Katherena Vermette's The Break

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Katherena Vermette’s novel The Break, is centered around a sexual assault. Through the perspective of eight narrators the story unfolds over the day leading up to the attack, memories triggered by the assault, and the recovery of all those involved. The novel’s two strongest themes are a juxtaposition of gender disparity and the strength and resilience of the women and girls involved. Gendered performance is common throughout the book, for both men and women, although the focus is on the female characters. This essay argues that the gendered performance of the characters is due to Linda Nicholson’s biological foundationalism as explored in Interpreting Gender (1999). The differences in reactions between the men and women of the story are not …show more content…

A man followed the girls in his car, leering at them until they made it home. All of the girls were scared, even if they showed it in different ways. Cheryl called the police but they took hours to arrive. The only response the police had was to Cheryl’s qualms was to no longer allow the girls to go the store unaccompanied (Vermette, 2016, p. 165-169). This incident not only speaks to the hypersexualizing of young indigenous women, but also the lack of concern of the local law enforcement. Which is again was displayed in The Break when Stella called the police after witnessing the attack, Officer Christie did not believe her, when she told them what she had allegedly witnessed, and brushed off her claims. When the officers left Stella’s home Christie called her a “crazy dame” and said he “felt sorry for that guy [Stella’s husband]” (2016, p. 68). He said the incident was just “nates beating on nates” (p. 72) which is not only a display of his own racism and colonial view, but also desensitization to gang violence in the community he is supposed to be protecting. His inability to take indigenous people seriously impacted his ability to act as a police officer should. Soraya Chemaly’s Why Don’t We Talk About the Gender Safety Gap in the U.S discusses how gender influences violence. The article states that it is in more developed countries that …show more content…

Gender performance is perpetuated by the conditioning and experiences of children from birth which also perpetuates the gender safety gap. Women and men are not as biologically different as once thought. They are simply held to different expectations in society, as explained by Nicholson’s Interpreting Gender. The Break is able to explore the lived experience of being an indigenous woman and how their relationships have evolved over time. As well as remaining strong when faced with the intersections of sexism and

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