Study Guide

I Know This Much is True Men and Masculinity

By Wally Lamb

Men and Masculinity

Crying gets a bad rap. We've heard that boys don't cry, big girls don't cry, there's no crying in baseball… Hiding your emotions is often synonymous with being tough and macho. There also seems to be lots of flexing and beer drinking.

Dominick might not do a lot of flexing in I Know This Much is True, but he has the beer drinking and the emotional constipation down to a science. He thinks men should be men, women should be women (i.e. submissive to men), and that showing any sort of emotions, whether it's talking about them or physically displaying affection, is for weaklings. Maybe he feels that his twin got all the feelings, and it's up to him to be all stoic to balance things out.

Questions About Men and Masculinity

  1. How would Dominick define masculinity? Where do you think he gets this definition from? How do you think Thomas would define it? How about Ray and Ma?
  2. Which characters challenge Dominick's view of masculinity and femininity? Do they succeed in changing his opinion?
  3. Does Dominick change his behavior at the end of the book? Does it make him more masculine, more feminine, or does he realize that it doesn't matter?
  4. Is Dominick the more masculine of the twins (making Thomas the more feminine)? Use the text to support your answer.

Chew on This

Dominick relies on blustery machismo to hide the fact that he's a coward.

Being a macho tough guy takes a lot of energy—Ray only gives up the act when he's too old and tired to keep it up.