Women Are Confined in Society As Depicted Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

women are confined in society as depicted in the stories by Steinback, Joyce and Oates.

Stories set in the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century often depict women as being confined to the norms of society even while they struggle to be free. Authors of literary works may they be short or long stories have often presented these women as being frustrated with the status imposed upon them and show the problems they face in a patriarchal society. In John Steinback's Chrysanthemums for instance, the female character Elisa Allen has been portrayed as "a strong, capable woman kept from personal, social, and sexual fulfillment by the prevailing conception of a woman's role in a world dominated by men" (Steinback, 306). Her appearance, manner and speech all suggest that she is a woman frustrated with the male dominated world. Her husband forever reminds Elisa that she is a 'woman' and her only strength lies in her Chrysanthemums.

The author's portrayal of Elisa is set in a masculine tone so that her femininity is enhanced and the domination of the male shown. She has to struggle to be noticed and when she finally does get noticed it is by someone who merely looks at her as a "quick puff of colored smoke" (Steinbeck 333). It seems to Elisa that no matter what changes take place in society and how she changes herself, the world view will remain the same and she will always be seen as a 'woman' whose status in life is determined by the men.

James Joyce in his story Eveline too, portrays a similar scenario. Eveline fights to be free from the domestic role imposed on her as she fears becoming like her mother. Yet, she is also fearful of the fact that if she does get freedom she will be unable to survive. She is afraid of the possibilities of a new hard life that contrast with her current status. Living in her house she is well protected. She is well aware of the patriarchal society in which she lives and, yet she is afraid to take the risk of being free, as she has never had the chance to prove her will to survive. She does not have confidence in her ability to live alone away from the very male protection that is at the moment confining her and stifling her individuality.

Perhaps this is the key to femininity as marked by these authors. Joyce gives his character a choice and the option to choose a free live but Eveline refuses because she is a woman.

This line of reasoning is resonated in Joyce Carol Oates's 'Where are you Going, Where have you been?' Despite being a young female character, Connie has a mind of her own. She makes decisions on a day-to-day basis yet; she knows that she still craves for adventure, which her parents deny her. Oates presents her protagonist as someone who is carefree and still unaware of her feminine self. Connie inherits her feminine role from an age-old tradition and remains bounded by conventions, presented in the narrative as her house's doorstep. Eventually, when Connie decides to take the risk that Joyce's Eveline refused, she is faced with dire consequences. The moral of the stories communicated by the above authors is set forth: women should not go beyond their social role as determined by society.


Oates, Joyce Carol. Where are…

Sources Used in Document:


Walker, Alice. "Everyday Use." The Norton Anthology, 4th ed., shorter. New York: Norton, 1995.

Wright, Richard. "The Man Who Was Almost a Man" available at www.xroads.virginia.edu/~DRBR2/wright.htm

Oates, Joyce Carol. "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" accessed on 8-11-2002 at: www.usfca.edu/fac-staff/southerr/wgoing.html

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