Sleep Fictions: A Digital Companion

VII.1 Hudson

In a later incident, while picnicking at the Coliseum, Christina affirms Roderick’s effeminacy as a weakness to his image of masculinity. In issuing her romantic rejection of the artist, she tells him he is “simply weak” and is not a man worthy of her respect and admiration. She confesses: “Your voice condemns you; I always wondered at it; it’s not the voice of a conqueror.” Christina contrasts the effeminacy of Roderick’s voice with his eyes, which deceived her into believing he was strong. By focusing on voice, a characteristic inexpressible through sculpture, Christina reveals how Roderick fails to embody the archetypical masculinity he idealizes in his male statues that have so attracted Rowland. Unlike “A Lady Listening,” men must actively command and Roderick’s failure to do so, as Christina articulates, exposes his effeminate nature.

Moreover, after Christina asserts that Roderick's sacred fire suffers in its “flickers and trembles and sputters," Roderick retorts: "I could work twenty years at a sitting, on purpose to refute you!” If inconsistencies in work ethic are symptomatic of a feminine weakness (Christina refers to her own self as  "a miserable medley of vanity and folly . . . silly . . .[and] affected"), then Roderick seeks to prove his masculinity through "twenty years'" of work. 

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