The Objectification of Women in “on the Road” a Feminist Criticism

2285 Words Feb 10th, 2009 10 Pages
Michael Prather
12/4/08
Essay #2
The Objectification of Women in “On the Road” A Feminist Criticism In On the Road there is an ever-present objectification of women. As a result, the woman loses her human qualities and can be compared to an inanimate object. There are several ways in which this objectification takes form in the novel. It is achieved through the act of gazing at women. The woman can also be used as a means to achieve something else, in this case sensual pleasure. Since the culture described in the novel is highly hedonistic, pleasure in terms of sex is crucial to Sal and his friends. Treating women as objects also implies to me that they are “replaceable” in the same way as items are obtained, used, disposed of and
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Moreover, when he describes her breasts as “straight and true” it is implied that she looks the way a beautiful woman should. Likewise, his second girlfriend Lucille is introduced in the text as “a beautiful Italian honey-haired darling” (On the Road 111). In the two quotations above, neither Terry nor Lucille receives a detailed description of their inner features; their beauty and sexual charisma seem enough. Undoubtedly, there is a recurring pattern in the narrator’s characterization of women. The male gaze in On the Road is not only a matter of characterization and introduction of the characters in the text, but it is also a highly characteristic feature of the story itself as a pattern of action for the male characters. In quite a number of central events Dean and Sal are actively gazing at women in a highly objectifying way. Dean is on a constant look-out for new acquaintances, and for Sal every city brings the possibility to see women that are exotic to him. When visiting Chicago the two friends hardly do any usual sight-seeing, but instead they search for beautiful girls all over the city. The first night Dean exclaims as he is about to enter a bar: “What a weird town – wow, and that woman in that window up there, just looking down with her big breasts hanging from her nightgown, big wide eyes” ( On The Road 224-225). Here Dean expresses an almost childish joy of exploring the local women and their supposedly promiscuous
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