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Gender Roles in John Steinbeck’s the Pearl

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Gender Roles in John Steinbeck’s The Pearl

Literary elements play an important role in conveying a message in a piece of writing. Many authors use them to evoke several feelings and reactions out of the reader. John Steinbeck uses discourse, diction and figurative language in The Pearl to juxtapose the stereotypical beliefs of gender roles in marriage. The elements help the reader to better understand the characters marriage and how it can be compared and contrasted from a typical marriage. This paper will examine these literary elements and how they show that the author is comparing and contrasting gender roles in their marriage

Gender roles in marriage are setup to distinguish between who does what in the household. It is a stereotype that men are physically and mentally stronger than the woman. Men are said the be the providers, the protectors and the one who takes care of the family. On the other hand, women are the nurturers, the cookers and the cleaners. Many believe that women are less than men and should be treated as such. These are elements that make up the stereotypical beliefs that have been present for many years. The author makes many of these beliefs stand out in The Pearl so that the differences are easily pointed out. The reader can see that the in the novel, Juana and Kino have methods that they follow. Juana cooks and

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Kino protects. These are qualities of any marriage and the author shows the basic qualities so that through the literary elements he uses, the reader can easily see how the author is challenging the common beliefs.

Free indirect discourse is present in the novel to show the author view Kino and Juana as one. Gender roles in marriage signify that one partner does more than the other and one role is more import than the other. The author mentions in the novel, “But Juana’s hand came creeping over to him in warning, and then the sound came again! the whisper of a foot on dry earth and the scratch of fingers in the soil.” The author’s use of free indirect discourse helps the reader to get inside both Juana and Kino’s head without leaving out either of them. In marriage you are referred to as one and the author approaches them as such. This quote shows how the narrator taps into their head as if they were equal. This is the first of many examples of how he uses literary elements to to juxtapose the stereotypical beliefs of gender roles in marriage.

A common belief in marriage is that the man should always be physically and mentally stronger that his wife. Through diction, the author conveys that in the case of Kino and Juana, this is not necessarily true. In the novel it is stated that , “She, who was obedient and respectful and cheerful and patient she could arch her back in child pain with hardly a cry. She could stand fatigue and hunger almost better than Kino himself.” In this sentence the author is continually reiterating that the person he is describing is a female. The characteristics mentioned would usually be for a male. This shows that Juana is a strong willed woman which is against common beliefs. In relation to her husband Kino, it is


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