The Power and Limitains of Women in This Earth Of Mankind by Pramoedya Ananta Toer
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In the novel This Earth Of Mankind by Pramoedya Ananta Toer, discrimination against social structure, race, and gender is apparent. The setting is in the Indies, or now called Indonesia. At that time, there are terms for different races in the book, which are “Native” indicating someone who is pure Indonesian, “Indo” a half European and half Indonesian, and “Pure Blood” or “European” when someone is pure European. An Indo and a Pure Blood receives more respect in society than a Native. Furthermore, European or Pure Blood is at the top of this social hierarchy, people who are European or Pure Blood receives the utmost respect in society. Differences in gender is prevalent in this novel, where most women in this book have power in their own homes, but in society is looked down upon. Female characters experiencing these are Annelies, the main character’s love interest, Nyai Ontosoroh, Annelies’ mother who is a concubine, and Magda Peters, the main character’s European teacher. Women in this novel are portrayed differently according to what race, social structure, and gender they are born in, which can be seen through Nyai Ontosoroh, Annelies, and Magda Peters.
Nyai Ontosoroh’s power only extends as far as her daughter, and her business, in society she is merely a native. As a child, Nyai Ontosorh has experienced great misery. Nya’s father sold her to a European man, Herman Mellema at a young age. For instance,
“Afterwards, I found out the envelope contained twenty-five guilders, representing Father’s surrender of me to him.” (84)
Nyai could not have done anything to stop her father from selling her; after all she is just a child. Herman Mellema teaches Nyai how to read, write, and understand Dutch. He educates her with a Europea...
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...evels of the social structure, such as Nyai who is a native, Annelies who is an Indo, and Magda Peters who is a Pureblood. Nyai Ontosoroh has complete control over her family, but in society she is belittled due to her low social standing. Annelies has control over her love interest, and is quite high in the social status, however she still has to succumb to her mother who has control over her. Magda Peters is a European women who has power for being a Pureblood, and an educator, however the extent of her power ends at her Dutch students. Throughout the novel This Earth of Mankind all these women have some kind of power in their life, may it be in their personal life or in society, despite coming from different levels of the social hierarchy.
Toer, Pramoedya Ananta. This Earth of Mankind: A Compelling Novel of Love. Ringwood: Penguin, 1982. Print.