This Earth of Mankind

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Throughout Pramoedya Ananta Toer's novel, This Earth of Mankind, a multitude of social justice issue arise amongst the Dutch colonization of Indonesia. The European cultural influence truly suffocated the local natives to the point where social structure and class took precedence over knowledge, talent, and experience. Native Indonesians where seen as inferior to the Dutch colonials and race was thus correlated with class. Race refers to whether someone is Native Indonesian, Indo, or European. The Dutch and those from European descent where assumed to be the most civilized, cultured, and superiorly educated. Indos are associated with the middle class and Natives occupy the lowest class. It was hard for individuals to break these cultural barriers, but even more so to look past the gender divide. Along with these class divisions the area was littered with gender incongruity. This Earth of Mankind is the story of an uncommonly brilliant Native man named Minke. He falls in love with an Indo woman named Annelies, but their relationship is put into jeopardy by class separation and discrimination of the sexes. This inequality between sexes is continually brought to light throughout the novel, and the roles it imposed upon members of society influenced each character’s thoughts, actions, and beliefs.

The first encounter of gender based discrimination occurs when Minke arrives at Nyai Ontosoroh’s household. Nyai is a native woman and mother to Minke’s future spouse Annelies. Minke is invited to the house through the recommendation of his schoolmate Robert Suurhof. He states that although Nyai’s daughter is indeed beautiful he deserves, “only a goddess with Pure European blood,” (29) and therefore she is below him. This represents a cultural divide, but Minke experiences a gender related issue when meeting Nyai. Nyai was an Indonesian concubine, which meant she was a mistress to a Dutch man. She was taught the Dutch language, European culture, and high class...
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