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Kathryn James' close analysis of Margo Lanagan's Touching Earth Lightly (1996) explores the 'sex-leading-to-death' motif and the inextricable link between death and sex/sexuality that is a pervasive part of the Western cultural imagination. James draws from the work of Foucault and Kristeva, to argue that the repression of cultural anxieties regarding death in Western societies re-emerge as an erotic pleasure which is a 'symbolic response to the uncontainable threat of mortality through the figure of the dead feminine body' (25). James argues that Lanagan's novel highlights how 'literal or symbolic death represents one of the ways that the 'perverse' body can be removed from the sexual economy and thus work to reinforce the heterosexual norm' (p25). In Lanagan's text, this is signified through Janey, a sexually promiscuous girl with a sordid family life, who exceeds the boundaries of acceptable sexuality in adolescents and dies violently and brutally at the end of the novel. James argues that the conclusion of the text 'locates the female subject firmly within phallocentric systems of representation' through the containment of Janey's 'dangerous sexuality'. James concludes that the representation and resolution of Janey as a sexual threat fundamentally supports the underlying ideology of heterosexual romance and its demand that female sexuality remain contingent upon masculine desires (p.30).
Gill is concerned with the representation of teenage fatherhood in western contemporary children's fiction and critiques a number of non-Australian texts as well as Mahalia, by Australian author Joanne Horniman (2001). In relation to the idea of compulsory heterosexuality and the performance of masculinity, Gill argues that there is a distinct lack of attention in texts regarding the representation of teenage fatherhood which is seen as essentially problematic. This is mainly due, says Gill, to assumptions regarding 'normative' fatherhood whereby fathers are expected to provide emotional and financial support to their children. After analysing a number of texts, Gill concludes that (with the exception of one), all the novels 'challenge socially constructed stereotypes which suggest that teenage fathers as a group belong to an underclass with low education achievement' and they do this by representing their situations as difficult and unique with the possibility of different outcomes and resolutions (p.49).
This article looks at three early novels by Garth Nix, The Ragwitch (1990), Sabriel (1995), Shade's Children (1997) through the context of Freud's 'uncanny' and Carl Jung's work on rebirth and individuation. Tracing the theme of premature burial through the texts, Mills draws together the pessimistic Freudian view of the 'uncanny' and the more positive and heroic path of individuation which Jung put forward, to demonstrate how Nix incoporates these two different understandings of the human psyche into his narratives and manages to attain a level of balance between them both. In terms of premature burial, both Freud and Jung 'agree that the tomb is symbolically the domain of the monstrous mother' and the site where monstrous rebirths occur as well as a site of repression. Mills argues that Nix's novels succeed in blending together two world views and create a truly successful hero, capable of entering the underworld (tomb) and at the same time escaping the paralysis and distintergation of identity that premature burial engenders. (pp.56-57).