12 November 2014
Exploring Different Gender Roles
Throughout all of the stories we have read so far, I feel the authors have all portrayed some type of gender inequality in the characters or a various type of gender role. Do readers even notice these things? There is three stories that stood out the most when identifying the different gender roles: gender inequality, gender vs. social class, and gender and patriarchy. The short story chosen was, “Dhowli” by Mahasweta Devi. This tells the story of a woman’s battle with her social class and a consequence she will suffer because she is a woman and an “untouchable”. Marilyn L. Barton states in the Britannica Encyclopedia, “Untouchable, also called Dalit, officially Scheduled Caste, formerly Harijan, in traditional Indian society, the former name for any member of a wide range of low-caste Hindu groups and any person outside the caste system.” The novel chosen was, “Things Fall Apart”, by Chinua Achebe. This book depicts a story that shows a man who is running away from being like his father but ends up over powering his “masculine” side with more cowardly traits. This story shows gender patriarchy and how the author illustrates a character named Oko who thinks the only way of being masculine is with violence. The poem I chose was, “I’ll Rise”, by Maya Angelou. This will show the struggle of one woman’s life because of a man’s forceful choice but in the end shows who really is the strong one. Whether these were the author’s motives, well I will let you decide. The role between men and women is distinctly drafted in, “Dhowli.” Dhowli is a woman that is born in the lowest social class on the Caste system. She is also a widow, which in the story the author does not fail to belittle her because of this. “A widow was not supposed to see her face in the mirror any more, nor wear the shellac bangles, the vermillion between her brows, the nickel anklets.” (Devi 235) She also had to escape to not be her brother in law’s mistress. Dhowli’s mother states, “Did they want to keep you? Didn’t you insist on coming with me?” Then Dhowli responds, “Because his elder brother would have taken my vitue there.” (Devi 233) Just because Dhowli is a widow and she does not have a husband by her side, the author basically says she is not worth anything and without a man she is and has nothing. She falls in love with a man, Mirsa Boy, who is in the Brahmin Caste. Dhowli knows she is an untouchable and she has no chance with the Brahmin. Mirsa Boy continues to pursue her, Dhowli willingly gives herself to this man and then she ends up pregnant, he leaves her stranded and she is shunned from the community. This shows how the author illustrates gender inequality, because Dhowli is left taking care of the baby alone and the man, who took part as well, has no repercussions. Does the author believe men should have no consequences? In the novel, Things Fall Apart, a man named, Okonkwho, is living in fear of being like his own stepfather. Okonkwho has very masculine stereotypes as his occupations are being a: farmer, warrior, clansman, and family provider. He is the ideal of a patriarchy. A. Crossman states that a patriarchy is, “a form of social organization in which the father is the supreme authority in the family, clan, or tribe and descent is reckoned in the male line, with the children belonging to the father's clan or tribe.” Okonkwho also treats his wives with violence and dominant powers. “Okonkwho rules his household with a heavy hand. His wives, especially the youngest lived in perpetual fear of his fiery temper, and so did his little children.” (Achebe 13) Okonkwho’s son, Nowye, who Okonkwho always saw as weak but it was obvious he was turning like his father. “Nowye knew that it was right to be masculine and to be violent, but somehow he still preferred the stories that his other used to tell, and which she no doubt still told to her young children…...
Cited: Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. New York: Anchor, 1994. Print.
Barton, Marilyn L. "Sign Up for Updates | Grameen Foundation | Connecting the World 's Poor to Their Potential." Sign Up for Updates | Grameen Foundation | Connecting the World 's Poor to Their Potential. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Nov. 2014.
Crossman, A. (2013). Feminist Theory. Retrieved from
Napierkowski, Marie Rose., and Mary K. Ruby. "I 'll Rise by Maya Angelou." Poetry for Students: Presenting Analysis, Context and Criticism on Commonly Studied Poetry. Detroit, MI: Gale Research, 1998. N. pag. Print.
Solomon, Barbara H. "Dhowli by Mahasweta Devi." Other Voices, Other Vistas: Short Stories from Africa, China, India, Japan, and Latin America. New York, NY, U.S.A.: Signet Classic, 2002. N. pag. Print.
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