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You Must Remember This - Book Report/Review Example

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Novels sometimes reflect society, and often they reflect society not how it is traditionally portrayed, but, rather, how society really was. Sometimes the traditional portray is also the realistic one. …
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You Must Remember This
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Download file to see previous pages The 1950s, for instance, in the eyes of collective society, is an era of white picket fences, with fathers who knew best, and endless prosperity. The Victorian Age, in collective society, is an era of female oppression. The stereotype of the 1950s is clearly less grounded in reality than that of the Victorian Age, yet these are both portrayals that society has come to associate with these eras. Joyce Carol Oates’ You Must Remember This and Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre both have commonalities, however - both novels challenge the conventional portrayals of their eras. You Must Remember This does this by showing the lives of the characters as being considerably coarser and more desperate than the standard portrayal. Jane does this by showing the life of the heroine as considerably better than the standard portrayal. Discussion You Must Remember This accurately displays the reality of the 1950s, as opposed to the idealized version of the fifties which is inherent in society’s collective consciousness. When one thinks of the 1950s, at least if one is to judge the decade by the movies and television which came out during that time, and are still a part of the nationwide collective consciousness now, one thinks of the Leave It To Beaver, Father Knows Best and I Love Lucy on television and Rock Hudson/Doris Day movies on the big screen. The reality portrayed by the television shows which have entered the zeitgeist representing the 1950s is that, well, father knew best. Father was kind, benevolent and wise, while mother wore dresses and aprons, baked cookies, and always deferred to father. The kids were spunky yet innocent, and would never think about a rebellious action which was more than staying a few minutes after curfew. On the big screen, Rock Hudson and Doris Day met cute, flirted and had innocent fun. Moreover, the 1950s are still looked upon fondly by many in our society, not just because of the movie and television portrayals, but because of the prosperity of the decade. Wages were growing at a faster pace than any other decade, before or since, and housing prices were low – just 15 to 16 percent of a median family’s yearly salary. Moreover, the decade was before pornography became prominent, according to Coontz (1997), the nuclear family was still the norm, 70% of kids grew up with a mother and father at home, and people were optimistic (Coontz, 1997). Although this is the idealized version of the 1950s, the reality was anything but. For instance, according to Stephanie Coontz (1997), the 1950s was actually a time of oppression for everybody who was not white and male. Women were by and large unhappy, according to Coontz (1997), because they were not only pressured by the demands of their husbands and children, but they were also discouraged to have a life of their own. This led many a 1950s housewife to turn to pills and alcohol, according to Coontz (1997). Many children who grew up during the 1950s stated that they would never want to have the same type of marriage that their parents had (Coontz, 1997). Therefore, one could say that, like Jane Eyre, You Must Remember This is, in many ways, antithetical to the traditional view of the time in which it takes place. From the second paragraph, when the narrator recounts tales of incest (the Buehl girl getting pregnant by her own father), murder (the GI cutting everybody’s throats with a butcher knife) and rape (the thirteen year old girl held hostage with a guy and his buddies, who did “all kinds of things to her), the reader is clued in that this novel is not going to look at the 1950s from the traditional point of view, but, rather, would show the 1950s world how it really was. The novel continues from there – ...Download file to see next pages Read More
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