The Minus Man Essay, Research Paper
Men and Women: Dogs and Sheep
The Wasp Factory is a novel that focuses heavily on the power of gender. It is a novel that associates masculine power and feminine weakness to animality. Within the novel, males are characterized as skilled, cunning, smart, and powerful; they are associated with dogs. On the other hand, women are viewed as stupid, docile, and frightened; they are associated as sheep. Each of these characterizations is made clear by viewing what Francis Cauldhame is (sheep), and what she desires to be (dog).
Women are one of two of Frances Cauldhame’s greatest enemies. According to Frances, women are weak and stupid. Because they are weak and stupid (pg.43), they will always be inferior. In Frances’s mind, women posses no power.
In regards to animality, this same view about women is directly associated with sheep. Frances believes that sheep are also stupid and weak. He claims that he “used to despise sheep for being so profoundly stupid”(pg.145). Since both women and sheep are stupid, weak, and powerless, then it is clear to presume that women are sheep. Each creature contains the same attributes, and in the mind of Frances they are no different (other than appearance). So therefore, women can easily be viewed as sheep.
Frances hates sheep. Since sheep are women, then this partially explains Frances’s hatred toward women. This hatred is the cause of great conflict. Frances is a woman. Therefore since Frances is a woman, then because of the similar characteristics then she is a sheep as well. She becomes associated with weakness, therefore becoming associated with sheep. Being both a woman and a sheep, Frances is what she hates. So therefore, Frances not only hates women and sheep, but she hates herself as well.
In regards to Frances being a sheep, it is clear to state that the island in which Frances is confined is a pasture. It is a place that she can gaze, wonder, and explore, but still remain in confinement. The idea of a pasture is such that it is a place in which something can grow and develop until its desired goal is reached. For sheep, they graze and eat so as to develop suitable wool. For Francis, her home, her pasture, is a place of struggle. It is a place that confines her true desire. A desire focused on the power of becoming a man.
According to Frances, to be a man is the most honorable and greatest power one can posses. Men are smart, cunning, brave, and most of all, powerful. These characteristics are also associated with those of dogs. In order to become a man, Frances must become as dog-like as possible.
Francis’s mission in becoming a dog is directly related to territory. All dogs mark their territory by urinating on trees, bunkers, plants, and etc. This gives the dogs a sense of boundary and power. In becoming a dog, Frances adopts their natural instinct. On his island, Frances urinates on his sacrifice poles so that he can gain the same sense of power that is associated with the dog. Frank says, “I didn’t need a pee because I’d been pissing on the Poles during the day, infecting them with my scent and power”(pg.16). This act clearly demonstrates Frances’s view on how powerful it is to become a dog and ultimately to become a man.
Within The Wasp Factory it is easy to see the power of gender as it affects the mind and the actions of an individual. More importantly, it is the relationship with animals that relates feelings of inferiority and power with femininity and masculinity.
The Wasp Factory is about how an individual views his/herself and how that same individual views other aspects of society, mainly animals. In examining how Frances views his own identity with how he views certain animals, it is easy to conclude that his feelings about sheep and dogs are identical with his feelings about men and women.
McCreary, Lew, The Minus Man