Examining the representation of white men and masculinity in two recently published Canadian short stories, both of which contend with the cultural fallout of globalization. The literary readings of “The Number Three,” by Alexander MacLeod and “The Beggar’s Garden”, by Michael Christie are located within three critical contexts: the concept of “white civility” developed by Daniel Coleman, which describes a distinctively Canadian model of masculinity; the notion of “white masculinity in crisis”; and the form of the “return story,” defined by Canadian literary critic Gerald Lynch as the concluding story in a short story cycle. The stories ultimately confirm a particularly Canadian form of hegemonic masculinity, which derives the patriarchal dividend by projecting anti-elitism, commitment to community, and civility; underneath that projection, however, the fantasy of traditional social structures and gendered labor divisions is affirmed. In their experimentation with the genre of the short story cycle and the return story, MacLeod and Christie work to represent white men reeling from an awareness of their own economic and domestic marginalization, and yet who manage to reaffirm a sense of hegemonic masculinity via the staging of gendered settlement activity, or reterritorialization. What emerges from a close reading of the two short stories is a picture of a distinctively Canadian hegemonic masculinity, whereby the assertion of the “natural” right to control space is related to—indeed, ensues from—an ability to empathize with community, to perform modest economic and domestic aspirations, and to cope with loss in civil terms.

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