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Sowmya Pellakur ENGL 105 Leo Collins April 30th 2024 The Impact of Gender Roles on Short Stories Gender roles have been a widespread idea which have shaped societal structures and individual lives influencing behavior expectations and opportunities for a long time There has been a common trend in which we also see that gender roles affect the overall plot and events in short stories written by James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway When we analyze the impact of gender roles in the plots of Indian Camp by Ernest Hemingway Eveline and Araby by James Joyce we see that societal expectations and stereotypes relating to gender greatly influence the characters actions and decisions which end up shaping the outcomes of each story In Indian Camp the concept of gender roles are mainly shown through the character of the Indian woman who is portrayed as a silent obedient character who s fulfilling her traditional role as a wife and mother This is evident when the woman is depicted lying in bed suffering with the intense pain of childbirth without saying a single word The men including the protagonist Nick and his father take the roles of authority and control They indirectly decide the woman s experience and therefore ultimately determine her fate Hemingway writes Can t you give her something to make her stop screaming asked Nick No I haven t any anaesthetic his father said But her screams are not important I don t hear them because they are not important This quote highlights the dismissive attitude toward the woman s suffering emphasizing the prevailing belief in the insignificance of female pain within the context of childbirth This also shows the patriarchal structure of the Native American community which is normalized by the division of labor and decision making processes with men holding positions of authority and control This power imbalance is evident in the treatment of the Indian woman during childbirth where her suffering is pushed aside like it s insignificant by the male characters We also notice a subtle commentary on the emotional disconnection between Nick s father and his patients Hemingway portrays the masculinity of Nick s father as a result of the societal expectations where emotional expression can also be seen as weakness This portrayal shows that the stubborn conformance to traditional gender roles not only limits the woman s voice but also minimizes the man s ability to express empathy and compassion Similarly in Eveline gender roles also play a significant role in shaping the main character s decision making process Eveline is restricted to the domestic environment preoccupied with the responsibilities of caring for her family and having to maintain the household Her father s presence as the head of the house is very large which symbolizes the patriarchal control that affects Eveline s decisions Eveline s sense of powerlessness comes from her being accustomed to gendered expectations and familial obligations Joyce writes She had consented to go away to leave her home Was that wise She tried to weigh each side of the question In her home anyway she had shelter and food she had those whom she had known all her life about In this quote Eveline is in a dilemma with the conflicting desires for freedom and security torn between her duty to her family and the possibility of a better life elsewhere But her realization of the feminine duties causes her to ponder whether she s actually choosing freedom or not and if she ll actually be able to find a new or better life for herself The gender expectations take over her causing her to prioritize her family over personal fulfillment which ends up leading to her decision to not actually leave her home In Araby gender roles are shown through the protagonist s feelings towards Mangan s sister whom he idealizes as an ethereal figure of purity and innocence The boy s romanticized perception of the girl reflects traditional notions of femininity which strengthens the stereotype of women having simply the purpose of just being desired and admired Joyce says Her image accompanied me even in places the most hostile to romance On Saturday evenings when my aunt went marketing I had to go to carry some of the parcels We walked through the flaring streets jostled by drunken men and bargaining women amid the curses of laborers the shrill litanies of shop boys who stood on guard by the barrels of pigs cheeks the nasal chanting of street singers In this quote the boy s view on Mangan s sister is like a distraction from the harsh realities of his surroundings and this allows him to escape into a world of fantasy and desire Adding on to us getting to know everything the boy says Mangan s sister s silence and mysteriousness throughout the story can also symbolize how the female s perspective and thoughts are not really heard We hear how the boy perceives her but we don t learn anything about Mangan s sister s side Throughout all three of these stories gender roles show a great influence on the characters experiences and decisions which help shape the trajectories of each individual story In Indian Camp and Eveline we see more of a decision making and future oriented issue But that s not the case with Araby Araby is more affected by the stereotypical gender dynamics and shows how their young romantic feelings affect their actions The nature of these roles show the greater impact of societal expectations on individual lives and this highlights the difficulties which come from having to deal with gendered norms and identities Understanding the gender roles in these texts serves as a way to see the broader themes of power agency and identity and how they are relevant Hemingway and Joyce explore how characters deal with and push back against society s ideas about gender by showing how people handle the rules society sets and how it affects their lives In conclusion Indian Camp by Ernest Hemingway Eveline and Araby by James Joyce give us valuable details which show us how gender roles have an impact on story development Through the portrayal of characters dealing with societal expectations personal desires and the constraints of traditional norms these works highlight the complexities of pushing through gendered identities and the ways in which they shape individual experiences and interactions


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UNC-Chapel Hill ENGL 105 - Unit 3 Paper 2

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