The ideological male and female gender roles determined collectively by society have changed drastically throughout history in the United States and overseas. Some universal ideals still exist but people tend to possess their own individual ideals and perceptions of gender roles. While some long-standing gender stereotypes still linger, most men and women have deviated from previously accepted roles. It may never be possible to achieve absolute gender equality because of varying personal opinions but there is noticeably less division than in the past.
Stereotypes are however still prevalent in literature. “Dry September” by William Faulkner and “Let Them Call It Jazz” by Jean Rhys explore perceptions of unmarried women and their standing in society. Unlike the short stories, August Wilson’s play Fences considers the dynamics of marriage and familial responsibilities. The plots of these three works may be incredibly dissimilar but careful analysis of the female protagonists reveals connections between the women’s gender roles. Miss Minnie Cooper, the female protagonist in Faulkner’s short story “Dry September”, is a nearly 40-year-old unmarried woman living with her invalid mother and elderly aunt. She has no occupation or hobbies to occupy her time and her social standing in Jefferson, Mississippi has been steadily declining since her schoolmates began settling down. Minnie has difficulty coming to terms with aging and renouncing her youthful rituals; she refuses to acknowledge she is losing ground until she hears former classmates’ whispers at a party. The girls she grew up with got married, purchased homes, and had children as was expected in southern culture. Faulkner, a native to the south, drew from the morals and precedents of his own culture to create the stereotypical southern belles in “Dry September”. Minnie defies Faulkner’s female stereotype starting with her decision not to marry; her non-traditional