Feminist Perspective of The Lie

Feminist Perspective of The Lie

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Feminist Perspective of The Lie  


Women have long struggled and battled against men in an attempt to obtain equality. In the story, "The Lie," the character Sylvia Remenzel portrays many of the qualities in a stereotypical female that women for generations have been trying to prove wrong. Her thoughts and actions, plus the possible opinions of females reflecting upon her character, and the fact that this character was written by a male will show the neglect by which the role was depicted.

     To begin, Sylvia's questions throughout the story are naive and juvenile.  For example, “I wonder how many Remenzels have gone to Whitehill,” and “You think those people will like those rooms?” Questions such as these are simply put and rather unnecessary because they only take up space and disrupt the flow. The question concerning the number of Remenzel family members who have gone to Whitehill has a pretty obvious answer. Her husband in the book even thinks so, That's like asking how many people are dead in a cemetery. To have a female character ask questions that are seemingly simple is putting them back, and placing them in a group outside those with intelligence. The second question concerns a new wing being built onto Whitehill where a group of Africans will be staying. By calling the Africans, those people, gives the  impression that she doesn't see them as equals to herself. In the time period that this story was written, (during the 1970s), the issue of racism was partly over. This character was not trying to be rude, but she did not have the intelligence to think differently. That alone is a very degrading way of thinking, such as giving women less power of thought than men. For example, Mr. Remenzel sees no problem with the Africans attending the school, when he says, The rooms aren't for them, they aren't going to be segregated. By observing these thoughts of Sylvia, one might see the lack of intuition and observation put upon her. These are all examples of the possible feminist view placed upon her.

     Next, the actions that Sylvia performs show her incomplete personality when it comes to being unique. Her role follows the example that females should be seen and not heard, also, that they are to stay at home and take care of the children. These are qualities that women have been fighting to remove from the minds of society.

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Sylvia was so intent on comforting Eli that she'd put out of her mind what her husband was up to. This shows that Sylvia was so concerned with the welfare of her child and playing her role of "mommy" that nothing else mattered. When Dr. Remenzel goes to ask the board for the entrance of Eli, Sylvia rushes out of sight. In these more recent days, a woman would not rely on a male to ask for a favor. And again, while in the car on the way to the school, Sylvia sat the entire time reading and asking meaningless and empty questions periodically. This action implies that she had no ability to do anything else. She was not  writing a dissertation, solving a math problem, or involving herself in any stimulating activity.  Having this type of role presents the idea that a female shouldn't do or won't do anything except sit quietly and keep to oneself while the men do all of the challenging, interesting, and recognizable things.

     Lastly, this story was written by a male, giving the impression, possibly, that he thinks that females are incapable of doing anything meaningful or powerful. That, maybe, all of the interesting and exciting and character building activities are to be left for an "all powerful man." Although, the "man" character doesn't really perform to the high standards that he should in this story either. The author, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. was involved in World War II where he was captured by the Germans. Throughout this entire experience, he, most likely, did not see many of the actions of war performed by females. This quite possibly may have been where he developed his sexist thinking. Still, that does not excuse the flighty and  ignorant actions portrayed by Sylvia.

     The character, Sylvia Remenzel, is a perfect example of how women do not want to be treated or portrayed. That is, as if they are homely, thoughtless, and unimaginative beings only for the possession of males. For many, many years females have been fighting for their independence from men.  When this story was written, they had it, but still, men, like the author, continued to see them as the opposite. Sylvia portrays these undesirable qualities in everything that she does.
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