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What I fear, I avoid. What I fear, I pretend does not exist. What I fear is quietly killing me. Would there were a festival for my fears, a ritual burning of what is coward in me, what is lost in me. Let the light in before it is too late. (633)

In Jeanette Winterson’s “The Green Man” a man who is also a father and husband struggles with his feeling of emasculation and sexual desire. As he, his wife, and his daughter are at the fair, the wild commotion that occurs represents the father’s own internal struggle. He battles with his own air of masculinity, and feels as though he is somehow losing his sense of “manliness.” “On Friday Daddy cuts the lawn. On Saturday Daddy waters it. On Sunday Daddy barbecue’s on the lawn. On Monday Daddy leaves it and looks with half-regret on his close-cropped green-eyed doll. His manhood is buried there and next week he’ll spike it.” (628)

It seems as though the father may be going through a mid-life crisis or at a point in his life where he is re-evaluating the path he has chosen in life. He and his wife no longer have a romantic connection, so when he sees the gypsies at the fair, it peeks his sexual interest. He feels both ashamed and excited at the though of other women.

To [honor]. To mock. To fear. To hate. To laugh out loud. To be fascinated. (631)

The narrator wants to honor his marriage and be a faithful husband, but he cannot stop thinking about sexual encounters with other women. He feels as though everyone is mocking him and laughing at him because of his assumed incapability of being masculine. “They were laughing at me, all of them, as I scrambled off the grass and blundered away.” (631) He is also fascinated by other women and is obsessed about the maintenance of his lawn, another act to recapture his masculinity.

The narrator realizes that his daughter, at thirteen, is becoming aware of sex, and wants to protect her innocence for as long as he can.  The narrator feels as though he is running out of time, not only for himself, but also and time for his daughter to remain innocent in the ways of the world.


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