Women's Roles in God's Bits of Wood Essay

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1) God's Bits of Wood is an historical novel—one based on actual events. From the novel, to what extent and how did women drive events and what were the differences between their goals and those of men? Why the differences?

The novel God's Bits of Wood by Sembene Ousmane is an account of the strike Senegalese trainworkers underwent in pursuit of equal benefits and compensation from their French employers. In an effort to coerce the workers into returning to their jobs, the French cut off the water and food supply to the three villages wherein these events transpire: Thies, Dakar, and Bamako. Ousmane's novel explores the way in which these hardships evolve the worker's and their families till the strike is ultimately resolved.
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The hunger visible in their children eyes did not cause them to despair and lose their resolve, rather it helped to develop unity amongst them as they faced this hardship together. For instance, when Ramatoulaye killed the ram Vendredi, the meat from its bones was distributed to all those in need. So when the French soldiers came to collect her for breaking a law, they did not face one lone woman but an army of women prepared to fight. Consequently, the soldiers were driven away. This first victory showed the women the strength they had as long as they worked as a united front.
Women drove events in the novel because with the exception of the first fight between the workmen and the soldiers, primarily all physical revolts by the Senegalese were the work of the women. There were three reasons for this. First, whereas a man physically revolting would simply be killed, it was highly distasteful to the French to kill a woman or child. Second, this was the most effective manner for the women to aid the strike, since they were largely ignored and could not participate in the union meetings. Third, the women tired of scavenging food without success and watching each other waste away. Working actively to benefit the strike gave meaning to their lives. Also the French, who viewed the African women as ignorant whores whose primary worth was for sexual pleasure, also consistently acted to provoke them. Arresting Ramatoulaye, assaulting Ad'jibid'ji and her

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