Sunday, 22 November 2009

The Sunday Salon: The Man as the Narrator in My Ántonia

The Sunday

What Caught My Fancy This Week

Jade @ Tasting Grace asked a really interesting question on my review of My Ántonia and since I wanted to expand on it a bit I thought I would talk about it here. The question (or actually questions were):
That is really interesting that she chose a male narrator for the story. Do you think it makes the story more or less believable? I mean, do you think that a male would necessarily have caught on some of the subtler subtext in women's relationships? Does it say something about women needing a man to be their mouthpiece? And if so, can a man really serve that function?

To answer the question does it make the story more or less believable, I don’t think there is an easy answer to this. I think it makes the story different. I do wonder if men at the time would have seen the hypocrisies, however, I know that some did. Men were also involved in the fight for equality for women, so I do think that a man might have seen it.

The subtler subtexts of women’s relationships is something I missed in the book and I think that that is because it was told by a man. And I liked that. It made the narrator more believable. He was clearly in awe of these girls but he failed to see how they related to each other. That made him and them more real.

I think that buy using a man as the narrator Cather allowed us to see the women with some objectivity. I don’t think a man needed to tell the story but I think that by using a man she showed the dichotomy that was women’s lot at that time. At the time women where either good and pure or they were ‘working girls’. By using a man as the narrator she manages to show that this wasn’t always the case. It also lends some distance to the women. A distance that one of the women in the group would not have managed. By putting him on the outside we get a more objective view.

On the subject of women in general I came across this great post from Book Snob this week that sums up my views on being a woman and feminism.

How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren. This weeks section was titled (it was a subtitle) Of Plots and Plans: Stating the Unity of a Book. It talks of the importance of understanding and being able to state what the book is about in a few short sentences. This helps with seeing connections with other works. For example it states that both The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith and Das Kapital by Karl Marx have similar unity of structure and therefore one can draw connections between the two. Very interesting section. I am finding that I have to read this book in very small chunks or I get hopelessly lost.

I continue my history self-education by reading The History of the Ancient World by Susan Wise Bauer. Managed a chapter this week. About the first reformer. Might need to re-read that though.

Almost done The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. I’ve had the car quite a bit this week so I haven’t listened to this book as much as I would have liked. My first years have been reading this for Swedish (which I don’t teach) and they were telling me how great the movie was so I am going to have to watch it. I still have mixed feelings about it.


As I’ve already mentioned I finished My Ántonia by Willa Cather (Review) I really enjoyed this book!

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder (Review). Read for the Childhood Favourites Challenge. I have mixed feelings about this book and have always had.

I also forgot to link to one review last week. I read Baby-sitters’ Summer Vacation by Ann M. Martin (Review)


I realised last week that the challenges were taking over my Sunday Salon posts so I will only include challenges when I join a new one. This week I have joined one, The 2009 Holiday Reading Challenge. I will be reading one book for this challenge, Hogfather by Terry Pratchett.

I am also trying to figure out which challenges to join for 2010. There are so many good ones out there but I don’t want to suffer from challenge burn out. So far I have done a google doc spreadsheet (I love spreadsheets, it has several sheets and is colour coded, why yes I am a geek) and I have over 40 books on the list I just keep adding to the list. I need to focus! I have a thesis to write in the spring and two lit courses to take. I will be reading loads!

Fun Stuff

There is a great giveaway right now over at Bibliofreak. Click to Join the Great Kindle II GiveAway! and I get another entry (have I mentioned how much I really really want a Kindle?)

Another fantastic giveaway comes from Out of the Blue. She is giving away a book of their choice, for a value of up to €12 at BookDepository. It is great giveaway because it is open to the whole world (or at least to any part of the world where BookDepository ships to). Ends 6th of December.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Is this for real? A Kindle Giveaway?
But then, I can't make a video.. Thank you on the information though.