The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

by F. Scott Fitzgerald
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Identify and comment on how men and women are positioned in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

In The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Benjamin and his wife Hildegarde's ages move in opposite directions. This serves to highlight the gendered double standard with regard to age. Benjamin sees no problem in marrying a young woman when he appears 50, but becomes embarrassed as his wife grows older and he grows younger. Their relationship demonstrates a sexist power dynamic in relationships that still exists today.

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In The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, F. Scott Fitzgerald uses the relationship between Benjamin and Hildegarde Moncrief to highlight discrepancies in the positions of men and women in society.

When they originally begin to date, Benjamin has the physical appearance of a 50-year-old man, a jarring contrast to...

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In The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, F. Scott Fitzgerald uses the relationship between Benjamin and Hildegarde Moncrief to highlight discrepancies in the positions of men and women in society.

When they originally begin to date, Benjamin has the physical appearance of a 50-year-old man, a jarring contrast to his young girlfriend. However, Benjamin pays no heed to societal expectations and marries Hildegarde. Their union is not too different from that of Benjamin's parents; his mother was significantly younger than his father.

Benjamin begins to feel differently, however, as his wife approaches his own age. When Hildegarde turns 35, he suddenly realizes that he isn't attracted to her anymore. He becomes bored with his domestic life and leaves Hildegarde alone with their son to become a hero in the Spanish-American War. When he returns, the age gap between them has grown, and Benjamin is suddenly ashamed to appear in public with his wife.

This relationship emphasizes society's double standards and hypocrisy when it comes to men and women and their age. Many older men proudly present themselves with younger women, as Benjamin does at the beginning of the novel. When the roles are reversed, however, Benjamin is suddenly ashamed to be seen with a woman twice his age.

Benjamin's attitude shift demonstrates how men occupy a more powerful position in society and have the privilege of abandoning domestic obligations once the arrangement is no longer beneficial to their image.

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