Where Are All The Southern Gentlemen? Essay

Where Are All The Southern Gentlemen? Essay

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Where are all the southern gentlemen?

In Eudora Welty’s Petrified Man, there is a huge lack of the stereotypical strong “southern gentlemen.” This story, set in 1939 Mississippi, follows Leota and Mrs. Fletcher through two beauty shop appointments, where the two ladies discuss, in detail, the people around them. Fred, Leota’s husband, and Mr. Fletcher’s, Mrs. Fletcher husband, are spoken of almost like second class citizens and the other men, Mr. Pike and Mr. Petrie do not fare much better from these ladies’ discussion. The men in this story are a shadow of what a “southern gentleman” should be, and why do these ladies put up with their lack of manhood and laziness and lack of manhood? Ever action the men take in this story is led by the women, and all the men seemed to be as “petrified” as the real Petrified Man.
When thinking about men in the 1930, even during the grips of the Great Depression, they were still doing everything possible to help support their families. Why are these men in the story so different, do the not have any honor or pride, where is their manhood? What makes a southern gentleman? Most can agree the criteria include; financially security, successful in his job, and most important respect, for himself and for the people around him. A true southern gentleman would not be caught dead lying around while his wife worked, living off her money, and being an overall bum. Even during this time, if you were a man, and wanted to work, you could always go to a farm and get a job, there were jobs for manual labor during this time, and these men are just too lazy to get one. Gender roles in the south, even today, are very tradition, men worked outside the home and women stayed at home and kept the house. ...


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...ot work for your height, you did not earn your height, this is not a real accomplishment. Your husband’s height is normally not something to brag about, but it seems like this is all the ladies have to say about their husbands.
These men are anything but stereotypical southern men, they are bossed around by their wives, have no real accomplishments and they are lazy. The women in the story take on a more “manly” role, by making the money and controlling their households. This seems to go against the grain, especially in the more traditional Bible belt of Mississippi in the 1930’s. Real men would continue to move, be productive and even if that is a more “typical man role” if you are married you would at least want your partner, male or female to contribute. Without going forward these men are becoming stale, or as petrified as the “Petrified Man” in the story.

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