Get help from the best in academic writing.

Free Things They Carried Essays: Women in Vietnam

The Things They Carried: Women in Vietnam

In the book The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien gender stereotypes of women who fought in the Vietnam War are represented through some of the short stories. One short story in particular is “Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong” which describes a woman who participated in the Vietnam War and went beyond some of her gender roles that were placed on her. In this war women had certain roles they had to fulfill with many of them being non-traditional ones. This paper will discuss the concept of Cultural Studies in literature about the Vietnam War.

Women in the Vietnam War had numerous roles they had to fulfill both physically and mentally. For example in the story “Sweetheart of the song Tra Bong” the character Mary Anne is flown down by her boyfriend to Vietnam. She is dressed in “White culottes and a sexy pink sweater” which is very traditional for a woman (O’Brien 90). Right of the bat the men were attracted to her and was especially liked when she wore her cut-off blue jeans and a swimsuit top that was black (95). In this instance she was representing a traditional feminine role in her dress and her actions. Traditionally women the war were nurses, Women worked for the Red Cross or worked in other types of medical facility. Also you found women who were on the Clerical staff and who were Support Personnel. Only on a few occasions did you find a woman who actually fought in the war. Two women from another source stated that “Women served alongside men in that sink-pit of War.”

Some roles women had were non-traditional. In the same story that was represented in the preceding paragraph Mary Anne show some of her own non-traditional roles. She becomes very fond of military paraphernalia and even blackens her face with charcoal and carries around an M-16 (102). Her hygiene also becomes second hand. “No cosmetics, no fingernail filling. She stopped wearing jewelry, cut her hair short and wrapped it in a green bandana”(98). Here she is taking on masculine features and her feminine ways are forgotten. Mary Anne also starts staying out late, and once even does not come in until the next day. Some nights the men would go out and look for her, and her boyfriend even accuses her of sleeping with other men, because of her awkward ways.

Comparing Women in House on Mango Street and Woman Hollering Creek

Ethnic Identity of Women in House on Mango Street and Woman Hollering Creek

The novels The House on Mango Street (Cisneros 1984) and Woman Hollering Creek (Cisneros 1992) relate the new American through the eyes of Cisneros. The women in both novels are caught in the middle of their ethnic identity and their American identity, thus creating the “New American.” Cisneros moved between Mexico and the United States often while growing up, thus making her feel “homeless and displaced” (Jones and Jorgenson 109).

The House on Mango Street characterizes a community of girls and women restricted in their movements within the barrio. The roles of these girls and women are translated through the eyes of a child. When women in the barrio are confined, they can become a victim of abuse due to male domination. Women are confined to interior spaces in addition to their domestic roles as daughters, wives, and mothers. They live inside the barrio, but desire to escape and live outside the barrio. In addition, women can escape their restricted lifestyle by receiving an education. Esperanza, the child narrator is the only one who escapes this ethnic lifestyle (Mullen 6).

In The House on Mango Street, the vignette “My Name,” Esperanza was named after her great grandmother, desires a life outside her interior walls of the barrio. Esperanza’s name means hope in English, while it means sadness and waiting in Spanish. Her great grandmother was wild as a young lady, but was tamed by her Mexican husband. Cisneros states, “She looked out her window her whole life, the way so many women sit with sadness on an elbow . . . I have inherited her name, but I don’t want to inherit her place by the window” (11). Esperanza is proud of her namesake…

… middle of paper …

…il 1991. 22 Oct. 2000


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.