Essay On Gender Roles In Bobbie Ann Mason's Shiloh

588 Words3 Pages
“A man’s job is to earn money; a woman’s job is to look after the home and family”. The definition of how a man or a woman should act have recently been redefined by society. Males were supposed to be the strong, dominant figures, in the workplace, providing for their families while females should be the submissive figures, managing the cleaning, cooking and the children. The balance of culture would have been disrupted had anyone drifted away from these definitions. In the 1980’s, a man playing housewife was ludicrous, and a woman being the sole provider for the family was considered outlandish. In Bobbie Ann Mason’s “Shiloh”, conflict arises when expectations based on gender are not satisfied by the characters. In the beginning, Leroy held the typical masculine role while Norma Jean held the feminine role. Now that the roles have switched, Mason reveals this to the readers by exhibiting Norma Jean to be the man, by pursuing higher education classes, and by her life revolving around working out.
One of the key roles that Mason shows the change of gender roles is that Norma Jean is always working out. In
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Although Norma Jean was a woman, she was ultimately being the man of the house throughout the entire story. One of the ways that she was the man, is by having an official paying job outside of the home at the Rexall Drugstore. According to the Civilian Labor Force by Sex Chart, in 1982, the percentage of women in the work force was 43.3 while the men were at 56.7. At this time, it was becoming normal for women to be obtaining higher paying jobs. Another hint that Mason secretly revealed is that she was listing jobs for Leroy to go out and get. She says that he could get a job as a guard at the Union Carbide, get on at the lumberyard, or do a little carpenter work since he wants to build so bad (649). Men were supposed to be the ones that had orders for the wife to do, not vice
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