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Comparing The Role Of Women In Indian Camp And Shiloh

1563 words - 6 pages

Role of Women in Indian Camp and Shiloh  

    The women of "Indian Camp" experience a life much different from the woman in "Shiloh." Ernest Hemingway wrote "Indian Camp" giving the women a definite role in their families while Bobbi Ann Mason wrote "Shiloh" leaving the woman’s definite family role ambiguous. Because they are responsible for the birth of the babies, the Native American women of the preceding story are the nurturers as opposed to the men. The women accept their roles and partake in their duties without any protest. On the other hand, Norma Jean’s role is not as traditional compared to the other women’s since she and Leroy have no children, she basically lives alone, and she maintains a job. While the Native American women and Norma Jean live different lives, they share the same problem of enduring the men’s ignorance to their needs. However, as the story progresses, Norma Jean realizes she wants to move on in her life, so she does not accept her situation. The Native American women continue their lifestyle not because they choose to be submissive, but because they know no other way. The women of the two stories lead totally different lives in that the Native American women accept their situation, assume submissive behavior, and endure the ignorance of men, while Norma Jean does not accept her situation, assumes assertive behavior, and does not put up with the ignorance of her husband.

Not being exposed to Norma Jean’s independent way of life, the Native American women accept their lives of nurturing and care taking. The doctor’s visit to the Indian camp shows only women helping with the delivery of the baby. As they help the doctor, the men sit up the road away from all the commotion. No signs of resentment towards the unhelpful men can be detected in the women. Additionally, the doctor fails to bring the proper operating supplies in his tackle box, but nobody seems to mind except for the doctor’s son: "Oh, Daddy, can’t you give her something to make her stop screaming?" (16). The doctor responds by saying, "No. I haven’t any anesthetic. But her screams are not important" (16). Everyone in the room knows she feels intense pain, but only the little boy requests relief of her pain. The women must be used to births without pain relief because of the way they live or else one of them would have questioned the doctor’s operation. The birth is clearly a woman’s responsibility and a woman’s own experience in the camp because if it were not, the men would be helping or at least ready to give their congratulations. Like the Native American women, Norma Jean seems complacent with her duties of cooking and cleaning for Leroy. However, she cannot hide her true feelings for long. Until now, Leroy has been on the road and away from their home for fifteen years, and she feels awkward having him around. While he has devoted his life to truck driving and nothing else, Norma Jean seeks a better life for herself. For example, she...

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