Feminism In Suttree

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Cormac McCarthy’s novel, Suttree, demonstrates the prejudice deeply ingrained within society, as well as the way it largely affects its readers. The misogynistic attitude is certainly not a new one. Women have been oppressed and viewed as less than men, in personal accounts and in narratives, for a long time. In the minds of the men in this novel, women are seen as merely an addition to men or an afterthought, and certainly not able to hold the value of a whole person on their own. The only real relationships with women the reader observes are Cornelius Suttree’s romance with Wanda, and then with Joyce. The lens through which Suttree views women is skewed, hostile and distrustful. He consistently views women as either irrational, emotional,…show more content…
Some women were rebelling and fighting for more independence. However, the predominant message women received from society were still the ideas of subservience and housewifery. Even if women felt as if their purpose extended outside of the home, they were taught to repress that feeling and stick to what society wanted for them. Many women of the time appeared to be brainwashed, in a sense--void of any desires or wants for themselves, all energy and time focused on the home and family. A Harpers Weekly advertisement from 1953 details the monotonous tasks and chores delegated to a housewife, showing a day governed entirely by the husband’s “commuting schedule,” full of general housekeeping, shopping, and doing whatever it takes to satisfy the children and impress the husband. (Henderson) This pressure was imposed on them by their fellow housewives, husbands, and especially by the media, as shown. Radio, television, advertisements painted on buildings, and magazines all “exhibited stereotyping and gender bias,” imposing the idea that a woman should solely “live for her husband and family” (Young 47). The image of a well-dressed, perfectly happy, obedient housewife was plastered everywhere, of a wife supposed to be nothing more than “stylish help” (Young 47). A woman was not encouraged to identify with any aspect of masculinity, or try and usurp any tasks typically delegated to…show more content…
The emptiness in Suttree’s life without a constant, supportive woman brings about many problems that are seemingly unrelated, but all come back to the lack of femininity in his male-overloaded world. In this era of big happy families that never fought, and mothers and fathers that always loved each other, it was easy for problems to rise up beneath the surface. Alcoholism grew, but generally never out in the open. Although Suttree and his friends are not secretive in their relationships with alcohol, it is never discussed as an addiction, an unhealthy escape from reality, or an issue that needs medical attention or rehabilitation. Suttree uses alcohol to avoid coming to terms with his failed marriage, split from his family, and overall loneliness. He is not alone in this, for studies show that the “transition out of marriage creates stress, which leads to drinking,” as well as the fact that unmarried men have higher rates of alcohol abuse or alcohol-related problems than those who are married. (Reczek 3) In the novel, alcohol separates women from men often, as the men go out for nights on end in debauchery. Suttree’s inability to appreciate women as equals, or to settle happily in a relationship demonstrate his parallel inability to go against society’s definition of femininity, and how it
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