Clashing Masculinities: Amos Oz’s Panther in the Basement

Can Bahad?r Yüce

Indiana University, 1011 E 3rd St, Bloomington, IN 47405,, Email:

 Volume 10, Number 2, 2018 I Full Text PDF

DOI: 10.21659/rupkatha.v10n2.09

Received December 14, 2017; Revised March March 31, 2018; Accepted April 10, 2018; Published May 06,  2018.


In Middle Eastern fiction, the East-West discourse has largely been discussed through gender representations. Amos Oz’s 1998 novel Panther in the Basement follows this pattern by offering a complex portrayal of concurrent themes regarding the creation of the modern Middle East such as nation-building and empire. The novel narrates the friendship between a Jewish boy and a British soldier. The contrast between the boy’s emerging manhood and the soldier’s deficient masculinity suggests a reading of the tension between nationalism and colonialism through the realm of gender. The boy’s manliness features represent the idealism of the emerging nation-state whereas the soldier’s vulnerable masculinity represents declining imperial colonialism. The novel’s presentation of “clashing masculinities” indicates that a variety of masculinities exist, instead of one type of masculinity. This paper explores how Panther in the Basement offers cultural criticism by deconstructing the conventional conceptualizations of gender.

Keywords: masculinity, nationalism, colonialism, cultural criticism, gender, Amos Oz, the New Man, Middle Eastern literature.

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