In Isabel Allende’s Inés of My Soul, one woman, Inés Suarez, challenges the traditional role of women and society by embarking upon a journey alongside her companion to conquer a part of the New World. Throughout the expedition, Inés faces challenges because of her gender, yet she also manages to use her gender and the traditional gender role to her advantage. In Spain, machismo was prevalent in society, allowing for men to feel and act as if inherently superior to women. Although she was not a submissive wife, Inés was still subject to sexist remarks by her husband, Rodrigo de Quiroga. For example, as Inés attempted to discourage Rodrigo from an expedition to the New World by arguing that everything had already been discovered, Rodrigo shouts, “How ignorant you are, woman!” Yet, Ines refused to be submissive and would sometimes react rebelliously and demand respect, sometimes resorting to physical violence in order to be respected. Although societal norms encouraged women to stay home, Ines had the intention of leaving to the New World behind Rodrigo, despite the dangers they could have faced. As soon as the trip initiated, Ines gained her respect from the members on board. Working in a nun’s hospital in Plasencia, Ines had learned how to cauterize wounds and care for people with broken bones, which worked to her benefit as sailors sought her help, in addition to her food. Ines would also use the role as the disconsolate wife to her advantage. As she intended to sail to Peru with a group of Dominican priests, Ines wore her black dresses to express her fidelity to Juan, yet Ines had not loved Juan in years. Yet, Ines would endure several worrying situations, especially among men. Since it was rare for a woman to set sail alone and surrounded completely by men, Ines was an easy target for sexual harassment. Sebastian Romero in one instance tried to rape Ines. On her journey to Peru, men also harassed Ines despite the vigilance by priests. The fact...
Bibliography: Allende, Isabel. Ines of My Soul. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2006.
Burkholder, Mark A., and Lyman L. Johnson. Colonial Latin America. 7 ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.
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