Gender During Wartime

Beginning of Chapter 3 of Alcott's Hospital Sketches

Thinking that the rebels, and not the wounded, are about to arrive, Tribulation Periwinkle prepares, like a soldier, "To gird my woman's form, / And on the ramparts die." In her imagination, Tribulation masculinizes herself by "girding" her woman's "form." It is only one of many such moments in Hospital Sketches when the rules and roles of gender assignment get mixed up.

But when nurses become soldiers, what happens to "real" soldiers, especially when they're wounded? What happens to manliness when a wounded man needs the ministrations of a woman? And what happens when the "woman" doing the ministrations is a man, as when Whitman nurses his soldiers.

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