Women in the 1930’s and 1940’s had certain roles they were to fulfill, such as being caring mother, diligent homemaker, and an obedient wife. This role of women has evolved over the years. Many women of this time period didn’t have jobs and were confined to the home as their workplace. This began to change though as time went on. Women began earning an income, though they still had certain roles in the home. “By the 1960’s 30.5% of wives were earning an income and contributed 26% of the family’s total income” (Kessler 301). These figures would continue to increase over the years. Though one thing that hasn’t changed is how males view women. Men have for centuries viewed women as the caring mother, homemaker, obedient wife, and lastly someone to meet their physical needs. Though for many men in Charles Bukowski’s novel Ham on Rye the women are just someone for their sexual needs and wants. Bukowski conveys misogyny through the main character Henry throughout the novel. Ham on Rye gives the reader a clear perception of how painful relationships, disfiguring acne, and early alcoholism can cause so much hatred toward people to only try to protect themselves. At an early age Henry develops an aversion toward women which stays with him throughout the novel.
Henry’s childhood was full of pain and anger. This was mainly a result of the relationship he had with his father—violent and traumatic, with beatings, verbal abuse, ostracism, and embarrassment. Even though Henry’s father was doing the physical abuse, his mother was causing him pain too by not standing up for him. It frustrated Henry that his mother wouldn’t protect him from his father. After one of his beatings Henry said to his mother, “It wasn’t right. Why didn’t you help me?” Her response was, “The father is always right” (Bukowski 39). His mother’s words and actions it reveal a weakness toward women and she is telling him men are superior to women. This is later embraced when Henry’s father is cheating on...
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