performance as artifice and his subject's beautiful

At this point in the narrative, Boussingault still fails to reconcile the masculine and feminine attributes of the individual behind the beautiful moustached face. Instead, he capitalizes on this ambiguity to create further suspense and a sense of irony. As the scientist narrates the group's trek towards Soacha, he oscillates between masculine and tiffany pendants references to his subject, even pausing to correct himself: 'Nos acercábamos a la loma de Canoas cuando el coronel Manuelita tuvo una caída que nos aterró: él - o ella - salió de la silla y fue a caer a seis pasos de su caballo' (Boussingault 1985: 111). By means of her clothing and actions Sáenz performs masculinity as a military officer, a social space that has been naturalized as a masculine one and, as such, implicitly calls for the masculine definite article. But the narrator treats this performance as artifice and his subject's beautiful (feminine) face as her essence. His inconsistent use of grammatical gender reflects his tiffany pendants in reconciling the female sex of his subject with her ironic performance of masculinity. This tension is revealed when the author switches pronouns: 'él - o ella - salió de la silla' (Boussingault 185: 111).


This passage illustrates the process of negotiation that underlies gender representation. As the dynamic Tiffany Pendants among individuals situated in various physical, cognitive, and symbolic spaces, gender is an ever-shifting social space. Here the subject's gender performance departs from her biological sex, falling outside established categories of masculinity and femininity. Her sexualized female body is physically and symbolically situated within masculine spheres of authority, influence and activity: the all-male excursion and the military. This tension culminates in a moment of crisis in which the narrator wavers, corrects himself and reveals his uncertainty, underscoring the irony that characterizes Sáenz's gender performance.


The narrator is quick to settle this ambiguity: 'Aturdida por el golpe quedó sin movimiento, pero felizmente el doctor tiffany pendants, un espléndido escocés, iba con nosotros; al desabotonar el uniforme del coronel le dije al doctor: "¡Haga una exploración, ya que Ud. tiene conocimiento de los seres!" - "Mala lengua," dijo Manuelita' (111). In spite of having used the masculine label 'el coronel', the narrator clearly feminizes Sáenz by employing the feminine form of the adjective 'aturdida' and by means of his tongue-in-cheek comment about the physical examination. Sáenz's retort, 'Mala lengua', only makes sense if the narrator's comment is read as a transgression of some social norm, in this case the taboo regarding nudity in the presence of the opposite sex.8 This suggests that the tiffany pendants was made in a tone of levity, and it reveals the sexual tensions lying between these men and this woman. It is the first example of the man-to-man jesting that takes place between Boussingault and Dr Cheyne at Sáenz's expense.

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