The Awakening

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Compare and Contrast: The Men This semester we had to read "The Awakening" by Kate Chopin and "Fried Green Tomatoes" by Fannie Flagg. Each of these books had women as main characters. In class, we focused on these women and the society they lived in. There were also male characters in each story. There were the husbands, Léonce Pontellier from "The Awakening" and Ed Couch from "Fried Green Tomatoes" and the bad guys Alcée Arobin from "The Awakening" and Frank Bennett from "Fried Green Tomatoes." Other supporting characters included Doctor Mandelet and Robert from "The Awakening" and Big George from "Fried Green Tomatoes." The purpose of this paper is to compare and contrast these characters in the stories.

Léonce Pontellier and Ed Couch The husbands in each story were very demanding. They both expected all housework to be done, children to be taken care of, and dinner on the table when they got home each day.

They didn't care how all this was done. They both expected their wife to be a good mother and they would give instructions on how to do so. When Léonce walked in late one night he insisted that Edna check on the children. Ed instructed Evelyn on how to raise his son, asking her not to teach his son to be sensitive in the fear he would turn out gay.

Both husbands being the head of the patriarchal home always chose what they wanted to do. Ed would come in each night and sit down in front of the television and eat dinner ignoring Evelyn. It was Ed's choice to go to the nursing home each week. Evelyn had to tag along, usually finding something better to do than visit her mother-in-law. Ed made the decisions in the house even when it came to neutering the cat "But Ed had won out, because he told her she didn't understand about being a man and what it meant." Léonce would take trips to other islands and go out to play billiards leaving Edna home alone with the children. Even though there is a nearly 90-year time difference between the two husbands, both treated their wife similarly.

A big difference between Ed and Léonce was their reaction to their wife's change in character. Ed thought Evelyn went crazy and tried to ignore her most of the time. Léonce, however, went to Doctor Mandelet for advice on what to do with Edna. He was more concerned with having the appearance of a perfect wife then being sure Edna was all right. He yelled at her when she stopped her visiting hours: " Why, my dear, I should think you'd understand by this time that people don't do such things; we've got to observe les convenances if we ever expect to get on and keep up with the procession." Each husband also played different roles in the family. Ed was there just to be taken care of, not really taking part in his family at all, but just playing the part of a father "Ed was no help. "¦ He had become more closed off as the years went by"¦ she began to suspect that he, too, was just playing a part." Léonce was more active in his family even though he always chose what they did. His main concern, however, was to keep up the always important appearance.

Frank Bennett and Alcée Arobin Frank and Alcée played the shady characters in the stories. Both were handsome and arrogant, they took advantage of women and believed they could get away with it. Frank and Alcée had bad reputations in their towns. They saw women as sexual objects feeling more desire than love. Several girls were pregnant by Frank while he was with Ruth. Alcée also had multiple partners. Each man knew what they wanted and they took it, especially when it came to women. Alcée deliberately set out to seduce Edna assuming that was what she wanted. Frank wanted to marry Ruth because "she was young, young, pretty, certainly untouched, and needed a place for herself and her mother. What could be better?" Frank and Alcée were "˜bad' in different ways. Frank was an alcoholic and very abusive, physically and sexually. He took sex when he wanted treating the women as sex objects. Alcée was more seductive: he romanced them to have sex. He also was much more tender than Frank. Frank was very possessive of Ruth; Alcée did not show any possessiveness at all.

Other Men The other men were Doctor Mandelet and Robert from "The Awakening" and Big George from "Fried Green Tomatoes." The doctor was the only one that seemed to understand Edna. He was very perceptive of Edna thinking that she was having an affair. He was the only character that really cared for Edna, he chatted with her and apologized that she was there for the birth.

Robert was an immature young man that flirted with Edna. This flirtation is part of what began Edna's awakening. He believed that there was no danger in his flirting saying "there is no earthly possibility of Mrs. Pontellier ever taking me seriously." In "Fried Green Tomatoes" Ruth and Idgie treasured the character of Big George. He was their protector. George was very easy going but rough when needed. He was very strong and supportive. These men were less important than the main male characters but they still were essential to the story.

There were many similarities and some differences due to the different time periods. Most of these men would not be good role models for a man today. In "The Awakening" and "Fried Green Tomatoes" men were important characters in these stories bringing about or aiding in the women's transformations.