So far, I love Cheaper by the Dozen! On the first page, a sentence really stood out to me: “One reason he had so many children – there were twelve of us – was that he was convinced anything he and Mother teamed up on was to be a success”. This is something we have not seen in any stories we have read, a married couple working as a unit to manage the household. Their family rides in the car seem like good bonding time and it is cool to see the family in a different setting, something other than the home. The story is told from the children’s point of view, which is interesting because we see this dynamic through their eyes. The family seems so perfect and happy together but when Lillie said “’Right now is the happiest time in the world’” I could not help but question if this was a cover or how she truly felt because of all the unhappy women we have read about. I love the dynamic of Frank and Lillie’s relationship so far but I am wondering when and how it will take a turn south. Lillie does not seem like most women we have read about. She seems happy in her position as a housewife but I feel like she also has more freedom than most housewives. Like when the girls do not want to wear dusters anymore since they got mistaken for an orphanage, Frank asserts his dominance telling the girls they are going to continue to wear them but then Lillie asserts her dominance saying that they would be done wearing them. The children narrate saying, “It was a rare thing for them to disagree”, which added to my love for their dynamic because she won the argument!! Frank answers with “’All right, Lillie, as I always say, you’re the boss’”, SO AWESOME. This made me so happy because it is an example of Lillie asserting her dominance over his. When have we seen this at all this semester?!?
I was really excited to start “Quicksand” because although it has the mostly the same themes as the other books we have read, according to the back of the book, it also incorporates race into the struggle of women being oppressed. The first chapter unravels the story of yet another woman oppressed by classism and sexism and the additional whammy of racism as her story as a teacher in a southern historically black boarding school, Naxos, is depicted. Helga Crane yearns for “complete, mental relaxation” and in the mist of this rest she questions what she wanted, how she ended up there and reveals desires of freedom from the “trivial hypocrisies and careless cruelties” of Naxos. It seemed that the school had intentions of educating black society but still talks down to them, they are somewhat trying to assimilate them into a glimpse of white society and power. Helga realizes all of this and refuses to conform as she sees the people around her have already conformed, including her fiancé, James. She sees her unconformity as proof that she can experience and become more than what others expect, or lack there of, of her. She blames her lack of family for her failure to conform in Naxos and her loneliness in Naxos. I see her not having family as her being anchorless and wanting to float and experience all that she can. Helga reveals many desires that would break her away from her current circumstances: nice things, money, rest, mental relaxation, escape, pride and vanity. She shares her plans and I see this as an indication of her want and need to experience freedom as an independent woman. We have observed this in most of the books we have read, women being oppressed but expressing some sort of want and desire to breakaway from their circumstances and societal standards, but I am interested in seeing how Helga Crane’s story pans out with being suffocated by the “quicksand” of racism.
I think the topic of abortion in Revolutionary Road is important to address because it is such a controversial issue now. Like April, married with other children, some women may find themselves in a position similar to hers. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 61% of women that get abortions in the United States have one or more children and 15% are unmarried. Right now all the rage in abortion laws is if it should be legal and should women be able to make the decision on their own. In North Carolina, as of January 14, 2014, “a woman must receive state-directed counseling that includes information designed to discourage her from having an abortion and then wait 24 hours before the procedure is provided”. I find this really interesting because in Revolutionary Road, April was also discouraged by her husband and society. Her husband demands to have a say in her decision when she is contemplating aborting the child and seemed to have already made her decision by buying the contraption. April had hopes of moving to Paris and working but her pregnancy limited her in traveling and Frank did not want to have the child in France. When we learn that the first child they had was a mistake and they only had the second one to make the first not seem like a mistake we see Frank and April are unhappily trapped in their societal roles as parents; it seemed that they only had children because that is what society told them to do. As I tie this into today’s society, as a country we promote freedom of speech and choices; I think abortion is a choice that women should make according to their circumstances and should not be persuaded otherwise if they make the decision to abort an unborn child because considering it is their body and would end up being a major responsibility for them.