The Female Entrepreneurial Role in James M Cain's Mildred Pierce

The Female Entrepreneurial Role in James M Cain's Mildred Pierce

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The Female Entrepreneurial Role in James M Cain's Mildred Pierce

A woman's place in the post-depression era is usually one where a woman would commonly be known to have a role in the economy; only to be waiting in her kitchen to cook for the "money-making husband." It was often rare to encounter one woman who had the ability to take her inner interests and turn them into an entrepreneurial role in society. Yet, through this novel by James M. Cain, one will encounter Mildred Pierce, in which Mildred uses her inner talent, and cooking. To redeem the long lost woman's role in the economy and the workforce. This inner interest of cooking was not kept inside the household as it has with millions of other woman in the United States; it was instead expanded into a successful capitalistic venture for Mildred.

Gorgeous legs, great cook, and friendly disposition. Mildred used these attributes to survive a divorce and poverty and to claw her way out of the lower middle class. Yet Mildred also had a weakness, one being that she has failed to Veda’s standards. Mildred Pierce tries her best in order to please her daughter. She charts the rise and fall of a woman who makes and markets pies. When her husband loses his livelihood as a result of the Wall Street crash, Mildred takes work "as a waitress"(Mildred Pierce) in a diner. "Recognizing that she can produce better pies than the business currently has to offer, she rapidly becomes its supplier."(1,dirks) Then she opens a restaurant of her own, which leads to openings of several others. Mildred, a mother of two daughters, was left alone because of her husband, Bert. Mildred, capable of cooking meals as to a fancy restaurant she decides to utilize these techniques in opening her Own restaurant. Wally, a friend of Mildred's husband helps in organizing a place to build the new restaurant." For the first time in her life, Mildred felt the quick excitement of a conspiratorial deal. She comprehended the credit aspect of it, once Wally explained it, and she didn't need to be told how perfect the place was for her purposes."(93,Cain) Mildred able to use the abandon Pierce Model home she renovates, and turns it into a restaurant. She decided on a name, "Mildred Pierce" in which she only serves chicken and waffles and pies on the side.

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Opening day, the restaurant was a success and Mildred was off to a promising future. Her careful planning and operating the restaurant by arranging how many customers she had, even before they came in; "she had simplified her menu, so she could start the chicken without waiting for the waitress to report; she had placed her icebox, range, materials, and utensils so she could work with the minimum of effort. Feeling as though she were starting a well-tuned machine, she took out four each of breasts, second joints, drumsticks, and wings, rolled them in the flour box beside the range, gave them a squirt from the olive oil bottle that stood beside the flour."(Proquest) With this plan Mildred ran a successful restaurant. Slowly as customers grew and business was at the peak She decided on opening another restaurant in Beverly Hills. Utilizing the same techniques as the first Restaurant, Mildred improvised a little more class to the Place in Beverly Hills. The success of both restaurants leads Mildred yet to another investment in opening a place in Laguna Beach. Having three locations Mildred success built her way to the Top of the food industry.

"A well-tuned machine"(Mildred Pierce) Mildred has achieved the goal of every fast food technician, turning out meals with the precision of an industrial process. Mildred's pies and chickens are successful because she has perfected their preparation in the domestic atmosphere. Her miniature factory, that is, is geared to the production of authentic home style cooking, in which her competitors aren’t.

"Mildred Pierce is a fable that gives a picture of what women's lives would be like if they did not let men do their wage earning, if they did not embrace their traditional role, if they did not learn their lesson and stay at home. Mildred had no choice but to search out employment, relying on only herself to support her family, like many women in the war-time period. But she did not keep to her place. She did more than just earn a living, she prospered, and to let that image remain with American women could have been disastrous to the American economy. She could not be allowed to succeed, because she was trying to play too many roles, to achieve in every aspect of her life, and that, according to the American way, from a woman, is not allowed."(filmsite) Mildred, as a successful business woman she showed And proved to the world that hard work and perseverance Can pay off. She used her talents in the kitchen to earn a living and to build a franchise of her cooking.

Out of these elements, James M Cain created a novel of acute social observation and devastating emotional violence through a heroine whose ambitions and sufferings are never less than recognizable. He was one who used literature and a description of one woman, Mildred Pierce, to show those discouraged citizens that if he/she were to make use of their interests, they have the ability to succeed in life.


Cain, James M. MILDRED PIERCE. NY: Random House Inc, 1989.

Dirks, Tim. “Mildred Pierce 1945.” (1996-2000): 1.

Dirks, Tim. Mildred Pierce 1945. 1 Dec. 2001. 4 Dec.2001.

Pierce, Mildred. Mildred Pierce. 1 Dec. 2001. 4 Dec.2001.

Britannica, Encyclopedia. JAMES M. CAIN. U.S.: University Park, 1977.

Proquest. Mildred in Womans role. 3 Dec. 2001. 6 Dec 2001. Http://
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