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Divisions of class, gender and race run through the story On The Black Hill. How does Chatwin present these ideas and what does he say about them?

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Introduction

Yr 11 English Lit. Long Essay Emma Bright On The Black Hill Divisions of class, gender and race run through the story On The Black Hill. How does Chatwin present these ideas and what does he say about them? Through the novel On The Black Hill, Bruce Chatwin is able to inadvertably present various issues which divided society. Such divisions of class, gender and race are presented through the text and allow us to interpret the significance of such topics. The subject of class is used in description of a group of people of the same social standing. Gender is in reference to the masculine and feminine traits we display and race is concerned with the nationality and geographic distribution of those concerned. Through actions, attitudes, emotions and words, Chatwin uses the characters as a medium to present his ideas on these three topics. On The Black Hill takes place in the early 20th Century and provides a useful comparison of society's attitudes and stereotypes of the 1900's, with those of today. Class is presented through the comparison of varying social standings of the characters in On The Black Hill. Generally, ones class is determined through behaviour, possessions, education, food and other such things. We are able to see such divisions of class through much the same way within the novel. ...read more.

Middle

Mary's actions demonstrate those expected of a woman and wife of those times. "She made cretonne curtains / made a rag rug / her knees covered in crochet-work." (VI, pp. 31) Amos' do the same in refence to the sterotypes of men. "He worked in all weathers - ploughing, fencing, ditching, laying drainage pipes, or building a drystone wall." (VI, pp. 31) Rose Fifield also, to a certain extent, also presents stereotypical qualities of women of the times. Rosie worked as a servant in the Bickerton household, which conveys the typical working duties of females. "While working at Lurkenhope, one of Rosei's duties had been to carry the bathwater upstairs to Reggie Bickerton's bathroom." (XXVI, pp. 133) In such times, there were no opportunities for women to be professionals, but instead were expected to take on jobs as servants or maids or that of a housewife. Rosie however, also challenges the stereotypes of women when we find her being disobedient to Reggie Bickerton. "He asked her to help him into the water. 'I can't', she gasped, and rushed for the safety of the passage." (XXVI, pp. 134) Women were expected to be obedient to men and in this example Rosie goes against the sterotypes of women in the early 19th Century. ...read more.

Conclusion

Generally they arise due to differences of class, gender and also race. Chatwin generally presents these divisions through Mary and Amos, with Mary being representative of higher class, a female and an English woman. Amos however represents a lower, working class Welsh male. The divisions that occur allow us to provide insight into stereotypes of such examples of the time, and how their images were percieved. It shows us how these divisions have occurred, and what happens as a result of them. It provides a contrast between the two sides and also a comparison with such divisions in today's society. Today we find that seperation is still present between different classes, genders and races but perhaps not to the same extent as in the early 19th Century as depicted in On The Black Hill. For instance, today the stereotypes of women is not as extreme as in the past, with women being able to carry professions and aren't not expected to become an obedient housewife. Men are still however generally seen as the provider and protector of the family. Divisions of classes still exist but are not as extreme as they are presented in the novel. Chatwin skillfully entertwines these themes of class, race and gender within the novel, allowing us to see such divisions and stereotypes of the 19th Century, and inadvertably compare it with today. ...read more.

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