The Role of Women (Duddy Kravitz)

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1) What is the role of women in the novel? Make specific references to female characters. What does this tell us about the Kravitz world?

In Mordecai Richler’s novel, The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, women are represented to have a lower class than men. The women who are present in the novel include Yvette Durelle, Ida Kravitz, Minnie Kravitz, Linda Rubin and Sandra Calder. Each of these female characters are seen as helpless individuals unable to bear for themselves and left unsuccessful without men. Through Duddy’s never ending quest to own land to ultimately be successful, Richler depicts women in a negative way. They are seen as instruments to help men succeed and every so often used as traps for others. Therefore the women in this novel do not have lives of their own as they are portrayed solely as part of other men’s lives. Such exists because the lives of the women were not once explored throughout the novel, it was always through the eyes of a man and since the women are not explored, therefore this results in a male dominated novel. Women are portrayed to be items of sexual desires; worthless and unworthy of a man’s second thoughts. As was the case with Max, his wife and Josette. Josette is one of the whores whom Max is pimping for and is described as being a “handsome whore with splendid black hair and enormous breast.”(22) Such indicates that she is revered only for looks and her sexual abilities. Another such instance is when a women was being described by Max only for her features while they were at the bar “…sitting beside him is the greatest little piece you ever saw. Knockers? You’ve never seen such a pair. I mean just look at that girl…” (20) Furthermore, Josette’s feelings are disregarded and ignored even though she is human and has every right to be treated fairly and humanely. Max grabs her forcefully and practically drags her. “You’re hurting me …” (24) She is thought to be someone who can only perform sexual tasks and the readers read that she has no place in society outside or other than that. Max’s poor treatment of his whores, Josette included, likely influenced Duddy’s poor opinion of women. The way he regards women and the way he is with them is reminiscent of his father being a pimp and man-handling Josette at the beginning of the novel, as such treatment has likely been occurring since the death Max’s wife and Duddy’s mother Minnie Kravitz, if not starting with his treatment of her. In sense, it could be argued that Max disrespects his deceased wife by resorting to pimping, using Josette as an instrument to pay for the bills and having a successful family. This revels that Max does not possess the feelings a man should have for his wife. There were types of woman seen in the novel which were those who could not be trusted because they were only out for themselves. Such women were not treated well and are to be hated and laughed at for their stupidity. One of such women, Linda is featured very briefly during Duddy’s time at Hotel Lac des Sables, who Irwin Shubert convinced to go out with him. She is described in great detail; with more attention on her appearance and no mention whatsoever of her having a personality or feelings at all. “Soft, curvy, and nifty enough for one of those fashion magazines…” (78). She uses him and is still thought to be more worthwhile than the caring Yvette, and is thrown around later on. Sandra is the girl Lennie attempts to perform an abortion for, and consequently nearly loses his place at school. Her father is on the board for the university and he can convince the board to allow Lennie to stay. She is only depicted as being weak and whore-ish, being impregnated by her boyfriend, Andy Simpson. Not much is known about her, but she is seen as being emotional, desperate and hysterical. Riva Kaplan is Lennie’s girlfriend and though much is not known about her either she is said, by him to be quite the terrible person. “She’s not better than a whore” (186)....
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