In "Wears Jump Suit. Sensible Shoes. Uses Husband's Last Name," why does Deborah Tannen return to her earlier scene of sitting around the conference table?"Some years ago I was at a small working...

In "Wears Jump Suit. Sensible Shoes. Uses Husband's Last Name," why does Deborah Tannen return to her earlier scene of sitting around the conference table?

"Some years ago I was at a small working conference of four women and eight men. Instead of concentrating on the discussion I found myself looking at the three other women at the table, thinking how each had a different style and how each style was coherent."

"Sitting at the conference table musing on these matters, I felt sad to think that we women didn't have the freedom to be unmarked that the men sitting next to us had. Some days you just want to get dressed and go about your business. But if you're a woman, you can't, because there is no unmarked woman."

Asked on by magnotta

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I would argue that Tannen does this largely for stylistic reasons as opposed to doing so for any reason that has to do with the substance of her essay.  The whole premise for the essay was set up by Tannen's reflections on the people who were present at her academic conference.  After talking about them for a while, she moves to more abstract discussions of how women and men are seen differently in our society.  When she "returns" to the conference at the end of the essay, she is doing so mainly to give us closure.  Stylistically, she is tying the beginning of her essay to the end and making it easier for us to see the point of the essay.  She does not really add anything to the substance of the essay by doing this, but she does connect her experience to a broad social problem and makes her point more explicitly clear to us.

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