Comparative Commentary - Mango St and Annie John Essay

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Comparative Essay: gender roles in
The House on Mango Street and Annie John

Question 3: To what extent do male and female literary characters accurately reflect the role of men and women in society?

In this essay I will analyse to what extent the characters in the novels The House on Mango Street (text A), by Sandra Cisneros, and Annie John (text B), by Jamaica Kincaid, reflect the role of men and women in society. These two novels criticise patriarchal societies, where “women are taught to think as men, identify with a male point of view and to accept as normal and legitimate a male system of values…” . In both of them, there are clear examples of chauvinism, which conditions the lives of Esperanza Cordero, a “Chicana” who lives
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An example of this is when the book’s protagonists says: “Not a man’s house […] A house all my own” .
Lastly, as regards the historical context, in both patriarchal cultures there is no equality in gender roles at work. While women have to stay at home doing the house work and babysitting, even if they do not like it, men are the ones in charge of supporting the family economically with their jobs. As a consequence, females are intended to live a monotonous life even if they are capable persons, and men have the chance to succeed in life. In both novels, there are clear illustrations that show this aspect of chauvinism. In text B, we can find Annie’s mother’s example, who is a very capable woman but has to work at home and be very obliging with her husband. In the same way, text A shows Alicia’s story.“Alicia, whose mama died, is sorry there is no one older to rise and make the lunchbox tortillas.” However, “Alicia, who inherited her mama’s rolling pin and sleepiness, is young and smart and studies for the first time at the university” . In this way, we can see that Alicia studies in order to change her life and escape from the role she (and other women) have in this patriarchal society. In this sense, she is different from other women, such as Marin, who wishes to marry a man who can give her a better future, instead of working to achieve it on her own. Like Alicia, both novels’ protagonists once again rebel against