Is the foot note, ambiguously portraying the symbolism of green eyes as a sign of homosexuality; accompanied by textual evidence to support the claim the man was a homosexual?
I believe the man’s green eyes represent his sexual orientation because of the foot note that identifies the implications of the man’s “bottle-green eyes”, the content of the man’s dialogue, and Mahoney’s claim that the man was a “queer old-josser”(18). First, the presence of the footnote suggesting the figurative nature of green eyes as meaning homosexuality is random and ambiguous within the story. Because the narrator brings up his “…confused notion ………The sailors’ eyes were blue and grey and even black(16),” “(the) pair of bottlegreen eyes,”(19) is foreshadowed and emphasized. The foot note serves to bring more attention to the color of the man’s eyes later in the story, ultimately tying back to the original, vague foot note. I believe the presence of the second foot note, drawing further attention to the man’s green eyes is a clue that the author purposefully placed the first, ambiguous foot note to identify the man’s sexual orientation. Secondly, “He said if ever he found a boy talking to girls or having a girl for a sweetheart he would whip him and whip him; and that would teach him not to be talking to girls…there was nothing in the world he would like so well as that.”(19) This identifies not only the man’s interest towards the boys’ association with little girls, but also his dislike of boys associating with girls. This suggests that the man is not only homosexual, but in fact he is interested in little boys. His interest in the young boys is supported by fact that the man is talking to these young boys that seem to want nothing to do with him. Lastly, when the man leaves the boys for a few minutes for a break, Mahoney states, “I say! Look what he’s doing!...I say He’s a queer old josser!”(18) The indefinite purpose of the man’s break from the boys is still somewhat ambiguous despite Mahoney’s reaction that the man is doing something “queer.” Immediately the author’s diction hints that the man’s break is of an unordinary nature. “Queer” suggests the awkwardness of the man’s “break”, and the shocked reaction of Mahoney provides evidence that the man was in fact behaving inappropriately. The unclear footnotes that draw attention to symbolic relationship between green eyes and homosexuality, the content of the man’s dialogue suggesting his disdain for little boys conversing with girls, and the inappropriate behavior identified by Mahoney as shocking and queer leads me believe that the man is in fact a homosexual that leaves the boys to masturbate. The ambiguous relationship between the foot note and the character created in “The Encounter” serve as the dots that need to be connected by the evidence provided in the text.