The Gentle Lena

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Lena’s gentle, sweet, servant-like behavior was a commentary on the way on the way society saw and treated women in the early 20th century. Lena did not have an opinion of her own, she did not know how to make decisions on her own; she was told what to think, where to work, what to do with her money, her free time and her future; her life was designed by someone else because she was a women and unable to make decisions for herself.

In the early 20th century society treated women as though they were not important, their duties were to have children, cook and clean for their husbands and much like children of this timeperiod, women were to be were to be seen but their voices not heard with regards to anything outside of the family. It is also important to note that at this time in the 20th century women were not allowed to vote, their opinions of such important matters had little to no consequence. “Lena was the second girl in her large family. She was at this time just seventeen years old. Lena was not an important daughter in the family. She was always sort of dreamy and not there” (Stein 146). Lena was german born and came to America at the behest of her aunt, Mrs. Hoydon, “who thought it would be a fine thing to take one of these girls back with her to Bridgeport and get her well started…Lena did not really know what it was that had happened to her” (Stein 146) she was just expected to follow along and do what what planned for her by others; “Lena was so still and docile, she would never want to do things her own way” (Stein 146). Women in 1909 were ‘owned’ by their husbands much like material possessions and therefore were expected to do what they were told by the male member (or dominant member) of their household, Lena was no exception. On the ship to America, Lena became sea sick, she was put in her room and there is where she stayed throughout the voyage, she did not venture out to get fresh air, she was “pale, and scared, and weak, and sick and...
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