"TO BECOME A MAN": Rewards, Punishments and Masculinities In Shyam Selvadurai's Funny Boy

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Pranamya Bha, Dr Dhishna Pannikot


Critical literary studies on fiction have drawn far less attention from the domain of Masculinity than Feminism. This paper endeavors to focus on the acts of reinforcements and punishments as a tool to shape the conduct of the male characters in the novel Funny Boy (1994) by Shyam Selvadurai, a South Asian novelist. He has made significant contributions to the understanding of sexual diversity through his works. In order to attain research objectives, the theory of operant conditioning formulated by B. F. Skinner, a renowned psychologist, and social philosopher, has been used to frame the discussion. The analysis reveals the fundamental role of rewards and punishments in stimulating certain behaviors, at certain places or situations. Furthermore, Selvadurai's descriptive argument raises questions about the inconsistency of individual approaches to gender. Unlike what the individual approach suggests, gender and its representation in the public sphere are not seen as a natural internal instinct instead, it has been constructed in controlled spaces. The analysis has also revealed modification that is functional only to the behavioral level and not on the characters’ perception of their world.

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