Final English Essay Murphy

Submitted By Keila2
Words: 3120
Pages: 13

Keila Dukuze
English 2335.002
Reflection of Feminism in Literature

Nancy Cott defines feminism as the belief in the importance of gender equality. Feminism refers to cultural, economic and political movements that are aimed at establishing greater rights, legal protection for women and women’s liberation. It encompasses the sociological theory concerned with issues of gender differences. This term has acquired a bad reputation over the years, but it seeks for both genders to be equally represented. Maggie Huum and Rebecca Walker divided the history of feminism into three separate waves; first wave is the nineteenth and early twentieth century, second wave is 1960’s and early 1980’s, the third wave extends from the 1990’s to the present. Themes that are explored in feminist theory are discrimination, stereotyping, objectification (especially sexual objectification), oppression and patriarchy. What Now My Love by Floyd Salas is an inside read into a group of hippies one in particular Carole. People of The Whale by Linda Hogan is a story about the experiences of a fictional Native American community, and Ruth Small is a big part of this story being the wife of Thomas the protagonist in this novel (Ruth is also a protagonist). Carole and Ruth Small have different values met by their different cultures and time periods but they both exemplify the ideals of feminism in their roles as women characters. The following essay will examine how these women, their time periods and actions reflect feminism. Both of these novels focus on events that happened during the second wave of feminism. The second wave of feminism (1960’s to early 1980’s) focused on issues of sexuality, family, the workplace, reproductive rights, and de facto inequalities. During this time women were making job gains in the professional fields. This second wave came after World War II when unexpected economic growth from the 1940’s post-war baby boom forced the women then to get jobs and enter the work field to take care of things at home. This wave was said to have started in 1963 when Betty Friedan published the Feminine Mystique. This book talked about the discontent of many women which led to the formation of women’s groups and feminist organizations. By the early 1980’s women had largely met their goals and were successful but in 1982 the feminist sex wars due to the failure of ratifying the ERA (Equal Rights Amendments) took the wave into a complete full stop. It wasn’t until the start of it again in the 1990’s in response to all the backlash and failures of the second wave. What Now My Love takes place during the second wave of feminism in 1968 when the Vietnam War was still going on. People of the Whale also touches on the second wave of feminism, but it hits the end of the second wave (which is 1982) and carries on into the latter part of the 80s. This latter part of the 80’s is a null and void period where the feminist movement has taken a backlash. The novel People of the Whale fast forwards to 1988, at this time the movement has already stopped but slowly gains momentum to reach the third wave of feminism. In the novels, What Now My Love and People of the Whale, we see feminism really being played out through the lives of Carole and Ruth Small. However both these characters inhabit very different worlds. For instance Carole is a nineteen year old blue-eyed, blond bomb-shell provocatively dressed who gets entangled between two men while on adventurous escapades in search of illicit drugs. Carole is growing up during the hippie movement, so this brings in to play her character and very experimental open nature of living. Ruth Small, on the other hand, is a Native American women raised in California whose nature at birth was animalistic; she’s “born with gills” (Hogan 27) like a few other A’atsika natives, and she grows up fated to be with her future husband and father to