How are men and women represented through the theme of gender and sexuality in Anowa?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Clearly the central method that the author uses to explore gender roles and sexuality in this story is the character of Anowa herself and the way in which a massively important theme of the novel is that of the power of tradition and custom and what happens to those who refuse to follow it. Anowa is a character who has flouted customs and traditions throughout her life. She refuses to marry after hitting puberty and refuses the various offers of marriage she receives until she marries a man that she wants to marry. In addition, she rejects the normal female role of housewife by helping her husband in his business. It is her consistent rejection of the traditional role of wife that alienates her from all of those around her and leads her to commit suicide at the end.

The story of Anowa then therefore carries a rather depressing message about the power of custom and tradition. Anowa is presented as something of a free spirit. Her refusal and adamant determination to be boxed in and inhibited by culture and tradition is something that makes her life much more difficult and impacts her husband as well. Gender roles in this culture present men as carers of their wives who provide for them, and wives as stay-at-home figures who sit around and are passive creatures. Anowa's fate shows the problematic nature of rejecting such established gender roles.


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