Allegories of childhood gender: Hawthorne and the material boy.
--Cornelia Richards, aka Mrs. Manners, At Home and Abroad; or, How to Behave (1853)
In "Hawthorne and the Writing of Childhood," Karen Sanchez-Eppler observes that the "scene of a grown man entering the public sphere hand in hand with a young child is repeated throughout Nathaniel Hawthorne's fiction" (143). She points to scenes in The Scarlet Letter, "The Artist of the Beautiful," and "Little Annie's Ramble" as expressions of Hawthorne's desire "to make public ... his connection with childhood" (143). While these moments illustrate his investment in the figure of "the child," I want to suggest that they are complicated by issues of gender. It is no accident that the "sinless child" who can erase the male narrator's world-weariness in "Little Annie's Ramble"--the "materiality of daily life" that famously plagues Hawthorne in "The Custom House"--is not a boy, but sentimental culture's revered girl. (1) Only she is free from the materiality that marks, and indeed, defines the boy. (2)
Although critics have explored Hawthorne's ideas about girls at length, they have shown less interest in his fictional boys. (3) This critical emphasis on girls has drawn attention away from Hawthorne's tendency to categorize children into gender-based hierarchies that identify boyhood as a problem. Stories such as "The Snow-Image," "Little Annie's Ramble," "Little Daffydowndilly," and "The Gentle Boy" allegorize childhood gender difference and articulate a theory of "boy-nature" that echoes widespread antebellum beliefs about boys. Numerous cultural authorities argued that as boys entered boyhood from around age five to seven, they began to exhibit an increased concern for their bodily desires and were decidedly less moral, spiritual, and sympathetic than girls. (4) Hawthorne's beliefs about boy-girl difference are more fluid than those of his didactic contemporaries who wrote for and about children, but he shares their discomfort with boyhood masculinity. In his stories, the celebration of the spiritual girl is intimately tied to this unease with the material boy.
In Tanglewood Tales's "The Minotaur," Theseus proudly exclaims to his mother, "I am no longer a child, nor a boy, nor a mere youth! I feel myself a man!" (7:186). Theseus outlines the conventional stages of male development--typically called "infancy," "boyhood," "youth," and "manhood"--and Hawthorne's culture saw the male in the second stage as a pedagogical dilemma. (5) In The Evil Tendencies of Corporal Punishment, prominent educator and reformer Lyman Cobb characterizes boyhood as a space of moral contagion, arguing that young male children are essentially good but often in "boyhood become bad" (205; emphasis in original). (6) Since "many boys are rather unfeeling," he believes that they, unlike girls, "are not, at that time, suitable company for men, women, or children" (210-11; emphasis in original). Hawthorne's peer Bronson Alcott repeatedly critiques the coarse, material nature of boys, expressing disappointment that they "deemed thoughts to be unreal" and "outward things [to be] real" (77). To direct boys away from the material world and toward the spiritual abstractions that concern him, Alcott endorses a material form of discipline: he will "hurt the [boy's] body ... when it is necessary to reach the mind and put thoughts in it" (45). Throughout educational and maternal advice writing, the morally correct "feeling" of girls was set against the "unfeeling" nature of boyhood. (7) In an advice manual chapter titled "Bad Habits Peculiar to Boys," for example, a writer concisely articulates changes widely believed to occur in boyhood: "My boys are very loveable till they outgrow babyhood, and begin to show themselves to be boys, coarse, ungainly, and unloving" (Manners 40; emphasis in original).
Hawthorne's The Whole History of Grandfather's Chair features a boy named Charley, a "coarse, ungainly, and unloving" child described in the ways that antebellum culture often characterized boys. In The Whole History, a grandfather tells his grandchildren Charley, Laurence, Clara, and Alice a series of stories about American historical figures. Hawthorne has particular designs on boy readers and listeners, who can evaluate the masculine ideology exemplified by each historical figure, and, more importantly, can assess contradictory forms of contemporary boyhood in the material and disruptive Charley and the moral and imaginative Laurence. (8) Alice and Clara, on the other hand, offer girls no real choice: both are well-adjusted models of conventional childhood femininity at different ages. Many educators argued that the heightened sensibility of girls meant that they, more so than boys, would naturally gravitate toward moral stories, and both Clara and Alice feel rightly towards the stories that populate the narrative. But the contrast between Laurence's and Charley's reactions and the kinds of masculinity they express, offer boys a profound alternative.
Early in The Whole History, Hawthorne sets in motion ideas about children, age, and gender that he will replay throughout the book:
Laurence, who had taken possession of a heap of decayed branches, which the gardener had lopped from the fruit-trees, and was building a little hut for his cousin Clara and himself. [The grandfather] heard Clara's gladsome voice, too, as she weeded and watered the flower-bed which had been given her for her own. He could have counted every footstep that Charley took, as he trundled his wheelbarrow along the gravel walk. And though Grandfather was old and gray-haired, yet his heart leaped with joy, whenever little Alice came fluttering like a butterfly into the room. (6:9) (9)
Laurence is a "little man" "in whom an early thoughtfulness and sensibility began to show themselves," the kind of moral traits Cobb and others believed were absent in boyhood but might appear later, in youth or early manhood (6:11). In her novel Home, Catharine Maria Sedgwick calls a boy character "unboyish" because, like Laurence and unlike the troublesome protagonist in Home, he is patient, helps others, and always behaves (16; emphasis in original). He represents the exception that proves a cultural rule: "boyish" boys--that is to say, most boys--lack the sensibility of girls. Sedgwick's feminine boy prefigures Hawthorne's Laurence, who acts unboyishly by assuming the role of adult male, building a "home" for himself and Clara, who is also associated with a domestic ethos. She cultivates and cares for flowers, a metaphor for her ability to sympathize with others and training for her future role as a moral caretaker of children. And Alice, the "butterfly," is Hawthorne's quintessential "unworldly" female child, "a flower-bud fresh from paradise" (6:9, 51). Clara differs in small ways from her younger sister, showing an interest, for example, in the fashions worn by historical figures. But ultimately, both female children--and Laurence--are linked by a constellation of domestic and sentimental virtues: a gentle temperament, an interest in beauty, an ability to sympathize with others, and a preference for ideas over things.
The three children reject the physicality and material desires that define Charley's boyhood masculinity. Like the grandfather, who laments Charley's lack of sentiment, Bronson Alcott is disappointed when boys in his school covet money or prefer the "descriptive" aspect of a narrative over the "reflective" part, a fundamental--and in Hawthorne, a gendered--difference between Charley's and Laurence's reactions to The Whole History's stories. Laurence is the model boy, a feminine male characterized in ways that Hawthorne describes Laurence's sisters and female children who appear throughout the short stories, such as Violet in "The Snow-Image" and Marygold in "The Golden Touch." Like them, he has a finely-tuned sensibility that responds most deeply to domestic, rather than national, narratives:
"It makes my breath flutter--my heart thrill--to think of it," said Laurence. "Yes; a family chair must have a deeper history than a Chair of State."
"Oh yes!" cried Clara, expressing a woman's feeling on the point in question. "The history of a country is not near so interesting as that of a single family would be." (6:65)
This is Hawthorne's most compact expression of the "fanciful" Laurence's unboyish otherness: his feelings are that of a girl and a woman.
The "reckless" Charley is the only child Hawthorne does not associate with sentiment, nature, or a placid domesticity. As a nine-year-old boy, he is centered within the chronological boundaries of boyhood and evinces traits the culture ascribes to boys, who are repeatedly characterized as "nuisances," "reckless," "depraved," "conceited," "disobedient," "mischief-makers," and "little interested in anything except what concerns the body." A review of The Pilgrim Boy in The Mother's Magazine and Daughter's Friend says this "story of the olden time ... may be useful to the boys of our day, who despise restraint, or revel in a misjudged freedom, and ... do as they please" (64). Similarly, an essay on corporal punishment chastises "the unruly boys of the present generation" ("Corporal Punishment" 339), while another proclaims "The boy ... when freed from the artificial restraints of the schoolroom ... not unfrequently [sic] becomes reckless of all restraint" (cited in Cobb 256). Charley's physicality--the deliberate, loud footsteps he makes on the gravel path--is set against the "gladsome" voice of Clara, the lightness of Alice, and the other-directed impulses of Laurence, traits that Hawthorne celebrates throughout The Whole History. Only Charley, the emblematic male during boyhood, represents "the boy-problem":
after disturbing the household with beat of drum and riotous shouts, [he] races up and down the staircase, overturning of chairs, and much other uproar, began to feel the quiet and confinement within doors intolerable.... the other children ... had betaken themselves to occupations that did not admit of his companionship. (6:20)
A figure of noise, activity, and violence, he literally and metaphorically overturns the domestic space and its values.
The name of Hawthorne's problematic Charley was even used as a generic name for problem boys in maternal advice writing. An article in the Mother's Magazine and Family Circle titled "What Is to Be Done with Charley?" suggests forms of management that might work with troubled sons, arguing boy-nature was so volatile that, if not tempered by appropriate discipline, a boy--and by extension his social world--would simply be "doomed" (16). The essay warns that "many a hard, morose, bitter man has come from a Charley turned off and neglected; and many a parental heart-ache has come from a Charley left to run the streets" (15). Every Charley, the author advises, needs to be given space in the home and integrated into the family. Hawthorne's Charley, however, is almost always spatially and ideologically separated from the other children:
Grandfather remembered that Charley had galloped away upon a stick, in the midst of the narrative of poor Lady Arabella.... But Laurence laid down his book and seconded the request. Clara drew her chair nearer to Grandfather, and little Alice immediately closed her picture-book, and looked up into his face. (6:21)
Like his contemporaries, Hawthorne conflates notions of boyhood physicality and age in ways that do not work to a boy's advantage. Older boys are bigger, and bigger is not better. Charley's boyish games are a frustration and embarrassment--"So large a boy should have been ashamed to ride upon a stick"--and they are connected to his disinterest in others: "Charley was too big a boy, of course, to care any thing about little Alice's stories" (6:18, 20). And he is "naughty"--which Hawthorne tells us is the nature of "schoolboys" (6:85)--with "a matter-of-fact" temperament (6:32), an insult Hawthorne directed at males whose interest in physical facts over moral truths brings about the suffering of others (Charley "gallops away" during a story that moves his siblings).
Most importantly, Charley displays masculine characteristics that Hawthorne identifies as a source of problems that have plagued American history. "The boy-problem" concerned authors and educators because, if not solved, it became the problem with men--the violence that runs throughout The Whole History. After hearing of John Eliot's peaceful relationship with Native Americans, the aggressive Charley announces he "would have conquered ... and then converted them," an approach the grandfather mockingly calls "the very spirit of our forefathers!" (6:44). At the heart of "the boy-problem" was the boy's lack of sympathy for others, and here Charley advocates a strategy of violence that generated all manner of domestic and national disruptions, from acts of mischief (like Charley's overturning of domestic objects) to the violence of war. The grandfather tells readers that Charley was "addicted to a ... mode of settling disputes" that haunts American history, a tactic used by Sir William Phips, who "quarrelled with the captain of an English frigate, and also with the Collector of Boston.... he gave each of them a sound beating with his cane" (6:79). The violence endorsed by Charley, Phips, and the famously harsh schoolmaster Ezekiel Cheever, whose story the grandfather recounts at length, becomes the transhistorical expression of masculine corporeality, a bodily disease infecting history. Elizabeth Goodenough sees Charley's masculine traits as sanctioned by cultural authorities as engines of civilization and progress, but I argue that Hawthorne repeatedly shows Charley's anti-domestic materialism as a historical and present threat, and, on a familial level, as a disappointment to those around him. (10)
Peony in Hawthorne's "The Snow-Image" seems to have nothing in common with the aggressive and disruptive Charley. Like his sister Violet, Peony possesses the innocence common to many of Hawthorne's fictional children. Here, as throughout his stories, Hawthorne uses flower names for boys and girls, connecting them to each other and to the uncorrupted products of nature, connections that seem to erase gender. Following this logic, critics often discuss the story's interest in "childhood." Yet "The Snow-Image" employs a well-defined contrast that underlies antebellum theories of childhood gender and value: the moral girl and corporeal boy. The children featured in the writings of Jacob Abbott, one of the period's most influential educators and authors, for example, are divided almost exclusively into material boys and moral girls. In an anecdote about classroom discipline, Abbott contrasts two "coarse boys ... little interested in anything except what concerns the body" with "two bright, and sensitive, and eager girls ... interested in their studies ... [and] eager for the good opinion" of parents and teachers ("Advantages" 30). Hawthorne introduces Violet with terms that emphasize her elevated moral "disposition"; she is "tender" and "modest," words that clearly encode her sensibility and define her as a model child who is "eager for the good opinion" of others (11:7). In contrast, her brother is introduced with terms that mark his materiality. Making no mention of Peony's moral disposition, Hawthorne focuses on the physical characteristics he foregrounds throughout the tale: the "ruddiness" of Peony's "round" face (11:7). When Violet sees Peony covered in snow, she excitedly observes that he resembles "a snow-image .... And that puts me in mind! Let us make an image out of snow" (11:9). Despite being inspired by a boy, the snow-image, Violet tells her brother, will be "an image of a girl" (11:9). The physicality of Peony is a problem for her, as it is for her author. Because Peony's boyhood corporality represents a disturbance--a mild version of Charley's problems--his gender cannot be the model for the "white" and "airy" snow-image.
Violet becomes Hawthorne's surrogate in the story, the artist as a young female Transcendentalist, who is best suited to create the snow child because she, not Peony, is its real inspiration: Violet was "the guiding spirit; while Peony acted rather as a laborer" (11:12). (11) Immediately after Hawthorne celebrates the snow child as more "a cheerful Thought ... than a physical reality" (11:9), he concretizes the notion of "physical reality" with a description, not surprisingly, of Peony, who "expanded in breadth rather than height, and rolled along on his short and sturdy legs, as substantial as an elephant" (11:9). Hawthorne does not demonize Peony for his physicality, as many nineteenth-century writers might have, but he establishes a clear hierarchy that elevates the female--the "cheerful Thought"--above the male--the "physical reality." While Violet is the "guiding spirit," Peony is fit only to be the "laborer."
The snow-image embodies the kind of earthly perfection that Hawthorne envisioned only in the pre-sexual female child. (12) "Pure" and "white," she is unmarked by the corporeality that defines Peony, Charley, and antebellum boys. In a metaphorically loaded moment, Hawthorne compares both children to the snow-image: "Violet could but just keep pace with her, and Peony's short legs compelled him to lag behind" (11:16). Violet, whose physicality goes un-narrated, is equated with the image; though a real child, she can "keep pace" with the perfection of an imaginary one. But Peony, limited by his boyish body, "lag[s] behind," a flawed child. In another symbolic moment, the children exit a snow drift: "Violet emerged like a snow-bunting ... [and] Peony floundered out with his round face" (11:8). Even the verbs express a fundamental gender difference: the girl emerges gracefully, while the boy flounders, burdened by the body that defines him.
For Hawthorne, Peony's physicality represents an emerging expression of the coarse materialism that fully defines his father, "a dealer in hardware" whose subjectivity is infused with a corresponding materiality: his "head [is] as hard and impenetrable, and therefore perhaps as empty, as one of the iron-pots which it was a part of his business to sell" (11:7). Hawthorne closely identifies Mr. Lindsey with his occupation (as adult males often were in the nineteenth century), and the "empty" objects he sells allegorize his spiritual emptiness; domestic objects become meaningful only when filled by a woman's actions in service of domestic values. As an "exceedingly matter-of-fact sort of man," Lindsey is devoid of the sentiment that animates his wife, the snow-image, and Violet (11:7). Hawthorne mockingly observes that he has "a heart about as tender as other people"--which is to say, not all that tender. Violet's "tender" disposition, however, is free from ironic commentary, just as her mother's constant tenderness is without question. (13) Hawthorne sketches a trajectory from boy to man that charts a process of moral coarsening: the flower that is Peony becomes the "iron pot" and "stubborn materialism" that describe his father (11:24). (14) While adult masculinity in "The Snow-Image" expresses a loss rooted in the boy's material nature, femininity embodies a continuity that links the female child to the woman. (15) Violet's mother is "a delicate and dewy flower ... that had survived out of her imaginative youth," and her "character ... had a strain of poetry in it, a trait of unworldly beauty" (11:7). Hawthorne's description of Violet as "the guiding spirit" and Peony as "laborer" echoes a belief about adults central to antebellum domesticity: by virtue of an innately superior sensibility, the woman directs the home and the man works in the public sphere.
"Little Annie's Ramble" and "Little Daffydowndilly" form a pair of allegorical narratives that echo ideas about childhood gender present in The Whole History of Grandfather's Chair and amplify boy-girl differences that appear throughout "He Snow-Image." (16) Structurally, each is a "ramble," a picaresque sketch in which characters (in these tales a young child and adult male) wander through a series of scenes. Hawthorne encodes ideas about gender difference at every level of the stories, even in their verb tenses. "Little Annie's Ramble" employs a gnomic first person, an eternal present tense inspired by the perfection of Annie herself, who is both muse and always-available salve to the narrator. A "sinless child," Annie bears no marks of physicality; rather, like the snow-image, she is an odd mixture of real and imaginary child. Her narrative is a pleasurable stroll filled with animal menageries, toys, and confections, yet Daffydowndilly's "ramble" is a past-tense dystopia dense with labor and absent of pleasure. Even if we could imagine Hawthorne telling Annie's story with a male child, it would be difficult to imagine Daffydowndilly's tale with Annie in his place. When the man appears in public with a boy, the moment is less hopeful than when he appears with a girl.
Unlike the ordered and repetitious structure of "Little Daffydowndilly," the narrative of "Little Annie's Ramble" evokes the day-dream-like mode of the sentimental reverie and is almost as airy as Annie herself, who "trips lightly along, as if she were forced to keep hold of [the narrator's] hand, lest her feet should dance away from the earth" (9:122). Here, as in many of the short stories, Hawthorne employs the language of fairy tales to express the almost immaterial, angelic nature of girls; Annie, "the prettiest fairy of them all" is "white" and "pure," terms that, as we have seen, Hawthorne and his culture often used for exemplary fictional girls (9:124). Her immateriality provides a stark contrast to the market she and the narrator visit:
hacks with two horses, and stage-coaches with four, thundering to meet each other, and trucks and carts moving at a slower pace, being heavily laden with barrels from the wharves, and here are rattling gigs, which perhaps will be smashed to pieces before our eyes. Hitherward, also, comes a man trundling a wheelbarrow along the pavement. Is not little Annie afraid of such a tumult? No; she does not even shrink closer to my side, but passes on with fearless confidence, a happy child amidst a great throng of grown people, who pay the same reverence to her infancy, that they would to extreme old age. (9:122)
The oppressive physicality of this moment in the male marketplace--Charley's domestic disturbances expanded--has a real possibility of danger, with gigs being "smashed to pieces." Hawthorne sets "this materiality of daily life" against Annie, who, as its opposite, literally creates a space for herself by the power of her presence, not simply as child, but as a perfect child and "a queen": "Nobody jostles her; all turn aside to make way for little Annie; and what is most singular, she appears conscious of her claim to such respect," a claim validated by antebellum culture, which produced numerous sentimental texts that echo Hawthorne's belief in the elevated status of the female child (9:122). Even the narrator's commentary on the ideal toy for a young girl reaffirms the logic behind this status: "Though made of wood, a doll is a visionary and ethereal personage" (9:125). He doll is a "girl's true plaything" because it mirrors Annie: both magically convert materiality into ideality, an act symbolic of the power sentimental culture grants the young girl as emblematic of its own divinity (9:125).
While the story seems to exclude boys, they appear in a coded, if noisy, way. Annie's and the narrator's harsh reactions to monkeys they see after leaving the market replay a number of familiar complaints about male children within boyhood:
But, oh, those unsentimental monkeys! the ugly, grinning, aping, chattering, ill-natured, mischievous and queer little brutes. Annie does not love the monkeys. Their ugliness shocks her pure, instinctive delicacy of taste, and makes her mind unquiet. (9:127)
Throughout pedagogical writings, boys are frequently called "ill-natured" and "mischievous" as they are compared (and sometimes equated) to animals. "The Boy is a dreadful animal, under whatever aspect we regard him," one author notes ("Against Boys" 85) and another believes that "Kindness has tamed the most savage animals" and therefore can be "wonderfully effective" with boys ("On the Preparation of Young Men" 11). (17) The "unsentimental monkeys" are the antithesis of Annie, just as for many educators boys are the opposite of "pure" and "delicate" sentimental girls. As doctor and educational reformer Morill Wyman argues, girls "have moral characteristics which at once distinguish them" from boys: they are "more sensitive in feeling ... gentle, docile, confiding, and affectionate ... [and have a] woman's refined sensibilities" (32-33). Hawthorne's tale celebrates the bond between the adult narrator and female child made possible by the girl's sensible nature; "there is sympathy between us," a sympathy widely seen as difficult--and even absent--when the child was the "ill-natured," animalistic boy (9:122). Given that "Annie does not love the monkeys," it is easy to imagine she would not be fond of boys like Charley.
Hawthorne closes "Little Annie's Ramble" with a moral solidifying Annie's literal and symbolic value for adults:
it is good to steal away from the society of bearded men, and even of gentler woman, and spend an hour or two with children. After drinking from those fountains of still fresh existence, we shall return into the crowd, as I do now, to struggle onward and do our part in life, perhaps as fervently as ever, but, for a time, with a kinder and purer heart, and a spirit more lightly wise. All this by thy sweet magic, dear little Annie! (9:129). (18)
Because of her nature, Annie can offer a special relief for the male narrator, who is plagued by the materiality of masculinity. As a girl, Annie has a nature, past, and present distinct from his, and so can be conjured up as an antidote "when life settles darkly down upon" him (9:129). Sanchez-Eppler notes that the story is "oddly anti-domestic" (151) because Annie travels away from home, yet the tale embraces core domestic values about masculinity and femininity as well as beliefs about boys and girls (9:129). Echoing domestic culture's idealization of girls, the narrator celebrates Annie as something supernatural: by her "sweet magic," he is made over anew. But the toil associated with boys' lives and their physical nature--they are chattering monkeys who become noisy laborers in the market--means that the narrator, and perhaps Hawthorne himself, does not, and cannot, look to the boy when he seeks escape and renewal.
There is no possibility of renewal or escape in "Little Daffydowndilly," perhaps Hawthorne's harshest representation of boyhood and its future, a fate encoded in boyhood's material nature. Annie's besieged foil, the title character, wants to remain within the conceptual boundaries of infancy, the time before boyhood that is free from labor, a maternal utopia in which boys like Daffydowndilly, who "took no delight in labor of any kind," could be with their loving mothers (11:200). Against his wishes, Daffydowndilly is sent to the harsh confines of Mr. Toil's schoolroom, where the ugly schoolmaster hovers over "the scholars, or stalked about the schoolroom with a certain awful birch rod in his hand" (11:200). Daffydowndilly laments having to leave home, and in Hawthorne's allegory "leaving the mother" is symbolic of the movement away from infancy into boyhood and training for manhood. Hawthorne, who often struggled with cultural imperatives to labor, understands the boy's desire to be free from work, but when he suggests that Peony's material nature made him fit to be a laborer, he echoes cultural dictates about the intimate connection between a boy's nature and his future. (19) Materiality is a problem that domestic culture solves by putting the boy's physicality to productive use.
Daffydowndilly meets a stranger who offers to be his guide, and he happily assents, knowing "he should get along through the world much easier, by having a man of experience to show him the way" (11:202). And what he shows him is the way of labor. (20) Daffydowndilly's journey becomes the opposite of Annie's ramble; in her story the narrator "gets along" better by being led by a girl, but in his story the boy is taken into the masculine material world that he will inhabit. Hawthorne stages Daffydowndilly's initiation as a series of encounters with five groups--haymakers, carpenters, soldiers, dancers, idlers--most of which consist of men working. When he encounters each group, Daffydowndilly hopes he has found sanctuary from the violence of his teacher and the toil of school. But each episode tells the same story; hope turns to horror as it quickly becomes clear to him that this group, like the one before it, is overseen by a "brother" of Mr. Toil (11:203). Daffydowndilly's repeated fall from pleasure into work (leaving the mother for Toil) is encoded in pairs of words that express his wish for freedom and the inevitable disappointment he experiences: "delighting" to "fright" (11:203); "gladly" to "dismay" (11:204); "pleasant" to "pale" (11:205, 206). (21) Each encounter restages the same epiphany, which marks the movement from infancy into boyhood: the realization that the boy's life is now about toil.
When Daffydowndilly sees a fiddler, he believes he has finally found the rest and play he desires: "We shall be quite safe here" (11:205). But even the musician is an avatar of Mr. Toil, with "a fiddle-bow instead of a birch rod," controlling the dancers as the other Toils directed workers (11:205). The fiddler was embarrassed by his family's longstanding association with work, and so changed his name from Mr. Toil to "Monsieur le Plaisir." (22) But he cannot mask his nature with an exotic pseudonym. His genealogy--and "the lesson" he embodies for the boy--remains the same. Leaving the mother and becoming a boy means that play and pleasure will bear the mark of materiality. (23) To ensure that each boy recognizes the unlimited scope of Mr. Toil's reach, Hawthorne grants him a horrifying omnipresence:
whithersoever they went, behold! there was the image of old Mr. Toil. He stood like a scarecrow in the cornfields. If they entered a house, he sat in the parlor; if they peeped into the kitchen, he was there! He made himself at home in every cottage, and stole, under one disguise or another, into the most splendid mansions. Everywhere there was sure to be somebody wearing the likeness of Mr. Toil. (11:206)
In Daffydowndilly's allegorical world, a boy cannot avoid Toil, whom the narrator calls a "magician," an odd term given that, for Hawthorne, labor is often the most un-magical of things; it is nothing like Annie's "sweet magic." Indeed, as Hawthorne wrote in his notebook in August of 1841, "Labor is the curse of the world, and nobody can meddle with it without becoming proportionately brutified" (15:558).
In the end of "Little Daffydowndilly," Hawthorne tells us that Daffydowndilly and the stranger "had travelled in a circle instead of a straight line," a path symbolic of the confines of boyhood masculinity and of the labor that turns boys into men and brutes (11:207). A ramble away from home and school might appear to offer relief from pedagogical pressures that enter the boy's life in boyhood, but Hawthorne brings Daffydowndilly back to where he started--the schoolhouse in which he and other boys were whipped by Toil. The disciplinary "circle" they have traveled recalls Foucault's discussion of the Panopticon; like a prisoner within the circular prison, Daffydowndilly must assume that Mr. Toil is watching, that a boy is always under his disciplinary gaze. Thus the boy internalizes the imperative to labor. As a final twist, one imported from the gothic horror story, Hawthorne reveals that the friendly traveler, who had been initiating the boy into the world of work, is actually Mr. Toil:
There was something in his companion's voice that little Daffydowndilly now remembered; and it is strange that he had not remembered it sooner. Looking up into his face, behold! there again was the likeness of old Mr. Toil; so that the poor child had been in company with Toil all day, even while he was doing his best to run away from him. (11:207)
When a boy looks at an adult male, he sees his future face, one shaped and worn by toil. For Daffydowndilly, the weight of boyhood is the realization that work is always with him; like Peony in "He Snow-Image," he will become a "laborer." The material connection between Peony and his father in "He Snow-Image" is solidified between Daffydowndilly and Mr. Toil, both of whom will be defined by the work they perform.
Unlike Tom Sawyer and other protagonists of late nineteenth-century "boy-books," who want to flee domestic spaces, Daffydowndilly wants to return to his mother, escaping work, violence, and social responsibility. Although the plot of "Little Daffydowndilly" resembles an adventure tale's journey away from home, Hawthorne's story repudiates the anti-domestic values of nineteenth-century boys' escapist fiction. The popular lecturer and conduct book author Timothy Titcomb summed up what middle-class culture expected of its boys: "you can have no influence unless you are social.... The revenge which society takes upon the man who isolates himself, is as terrible as it is inevitable" (63-69). (24) For Titcomb, to be "social" means to reject Thoreauvian and Melvillian escape fantasies by playing a part in domesticity and the marketplace. Oliver Optic, author of many popular boys' novels, repeatedly insists that a boy must learn "that he [is] one wheel in the vast machine" (Sailor Boy 199), and Francis Forrester frames the notion of self-denial in the language of adventure in his boys' novel Dick Duncan: "it was heroic to submit" (183). To embrace social responsibility, then, was the conventional expectation for boys and men.
In "Little Daffydowndilly" Hawthorne laments the notion that a male must be conventionally productive, his disappointment seemingly hidden by the story's avuncular tone, which suggests its lessons are simply the thoughtful advice of a caring adult. Hawthorne even blends Toil's face--which was repulsive in the opening--with the loving smile of one of sentimental culture's most celebrated figures, the mother: "the old schoolmaster's smile of approbation made his face almost as pleasant as even that of Daffydowndilly's mother" (11:207). In a moment that evokes the gothic uncanny, the familiar and the unfamiliar merge: the boy can no longer distinguish Toil and the mother. (25) I am not arguing that the tale is fundamentally ironic, mocking Mr. Toil and his values. Rather, I am saying that Hawthorne regretfully accepts the dictates of Toil, recognizing that the fears and disappointments of boyhood (the ferule, surveillance, and labor) are inescapable. Boyhood, then, is a story about masculinity in which the everyday becomes tinged with the gothic.
"Little Annie's Ramble" is a rejuvenating fantasy of pleasure, but "Little Daffydowndilly" offers no such comfort. At the end of her story, Annie returns home unchanged, but when the boy leaves, or is taken from home to be initiated into boyhood, he is essentially banished from the maternally-protected space of infancy. While Annie and the narrator share an ennobling sympathy, Daffydowndilly and his fellow traveler's relationship is based upon a deception Hawthorne reveals at the tale's end. In these ways, "Little Daffydowndilly" plays out an ambivalence toward boyhood. While recognizing that all boys and men want to be "Monsieur le Plaisir," Hawthorne knows that domestic ideology--which tethers masculinity to production--forces the suppression of this desire. The escape fantasy must be repressed and labor embraced as a final value.
There is no Daffydowndilly in Hawthorne's "The Golden Touch," but there is an Annie. Hawthorne adds Marygold, a representation of childhood perfection, to his revision of the King Midas story in A Wonder Book for Girls and Boys. (26) Like Mr. Lindsey in "The Snow-Image," Midas is the counterpart of the immaterial female child, and the gold coins in which he basks in his reflection embody his materialistic nature. The ironically named Marygold (which evokes Midas's desire, not hers) is a saintly female child who dies (albeit temporarily) to redeem her father, and perhaps materialistic boy readers. A "tender" child, Marygold counters her father's corporeality in a way that a material boy in Hawthorne could not.
In "The Golden Touch," as in "He Snow-Image" and "Little Annie's Ramble," the female child's beauty is not primarily material, but moral. Despite her name, Marygold is not allied with the common marigold (a difference partially signaled by the altered spelling), but with the most transcendent and poetic of flowers, the rose (the symbolic antithesis of the gold coin), in particular the "beautifullest, and sweetest roses, that any mortal ever saw or smelt" (7:41). Hawthorne's roses express aesthetic-moral characteristics assigned to girls in the domestic sentimental imagination. (27) Indeed, moral girls and beautiful roses are indistinguishable as earthly representations of unearthly perfection, and the sentimental vocabulary Hawthorne uses to describe roses recalls descriptions of Annie, Violet, and the snow-image: "Their delicate blush was one of the fairest sights in the world; so gentle, so modest, and so full of sweet tranquility" (7:47).
Marygold personifies Hawthorne's celebration of sympathy, showing a degree of affective identification that male children in his works--and in those of his culture--rarely match: her "infinitely ... warm and tender heart ... loved [Midas], [and] exceeded in value all the wealth that could be piled up betwixt the earth and sky!" (7:53). And she feels her father's pain even more acutely than he does: "Yes; there she was, with the questioning look of love, grief, and pity, hardened into her face. It was the prettiest and most woeful sight that ever mortal saw" (7:53). But the desire to comfort her father brings about her transformation into a golden statue: "with a sweet and sorrowful impulse to comfort him, she started from her chair, and running to Midas, threw her arms affectionately about his knees" (7:52). Yet even in death--or perhaps most powerfully in death--she evokes the purity of her feminine sympathy with sentimental culture's sign of perfect identification, tears: "Her sweet, rosy face, so full of affection as it had been, assumed a glittering yellow color, with yellow tear-drops congealing on her cheeks" (7:53). Gillian Brown rightly notes that Marygold and other girls are victims of "the sins and manias of their father," yet Marygold's death transcends physical suffering ("Hawthorne and Children" 91). While there are tears, she dies instantly and returns to life, feeling and remembering nothing.
Marygold is a temporary martyr who redeems her father, as Annie had rejuvenated her world-weary male companion. Ilbrahim, the title character of Hawthorne's "The Gentle Boy," dies (and stays dead), yet no one is redeemed. Young Ilbrahim is not the troublesome boy within boyhood; rather he is "within the years of infancy," a fact that should make it easy for readers to sympathize with his suffering at the hand of Puritan persecutors (9:79). Yet Hawthorne goes further to make Ilbrahim a figure of pathos, echoing the way many antebellum authors describe a boy worthy of a reader's empathy. They model him after the fictional child consistently capable of generating the most reader affect: a girl like Alice, Violet, Annie, or Marygold. Even in "The Gentle Boy," a story that seems fundamentally sympathetic to a male child, Hawthorne employs a hierarchy that elevates "feminine" traits and deemphasizes "boyish" attributes.
Contemporary readers might have recognized something about masculinity in the story's title that we miss. (28) "Gentle" is not simply an adjective, but a term that fundamentally qualifies "boy," for as we have seen, in the popular imagination "boy" was frequently the antithesis of "gentle." Cobb assumes readers share his animus toward conventionally masculine boys, believing that a description of them suffering would not generate opposition to corporal punishment (indeed, he worried it would have the opposite effect). He repeatedly employs anecdotes about "lovely boy[s]," "slender and delicate, but very interesting," and calls only the suffering of these boy a "deplorable and affecting sight" (88; emphasis in original). Walt Whitman takes a similar approach in his often reprinted anti-corporal punishment sentimental sketch, "Death in a School-Room," which features the unjust disciplining of Tim Barker, a feminine boy like Cobb's: "a slight ... boy" who is "unearthly fair" (178). Across the culture, only gentle, feminine boys in pain, then, are likely to elicit affect; only they are the kind of boys whose mistreatment should worry readers.
As an angelic boy, Ilbrahim falls into the tradition of the nineteenth century saintly child, exemplified by Harriet Beecher Stowe's Little Eva. (29) Like Eva and Hawthorne's Annie, who if not holding the narrator's hand, would "dance away from the earth" (9:122), Ilbrahim is "a sweet infant of the skies, that had strayed away from his home" (9:79). Anne Trensky has noted that "the majority of saintly children" are girls and that saintly boys have the attributes Hawthorne so often celebrates in his fictional female children (389). Hawthorne's description of the "spiritual" Ilbrahim draws heavily upon the rhetoric of feminine morality and immateriality (9:72). After the "gentle" of the title, the first term used to describe him is "slender," which diminishes his materiality and distinguishes him from conventional male children of his age and older, such as the decidedly un-gentle Charley, who is "big" and "large." Like the snow-image and Alice, Ilbrahim is "sweet," "airy," "tender," and has a "delicacy of feeling" (9:72, 82, 90), and like Alice, he resemble a "butterfly" (89). But Hawthorne firmly grounds him in this world in a crucial way. Along with Clara and Laurence, he embraces the heaven-sanctioned space of the antebellum home: "At the word 'home,' a thrill passed through the child's frame" (9:74). This thrill signals a domestic sensibility, at the heart of which is the production of sympathy. Ilbrahim shows a degree of identification with others not typically associated with the self-concerned boy. "His tender and social nature," like Marygold's, Clara's, and Annie's, "overflowed in attachments to everything about him" (9:90), and even the stories he tells while entertaining a sick boy (compassion was another trait not associated with boys) display "human tenderness ... like a sweet, familiar face" (9:91).
Given the lengths to which Hawthorne goes to figure Ilbrahim in feminine terms, why not simply make him a girl? While sentimental culture was certainly not averse to seeing saintly girls suffer, it typically wanted to see this pain experienced in one way. Girls' bodies, like that of Stowe's Eva, often take on the pain of others, while the slaves for whom she weeps, suffer directly at the hands of those who beat and control their bodies. Cobb is horrified by the thought of a girl being physically hurt, proclaiming, "I will not so degrade myself as to make use of the word girl or female ... in connexion with the subject of" physical discipline, which he illustrates with descriptions of boys in pain (11; emphasis in original). As a boy, Ilbrahim's body can undergo a lengthy and heightened pain. And the pain and violence he experiences when cast out "hungry and shivering" by the Puritans foreshadows scenes of violence committed by boys who are within boyhood, a stage widely associated with aggression: a "villain lifted his staff, and struck Ilbrahim on the mouth, so forcibly that the blood issued in a stream," and a "crowd of schoolboys ... cast stones after the roving enthusiast" (9:72, 92, 104). Just as it is hard to imagine "Little Daffydowndilly" retold with Annie in his place, is it difficult to imagine Hawthorne rewriting "The Gentle Boy" with a young girl, abandoned in the woods and starving, then beaten and stoned. In "The Golden Touch," Marygold dies yet painlessly returns to life so her father may learn the errors of his materialism. But the boy, even a feminine child like Ilbrahim, does not do for Hawthorne and the adult male what the girl can. He violence done to Ilbrahim's body exposes the Puritan violence of the past, but does not redeem the male in the present.
A Wonder Book's "The Paradise of Children" makes only a single generalization about childhood gender in a telling narrative aside. (30) When Epimetheus gathers flowers to make a wreath for Pandora, the narrator comments that
the wreath was put together with as much skill as could reasonably be expected of a boy. The fingers of little girls, it has always appeared to me, are the fittest to twine flower-wreaths; but boys could do it, in those days, rather better than they can now. (7:75)
The boy's physicality is again an impediment: "The fingers of little girls, it has always appeared to me, are the fittest." The history of "the boy"--charted from the mythical past to Hawthorne's present--predicts a history of the typical male child; both document a trajectory of loss as the boy leaves infancy and enters boyhood. (31) For Hawthorne, "the girl" is symbolically outside of history and thus liberated from the tyranny of materiality, as exemplified in the eternal present tense of "Little Annie's Ramble": she is always "now," while boys were "rather better" in the past "than ... now." As a result, the girl can spiritualize away the problems of materiality, as does the "lovely and lightsome little figure of Hope!" in "The Paradise of Children." "What in the world could we do without her?" the narrator wonders. "Hope spiritualizes the earth ... [and] makes it always new" in a way a boy symbolically could not (7:81). What "has always appeared to" the tale's narrator often appeared to Hawthorne and his culture: the boy may be limited by his body, may beat others or be beaten himself, may violently overturn the home space or be fated to labor, but in some way will always be marked by his physicality--the burdensome materiality of boyhood.
East Carolina University
Quotations from the Centenary Edition of the Works of Nathaniel Hawthorne are cited parenthetically by volume and page.
Abbott, Jacob. "Advantages of Discerning Peculiarities of Character in Pupils, and of Adapting Oneself to Hem." American Annals of Education and Instruction 9 (1839): 23-32. Print.
--. Rollo at Play. Boston: Gould, Kendall, and Lincoln, 1841. Print
--. Rollo at Work. Boston: Gould, Kendall, and Lincoln, 1841. Print.
"Against Boys." The Living Age 77 (1863): 85-88. Print.
Alcott, Bronson and Elizabeth Peabody. Record of a School. Boston: J. Munroe, 1835. Print.
"Boyhood and Barbarism." The American Whig Review 7 (1851): 278-83. Print.
Brodhead, Richard. Cultures of Letters: Scenes of Reading and Writing in Nineteenth-Century America. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1993. Print.
Bromwell, Nicholas K. "'The Bloody Hand' of Labor: Work, Class, and Gender in Three Stories by Hawthorne." American Quarterly 42 (1990). Jstor. Web. 15 Feb. 2010.
Brown, Gillian. "Hawthorne and Children in the Nineteenth Century: Daughters, Flowers, Stories." A Historical Guide to Nathaniel Hawthorne. Ed. Larry John Reynolds. New York: Oxford UP, 2001. 79-108. Print.
Bunge, Nancy. Nathaniel Hawthorne: A Study of the Short Fiction. New York: Twayne, 1993. Print.
Clark, Rufus W Lectures on the Formation of Character, Temptations and Mission of Young Men. Boston: J.P. Jewett, 1853. Print.
Cobb, Lyman. The Evil Tendencies of Corporal Punishment as a Means of Moral Discipline in Families and Schools, Examined and Discussed. New York: M. H. Newman, 1847. Print.
"Corporal Punishment." American Annals of Education and Instruction 6 (1836): 337-39. Print.
Dawson, Melanie. "The Miniaturizing of Girlhood: Nineteenth-Century Playtime and Gendered Heories of Development." The American Child: A Cultural Studies Reader. Ed. Caroline F. Levander and Carol J. Singley. New Brunswick: Rutgers UP, 2003. Print.
Eddy, Daniel C. The Young Man's Friend. Boston, 1855. Print.
Everts, W. W. Manhood: Its Duties and Responsibilities. New York, 1854. Print.
Forrester, Frances. [Daniel Wise] Dick Duncan: The Story of a Boy Who Loved Mischief, and How He Was Cured of His Evil Habit. New York: Howe and Ferry, 1870. Print.
Gardiner, Judith Kegan. "Theorizing Age With Gender: Bly's Boys, Femininity, and Maturity Masculinity." Masculinity Studies and Feminist Theory: New Directions. New York: Columbia UP, 2002. Print.
Goodenough, Elizabeth. "Demons of Wickedness, Angels of Delight." Hawthorne and Women: Engendering and Expanding the Hawthorne Tradition. Ed. John L. Idol and Melinda M. Ponder. Amherst: U of Massachusetts P, 1999. 226-36. Print.
--. "Grandfather's Chair: Hawthorne's 'Deeper History' of New England." The Lion and the Unicorn 15 (1991): 27-42. Print.
Greven, David. "In a Pig's Eye: Masculinity, Mastery, and the Returned Gaze of The Blithedale Romance" Studies in American Fiction 34 (2006): 131-59. Print.
Herbert, T. Walter. "Different from Himself: Hawthorne and the Masks of Masculinity." ESQ: A Journal of the American Renaissance 50 (2004): 269-82. Print.
Kett, Joseph F. Rites of Passage: Adolescence in America, 1790 to the Present. New York: Basic Books, 1977. Print.
Laffrado, Laura. Hawthorne's Literature for Children. Athens: U of Georgia P, 1992. Print.
--. "'If We Have Any Little Girls among Our Readers': Gender and Education in Hawthorne's 'Queen Christina.'" Children's Literature 17 (1989): 124-34. Print.
Lombard, Anne S. Making Manhood: Growing Up Male in Colonial New England. Cambridge, Harvard UP, 2003. Print.
Mann, Horace. "Lecture on School Punishments." Lectures on Education. Boston: Ide and Dutton,1855. Print.
Manners, Mrs. [Cornelia Holroyd Bradley Richards]. At Home and Abroad; or, How to Behave. New York: Evans and Brittan, 1853. Print.
"Moral Discipline of Children." The Mother's Magazine and Family Circle 10 (1858): 275-81. Print.
Newcomb, Harvey. How to Be a Man: A Book for Boys. Boston: Gould, Jendall, and Lincoln, 1846. Print.
Onderdonk, Todd. "The Marble Mother: Hawthorne's Iconographies of the Feminine." Studies in American Fiction 31 (2003): 73-101. Print.
"On the Preparation of Young Men for the Perils of Our Cities." The Mother's Magazine 9 (1841): 8-12. Print.
Optic, Oliver. [William T. Adams] The Sailor Boy; or, Jack Somers in the Navy. Boston: Lee and Shepard, 1863. Print.
Peck, Elizabeth. "Hawthorne's Nonsexist Narrative Framework: The Real Wonder of A Wonder Book" Children's Literature Association Quarterly 10 (1985): 116-19. Print.
Rev. of The Pilgrim Boy, with Lessons from His History. The Mother's Magazine and Daughter's Friend 25 (1857): 64. Print.
Reinier, Jacqueline. From Virtue to Character: American Childhood, 1775-1850. New York: Twayne, 1996. Print.
Sanchez-Eppler, Karen. "Hawthorne and the Writing of Childhood." The Cambridge Companion to Nathaniel Hawthorne. Ed. Richard H. Millington. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2004. 143-61. Print.
Savoy, Eric. "'Filial Duty': Reading the Patriarchal Body in 'The Custom House." Studies in the Novel 25 (1993): 397-427. Print.
Sedgwick, Catharine Maria. Home. Boston: James Munroe, 1835.Print.
Titcomb, Timothy. [Josiah Holland] Titcomb's Letters to Young People, Single and Married. New York: Scribner, 1858. Print.
Trensky, Anne. "The Saintly Child in Nineteenth-Century American Fiction." Prospects 1 (1975): 389-413. Print.
Vallone, Lynne. Disciplines of Virtue: Girls' Culture in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries. New Haven: Yale UP, 1995. Print.
"What is to be done with Charley?" The Mother's Magazine and Family Circle 28 (1860): 14-17. Print.
Wood, Halsey, M. "Be Patient." Babyhood 3 (1837): 50-52. Print.
All references to Hawthorne's work are to The Centenary Edition of the Works of Nathaniel Hawthorne.
(1) For commentary on the passage from "He Custom House," see Todd Onderdonk 74, and Eric Savoy's "'Filial Duty': Reading the Patriarchal Body in 'The Custom House'." I argue that the opposition found in "The Custom House" between "the materiality of daily life" and the desire "to spiritualize the burden" of materiality speaks to issues of childhood and gender; throughout his stories, Hawthorne maps the burden of materiality onto male children, while associating girls with a spirituality that transcends this problem.
(2) In an essay on Hawthorne, Virginia Woolf, and "the child," Elizabeth Goodenough mentions "sinless" child characters who "dispel the gloom of their aged male companions," all of whom are female: Alice in The Whole History of Grandfather's Chair, Annie in "Little Annie's Ramble," and Pansie Dolliver in Hawthorne's final unfinished romance ("Demons of Wickedness" 230).
(3) See, for example, Gillian Brown's "Hawthorne and Children in the Nineteenth Century: Daughters, Flowers, Stories," Karen Sanchez-Eppler's "Hawthorne and the Writing of Childhood," and Laura Laffrado's "If We Have Any Little Girls among Our Readers." I do not examine Hawthorne's own boyhood or his relationship with his children; instead, I explore how questions of boyhood play out in a number of stories and how these ideas relate to widespread cultural beliefs.
(4) Judith Kegan Gardiner notes that studies of masculinity have paid insufficient attention to "age categories" (91). For essays on Hawthorne and adult masculinity, see David Greven's "In a Pig's Eye: Masculinity, Mastery, and the Returned Gaze of The Blithedale Romance" and T. Walter Herbert's "Different from Himself: Hawthorne and the Masks of Masculinity."
(5) Hawthorne's categories reflect the standard "ages of man"; see Anne Lombard 14. For an examination of the differentiation that accompanies the movement into boyhood and girlhood from "infancy," see Reinier 56-60 and 125-34, and Kett 11.
(6) Richard Brodhead calls Cobb's book "an endlessly sustained refutation of every possible argument for physical correction," ignoring Cobb's endorsement of many forms of corporal punishment (22). "We are to ... exercise it as an ultimatum or last resort to make a boy yield or submit," Cobb says, yet "girls should never be whipped, whatever may be done with boys" (9, 81; emphasis in original). According to Mann, the debate about girls and physical punishment was essentially over in the North. In his "Lecture on School Punishments" he mentions girls only in a footnote: "in ninety-nine towns in every hundred, in the State, the flogging of girls, even where it exists at all, is an exceedingly rare event" ("Lecture" 319).
(7) Alcott and others believed that girls were easier to manage because they could always be disciplined by what was called "moral suasion": a verbal appeal to their heightened moral sensibility and their sympathetic bonds with authority figures, most often the mother. For Mann, Alcott, and others, the "coarse" sensibility of boys meant that physical punishment promised a special effectiveness. Cobb believes girls "certainly can be persuaded to do what is right, (whatever may be said about boys), without a resort to the use of the rod" (11; emphasis in original), and Morrill Wyman argues "certainly ... whips ... can be dispensed with in the case of a reasoning girl" (6).
(8) For a discussion of the "authorial attention" given to male children, see Laura Laffrado Hawthorne's Literature for Children 140.
(9) Charley holds a powerful nineteenth-century symbol of boyhood materiality that links the "play" of boyhood to the productivity of manhood: a wheelbarrow. His emblem appears throughout boys' stories, especially the fiction of Hawthorne's contemporary Jacob Abbott, a popular novelist and influential educator. In his Rollo at Play (a book really about work), Abbott celebrates the wheelbarrow because it unites play with utility and boyhood with manhood. Charley eventually drives his wheelbarrow into the grandfather's chair, an act of aggression against the moral lessons of history that run counter to his desires, just as his attitudes run counter to Hawthorne's. In "Little Annie's Ramble" the wheelbarrow is an emblem of the masculine marketplace, in which a man "trundl[es] a wheelbarrow along the pavement" (122).
(10) Goodenough notes that the children in The Whole History "represent contrasting ideologies," but does not focus on the text's interest in boyhood masculinity ("Grandfather's Chair"32).
(11) Todd Onderdonk notes "Hawthorne's tendency to construct his own art against the all-too ... bodily real of femininity itself" (77). Though Onderdonk equates the "bodily real" of women with femininity, I argue that Hawthorne often sees the value of a specific form of femininity--girlhood femininity--in terms of an immateriality that offers relief from the materiality he associates with masculinity. In "He Snow-Image" Hawthorne links his art to the bodily unreal of both the female snow-image and Violet, the "spirit" who created it.
(12) See Brown's "Hawthorne and Children" 90-1.
(13) Critics typically overlook the gendered meanings of distinctions between the children, setting Mr. Lindsey in opposition to all of the other characters and overlooking similarities between Peony and his father; see Bunge 54.
(14) In a pedagogical role reversal, the child disciplines the parent: Peony calls the father "naughty" (a familiar term for boys) for bringing the snow-image near the stove that melted her. The materiality of this father-son pair is echoed in "He Artist of the Beautiful," in which the child whose hand crushes Owen Warland's butterfly is the son of a blacksmith. While the mother describes her son's hand as "innocent" (10:474), the narrator emphasizes its physicality: the "plump hand" of "the little Child of Strength ... made a snatch at the marvelous insect, and compressed it" (10:475).
(15) For arguments that nineteenth-century girlhood is continuous with adulthood while boyhood is not, see Lynne Vallone 123, Brown "Child's Play" 25, and Melanie Dawson 63, 69, and 80. These critics argue that girlhood is continuous with adulthood because girls (within girlhood) are expected to act like "little women."
(16) Both stories appeared in children's publications: "Little Annie's Ramble" was published in Youth's Keepsake in 1835, and "Little Daffydowndilly" in The Boys' and Girls' Magazine in 1843.
(17) A writer in the Mother's Magazine and Family Circle argues that "boys when left to themselves, as at a public school, treat each other ... brutally" ("Moral Discipline" 275). Echoing this belief, another writer calls them "the most vicious of wild beasts ... better unborn than untaught" (Wood 51) and the author of "Against Boys" warns that "the animal is implacable, and, like a horse that perceives his rider is afraid of him, becomes unmanageable if petted" (85). See also "Boyhood and Barbarism."
(18) Hawthorne's phrase "bearded men, and ... gentler woman" also maps a physical and moral emphasis onto each gender.
(19) In an 1863 letter, Hawthorne writes, "I have never applied myself to writing when I have had anything else to do--not having the faculty of literary composition except ... [when] unoccupied by other labor" (18:522). For more on Hawthorne's attitudes toward work, see Nicolas K. Bromwell's "'The Bloody Hand' of Labor: Work, Class, and Gender in Three Stories by Hawthorne." Bromwell explores Hawthorne's and his culture's beliefs about labor and artistic production.
(20) The initiation narrative of "Little Daffydowndilly" recalls Hawthorne's "My Kinsman, Major Molinuex," which fictionalizes another male initiation, from youth into manhood.
(21) In his notebooks Hawthorne says, "The only sensible ends of literature are, first, the pleasurable toil of writing" (16:407). He phrase "pleasurable toil" echoes the language that nineteenth-century boys' authors used when telling readers how to think about work: as pleasure. In Abbott's Rollo at Work, for example, Rollo's father asserts that "There is great pleasure in doing work" (124).
(22) The musician may be a figure for Hawthorne, who refers to himself as a "fiddler" in a discussion of labor and ancestry in "He Custom House" (1:10).
(23) When Abbott's popular boy character Rollo is almost six, his father begins the process of training his son to work. He believes that a boy of seven is able to earn his own living, a claim that suggests how intimately boyhood was connected to adulthood and work.
(24) Holland's comments represent views about male submission advocated by popular conduct manual authors Rufus Clark, Daniel Eddy, W. W. Everts, Harvey Newcomb, and many others.
(25) Although critics have not seen the story in this way, I argue that by endorsing Mr. Toil the story appears to endorse physical punishment for boys, as the culture often did. Toil beats the boys in the beginning of the story, and there is no reason to expect this treatment to end--the smile of approbation can easily be withdrawn and the birch return.
(26) In a reading of "He Golden Touch," Gillian Brown explores questions of gender yet also speaks of "the child" as Hawthorne's concern, arguing that Marygold is not an "exemplar" ("Hawthorne and Children" 82, 83). I would argue that within the context of Hawthorne's beliefs about girls and boys, it is crucial that Marygold be both an exemplar and a girl.
(27) Hawthorne often compares boys to flowers or gives them flower names, but he reserves a complete child-flower identification (the kind that characterizes his description of Marygold) for girls. Throughout the culture, when male children were described in the language often used for girls, they typically were within "infancy."
(28) The tale was published anonymously early in Hawthorne's career, and for a time his stories were credited "by the author of 'He Gentle Boy.'" Thus, in these early outings in public, Hawthorne figuratively appears with a boy, but one characterized in feminine and "unboyish" terms.
(29) Stowe's saintly child may have been inspired by Eva, the heroine of Elizabeth Oakes Smith's popular 1842 poem "The Sinless Child," who embodies the feminine traits associated with saintly children.
(30) Elizabeth Peck argues that A Wonder Book "avoids stereotypic images of boys and girls ... [and] is ... remarkably nonsexist" (116). Yet, as I show here, the text generalizes and makes judgments about boy-girl difference.
(31) The gender order in the title of A Wonder Book for Girls and Boys is noteworthy in that Hawthorne's title, unlike the vast majority of antebellum book and magazine titles with both genders, has "girls" first. Perhaps thinking of this convention, a few critics have mistakenly referred to the text as A Wonder Book for Boys and Girls.
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|Publication:||Nathaniel Hawthorne Review|
|Article Type:||Critical essay|
|Date:||Mar 22, 2010|
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