Women's Roles in God's Bits of Wood

Topics: Gender role, Gender, Woman Pages: 3 (1009 words) Published: November 18, 2006
1) God's Bits of Wood is an historical novel—one based on actual events. From the novel, to what extent and how did women drive events and what were the differences between their goals and those of men? Why the differences?

The novel God's Bits of Wood by Sembene Ousmane is an account of the strike Senegalese trainworkers underwent in pursuit of equal benefits and compensation from their French employers. In an effort to coerce the workers into returning to their jobs, the French cut off the water and food supply to the three villages wherein these events transpire: Thies, Dakar, and Bamako. Ousmane's novel explores the way in which these hardships evolve the worker's and their families till the strike is ultimately resolved. Arguably the most significant transformation that takes place is in the role of women within these societies. Prior to the strike, the women were expected to be subservient to their husband, with exclusively domestic roles consisting of cooking, cleaning, and caring for the children. As a result of the strike and the famine that accompanied it, the women were forced to alter their role to provide food for their families. The goals of the men in women differed in that the men were fighting for equality and better pay, whereas the women were fighting a battle for their own and their children's survival. So despite the fact that the declaration of strike and refusal to work until their demands were met was the campaign of the men, it was the women who ultimately forced the Frenchmen to see their resolve and succumb to their demands. The culprit behind the alteration of women's role in society was the enforced famine, which eventually resulted in the first of the women's rebellions against the French. Because the men were no longer providing money to purchase food, the women became the providers of the family. As their situation worsened and starvation became imminent, the women resorted to breaking the law. What's remarkable in...
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