The Clan of the Cave Bear
Many people are familiar with the ancient picture of cave-dwellers being the hairy, gruff bully of a man, dressed in animal skins, club in hand as he drags a female back to his cave. This drastic picture is not what one would get while reading Clan of the Cave Bear. The tale is a little more picturesque, but equally cruel, nonetheless; when it comes to the role of male versus female. Beatings, rape and humiliation are just a few of the brutalities dealt out to the females of the Clan, especially to any woman who is “misbehaving” in a man’s eyes. Several themes came to mind while reading Auel’s book: Nature versus Nurture and Gender Roles/Feminism seemed to be the most prevalent.
When we say “nature versus nurture” the question usually arises; is the way we behave more controlled by genetics or the environment? In Clan of the Cave Bear the Clan seems to survive by tradition and memory only, there is no new or other way to do things for them. The rules they follow, the beliefs they have about the spirits and gender roles are followed so precisely that the Clan has become incapable of changing their ways and cannot adapt to new situations. For example, when it came to the hunting, only men could participate, women did not and should not hunt, no questions asked. The women were so accustomed to being submissive that sadly they did not question and physically could not learn new things. When Ayla entered the Clan, it forced them to think about things that had been lost to memory; it made them question their society, their traditions. Ayla was different and had a natural instinct to rebel against the Clan’s original ways because to her they made no sense. She tried desperately to behave as a model Clan woman and abide by the ancient ways, however; they did not come naturally to her. More often than not, she resisted the traditional roles of a woman. The Clan did punish her for her disobedience, but other Clan women were able...
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