What do you think are Gender Code Rules for women in the Bread Givers?
What are the negative consequences for women when they follow the code in the book?
Could the Code offer any Positive benefits for women? For society?
Is Sara a Hero? Why or why not?
Is Sara a Feminist? Why or why not?
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Gender Code Rules for women: There are two sets of gender codes for women encountered in The Bread Givers, the Orthodox Jewish and the WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant). Sara's dilemma is how to negotiate a place for herself within these codes. The Orthodox Jewish code defines women as inferior, their primary duty as obedience and service to men, and their ideal behavior as modest and not presuming any sort of knowledge or authority. The sisters are expected to work hard so that their father can read and study in leisure and marry at their father's will. Women and men both had to follow strict dress and dietary codes. The WASP rules allow more freedom for women, but also have rigid rules of politeness which are closely connected with very distinctive forms of social stratification, and generally greater reserve, things Sara finds alien.
Negative Consequences: There are numerous negative consequences for women. The first, as exemplified by Sara's older sisters, is loveless marriages. Another is lack of economic independence and security.
Positive Benefits: Although the importance of family and loyalty does create a stable community, it is at the expense of women; this sort of oppression of women does not benefit society.
Heroism: This is a realistic rather than heroic novel, and thus to call her a hero would be a genre mistake.
Feminism: Sara, although a strong women, is not really portrayed as explicitly part of a feminist movement, and thus it would be a mistake to call her a feminist.
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