Portrayal Of Women In The Twentieth Century

1050 words - 4 pages

The role of females during much of the Twentieth Century is domestic. Two well-known authors during this time period have conflicting views of how women fulfill these roles. In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, the women portray two very different perspectives on the roles of women within families and the values they instill within their families. The value the women share about money is one of the most prominent perceptions the authors portray. Both pieces of Modern literature differ in the perception of a woman’s rightful role as well as the importance of family in relation to monetary wealth.
Fitzgerald and Steinbeck’s views conflict on the value and portrayal of women. A woman in this century rarely challenges a man’s superiority, nor thinks or acts independently. Two mothers, Daisy Buchanan from The Great Gatsby and Ma Joad from The Grapes of Wrath, both follow this unspoken rule yet the authors portray their roles in very different ways. Daisy seems to be skimming the surface of her family life instead of actually interacting with her family. One of the few instances in which Fitzgerald mentions Daisy’s daughter, Daisy wishes for her daughter to be, “the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool” (Fitzgerald, 1925). Men want nothing to do with women who posses the ability and intelligence to voice their own opinions and react to the inequality at that time, so in Daisy’s opinion, her daughter should just hope to be beautiful. Contrary to a woman’s job at this time, Fitzgerald never depicts her as a typical housewife: cleaning, cooking, and taking care of the children. Daisy is subject to a cheating husband, displaying a lack of respect for her and leaves her daughter in the hands of a nurse daily. She spends more time with her friend Jordan Baker than she does with her own daughter; readers do not even learn the daughter’s name, Pammy, until the seventh chapter. Even when Nick mentions Pammy in conversation, Daisy states, “I suppose she talks, and-eats, and everything” (Fitzgerald, 1925), as if she doesn’t have time for her daughter, or care what happens to her. In direct contrast to this, Steinbeck reflects Ma’s compassionate and truthful personality every time he mentions her. Ma cares for each and every member of her family, and she places others before herself. Unlike Daisy, Ma fully submerges herself into her family, giving everything she can to the ones she loves and never questions the authority or integrity of her husband. The domestic role of women is a serious matter to Ma. For instance, when Ma readies the meat for salting, a woman’s job at that time, and Casy asks to help, “she stopped her work then and inspected him oddly” (Steinbeck, 1939). Steinbeck defines a woman’s place as the domestic world of the home, so when Casy asks to help her with “women’s work,” she confusedly accepts his request. This job is women’s work and not one she...

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