English 1022E Lecture Notes - Sinclair Ross, Pedophilia, Headache
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English Lecture “As for Me and My House” March 24, 2011
-Is this a manifestation of same sex desire between Philip and Steven? Touch of pedophilia
here? Older man is being drawn to a much younger man. Because the diary is Mrs. Bentley’s
we will never know what really happened. Proof of adultery is really hard to get, and we will
never get that between Philip and Steven. But I think we can say that it could definitely be
same sex desire and a touch of pedophilia. Steve and Philip have opportunity to do more
with their relationship than just look at eachother, like going in the car together without Mrs.
-Mrs. Bentley’s reaction to this. Why does she facilitate this relationship? She complains of
a headache and lets them go odd alone. They are gone for a very long time. Why does she
just let them do this when she suspects they are romantically involved?
-She realizes that he would rather go with Steve alone, without her. “I broke when they
drove away” she is upset by what is happening
-The way Philip and Steve behaves show an older man infatuated by a younger man and
the younger man capable of exploiting this infatuation for his own good.
-Philip showers Steve with gifts, almost to buy his affection.
-Steve’s behaviour towards doting Philip (106): “Philip was too indulgent to win his
affections so Steve is taking advantage of this. Shrewdness and strategy in the way he
mentioned the red trousers yesterday. His scheming is too successful, it’s never seen for
what it really is.” By who? She seems to see it. So is she criticizing Philip for what he is doing
to Steve? We will never know. Seems that Steve’s exploitive-ness are consistent with the
kind of older-younger man relationship here.
-The way he touches and looks at Steve. (75) Discussion that Steve is a Roman Catholic so
he shouldn’t be in a Protestant house, etc. During this discussion Philip has his hands on
Steve’s shoulders. After someone slaps Steve, Philip puts his hands on Steve’s shoulders. He
lingers at looking at Steve and lingers with his hands on Steve’s shoulders.
-(95) Steve puts on the new suit. Brokeback Mountain moment. Clearly a sign that Philip is
infatuated, just wants to touch Steve.
-Sinclair Ross was gay. “Phillips hands on Steve’s shoulders is a very homosexual gesture,
as is his staring at the boy” so he confirms it. It’s extraordinary that for 40 years after the
publication of this novel no one ever thought that this was anything more than Philip being
interested in adopting a young way.
-In some ways, this is a closeted novel. It deals with issues of same sex desire in an
oblique, subtextual way. That needed to be done in 1940’s Canada. Ross was born in the
prairies when issues like this couldn’t be discussed, so he had to be really careful. He left
Canada and spent many years in Spain where attitudes towards homosexuality are much
more accepting than they were 60 years ago. So this is novel doesn’t deal with these issues
directly but obliquely.
-Sketch of Philip on page 40. Standard ways of dealing with the source of same sex desire. :
Philip recoiled from his mother, which bleeds into his view of women. She died when he was
14 but it made no difference, the early years left an imprint. His father belonged to an
escape, His mother belonged to the sordid reality of the restaurant. He is distrustful of all
women, half-yield himself and then become detached. He felt he was being false to himself.
Maybe he did feel he was being false to his own desires. We could say that Philip is bisexual,
he had a relationship with her and Judith. His sexuality is very complicated. Does Mrs.
Bentley know about the relationship between Philip and Steve? Does she not want to admit
it to herself? Or isn’t she able to write about this relationship as a woman of the 1930’s?
-There is evidence that if she knows about it, everyone else also knows this or suspects
this. (75) Mrs. Finley’s remark about the gossip going around about Philip and Steve could be
a reference to their relationship. (94) “When you hear what I’ve been hearing, block your
ears.” to Mrs. Bentley. Someone says that Philip isn’t an appropriate role model. Mrs Twill
asks what Mrs. Bentley’s husband and son are doing with puckered lips. Paul tells Philip to
let Steve alone, he “sees enough of you”. (61) Glances at Steve and asks Philip “What did
you want to give him a horse for anyway?” and Philip puts his hands on Steves shoulders.
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