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PP2 Outline

Some literary texts, although set in a particular place or time, convey ideas that are universal. In what ways is this true in two of the works you have studied?

 

Intro:

  • “The Arrangers of Marriage” is from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s short story collection The Thing Around Your Neck and narrates a Nigerian woman moving to America to live with her newly found husband.
  • The Odyssey is an epic by Homer that centers around Odysseus’ hero’s journey to return home from the Trojan War.
  • Two texts have widely different contexts; “The Arrangers of Marriage” is contemporary and takes place in America and a Nigerian background while The Odyssey was written around 8th century BCE and takes place in the area surrounding Greece
  • However, both texts touch on the repression of women and their lower status compared to men. There are distinct power dynamics between men and women, as well as expectations for women that do not apply to men

 

Thesis: In “The Arrangers of Marriage” and The Odyssey, women are portrayed as inferior to men and are expected to adhere to societal gender norms.

 

Text 1: The Odyssey

#1 Language

  • Paints gods in negative light with accusing tone
    • “You cruel, jealous gods!”
    • “So now you male gods are upset with me for living with a man. A man I saved!”
  • Justifies her actions with with positively-connotated language
    • “I cared for him and loved him, and I vowed to set him free”
  • Vivid imagery- “flash of lightning smashed it to pieces”, “wine-dark sea”
  • Reveals gender double standards where goddesses are expected to faithful and not take more lovers while gods are allowed to take numerous mortal lovers

#2 Contrast

  • Male vs. female
  • Females are gentle and wrongly belittled for taking on more lovers when it should be their own choices- “killed him with her gentle arrows” and “indulged her own desire”
  • Males are violent and aggressive- “till Zeus found out, hurled flashing flame and killed him” and “pinned his ship… smashed it to pieces”
  • Emphasizes how females haven’t done anything wrong and that the males are the ones causing trouble
  • Touches on stereotypes of female and male behaviors and nature

#3 Allusion

  • Artemis and Orion, Demeter and Iasion
  • Even goddesses aren’t exempt from this kind of gender discrimination
  • Ubiquitous nature of sexism even in history

 

Text 2: The Arrangers of Marriage

#1 Language

  • Similes
    • “I find you an ezigbo di! A doctor in America! It is like I won a lottery for you!”— Insinuates that the purpose of women is to get a husband
    • “I was like manna, relieving them of you”— women are like properties and burdens (ties to older beliefs to marry off girls and that they are properties of the husband)
  • Firm and condescending tone of Ofodile- “You’ll get used to it.”
    • Ofodile constantly correcting narrator’s word usage
    • Clear power imbalance between narrator and husband
    • “You couldn’t say no, not after they had taken care of you since your parents died”— women are indebted to their family, have no freedom to choose
  • Imperatives- “Don’t let your husband eat out too much… It will push him into the arms of a woman who cooks”
    • Implies that nowadays, the duty of a woman is solely to cook and do housework

#2 Contrast

  • Comparison between reality and desire: “I had thanked Uncle Ike warmly, for everything—finding me a husband…” vs. “I did not remind him that I wanted to try for the University…”
  • Underscores narrator’s lack of control over her life
  • Her marriage is still arranged just like it used to be in olden times

 

#3 Symbolism

  • “Always guard your husband like a guinea fowl’s egg”
    • Implies that women have to be on high alert at all times to make sure their husbands aren’t stolen by other women
    • Women have the responsibility of keeping their husbands happy or else he will leave
  • “He came back with a Good Housekeeping All-American cook book, thick as a Bible”
    • The cook book is almost like a bible that the narrator has to follow and worship so that she can be the perfect housewife
    • Also implies that this issue of women having to uphold expectations and do what men say has persisted for centuries, is a long-standing social problem

 

Conclusion:

  • Compare: both texts use language techniques and contrast to highlight the difference in power dynamics and expectations between males and females
  • Contrast: The Odyssey also uses allusion to display the prevalence of the gender expectations while “The Arrangers of Marriage” employs symbolism to better convey
  • Gender inequality is still an universal problem, whether it be historical or contemporary times, or in Europe or America.

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