Masculine Identity in Arturo's Island by Elsa Morante
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This thesis analyzes the ways in which Arturo, the main character of Elsa Morante’s Arturo’s Island (1957), develops his masculine identity and how this identity is shaped throughout the novel. The first chapter focuses on masculinities studies and introduces relevant concepts for the analyses of the novel. Chapters two to four offer interpretative analyses of the novel framed by concepts from masculinity studies. Central themes within my thesis are the father-son relationship, the individual’s search for an identity and the theme of desire and loss. All in all, my analysis shows that Arturo’s masculine identity is mainly developed through the protagonist’s relationships with others. His identity is at first strongly defined by an idealized father-figure. However, the father’s influence gradually decreases, after the arrival of a stepmother who brings disruption both within the father-son relationship as well as to Arturo’s sense of self as a masculine subject. She replaces the father’s role and becomes crucial in shaping the protagonist’s masculine identity. The last part of the analysis explores the disintegration of the father-figure as an ideal and its implications for the protagonist’s trust in his father, as well as for his identity as a masculine subject. It furthermore discusses the ways in which the protagonist comes to reach an awareness of the “death” of his ideal and how this leads to his realization that his own sense of self as a masculine subject was that of a child who is no more and must now enter adulthood.