Gender and Identity in Raymond Carver's so Much Water, so Close to Home

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Men are from Mars, women are from Venus. We've all heard the saying, but what does it mean? We are different, that goes without saying. As evidenced in Raymond Carver's "So Much Water, So Close to Home", men and women differ on many key issues of morality, perception, and judgment. The two do have something in common, believe it or not, and that is the expectation of the opposite gender to communicate, think, and react in the exact way they do. Hence, frustration. Not with themselves, God forbid the two ever see a situation from each other's point of view. The frustration is with the opposite gender, over something that for the most part, they cannot help. As we have seen time and time again and as Carver proves, it's in our blood.

What does it mean to be a man? In "So Much Water, So Close to Home", the men are portrayed as egocentric, insensitive, pleasure seeking hounds. In terms of their morality, they are limited. As the men arrive at their campsite, before they even begin to set up camp, one of them finds the dead body of a young woman in the river. Any thoughts they may have had about the woman's family and how worried about her they must be are quickly washed away by thoughts of their own fatigue. The men reach deep into their bag of morals and pull out the best solution they can think of; they tie her to a tree and feel better that she "wasn't going anywhere". In this part of the story, Carver seems to be making a clear statement about the morality and good judgment of men, or lack thereof. The men in the story are described as average, decent men and as such, they are examples of other men. Their lack of concern for other people in need of help shows their insensitivity towards the girl and in terms of all men, towards other people. To care for the needs of other people besides those of themselves and perhaps a spouse and/or several close family members is seen as an unnecessary hassle, and is to be avoided. It may be that many men see this ability to...
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