Women have a long and storied history in human civilization. In some societies, they rule with an iron fist and make many of the decisions, while in others they are considered to be subservient to the male. It seems that few societies have treated females as equals in comparison to their male counterparts. …
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Yet, in a modern and civilized society, equally they should be treated. One way to determine how women are being treated in our society today is to examine their roles. We want to look at issues such as domestic violence, negative and positive expectations thrust upon women, and whether or not males demonstrate superiority over women. We will do this briefly by examining and analyzing two stories. One is a book by Chinua Achebe titled ‘Things Fall Apart’, while the other is an essay by Maxine Hong Kingston titled ‘No Name Women’. Things Fall Apart This novel is quite interesting as it focuses on the tribal culture in Nigeria. We see the main character, Okonkwo, as being quite violent, all the while also having an ambitious outlook in life. Through the book, we see him as being a person who espouses masculinity. He exerts his manliness time and time again and certainly believes he is superior to women. At one point he brutally beats his wife in order to prove a point. This seems to communicate that domestic abuse is ripe is the cultural setting of this book. The author seems to be drawing awareness to the notion that the role of women in some cultures is one of subservience to the male. In this particular story, the reader witness’s masculinity being demonstrated in society by the beating and emotional distress women suffer at the hands of the men in the tribe. The role of women in this novel is perhaps best portrayed by one of the minor characters, Ezinma. Being the daughter of Oknonkwo, it is interesting to learn more about their relationship. The father quite often expresses his wish that Ezinma would have been born a girl, yet we get the picture that deep down inside he is quite proud of her. Perhaps she is even his favorite daughter. It is one of the only glimpses we have, however, of him really endearing himself to women, either inside or outside of his family. Ezinma does not buy into the notion that role of a women is simply to be submissive to the man. She becomes quite bold in the story and often contradicts the wishes of her own father. We get the picture that she could grow up to be a social advocate for woman’s causes. In the end, she supports her father and helps him out politically, but we get the idea that she wants much more and that her father will eventually allow her to adopt a different role. There have been numerous beautiful females like Ezinma over the years that have gradually reshaped the way society view women. Over time, they have redefined the way men are expected to behave towards women in a civilized and cultured society. The author appears to be hinting at that in this book. This student looked a bit further into the life of the author, Chinua Achebe, to discover that his ambition was to rewrite the perception of the West towards Africa. He felt that the continent was unjustly being targeted as uncivilized in many respect, particularly in its treatment of women and the poor. To get his point across, he wrote sensationalized novels, such as ‘Things Fall Apart’ in order to express that Africa is truly a misunderstood culture. Sure, it is different than the West and many practices are antiquated, but times are changing. No Name Woman No Name Woman is just one chapter of a larger novel that takes place in China. This one chapter alone is frequently used to analyze the role women in Asia, particular in Chinese society. We learn in this brief account that women who gave into sexual temptation were treated like the character in the Scarlet Letter – they were shunned by society. The main character’s aunt, for example, had to flea her village when it was
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