Crybabies in Literature

Recently, I heard a story about a boy who found a lost kitten. This boy took care of the animal, fed him milk and watched over him, but unfortunately the kitten was just too little, and he didn’t pull through.

The young boy cried when his little cat died. And when he cried, his father told him, “Stop being such a pussy.”

I apologize for the language, but I want to put this out there as plainly as I heard it. I’m completely infuriated on behalf of this boy, who experienced what it’s like to love something and have it slip away despite his best efforts. Of course he was sad about it!

I wonder what kind of person he’s going to be, with a father who not only won’t allow for weakness, but who also uses derogatory terms and basically makes fun of his son.

In society, there has always been a huge dichotomy between masculine and feminine. Men are taught they have to be stoic, emotionless creatures in order to be “manly.” They are also taught that open affection between two men is something to be avoided.

With all these messages being shoved at boys from a young age, it’s no wonder there’s rampant homophobia and sayings like “no homo” slipping out of the mouths of boys afraid of being labelled “gay” or “unmanly.”

Now, I don’t know much else about this family aside from this little story, but even so, it inspired me to make a list. The men on this list are great, manly characters, and most importantly, they cry.

1. Heathcliff – Wuthering Heights

Okay, so he’s not a stand-up guy. In fact, as far as antiheroes go, Heathcliff started the trend. He’s moody, cruel and completely irredeemable except for his enduring love for Catherine Earnshaw. He’s also described as tall, dark and handsome, the kind of man women fawn all over and love to make excuses for (just ask poor Isabella). And when his Cathy marries another man and then quite literally falls apart, Heathcliff isn’t afraid to let loose.

“I cannot live without my life! I cannot life with my soul!” he wails, while simultaneously sobbing and beating his head against a tree trunk.

Throughout the whole book, Heathcliff never has any problem expressing his feelings. In fact, if not for the being-a-horrible-person aspect of his personality, he’d be a great catch with all that emoting!

2. Harry Potter

Harry Potter captured the hearts and imaginations of an entire generation. His story brought children to book stores for midnight release parties and spawned a successful movie series, and now the Wizarding world has been built into a theme park at Islands of Adventure in Orlando. And throughout the entire series, Harry probably cries at least once in every book. I think this is pretty understandable, considering the tough situations Harry is always facing.

He’s probably thought he was going to die at least as many times as he’s cried. And on top of that, there’s the poignant reality that he will never know his brave, loyal parents. Yes, Harry Potter cries. And yes, he is probably one of the biggest and most famous heroes in any young adult novel, ever (take that, Edward).

3. Tommy – Never Let Me Go

I’ve already talked a little bit about Never Let Me Go, but let me take the time now to discuss how adorable Tommy is. Sweet and brave, Tommy is probably the most genuine of the three characters. He’s often clueless, but he can be unexpectedly insightful at times, too. And shockingly enough considering his fate, there is only one scene where Tommy–or any of the characters–really sobs. Naturally, this scene’s a real heartbreaker. And if you’d learned that you were going to have to continue on with “donations” and ultimately die, leaving the love of your life behind–well, I think you’d cry, too.

4. Cal Trask – East of Eden

Alright, I have to admit. Though the book is fantastic, there’s a special place in my heart for James Dean’s portrayal of Cal Trask. I know the movie didn’t really cover the vast expanse of Steinbeck’s novel, but Dean still perfectly captured the tragedy shrouding Cal.

The unfortunate younger sibling has always been in his brother’s shadow, because Cal does not possess the natural goodness both his father and older brother share. Cal recognizes all that he is lacking and tries, hard, but his attempts always fail. The crying scene I’m thinking about in particular is in the movie, and it’s probably one of Dean’s most raw performances. In this scene, Cal offers his father money, but because he’s earned it in a dishonest way, Adam won’t accept it.

This is what puts Cal Trask on the crybaby list and also what defines Cal’s character as a tragic man who can never be in sync with his father’s morals, no matter how much he wants to be.

5. Samwise Gamgee – Lord of the Rings

Sam is perhaps one of the most beloved characters in Lord of the Rings, and with good reason. With his humility, loyalty, bravery and all around strong character, there has rarely been as deserving a hero to root for. Despite never really leaving home before, Sam embarks on the long unsteady path to destroy The Ring, and all because his Mr. Frodo has been called upon to carry the burden. This is also a great example of a beautiful, well-built, platonic relationship between two males. No need for “no homo”‘s here!

And the best part is that Sam cries. About everything. He cries about the good and the bad, when he realizes he might see elves and when he understands that he has to set loose his favorite pony. Except when it comes to carrying a lifeless Frodo the rest of the way up Mount Doom, and then Sam just fortifies himself, hauls Frodo up from the ground and sets his clear eyes on his destination.

Advertisements

7 Comments

Filed under Literature

7 responses to “Crybabies in Literature

  1. So true, nothing wrong with crying.

  2. Great idea for a post. And so true. It is sad what we have done to young boys and girls alike; they learn to live by arbitrary and prescribed roles and are then seen as failures when they refuse. I also find it amusing that these “gender roles” have so obviously fluctuated over time, leaving no doubt that they are for the most part manufactured. I remember the knight Lancelot — the epitome of masculinity — crying often in “Mort D’Arthur” and no one calling him a wimp or “pussy”.

    • Exactly! And this boy that I heard about was only 12, so I can’t imagine how his father’s going to shape his view on masculinity. I really do think this is why we get men who can’t handle the thought of homosexuality or men who live differently or act more effeminately. Thanks for reading!

  3. sorealtonight

    Great topic and so true.

  4. ssweston

    I really liked the drawing out of symbolism and using prominent characters in our society to prove a very true point. It is not a weakness but a trait that makes them the unique individuals that many people admire.

  5. URL

    Dude. You mind if I link to this post from my own web site? This really is just too awesome. 591721

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s