Binary Opposition In Gowdy's We So Seldom Look On Love

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Sean Edwards 100943242 ENGL 2702 A
Prof. Gildea 15 August 2014 Necrophilia and Binary Opposition in Gowdy’s We So Seldom Look On Love The short story We So Seldom Look On Love demonstrates an abstract look at Gowdy’s view of gender roles in society. The story is based off of the infamous female necrophile Karen Greenlee, a former funeral home worker who was caught having sex with male corpses. The narrator in the story has an obsession with death from a very young age, she had her own backyard animal cemetery and would perform rituals for the animals by rubbing them all over her skin and then dancing for them with her clothes off. She later gets a job at a funeral home and becomes obsessed with the corpses of young men. A med student named…show more content…
Wånggren explains that since sexuality sometimes becomes “indicative of our own limits,” the fact that necrophilia transgresses the “boundaries of life and death” shows that it also transgresses “prescribed gender roles” (Wånggren 71). When the narrator has sex with Matt, she is “on the receiving end,” she is the “cadaver,” she lies still and allows Matt to assume the dominant position, as is often the norm in sex between a man and a woman in a patriarchal society. When the narrator is with a cadaver, however, she is the “lover,” and takes the dominating position for herself (Gowdy 149). When her partner is alive, the narrator is unable, or unwilling, to transgress the “prescribed role” of women being submissive, when she is able to transcend the boundaries of life and death, however, she is able to overcome the prescribed role and take the dominant position in…show more content…
Gowdy uses the act of necrophilia and the binary oppositions of land and water to overcome the “unnatural creature” that is the female author. She takes a popular male writing device of the sexualized dead woman, and flips it around, sexualizing the dead man and giving the woman the power, something that is extremely rare in literature. The binary oppositions of life and death, and the act of necrophilia, allow the narrator to assume the power role when having sex with a man, something that is also rare in a patriarchal society. Finally, the narrator avoids being labeled as gay by using necrophilia and the binary opposition of men and women to overcome being placed in a category of homosexual or bisexual, as the act of necrophilia puts whatever her sexual orientation is on the backseat. The act of necrophilia is unnatural and often uncomfortable for people to read about or talk about, Gowdy acknowledges this and uses it as a way to comment on the limitations being placed on people because of their sex or sexual orientation. If people were not constantly placed in categories and given limits on what they can and cannot do, they would not have to look for solutions in unnatural places, such as

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