4. Silvey is a modern author, yet the influence of patriarchal values is pervasive throughout the text. Discuss the roles of the female characters in Jasper Jones to give a Feminist Reading of the text.
In 2009 published Jasper Jones, Craig Silvey explores the differentiation between gender roles and value in the town of Corrigan. This novel, although contemporary, displays many of the patriarchal values seen throughout the literary history. Silvey’s minor female roles are depicted to be either silenced, ignored, or crazy, representative of the misogynist driven society in the 60s.
Female characters are silenced by social and society pressures as well as the act of men not hearing them. Laura Wishart’s story and sheltered reasons for her death is one of the most unpleasant oppression of gender values that is being unraveled throughout the novel. When Laura’s sinister nightly visits became an infection ‘…of milky poison […] catching hold…’ (pg 340) inside her belly, she is disgraced and shamed. Her secret lover has unexplainably abandoned her and Laura is afraid, having no one to confide in. The truth Laura finally exposes to her mother, is her last resort in trying to seek for acknowledgment and closure. Mrs Wishart’s disbelief of her outcry fuels the disempowerment of Laura’s character leading to her having perceived feelings of internal neglect, because of her own mother’s hostile denial. Laura has been silenced by her family for reaching out about the horrors impregnating her through the act of her father’s insidious assaults. This silencing of Laura’s voice is purposefully denounced by Mrs Wishart for the maintaining of a reputation worthier of holding than that of her own daughter’s dignity. Furthermore, Mrs Wishart’s decision to unwillingly respond or speak out also comments on the undermining ideologies behind embodying the ideals of a 60s housewife; a superficial act of betraying her daughter’s attention for the fact of keeping up an appearance in this bourgeois household, as a result of her husband, Pete Wishart, being the town’s shire. Similarly, this silencing of voice is also seen in Silvey’s writing of Mrs Lu’s character, as she is presented with no verbal defenses when threatened with abusive racist insults or stigmatic hatred, stimulated by, yet, another female character, Sue Findlay; portrayed to be directing the unfriendly behavior and targeting the marginalized.
Another angry stereotyped female persona is Silvey’s writing of Ruth’s character and her adamant control over the Bucktin household, where she embodies the mad and becomes the ignored. Ruth Bucktin is depicted as angry and short-tempered with associating behaviors of a child. The relationship she has with her family is a dictatorship, where Ruth gives the commands and they obey. Her authoritative instructions aren’t challenged or supported by Wesley, her husband, who quite in contrast has nothing to really say at all, ever, to Ruth. Her heated outbursts...