Gun And Their Role As Symbols For Women Writers

1423 words - 6 pages

Guns carry a certain sense of fear with them. A person with a gun is more intimidating than one who is unarmed. Emily Dickinson and Sarah Jewett both express their ideas with this in mind. These two female writers use guns to express power and masculinity. For Dickinson, guns are something she relates to. One of her poems begins with “My Life had Stood – a Loaded Gun –“. Jewett on the other hand uses guns as an attribute that adds to the already present distrust Sylvia, the main character in a short story The White Heron, has for men. While these methods of using guns in literature are different, they both carry out the writers intent to describe and tell their story.
For Dickinson, guns ...view middle of the document...

Dickinson’s use of the gun’s voice in this way may express her preference to a life of hardship verses the easy life of sleeping on feather filled pillows. It seems that Dickinson prefers the struggle of writing and finds fulfilment in it even though it may not be easy.
It is no mistake that Dickinson used a loaded gun over another description. She chose a loaded gun over a less intimidating object because she wanted to express the power and strength that she had while she was idle and not writing. By choosing a gun, Dickinson is straying away from womanly ideals. Guns are rough, not soft. They are used to kill, not to comfort. By using this personified gun to tell her story, Dickinson is telling the world that she does not play the role that women of her time period stereotypically did.
Jewett, on the other hand, used guns in a different sense. In an excerpt from the short story A White Heron, Jewett writes “She did not dare to look boldly at the tall young man, who carried a gun over his shoulder…” She used guns as an attribute that justified the characters feeling towards men. In her short story, A White Heron, Sylvia is a young girl who is inexperienced in interacting with men. The fear of the unknown is already in place for Sylvia because of the tall young man’s sex. Alone, this fear of man would seem irrational, but because he “carried a gun over his shoulder” this fear can be justified. However, even without the gun, Sylvia would have been afraid of the hunter or any other male that entered her female dominated life. In Sylvia’s world, men did not play a large role at all. She lived with only her grandmother (Ms. Tilley) and her dairy cow. Without socialization with males, it is reasonable for Sylvia to have a fearful reaction when she comes into contact with the hunter. When this encounter happens, as expected, she is afraid of the male hunter. As stated by Jewett in The White Heron -“Suddenly this little woods-girl is horror-stricken to hear a clear whistle not very far away. Not a bird’s whistle . . . but a boy’s whistle”. ( cite pg 527) Even when Sylvia makes a distant contact with the man through his whistle, she is initially overwhelmed with fear and hesitance. While there are many factor that build Sylvia’s fear, the gun plays a major role in this. By introducing a gun into the scene, Jewett is adding to the fear that Sylvia had by giving the man a weapon. In attention to this, Jewett is also introducing power and distrust into the already strange male presence of this story.
However, Sylvia’s views toward the male hunter do not remain stagnant. Later in the story, Sylvia develops an adolescent infatuation with the hunter. Instead of calling him the enemy, she refers to him as “the handsome stranger”. This change of heart foreshadows the hidden desires Sylvia has for the hunter. As noted by Sylvia’s inner dialogue further in the story: “She had never seen anybody so charming...

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