Women as Objects in A Woman on a Roof

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Women as Objects in A Woman on a Roof Doris Lessing’s "A Woman on a Roof" allows us to understand how some men view woman: as mere objects for display and possession. Lessing shows how each of the male characters reacts and deals with rejection from a woman sunbathing on a nearby rooftop. We discover how three men’s preoccupation with sex keeps them unaware of how their advances may be unwanted and ignorant of their action’s possible consequences. All three men share the desire to get this woman’s attention. Working on a rooftop of a block of flats in the hot, hot, sun, these men seek a diversion from the relentless heat. They whistle, yell, and wave at a near naked woman on a rooftop nearby, but the woman pays no mind to them. Their isolation on the rooftop and the woman’s relentless indignation fuels the men’s decent into a world of lewd behavior, thereby creating an atmosphere of harassment and rejection. They become "taunted" by this woman’s indifference towards them. All three men have distinctly different attitudes towards the situation they have created. Each has experienced rejection from women. In fact, each displays a level of hardness that affects his attitude. They each react differently to the woman’s indifference and each take his efforts to different levels. Tom, the youngest, represents a primary level, a man untouched by rejection. Stanley, the instigator, clearly at a secondary level to Tom, shows a man slightly touched by rejection. Stanley hates the blows of rejection to his manhood. Harry, on the other hand, represents a final level where he considers the woman’s presence trivial. He is long since married and possibly has suffered many indignities with regards to the scowls of women.... ... middle of paper ... ...displayed "lessons learned" in their attitudes. They knew when to quit. Tom took his unbridled actions all the way because he knew no better. The men return to work the next day with a new distraction on their minds. The weather has changed suddenly and is no longer attractive to sun bathers. Without the presence of the woman on the roof there are no sexual thoughts to preoccupy them. For Tom and Stanley, the consequences of their actions are forgotten and only evident in their new levels of understanding. Works Cited Allen, Orphia J., Short Story Criticism. Vol 16. Ed. Thomas Vottler. Detroit, MI: Gale Research, Co., 1990. Atack, Margaret., Short Story Criticism. Vol 6. Ed. Thomas Vottler.Detroit, MI: Gale Research, Co., 1990. Leasing, Doris. "A Woman on a Roof." The Harper Anthology Fiction. Ed. Sylvan Barnet. New York: HarperCollins, 1981.
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