In an important essay, Melody Graulich notes how the, "rigid dichotomizing of sex roles" in most frontier myths haves "often handicapped and confused male as well as female writers” (187),. sShe wonders if a "universal mythology" (198) might emerge that is less confining for both of them.

In Bruce
mMason, Wallace Stregner seems to experiment with this idea;, acknowledging the power of Bo's male fantasies and Elsa's ability to teach her son to feel. It is his strength. On the other hand, Bruce’s brother Chet, who dies young, lost, and broken, seems doomed, because he lacked sufficient measures of both the feminine and the masculine. He observes that Chet had “enough of the old man to spoil him, enough of his mother to soften him, not enough of either to save him” (Big Rock, 521).

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