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AJ981979
Posts: 118
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: ATGIB: Week 2, Chapters 15 - 35 - Feminism

I feel there's a difference in a book having a feminist theme and having female characters.  Feminism is about the equality of genders, and I find little here to advance women's position in early 1900s, or even 1943.  The instance that sticks in my mind is the talk of politics and when women can vote someday, but I don't think that conversation is enough to say the work as whole has a feminist bias.

 

If you're looking simply at how they live their lives, I'm looking more at poverty as the driving force in women working than any desire to be equal.  In this regard, women have always worked.

 

I don't think any of the characters - male or female - are particularly strong.  All have their weaknesses.  In that respect, I think Smith was trying to realistically portray a life in poverty where all people do what they have to do to survive, and weaknesses in the person are compounded by life (ex: Katie may feel more free to be affectionate with her children if their financial survival were more secure).

 


IBIS wrote:

Since the story covered up to this point is Chapter 35, I find a definite feminist bias apparent in Francie's young life.

 

Strength... both physical and moral... is divided along gender lines.  At this point in her young life, all the men in her family are weak... her grandfather, her father, her uncle, even Neely her younger brother... whereas all the women are strong... both emotionally and physically.

 

As Francie matures, and her world grows larger, it's only natural that she meets different people.

 

But my point is, in her tender years... the years that shaped her young mind and emotional makeup, I think the author stacked the deck against the males. 

 

I know that this is the story that Betty Smith wanted to write.... and when I was younger, this feminist bias didn't bother me.

 

But as an adult, I'm finding the setup too simplistic.

 

 

~ Happiness is a good book, a sleeping cat, and a glass of wine. ~
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foxycat
Posts: 1,626
Registered: ‎06-17-2007
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Re: ATGIB: Week 2, Chapters 15 - 35 - Feminism


Fozzie wrote:

Peppermill wrote:

Since the book is viewed as quasi-autobiographical, do you think Betty Smith stacked the deck or did she record the world as she experienced it -- but which may be neither representative nor totally reliable?


I think the author wrote the book based on her experience.  It could be argued that the women depicted were "extra strong," thereby making the men seem even weaker than they actually were by comparison. 

 

Personally, I didn't feel a feminine bias while reading.


Based on her experience, but no totally factual.  In a reference I cited earlier, Smith was quoted as saying that she wrote it not as her story had been, but how she wished they had been.. So whether there's a feminist bias or not, the facts of her life still don't match her fiction.  Some things are exaggerated, others omitted, some characters melded.  Can't find the reference right now; I need to  go back through my posts.
Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. --Oscar Wilde

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IBIS
Posts: 1,735
Registered: ‎11-22-2006
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Re: ATGIB: Week 2, Chapters 15 - 35 - Feminism

[ Edited ]

Although ATGIB has no overt feminist discussion, political or otherwise...  Smith isn't on a crusade,,, I see a strong feminist strain as a social issue throughout the novel.

 

For example, when Francie is born, her grandmother comments that to be born a woman is to be born into a humble life of pain. This metaphorical idea of life’s pain is juxtaposed with the reference to the pain of childbirth.

 

In the context of ATBGIB, women of all faiths, and socio-economic backgrounds are “sisters”… bound together by pain. All the major female characters are equipped to handle pain… both emotional and physical… whereas most of the men in the novel can't.

 

Another feminist social theme is the implicit references to sex and sexuality. Sissy, for example, is seriously promiscuous. Yet she’s the most loving of the characters, and Francie adores her.

 

I see that Smith is challenging ideas about women and sex. When Joanna, the single mother, is stoned, Francie is very sympathetic… This ugly incident is a shocking reminder of how oppressive and restrictive society at the time was regarding the sexuality of women. 

 

Because Francie is young... and is becoming more sophisticated... the story implies that in the future women's sexuality won't be confined to narrow and out-dated morality.

 

She writes about how the women in this period had few sexual health choices… lack of sexual consciousness...  limited birth control... and lack of advanced medicine and technology.

 

Smith's novel reveals her sympathies for feminism as a social force.... it's about several strong and vibrant women who are restricted by the mores... as well as the socio-economic circumstance... of the times.

 


AJ981979 wrote:

I feel there's a difference in a book having a feminist theme and having female characters.  Feminism is about the equality of genders, and I find little here to advance women's position in early 1900s, or even 1943.  The instance that sticks in my mind is the talk of politics and when women can vote someday, but I don't think that conversation is enough to say the work as whole has a feminist bias.

 


 

 

IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."