Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Okay, so when I started this book, I was really excited that it was set in the Navy. I was thinking "gays in the Navy...I know about that." But there is so much gay man sex, it is disturbing. Initially, I was thinking that Querelle was a sort of a Billy Budd character with all of his beauty and the LT being in obsessed with him. All of his talk about relieving his wad or whatever (excuse me while I vomit) along with the killing and the constant obsession with his penis pretty much takes that away.
The idea of Querelle "feeling safe in his uniform" (33) was really interesting to me. I was thinking back to my time in the Navy and I think I felt just the opposite. Whenever you are in uniform, you have to really watch what you are doing because of what you are representing. I take joy in things like walking on the wrong side of the street and cutting through grass because I wasn't allowed to for so long. The scene on page 34 with the other sailor wearing his hat like Querelle and Querelle telling him to "put it on straight" because it was his signature style was really interesting to me. The whole idea of a uniform is to unify people. The fact that Querelle has a lot of serious things he is trying to hide (murder, drugs, his sexuality) makes it even more ironic that he feels the need to separate himself by any means possible. I would expect him to not try to stand out so much. Genet even says that the sailor's outfit is a disguise. Maybe that's the whole point. By making an effort to seem almost rebellious or dangerous, perhaps is Querelle's way of seeming as if he has nothing to hide.
The whole relationship between Querelle and the Navy uniform is very interesting. Things like "the stiff collar of the pea coat, which he felt protected his neck like armor" (31) and the way "Vic had the collar of his pea coat turned up, the blood, instead of spurting over Querelle, rand down the inside of his coat and over his jersey"(61). The uniform is its own character, protecting Querelle, keeping his secrets.
The "couples" on the ship amused me. The older higher ranking men paired with young, new sailors. The way that Querelle and Lt. Seblon interact rang true to me that constant fogging of boundaries: the way an officer will sexually harass the hell out of you one minute and then check to make sure you maintain absolute respect for him the next.
There were a couple of things that struck me as probably significant but I didn't figure out yet why it is they might be: mouths and doors. The status of Querelle's mouth being half way open is mentioned a lot as well as opening and closing of doors. I am pretty sure this is eluding to more man sex stuff and well...yes I'm sure that it is. On that note, I found it interesting that each time Querelle witnesses his shipmates being flirtatious with each other (namely when he sees Gil and Roger together on page 13 and the un-named couple on page 15), he gets "an air of amused sarcasm." With the amount of obvious sexual tension among these men, I am surprised Querelle denies his homosexuality to the extent that he does.

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