The ways of how different writers analyze various themes in their literary works are one of the most captivating and educative for many people. It is not difficult to find a reliable literary source and enjoy the writing style offered by a person from a particular epoch. Each writer has its own opinion and vision of the situation. And among a variety of topics and ideas for writing, the issues of gender and race are considered to be one of the most frequently discussed.
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The relationship between race and gender factors is the main theme of the works by such authors like Lee Maracle, Nadine Gordimer, and Margaret Laurence. Maracle’s Ravensong is a story of who a number of Natives were treated by Whites in the late 1950s; it is not about some general facts and events, it is a lesson that some Natives got to define their identity and to fight the ideas of assimilation which were inherent to that period of time.
In her turn, Gordimer introduced her City Lovers, the story about the relations between a man and a woman of different races, cultures, and society. And the work by Laurence, The Loons, shows the reader a story of a half-breed Indian girl compared to a loon whose life was dramatically changed by the invasion of white people. All the three stories are about the relations between the people from different cultures.
In spite of their varieties and interests, the characters find the reasons to meet and develop the relations which are hard for society to understand. Though not all stories are easier to read quickly, the ideas offered by the writers seem to be a unique contribution to the world of literature and a powerful attempt to propose a solution to constant inequalities which exist today.
Maracle, Laurence, and Gordimer present powerful pieces of literary work which demonstrate how race and gender differences may predetermined the relations between different people: The Loons is about the half-breed Indian girl’s desire to make a new life, City Lovers is about the offences based on gender differences, and Ravensong is about the necessity to define person’s identity.
Ravensong as Maracle’s attempt to demonstrate challenges in the 1950s
Writing about human desire to become free is probably one of the most challenging tasks for many writers. It is obligatory to describe the conditions under which people had to live, to evaluate the possibilities of different people, and to understand whether the idea of freedom is worth recognition. Maracle is the author who does not want to choose some easy ways to discover the truth; she is a fighter just like some characters of her story.
Stacey is the main character of the novel who finds it possible “to disobey a direct command from him [Johnson] without raising any kind of fuss about it” (Maracle 69). The author made her powerful enough to define that the life is not fair and the relations between people could not be developed the same way. Still, the character is not able to cope with all challenges and help other people who are in need to take the same actions.
At the beginning of the novel, a song is introduced to the reader. This song “echoed the rolling motion of earth’s centre, filtering itself through the last layer to reach outward to earth’s shoreline above the deep” (Maracle 9).
On the one hand, such description of the events may seem to be too general as one song touches upon a variety of aspects of life. On the other hand, the reader may discover the terrible truth that the story has its own purpose – to prove that one terrible problem, human inequality, deprives many people of happiness and true life in according personal desires, ideas, and thoughts.
Maracle admits that race problem is not the only one that bothers many people. Gender inequality plays another important role in human lives. This is why the main character is not only a half-breed Indian who cannot be understood by society that consists of the Whites with their own rules; the character is a young girl who is not ready to fight against the norms set but still able to understand the idea of unfair division of duties.
In this story, there are the Indians who “were stepping forward arguing human rights, justice and equality” (Maracle 68). And in spite of the fact that some arguments of human injustice were undeniable, people could not allow the spread of freedom among all citizens.
It is necessary to admit that Stacey is not the only character who helps to understand that Indian people have to be treated in a different ways by the Whites. Momma’s character aims at defining sexual identity as another problem for discussion. Within some time, she “rose to her defence” (Maracle 58), still, the society she lives in would never allow her being free from all perspectives. A kind of personal demons may prevent human happiness, and this story should help the reader to define such demons inside.
Gordimer’s City Lovers proves that the color of skin plays an important role even in loving affairs
City Lovers is the fiction at the center of which the relations between a man and a woman are considered. There are two main characters: the geologist whose name is Dr. Franz-Joseph von Leinsdorf that makes the reader believe he has German roots and the mulatto cashier who made an attempt to befriend with a white man and help him achieve more convenient conditions for living.
Their first meeting took place at the supermarket and was not different from those which were before, however, their second meeting deserve certain attention. She met him to offer the blades which were necessary.
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Confusion of the geologist made him reacting her proposal and her help a little bit slow as “it was difficult to know how to treat these people, in this country; to know what they expected (Gordimer 51). The author admits that being a guest in a new country, it is crucially important to learn the traditions and the rules to be followed by citizens. The relations between a man and a woman have to be analyzed from various perspectives to be understood properly, specially, if the idea of race inequality is considered.
The development of the relations in the story proves that human feelings and attitudes to each other cannot be based on their racial or gender identities. If people have some feelings, they cannot resist them. Unfortunately, a young woman could not even guess what type of relations are allowed in the society she lived so long, and the geologist could not believe that some legal evidence for the relations between a man and a woman are required.
As a result of their illegal relations, they underwent a court trial during which the questions of race and gender have been discussed. Even in this situation, when it is hard to define who is guilty, the gender factor played a crucial role. The woman was embarrassed and even in the interview she admitted that “I’m sorry for the sadness brought to my mother” (Gordimer 60).
The case described in the novel helped to understand that race identity determines the way of how people around could treat each other. It is not enough to be a mulatto or an Indian; people are also divided into females and males. And this gender factor could become a kind of dirty spot that will remind everyone person’s rights, duties, and rights. This novel is not too long and does not contain too complicated terms and ideas. Still, the lessons offered play an important role for the reader.
Laurence’s Loons describes human alienation because of gender and race factors
The Loons is a kind of allegory by means of which the world of birds and their attempts to understand the environment they have to live in is similar to the world of human beings where people have to prove their rights, demonstrate their feelings, and be powerful enough not to be humiliating.
Margaret Laurence explains how Piquet, the main character of the novel, and her family had to work various jobs in order to earn for living and try to understand the worth of life. Piquet is a young girl who could not get appropriate education due to constant problems with health and the necessity to work. Even she finds it interesting to play with other kinds and enjoy her childhood, she had to prove that she is not a kid now and she is not interested in the activities offered by other children (Laurence 112).
In comparison to other authors, Laurence made a powerful attempt to compare humans to birds and their attempts to improve their lives. In society, Piquet is compared to a loon that does not deserve the right to be on the same level as other people of her age. In fact, this novel is not about the question of gender but the question of racial identity. Not all people deserve the right to succeed in their lives, and the Piquet’s family is the group of people who had to consider the challenges caused by sudden still irreversible invasion of the white people.
Like the ducks who are bothered by humans in their lake, Piquet’s family has to be divided into groups and think about the methods to save their lives and find their places. They cannot explain why their race is not appropriate for society, this is why they had to fight and prove something all the time. “At night the lake was like black glass with a streak of amber which was the path of the moon” where “the loons began their calling” (Laurence 114).
The loons are the race who is ready to be united and fight against the rules set; now, it is time for Piquet’s family to call for action and prove that personal demands and human rights of all people should be considered. Race diversities made people misunderstand each other, still, it is possible to find out the ways and improve the situation when one little girl cannot find support in society.
Relation of the idea of race and gender differences in the three stories
Affirmative action involves special measures which are designed in order to retrace the imbalances brought by discrimination that is based on gender differences or the colors of human skin. Affirmative action seeks to eliminate the wide disparity in life that is brought about by discrimination. It introduces a number of preferential treatments to the disadvantaged group so that it can be caught up with the advantaged members of the society. In most cases, it is a temporary ‘catch up’ strategy that is stopped once it fulfills its objectives.
It may involve the following measures: increased number of women in the sectors where they are under-represented, special admission criteria to people of different color who are usually discriminated, special schools to the minorities in order to help them get necessary education, public information to counter stereotypes which define the false image they have on both men and women, and, finally, counseling services to both men and women so that they can accept the emerging realities.
Despite a number of efforts, gender and race inequalities are still present in modern society. The adverse effect of gender and racial discrimination is that people who are discriminated cannot find enough powers and methods to prove their rights and words. Affirmative action becomes an important tool of curbing race and gender discrimination in society. This kind of discrimination makes the minorities have low social status as evidenced in the three novels.
The authors of the works discussed in the paper use several examples of race and gender discrimination so that it helps to criticize gender discrimination and racism between humans. The authors play an important role through their literary works; they aim at creating public awareness with regards to gender and racism.
The authors help the reader learn that judging others based on their skin color and gender should not take place in current society. They show that gender and race misunderstands are frequent in many counties, this is why it is necessary to pay attention to different aspects of the way of how people live.
In general, the achievements of the authors play an important role in the world of literature. The works by Laurence, Gordimer, and Maracle show how unfair human attitude can be. Many people are ready to judge each other on the basis of their racial or gender identity only. They do not find it necessary to consider human interests, skills, and abilities. All they want to do is to prove their rights by means of neglecting the rights of other people.
The Loons, City Lovers, and Ravensong are the stories which describe the questions of race and gender in captivating ways. People cannot understand their destiny and define their place in the world, still, they want to fight and prove that disobedience to the norms set in society is not harmful; it is an attempt to live in accordance of personal interests. The characters of the stories discussed in the paper show how unfair life can be and how desperate human actions should be.
Gordimer, Nadine. “City Lovers.” Six Feet of the Country. Harrmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin, 1982. pp.48-60. Print.
Laurence, Margaret. “The Loons.” A Bird in the House. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart Inc., 1963. rpt. 1991. pp. 108-120. Print.
Maracle, Lee. Ravensong. Berkley, CA: Group West, 2002. Print.