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Voices of gender in "The Death Of Artemio Cruz" and "Woman At Point Zero".

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Introduction

WORLD LITERATURE ESSAY English A1 Standard Student: Catalina Echeverri VOICES OF GENDER IN "THE DEATH OF ARTEMIO CRUZ" AND "WOMAN AT POINT ZERO" ANGLO COLOMBIAN SCHOOL Bogot´┐Ż, Colombia Word count : 1497 Gender is a key factor of narrative perspective. Both men and women express themselves in style and language, using distinct methods to express the same reality. Carlos Fuentes and Nawal el Saadawi exemplify through two hailed masterpieces: "Woman at Point Zero" and "The Death of Artemio Cruz" the juxtaposing gender perceptions of reality. Through two divergent voices of gender- Firdaus and Artemio- the reader is absorbed by the many layers of thought and persuasion concealed within the author's mind. Although situated in different time and place, Firdaus and Artemio are born in the same social circumstances. Nonetheless, it is their gender which shapes both destiny and life of the protagonist. "Woman at Point Zero" narrates the story of Firdaus, an Egyptian female of the 20th century, born and raised within the misery of lower class and chauvinist Muslim society. "By birth, I was lower class...My father....knew very few things in life...How to exchange his virgin daughter for a dowry when there was still time...How to bend over the headman's hand and pretend to kiss it, how to beat his wife and make her bite dust each night..."1 The influence of religion in Firdaus' life as well as her humble origin are both key aspects of her existence. ...read more.

Middle

6 Artemio Cruz conveys the same impression on women. Throughout the novel, the reader clearly perceives the hatred felt by the protagonist towards his wife and daughter. According to him, women are materialist, self- conceited beings. "Seeing the two of them down on all fours on the mound of jackets and trousers , digging through shoes, showing me their fat thighs, shaking their asses, panting obscenely..." 7 Not only are they willingly portrayed by the narrative voices as shallow-minded, but also as emotionally anesthetized to human calamities. As such, Catalina and Cristina are only interested in Artenio's will and thus become particularly interested in his health and well-being during the last hours of existence. Not even Cruz's long lost love Regina escapes from such a conception. Even she lacks all mental capacity and is emotionally manipulated by Artemio, for she is always following him throughout the Mexican countryside into every revolutionary campground. The physical perception of the opposite gender from both protagonists overlaps with descriptions of voluptous and obese figures. Such an association between fat and repulsive obeys to the traditionalist cultural rejection towards the overweight. The obese population has been considered a socially unacceptable disposition throughout the decades. This may be reflected both in Firdaus and Artemio's interpretations of their own ghastly and repulsive encounters with undesired individuals. (In both cases, fat is a symbol of overindulgence and materialsm) ...read more.

Conclusion

Eyes are therefore the fundamental piece needed to fully comprehend the message which El Saadawi intends to imply. In the same way as Saadawi reflects female voices of her culture through writing, Carlos Fuentes also demonstrates a distinct narrative voice demarked by his masculine gender. The author uses three male narrative voices which serve as first, second and third person narrator in the novel. There is no female voice represented in the whole narrative. Females are therefore always envisioned through the masculine eye as obscure mobid characters. Although far more complex in content and narrative technique, Fuentes employs an utterly different series of symbols and metaphors.As a result, Artemio's style and language is far more crude and less elaborate than Firdaous. This is demonstrated through the use of colloquial vocabulary and vulgar expressions. "Eggs? I've already got mine- he joked, patting his crotch..."13 Artemio's crude expression of reality is a shocking narrative device used by the author to create an impact on the reader upon a Mexican reality often ignored and misconceived by history. "The Death of Artemio Cruz" and "Woman at Point Zero", with its blatantly sexist narrator and its purpose of challenging the chauvinistic Arabic mentality, are two novels written by one male and one female writer in totally different cultural circumstances. The reader therefore inevitably obtains a different level of insight into the protagonist. However, despite this, no one can deny that both texts provide a fascinating view of the complexities and confusions of both masculine and femenine mentality. ...read more.

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