In order to discern the position, it is important to look at the outstanding question that Jim Stark ask his father while considering the embodiment of manhood; “What can you do when you have to be a man?” (Ray II). When asking the question, Jim expects a clear and conclusive solution, but the father’s inability to give a precise answer points in a way to the question of masculinity among the characters in the movie. People wonder why there is not one definite answer explaining who a real man is. Is it that Mr. Stark is not sure of what it takes to be a man? Maybe there is more than one way of answering the question. One plausible thing in this scenario is that the society in which the movie is set provides only one standard model of manhood; that of a tough, hyper-masculine male.
There seems to be numerous instances in the movie during which this assertion of a hyper-masculine male is ideologically shifted and distorted. For instance, when Jim gets back home, he finds his dad rushing to bring food to Jim’s mother afore she awakens. Jim becomes disgusted at just how diminished his father’s masculinity has become and begged him to stop getting submissive. It is clear that Jim’s disgust stems from his worries regarding the apparent inversion of gender roles.
It is plausible in Jim’s character that something urgent needs to be done in order to re-define the true meaning of masculinity, and hence manhood. This explains why he cannot accept his father’s submissiveness to the mother. Out of frustration, he grabs his father and pushes him across the room. This action seems to encompass Jim’s desire to re-awaken the “man” in his father. According to Jim, the father has become an emasculated patriarch in this matriarchal society.
When one turns to Frank’s life in the movie, it is notable that he has control over his activities, leaving him with little room to assert his masculinity. Indeed, his masculinity has