You Made Me This Way: Systems of Oppression in Joseph Heller's Something Happened

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Matthew McLaurin Humphries (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Eve Wiederhold

Abstract: "The purpose my paper is to examine Joseph Heller's novel Something Happened in regards to issues of gender, identity, and sex. Using a psychoanalytic framework, I examine the main character, Bob Slocum, and his relationship with the exterior world and the his memory. Among the topics Slocum maintains focus on is his own sexual history and the sexuality of those around him. Slocum interprets the world in gendered terms but in such a way where his body is sexualized and he is reduced to his sexual parts. I argue that Slocum's interpretation contributes to the unresolved and inverted Oedipal drama that runs throughout the novel and can only be resolved in the novel's conclusion. I argue that it is from a mixture of the need to resolve the Oedipal conflict in his life, his own sexual inadequacy and his latent narcissism that leads to Slocum killing his own son.-- I wish to examine the connection between political protest and body images. My principle topics will be center around images taken from various artists of the past decades and images used by anti-abortion activists. Using a number of theorists, I aim to show that protests related to the body often rely on an understanding of passive participation. I aim to show that activists wish to appeal to this sense of passive participation and force audiences to act. Artists and protesters rely on a recognition of pain by the audience and attempt to incorporate pain and trauma into their pieces via their own bodies or through symbolic bodies."--Abstract from author supplied metadata.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2005
Joseph Heller, novel, Something Happened, gender, identity, sex, Bob Slocum, memory, Oedipal drama, narcissism
Psychoanalysis and literature
Pro-life movement
Body image
Performance art

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