Gender Stereotypes in Literature Essay

Gender Stereotypes in Literature Essay

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There is no doubt that certain books children read are made especially for boys or for girls. Like any developmental form of entertainment, from toys to movies, children's books are often littered with hints that dictate whether they were originally meant for male or female enjoyment. Sometimes these hints can be as simple as the specific gender of the main characters, for example Carolyn Keene's Nancy Drew series calls for a female audience while the extremely similar yet sexually opposite Hardy Boys mysteries fall into the hands of boys, yet other times more important factors decide who the book will best be suited for. Gary Paulsen's Hatchet and Katherine Patersons's The Great Gilly Hopkins are books for a boy and a girl, respectively, yet aside from the gender of their protagonist they also use a heavy reliance on setting, parental interactions, and self-development to truly reach their intended readership. And though on the surface this “novel for boys” and “novel for girls” couldn't be more dissimilar, their authors use these factors to mask the fact that they are really both gender-specific renderings of the same story: a domestic survival tale.
Gary Paulsen's Hatchet follows in the footsteps of other famous novels for boys such as Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe and William Golding's Lord of the Flies, and indeed this literary pedigree alone might be enough to qualify its intended audience. It's the type of story boys love, the type that littered the pages of The Boy's Own Paper and lived in the heart of many a boy scout: that of a boy dropped in the wilderness who must learn to conquer the elements and fend for himself. What Paulsen brings to this oft-told tale however, and what differs it from ot...


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...ly and unity.
Of course these are only “boy novels” and “girl novels” in the stereotypical sense. There is nothing that states that the novels can't be enjoyed by members of both sexes or that the genres themselves are gender exclusive: indeed Harry Mazer's The Island Keeper is about a young girl trying to survive in the Canadian wilderness, and Gordon Korman has written many Hopkins-ish books with a male protagonist. But what sets Paulsen and Paterson's novels apart is their authors deliberate
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understanding of how to properly tweak an issue as complicated as a broken home for a specific gender's readership. To boys it'll be an adventure story, to girls the journey will be dealt with more emotionally, but in both cases it essentially boils down to the basic need to survive in a new and frightening world.





















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