gender role in modern lit

Essay by cjia1 April 2014

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Congjia Jia

EN 210

Ms. Emily Conner

April 7th, 2014

Gender Role in Modern Literature

The gender role of women in society is often portrayed by a woman's struggle to escape from her current condition rather than ardently searching her self-identity. In a patriarchal society, it is hard for women to escape from male dominance and pursue a life living as human beings not as women. Feminism in literature firmly holds the belief that both genders should be endowed with the same rights because they have the same nature and origin. Both Their Eyes Were Watching God and "Hills Like White Elephants" involve self-searching of womanhood and female struggles existing in a patriarchal society.

By narrating Janie's linear chronology, Zora Neale Hurston turns her focus to Janie's internal exploration. What leads Janie to self-realization and thus independence is her three phases of marriage. Janie regards the "far horizon" to which ships sail and from which they return, narrated in the first chapter, as her standard to evaluate the imaginary version of each of her three husbands.

By the concluding chapter, Janie expresses her personal voyage of internal discovery with the metaphor that she has sailed to and returned from the "far horizon".

Her self-discovery starts with her first marriage to Logan Killicks who loses affection for her and asks her to do farming tasks after seven months of their marriage. While stuck in an unsatisfactory marriage, an ambitious man, Jody Starks, shows up and promises her a better life if she agrees to run away and marry him. Janie discovers the power of speech for the first time during her quarrel with Logan about leaving him. Her self-esteem is bolstered by having words as a weapon within herself that she never knew before, giving her more...