Masculine Vs. Feminine Power in The Good Earth

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Masculine Versus Feminine Power In many cultures, even today, there are stereotypes about women; i.e. that their job is to cook and clean, or that they are not as strong as men are. Many people would probably admit that they view men as tougher individuals whose responsibility is to protect and put food on the table. This theme of the male versus female power constitutes as prevalent in both Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe and The Good Earth by Pearl Buck. These authors intricately weave this idea into their novels through their characters’ specific duties, their characters’ behaviors and emotions, and the way children are viewed and treated according to gender. Both novels are set in the late 19th, early 20th century, but take…show more content…
Both novels characterize men as the hard workers, but it is clear the women also have many difficult tasks expected of them. It is true that personality differs from person to person, but to Okonkwo, only certain behaviors and emotions are acceptable for a man. He seems to regard all other emotions and behaviors as too womanly. Achebe characterizes Okonkwo as one who has a fiery temper, and Okonkwo is even given the nickname “Roaring Flame”. Okonkwo strived to “hate everything his father had loved. One of those things was gentleness and another was idleness” (Achebe 11). Okonkwo’s wives are truly terrified of him and therefore they remain very soft-spoken, and do not show their emotions often. Wang Lung also shows his temper, and hides other emotions. Such as when O-lan’s first child is a boy, he is overjoyed but does not outwardly express it. O-lan, being a woman, must hide her true feelings. For example, when Wang Lung demands for her pearls, “But O-lan returned to the beating of his clothes and when tears dropped slowly and heavily from her eyes she did not put up her hand to wipe them away; only she beat more steadily..” (Buck 135). Both novels characterize the male protagonists as angry men, with gentle and quiet wives. Most parents would like to say that they do not have a favorite child, but to the Ibo children, it is a normal thing for boys to be more valuable than girls are. Okonkwo expects his boys to be strong clansmen like himself, and is extremely
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