Ambiguous: A Novel Exploring Gender and Identity

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Arts and Humanities | English Language and Literature


John Kendall


Gender is one of the most fundamental elements of characterization that a reader considers when examining a novel. In particular, readers tend to track a character's compliance with, or resistance against, certain sexual norms and expectations in order to build a relationship with that character, and understand the character's relationships with others. In Ambiguous, I attempt to illustrate the importance of gender considerations by creating two main characters that are essentially gender neutral. This is achieved through utilizing the first-person and second-person points over view, narrative voices that exclude gender specific pronouns. Into this gender-neutral atmosphere, I introduce character elements that seem indicative of a particular gender, but can actually be displayed by either sex, such as emotional distance, discomfort in intimate situations, vulnerability, and negative body image. Research for this project consisted in examining novels by men and women, representing both the heterosexual and homosexual perspective, and identifying their various viewpoints on gender.