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Ethnicized White Male Nostalgia: Sloan Wilson’s The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit

Chapter

Abstract

This chapter examines Sloan Wilson’s depiction of disaffected masculinity in The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (1955). Whereas some scholars have analyzed Wilson’s portrait of postwar white masculine feelings and the new rules governing them, this chapter adds analysis of Wilson’s neglected autobiographical writings, demonstrating the sociohistorical influences of Wilson’s white Anglo-Saxon origins, labeled here (following the similar terminology of critical whiteness studies theorist Woody Doane) a “dominant hidden ethnicity.” Wilson’s protagonist responds to the postwar ideal of white men with nostalgic longings for what amounts to a wealthy, socially eminent, and ethnically specific familial past. This chapter also demonstrates that in creating literary foils for his protagonist, Wilson deployed markedly ethnic characters who amount to caricatured iterations of (following Toni Morrison) a literary “ethnicist presence.”

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Eastern Illinois UniversityCharlestonUSA

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