Barthes formulates castration not as the moment of the creation of desire for something absent, but as a static condition of character. If castration is thus configured as a presence, his model must break down upon contact with the concrete, physical presence of castration personified. The condition of castration is precipitated by a deprivation of sexual contact, consistent with the model of the castrato. Without a fully examined model of the physical castrator, however, less consistency is possible among the castrating contingent. Bouchardon and Mme de Rochefide castrate by depriving men of sexual experience, while Sappho and Mme de Lanty are simply powerful women with no clear sexual connection to an act of castration. Barthes overtly defines the poles of his axis of castration by the correspondences of active with castrating and passive with castrated. Barthes' successive attempt to conform each character placed on either side of the axis to his ideal of activity or passivity meets with mixed results. The difficulty of forging desire into a presence becomes apparent as well-rounded characters move between activity and passivity as driven by conflicting and not fully recognized motivations. Zambinella is emblematic of the flaw in his system: he cannot gloss over the inconsistencies of activity in his character. But on closer examination, the same inconsistencies are present in Sarrasine's character. A more properly applied psychoanalytic reading would reveal the castration of Sarrasine to be the inevitable outcome of his infantile fixation on union with the ideal of womanhood. A more properly applied psychoanalytic reading would reveal the castration of Sarrasine to be the inevitable outcome of his infantile fixation on union with the ideal of womanhood. Most importantly, this strategy serves to disguise the homoerotic desire revealed as more than mistaken gender identity in Balzac's text. The slippage of Zambinella's female identity prefigured in the Adonis portrait is fully realized in Sarrasine's unsuccessful struggle to quell his desire once its monstrosity is brought to his conscious awareness. Because Sarrasine recognizes his idealized union as a homosexual bond and the trauma drives him to attempted murder and death, male-male desire is problematized to a degree that Barthes, also unable to cope with the trauma, must rationalize it into a safer discourse.