Gender Roles

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Has the role of the daughter changed? In the early 40’s, daughters were expected to be at home, helping her mother. She was to learn the household responsibilities of cleaning and cooking and attending to the “man of the house.” She was scarcely educated and always respected her elders. Now fast-forward fifty years and we have daughters who seem to disobey the expectations instilled within them. The roles of daughters have changed from being the assumed housewife and child bearer to a more educated and involved lifestyle. We can see this shift of daughter roles through a comparison of a play and a novel. Laura Wingfield in the play, The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, is an emotional character who feels the pressure by her mother and society to fulfill the roles of a traditional daughter. Fifty years later is Grace Graves, a young daughter in the novel, The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans, who is portrayed as immature and far from traditional. Daughters were beginning to have choices not duties in society. Parenting has played an important role in the daughters of the novel and play. Only her mother, Amanda, raised Laura because her father had abandoned them. Having a single mother and no fatherly figure has distraught Laura. She must del with the pressure placed on her by her mother, who wants to get her married as soon as possible. Amanda tries to motivate Laura into marriage by boasting about her past; “One Sunday afternoon in Blue Mountain—your mother received—seventeen—gentlemen caller! Why, sometimes there weren’t chairs enough to accommodate them all. We had to send the nigger over to bring in folding chairs from the parish house” (303). The importance of the relationship between Amanda and Laura is imperative to ... ... middle of paper ... .... Contrary is Grace who does not seem to care about respect. She loathes her mother, and always finds shelter with her father. When Annie has enough of seeing Grace in distress, she devises a plan to put some joy back into her life. The plan works and Grace seems to have matured while on the ranch. In the play, Laura never raised her voice at Amanda, which seems to be the norm in the early forties. In the novel Grace disrespects Annie, and it seems as if talking back has become the new norm. Although Williams never reveals what became of Laura, we can tell from Tom’s speech, that Laura has the newfound capacity to take care of herself. Evans, in the novel, goes into great detail about the future of the Grave’s family. He mentions the new baby, and how everybody is getting along fine in the family. Daughters have played a vital role in a family and will forever.

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