Free Essay: Gender and Sexuality in Catcher in the Rye and The House on Mango Street

Published: 2019-09-30
10 min read

This essay provides an analysis of how the main characters of the books Catcher in the Rye and The House on Mango Street perceive Gender and Sexuality and the implications of their individual character traits. Attitudes to sexuality and gender in Catcher in the Rye (Baldwin, 109-119). The main protagonists in this book is a sixteen year old teenager named holden cauldield. He lives in a considerably wealthy neighborhood in New York. Even with being born in a family considerably wealthy, holden clearly understands the different roles for different gender. This ia illustrated when he proposes to his girlfriend, Sally that the should go and live with him away in a different place. He understands that its the role of men to make big decisions on where the family should live and to provide for the needs of his family. He tells Sally that he could apply for a job when the money he had saved ran out after they got married.

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Holden can be said to view women as objects for sexual sastisfaction as illustrated by his in mind thoughts while he waits for Sally. He perceives the girls somewhat helpless without their boyfriends and apparently empathizes with their predicaments and unfortunate circumstances. In the book, we observe that while Holden is somewhat a sexist, in that he is watching and judging the Young women, he is being identified with them (Baldwin, 109-119). Holden is infact inclined towards feminity as opposed or what it may seen ( him being inclined towards masculinity) All of his actions point out to the fact that Holden is very aggresive when it comes to the manifestation of traditional masculinity.

As can be noted in the book, Holden is quite an agressive figure. He gets into two fights in his life, however he loses both the fights to his opponents. His form of attack is through verbal abuse and all the times, he is involved in fights, and all of them are caused by sex. The first confrontation that Holden is involved in takes place in Pencey. Holden mistakenly thinks that Stradlater, his roommate had sexual intercourse with his lover. Stradlater becomes worked up and gives him a beating. The second confrontation happens after Holden decides not to sleep with a hooker whom he does not pay her and this take place in New York. Holden is attacked by Maurice, who is the prostitutes employer. Maurice even steals Holdens Money (Cisneros).

Sexuality and relationships is a major concept in the book. Holden decides to remain a virgin not with standing the fact that he had several opportunities to involve himself in acts of sexual pleasure. This can be pointed to the fact that he is not aggressive in nature. Holden actually empathizes with the feelings of the girl and whenever the girl request him to stop, he does listen. This is not very common with his age mates. Holden believes in relationships are supposed to be more than just physical and should also be spiritual. Nevertheless, he is particularly protective of his family, Allie and Phoebe (Cisneros).

In conclusion, we can say that by the fact that Holden refuses to subcribe to the oversimplified conception of masculinity, this implies he undermines the view of gender roles present in his time. We can say that he identifies himself with womanhood (feminity).

Attitudes to sexuality and gender in The House on Mango Street, the main protagonist and heroine in The House on Mango Street is Esperanza Cordero. This is a twelve year old girl who studies in a primary school located at the remote parts of Chicago ( Cisneros). At first she is young and native but as time progresses, she realizes that being an American woman but of a Mexican descent has its possibilities and limitations. The world she lives in is so much saturated with sexuality and gender and this thoroughly affects her as she grow up. Esperanza goes on tos ay that boys and girls do live in very separate worlds.

The perfect flawless man, should be a person who is able to provide for his family and has mainly characteristics such as domineering, fierceness where a perfect woman is one who commits herself fully and entirely to her family and to the husband as well. Esperanza knows what it entails to be a woman in her society, that they should be weak, feble and frail. That they are victims and should be tamed by all means necessary despite their aggressiveness (As in the case of her grandmother who is tamed by her grandfather)

In the society she leaves in, women are not allowed to have dreams, ambitioms or goals. Instead they are married off to start families and raise children. In fact when the women are not doing their daily chores or looking after their husbands and children, all they do is sit on porches all day or stare through the Windows as they have not where else to go. Esperanza realices that system which is run by males only will make her to be an isolated victim (Doyle 5-28)

Esperanza decides to use her sexuality to manipulate and control the status. She opts to be stunningly beautiful so that she can make men go crazy about her. She wants to have power and she wont let anyone take that power away of her. However, there i son eproblem, she considers herself to be ugly and therefore decides to come up with her own way of getting the power she wants, I am the one who leaves the table like a man, without putting back the chairo r picking up the plate (Cisnero 89)

In conclusion, the following can be noted. Esperanza refuses to follow the norm set by the society. She decides to be an eloquent person who is able to effectively expressing what she wants for herself (Doyle 5-28). Holden, on the other hand, does not support the idea of gender duties that are normal in his society and followed by everyone. Holdens character trait distances himself with other people, fails to work in school ( flanked out of Pency besides being a bright and intelligent teenager with great potencial), constantly insults people who otherwise should be respected, friemds, family and refuses to be associated with them.Holdens character orientation has consequently made him lonely and depressed, a situation he inflicts on himself. Holden idolizes his sister, and is consistently unafraid to express his disgust and disappointment when women are taken advantage of.

Works Cited

Baldwin, Clive. Digressing from he point. Graham. Abingdon: Routledge, 2007. 109119. Print.Guide. Ed. Sarahppointment when women are taken advantage of.n idolizes his Holden Caulfields Women.J.D

Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye: A Routledge Study Guide. Ed. Sarah

Graham. Abingdon: Routledge, 2007. 109119. Print.

Cisneros, Sandra. The House on Mango Street. New York: Random House, 1991. Print.

Doyle, Jacqueline. More Room of Her Own: Sandra Cisneross The House on Mango Street.Melus 19.4 (1994): 528. ProQuest. Web.

J.D. Salinger The Catcher In The Rye (1951)

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