How would you characterize Norman as a spouse in The Women's Room? What is the significance of the rape in the story and Val's commentary about it?

Norman is an indifferent and controlling spouse in The Women's Room. He restricts Mira's freedoms by not teaching her to drive and by letting her sacrifice her education for his. He's also out of the house a lot and doesn't help Mira raise the kids or maintain the household. The patriarchal control he represents is also shown through the rape of Val’s daughter and Val’s death at a protest in support of a female rape victim.

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There is a lot that one could say about Norman, but overall he is an uninvolved and controlling spouse. Mira raises the children and maintains the household, and Norman spends most of his time at work at the hospital or at his mother’s house. He does not like the noise...

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There is a lot that one could say about Norman, but overall he is an uninvolved and controlling spouse. Mira raises the children and maintains the household, and Norman spends most of his time at work at the hospital or at his mother’s house. He does not like the noise of the children and is able to escape it by going to see his family. Mira does not have the same luxury, and Norman does not realize that this is unfair. He also does not help her with taking care of the house and children. His absence in his marriage suggests that he feels he is more entitled to freedom than his wife because he is a man.

Norman also seems to have no regard for the sacrifices that his wife makes for him. Consider how Mira sacrifices her own higher education so that Norman can attend medical school. Norman does not appear to feel badly about this situation, nor does he express interest in helping Mira eventually get an education. In fact, Norman does not even let Mira look for better jobs in New York City, leaving her with menial job opportunities close to home.

Norman’s indifference as a husband is one of many examples in the book that show how men limit women’s freedoms. For example, consider how Norman refuses to teach Mira how to drive, which restricts her ability to get around. The patrirachial control that Norman represents is also demonstrated by the rape of Val’s daughter.

Although Val is independent and initially appears to live free from misogyny, her daughter’s experience reminds the women in the story that they cannot escape the patriarchy. This truth is reinforced when Val ends up getting shot at a protest in support of a rape victim. The fact that Val died while fighting against systemic misogyny underscores how difficult it is for women to truly be free in a patriarchal society.

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