Born in Illinois in 1899, Ernest Hemingway is one writer who experienced life from all sides; the good, the bad and the ugly. Apart from being a talented and well experienced writer, he also had a “big heart”. This was evident during the World War I when he voluntarily joined an ambulance in the Italy unit. His kind heartedness nearly cost him his life as he suffered serious bullet wounds and had to spend some time in hospital. He was however decorated by the Italian government for his heroic deeds and the role he played during the WWI. Some of most read works include “The Sun Also Rises” (1926), “A Farewell to Arms” (1929), “For Whom the Bells Tolls” (1940), “The Old Man and the Sea” (1952). It is important to note that he was awarded the Nobel Peace prize in Literature 1954 before he passed on in 1961. Even thou she was still a child by the time the great Ernest Hemingway passed on in 1961; Sandra Cisneros contributions’ to the literature world cannot be under estimated. Apart from being a teacher and counselor to mostly school drop outs, she also has numerous publications and awards under her belt. Some of her publications include; “Bad Boys” (1980), “Wicked Wicked Ways” (1987) and “Caramelo” (2002).
The purpose of this paper is not to dwell on the life and times of the two authors but rather analyze and answer questions from two short stories published by the two authors; In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway and The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. The paper will try to compare and contrast how Hemingway and Cisneros depict gender in their stories. Do Hemingway's women differ from those in Cisneros's stories? Are they similar? Do Cisneros's men differ from those in Hemingway's stories? Are they similar? In what ways? How do you account for these differences or similarities? The paper will close by giving a brief summary of the key points that would have been mentioned in the paper.
The Short Stories
From the two short stories; In Our Time and The House on Mango Street, it is evident that both men and women in these two stories are different. This difference has been brought about through the numerous themes that the authors used in the short stories. To start with, in the short story In Our Time (Indian Camp) by Ernest Hemingway, there is a clear indication of male dominance / theme of masculinity. The main focus in the “Indian Camp” is about a child birth, this is natural a female process; however in the short the focus shifts from the mother to the doctor (Nick’s father) who does the operation. The short story describes the experience of the doctor and all the he knows about the process. In addition to that, due to some complications that the woman developed during the labour process, it was wise for her to go through the caesarian section process. The operation is executed by a male doctor and it is fellow men that held the pregnant woman down, this is a clear indication that men have become a “dominant” force even where feminine issues are dominant. The theme of male dominance / male masculinity has further been expanded in “The Doctor and the Doctor’s Wife”. Under this section, there is a clear sign that male – male bond is stronger than male – female bond when it comes to some issues. This was witnessed during the interaction of Nick’s father and Dick; pride and male ego are clearly bought out in this section. On the other hand, the men in this section are dominant over women, Nick’s father is not willing to tell his wife the truth about what transpired between him and Dick but he chooses to lie, act temperamental and gives her a lecture that makes her feel guilty. Another difference between men and women in the short story “In Our Time” is through the theme male – male bonding and female – female bonding. The author has expressed this in the “Cross Country Snow”; the way Nick and George bond by sharing a drink and engaging in physical exercise is the exact opposite from the way women bond as shown in “Mr. and Mrs. Elliot” where women bond emotionally (by shedding tears).
The case is however different in the way women have been portrayed in the short story “The House on Mango Street” by Sandra Cisneros. To start with, the setting of the short story is a modern setting as compare to the short story “In Our Time” which was set during the colonial period. This means that unlike in the other short story where women were oppressed and are required to be submissive to men, the situations is different in “The House on Mango Street”; for instance the name of the character in the short story, Esperanza represents power and strength of woman. She lived in a congested and poor neighborhood and this gives her the will and determination to work hard and own her own house away from the mango street. She also hopes that once she becomes successful, she will help the other members of the society to eradicated poverty and make their lives better. She managed to achieve this when she discovered she was a talented writer and it is her writing skills that enabled her live a better life that her peers. Another influential female figure in the short story is Mama (Esperanza’s mother); she has been portrayed as a strong willed and intelligent woman who provides guidance and comfort to her daughter. There are different angles in which male in the short story have been portrayed; for instance Esperanza’s father is “invisible” since he spends most of his time at work than at home with his family. On the contrarily there is Tito, a young sexually active man who flirts with any girl he comes across. This is an example of how men from the two short stories are different. Unlike in the ancient days when issues related to sex were rarely mentioned and written about, Sandra Cisneros is one author who has broken that chain. She has extensively discussed biological changes and development that most characters in the short story went through; in addition to that the author has explained how these changes affected the youths in the story. For instances the author has described the changes that the main character (Esperanza) went through during her adolescence; she underwent both physical and emotional changes, she had her first crush and the sexual assault that she had to go through. It is this sexual assault that changed her perspective towards men and gave her a reason to work even harder to get out of this neighborhood. It is also after the assault that she directed her anger towards fellow women for failing to mount a spirited fight against the rights of women in order to protect them from falling prey to sexual predators.
Summation of the Paper
The purpose of this essay paper was to discuss whether the men and female in the two short stories are similar or different and if they are different, what are their differences. The first part of this paper focused on the short story In Our Time and the different themes that have been used to bring out the difference between the relationship of male and female. The second part of the paper has focused on The House on Mango Street short story and the different themes. There after the paper has looked at the differences of the men and females in the two short stories. In conclusion, it is safe to state that unlike In Our Time which focuses on male dominance more than women, The House on Mango Street talks more about women, women empowerment and struggle to make an impact in the society.