Thursday, July 16, 2009

McMurphy and Luke

R.P. McMurphy – the main character in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”
Luke of “Cool Hand Luke”

Lately, I’ve been reading fiction by women writers. I’m learning a great deal about life from a different angle. There is a distinct element of relationship description that women seem to be better at writing. Maybe that’s why I’m drawn to that point of view. Maybe I’m weary of the epic quest-type stories written by men. Man against nature. Man against man. Man against this and that and whatever. Men sequestered, longing to be free. Men with a self-proclaimed corner on the Jesus-figure market. And with this self-destructive streak, seeking the great adventure against all odds. There’s that word “against” again.

I suppose stories require tension. And I’m not sure what it is exactly, but I sense that women writers write about tension of a different nature. The tension seems more interior. True, Joyce Carol Oates wrote great stories about boxing but that was non-fiction. I’m just sensing a trend that I cannot quite describe but rather I sense it. Perhaps we can go back to Jane Austen to experience women as true characters and not foils or objects. For example, name me a woman character from a play by Shakespeare who really gets some significant stage time?

When I was young, I was drawn to the Lukes and McMurphys. Now I think what attracts me is what people think and what motivates them to act in certain ways and how we interact with other people. The element of interior tension seems more interesting to me now. Nick Carraway, the narrator of “The Great Gatsby” has that struggle within. Maybe Fitzgerald understood what I’m trying to explain here. His Nick stands in contrast to Hemingway’s Nick Adams who was a physical searcher and a man of movement. Maybe that’s part of it too…movement.

Men on the move…feeling as if they need to be on the move…
Women settled…or the feeling of wanting to be settled, a place, a home, people to nurture…


“…one flew east, one flew west…”

1 comment:

  1. Tom, you feel this way because you are becoming wiser. Of course, women have been "wise" in ways that many men fail to ever understand. Be thrilled that you now get it!