In his fiction Ernest Gaines is interested not only in deconstructing stereotypes but also in presenting new models of southern manhood, for both black and white men. While Gaines has employed traditional definitions of manhood in his fiction, the vision he presents in his most recent novel, A Lesson Before Dying, is similar to that of Cooper Thompson and other contemporary theorists of masculinity, who believe that young men must learn 'traditional masculinity is life threatening' and that being men in a modern world means accepting their vulnerability, expressing a range of emotions, asking for help and support, learning non-violent means of resolving conflicts, and accepting behaviours which have traditionally been labelled feminine (such as being nurturing, communicative, and cooperative) as necessary for full human development.4

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Copyright © 1997 Berghahn Books. This article first appeared in Critical Survey 9:2 (1997), 15-42.

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