that it is the narrator’s own selfish desires and insecurity are what ultimately destroys the image of masculinity he has worked so hard to achieve. "Men’s behaviour," McEwan has been quoted as saying, " is somehow invisible. we don’t see ourselves as having a behaviour that is indefinitely male, were just human" (Brown). The blurring of the lines between what is masculine and what is feminine is brought to the forefront in Dead as They Come as the narrator fights with emotions that are characterized with those belonging to both male and female alike. As the narrator begins his story, his romanticized obsession with the storefront mannequin "Helen" is like that which women love to read about in romance novels. He describes in rather over the top romantic detail saying, "Her body in its rippling changes of posture, adapted itself to the unique demands of each creation. with breathless grace, the lines of her perfect body played tender counterpart with the shifting arabesques of sartorial artifice" McEwan 75). While statements like these make it obvious that the narrator has a romantic and passionate soul, he feels the need to make up for this emotional weakness by reminding the reader over and over again of his overabundance of wealth and success as a businessman. He goes on to say, "I bore you with lyricism," and abruptly changes the reader’s attention by explaining, "I must tell you something about myself. I am wealthy. Possibly there are ten men resident in London with more money than I. Probably there are only five or six" (McEwan 75). These opening statements follow the narrator through the rest of his story as he constantly feels the need to overcompensate for his emotions which he seems to feel are weak and at times effeminate.The modern theory of masculinity is addressed throughout the story as the narrator struggles between his emotions and his need to suppress them. Most members of society feel that "Male norms stress values such as courage, inner direction, certain forms of aggression, autonomy, mastery, adventure, and considerable amounts of toughness in mind and body" (Donaldson).