By Agatha Christie
One of the towering pink cliffs and the traditional ruins of Petra sits the corpse of Mrs. Boynton, the harsh and tyrannizing matriarch of the Boynton kinfolk. A tiny puncture mark on her wrist is the one signal of the deadly injection that killed her. With in simple terms twenty-four hours to unravel the secret, Hercule Poirot recollects a comment he overheard again in Jerusalem: "You do see, don't you, that she's acquired to be killed?" Mrs. Boynton was once, certainly, the main detestable lady he had ever met.
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Additional info for Appointment with Death (Hercule Poirot, Book 19)
The masquerade is then employed by the detective-hero to disguise vulnerability and emotionality beneath an appearance of tough manliness. Similarly, the cop-action hero uses a masquerade of hypermasculinity to disguise his inner crisis, either through a pumped-up body or through a uniform of paternal authority. As Tasker explains, the latter masquerade can stabilize the body image as male and is related to “homeovestism,” or wearing the garments of the same sex, but those that are associated with paternal authority, especially uniforms (128).
As Ian Craib states: “Whereas masculine qualities were once seen as normal and good they are now seen as politically and morally wrong, as perhaps in crisis, and as damaging for all concerned” (724). Soft feelings like empathy, nurture, and gentleness have been culturally defined as feminine, and the dominant ideals of masculinity have been constructed in opposition to them (Rutherford, Men’s 70). However, men in today’s society are expected to exhibit, to some degree, the THE MYTHS OF MASCULINITY 29 qualities associated with traditional masculinity—strength, heroism, virility, and violence—and yet also the qualities previously associated with femininity—emotional vulnerability, parental affection, and romantic tendencies—to be acceptable to contemporary society.
Similarly, the release of a number of popular films at the turn of the new millennium centered on male protagonists in crisis—American Beauty (Mendes 1999), Fight Club (Fincher 1999), Magnolia (Anderson 1999), The Sixth Sense (Shyamalan 1999), American Psycho (Harron 2000), The Beach (Boyle 2000), Memento (Nolan 2000), Unbreakable (Shyamalan 2000)—seemed to indicate a broader social concern that at the turn of the new millennium masculinity was, indeed, in crisis. In Fight Club, after laying down the rules of the club to its new members, Tyler (Brad Pitt) explains why each of the men there represents masculinity in crisis: Man, I see in Fight Club the strongest and smartest men who ever lived.