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Love's Whipping BoyViolence and Sentimentality in the American Imagination$
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Elizabeth Barnes

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780807834565

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807877968_barnes

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Melville's Fraternal Melancholies

Melville's Fraternal Melancholies

(p.51) Chapter 2 Melville's Fraternal Melancholies
Love's Whipping Boy

Elizabeth Barnes

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter shows how Herman Melville pursues a theme recurrent throughout his fiction: that of the suffering of politically, socially, and emotionally vulnerable white men. In White-Jacket, or The World in a Man-Of-War, this idea is specifically located in what Melville views as the degrading effects of naval flogging on the common sailor. Although acknowledging the necessity of a code of government at sea “more stringent than the law that governs the land,” Melville's eponymous narrator nevertheless contends that “that code should conform to the spirit of the political institutions of the country that ordains it. It should not convert into slaves some of the citizens of a nation of freemen.”

Keywords:   Herman Melville, vulnerable white men, naval flogging, common sailor, code of government

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