Comparative Essay: gender roles in
The House on Mango Street and Annie John
Question 3: To what extent do male and female literary characters accurately reflect the role of men and women in society?
In this essay I will analyse to what extent the characters in the novels The House on Mango Street (text A), by Sandra Cisneros, and Annie John (text B), by Jamaica Kincaid, reflect the role of men and women in society. These two novels criticise patriarchal societies, where “women are taught to think as men, identify with a male point of view and to accept as normal and legitimate a male system of values…” . In both of them, there are clear examples of chauvinism, which conditions the ...view middle of the document...
The fact that chauvinism is present in both Mexican-American and Antiguan cultures explains why a man is free to decide everything in his relationships. However, Annie is called a slut by her mother only because she was talking to a group of boys. Thus, we can see that women have fewer rights than men, which can lead them to a miserable life.
Secondly, “Chicanas” and Antiguans are affected by marriage. Historically speaking, in both cultures young women were obliged by their parents to get married, without any possibility to express themselves. Since that moment, they are destined to live oppressed by a man they do not love. In Sandra Cisneros’s book, Esperanza tells us how her grandmother, described as “a wild horse of a woman”, was thrown a sack over her head and forced to marry Esperanza’s grandfather. Similarly, in text B there is also a victim of a marriage of convenience. Annie John’s parents want her to marry someone once she is in England, as a way of preserving Antigua’s culture, but she refuses. Thus, we can notice that Annie wants to disconnect herself from this patriarchal society, which submits her to a life without any type of rights. This is also the reason why she is disappointed the last time she sees her friend, Gwen. This girl is also obliged to marry a boy at an early age, and although she is thrilled with the idea, she subjugates to their parents’ desire instead of fighting for her rights. When Annie hears this news from Gwen, she completely understands that the relationship that once united them is now over. In the same way, through The House on Mango Street Esperanza Cordero shows her wish to remain being single for the rest of her life. An example of this is when the book’s protagonists says: “Not a man’s house […] A house all my own” .
Lastly, as regards the historical context, in both patriarchal cultures there is no equality in gender roles at work. While women have to stay at home doing the house work and babysitting, even if they do not like it, men are the ones in charge of supporting the family economically with their jobs. As a consequence, females are intended to live a monotonous life even if they are capable persons, and men have the chance to succeed in life. In both novels, there are...