What are the roles of a women in the tragic film, House of Sand and Fog?essay

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The roles of the women in the film are vitally important to the conception of tragedy presented in the film.  Behrani's wife represents a traditional conception of women and Kathy represents a modern vision.  However, both are bound by a sense of tragic proportions that are almost inescapable.  Colonel Behrani's wife is of the traditional mold where she is driven to support her husband, and completely rely on his judgment and decisions to support the family.  This would be why she is unable to speak out against the obvious challenges with the purchase of the home. To a great extent, she is unaware of what Colonel Behrani has done, in terms of purchasing a home from another and attempting to "flip" it for a profit, as she is unaware of what he does to ensure that they live in a manner befitting of such a family.  In the final analysis, she trusts her husband so much without a sense of questioning that it results in the death of their son, causing the death of husband and wife in the end of the film.

While a modern vision, Kathy is also plagued by a sense of tragic condition.  Kathy possesses freedom and autonomy, but is faced with a situation that causes her "to do what she does not want to do," as Benjamin Constant would say.  She is able to use her freedom, but it does not stop the clerical error that puts her home for sale, causing her to start down a personally destructive path.  She possess the freedom and autonomy that Colonel Behrani's wife lacks, but her tragic state is brought on by her choices (not being able to pay a bill on time, involving herself with Lester, refusing to acquiesce to the state of affairs involving her house.)

The scene where both women interact is powerful, as Kathy comes to the home, which is now in the midst of being remodeled.  She steps on nail, and is tended to by Behrani's wife.  The tenderness experienced by both women- one who is receiving care and attention that has been sorely lacked and one who notices another in distress (calling her a "wounded bird")- is a powerful moment, for both recognize the pain and forlornness felt in the other.

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