Women’s role has changed amazingly all over the time. They started being almost nothing into society, yet now they are considered a really important piece in the world. Their role into society is as important as men’s role. Indeed, nowadays we have the opportunity to see women occupying roles that used to be occupied by men. Professions like architects, lawyers, and engineers are now women’s professions too. Additionally, other more important positions like CEO’s, managers, and even the presidency of a State are now being occupied by women. However, achieving this took a really long time, and before this could happen women had to be treated like animals, like objects. They had to fight for their rights many years so as to get the place they have in the world nowadays. Unfortunately, this is not a reality for all the women in the world, in countries like India, China or Morocco they are not respected, their importance is the same that animals or objects have, and this is the same treatment that women received during the ages in which the two books we read were placed, even when there were 30 years of difference between both books, women’s reality was not so different. Therefore, in the next lines I am going to answer the following question: Did the role of women changed in thirty years? I believe that it did changed, so I will prove this by comparing both books, The Great Gatsby and The Motorcycle Diaries, in three main aspects, women and money, women and men and women’s right. These three variables will help me to answer this question and also to prove my point.
First of all, I would like to start with the most significant topic in both books: women and money. Even when in the motorcycle diaries it was not very clear the presence of money, in the Great Gatsby the money was the centre of the book, in fact it was so important that most of the events that happened in the book were related to money, and consequently I will start with the Great Gatsby. In the book, as I mentioned previously, everything turned around money, everything and women were not an exception. The main representative of this was Daisy Buchanan, who was a girl, interested only in money, nothing else in the world was important for her, not even her daughter Pammy was. Actually, when she was leaving Tom, she was leaving Pammy too, everything just because of the money. In addition to this, Daisy was married to Tom just for the money, she never loved him, the only thing she loved about him was the money he had, and this was something that Gatsby knew clearly “She never loved you (…) She only married you because I was poor and she was tired of waiting me”(Fitzgerald, S, 1925:66)The Great Gatsby. Scribners. He knew that Daisy married Tom because he did not have any money, and even knowing that he conquered her heart again by showing her all the money he earned during those five years they could not see each other. When he seduced her again he did it calling her attention with the money he had. She felt attracted by all the luxuries things and gold that Gatsby had, but she never felt real love for him, maybe when she was a teenager she did, but at that point, she did not, the only interest she had on him was because all the money he had “he (Jay Gatsby) revalued everything in his house according to the measure of response it drew from her well-loved eyes” (Fitzgerald, S, 1925:44)The Great Gatsby. Scribners. Everything he owned loose its value as long as it was not valuable for Daisy, he did everything for her, but she never took that into account, she was a materialistic girl, just the material things were important for her “Daisy bent her head into the shirts and began to cry stormily” (Fitzgerald, S, 1925:45)The Great Gatsby. Scribners. She started crying just because of a pair of silk flannels!. Owe to women like Daisy, we may think that she was interested in marrying to a wealthy man because she could not work and she wanted to assure a good lifestyle by marrying to Tom, who was a rich man able to assure her a good living. Her role in society was not important; she was just a housewife whose only interest was having enough money to buy all the things she wanted. In some way, what Daisy did was correct because she was assuring her future by marrying to a rich man, if she did not do that she would have lived poorly her whole life or she would have had to work so as to have enough money to live properly. Unfortunately, in those years women did not work, the only thing they did was to stay at home taking care of their children or doing the chores, but that changed in the 50’s.
On the contrary, in the Motorcycle diaries we can see two different situations. On the one side, it is Chichina who was Ernesto’s fiancée. She was a girl who came from a rich family, and she was really proud of being Ernesto’s girlfriend due to the fact that he was going to be a famous doctor, and also because he was going to do a journey all over Latin America in order to help the lepers. Notwithstanding, she was, as Daisy, only interested in money. In fact, she felt really sad when she had to give Ernesto her bracelet “her fingers, as they held the bracelet were merely weighing up the love that made me ask for it”(Guevara, E, 2004:37)The Motorcycle Diaries. London: Harper Perennial. As well as Gatsby, Ernesto noticed that Chichina was a materialistic girl. She felt sad because she was giving up one of her belongings, but not because Ernesto was leaving, In this sense, Daisy’s reality was very similar to Chichina`s reality, she wanted to marry to a rich man, who was Ernesto in this case, so as to assure herself a good lifestyle, the same way of living that she had had for so many years. Otherwise she had to work, but she could not do that either, because she had always had everything and she did not have to work so as to get what she wanted, the only thing she had to do was to ask for it. On the other side of the coin, we have all the other women that appeared on the book, from the old lady Ernesto an Alberto found in Chile up to the Indian woman from the Yagua tribe. They were all humble, their interest in money was very little or none because the only important thing for them was their happiness and a healthy life for them and for their children. Most of the women Ernesto and Alberto met during their journey were hardworking women, housewives. Even the nuns they met were working women, so their lives were not turning around, as Chichina’s life, they had other interests, like taking care of their families, or just working because they wanted to help people, as Mother Margarita that “nice but not very knowledgeable” (Guevara, E, 2004:147)The Motorcycle Diaries. London: Harper Perennial was working with the sick because she wanted to help them anyway that it was possible for her. This point is very important because, unlike Chichina and Daisy, these women were not interested in being rich, surrounded by money, the only important things for them were their family, their healthiness, their house, but nothing more than that, money was something secondary. Additionally, their role in society was notably more important than Chichina’s role, they were working women, they did something for the country they were living in, and Chichina did not.
Another important issue in both books is the relationship between men and women, and how this affected the role of women in society. As in both books the relationships were different I will make a contrast between the two books. On the one side, we have the Great Gatsby, in here there are different relations between men and women but I will focus on the two most important: Tom and Myrtle’s relationship and Daisy and Gatsby’s love affair. To start with Tom and Myrtle, their relation was based on money. Actually, Myrtle’s only one ambition was to become a wealthy woman with many luxurious things, and the only way she had to reach that goal was her relationship with Tom. But Tom was a married man, and he was not even interested in having a serious relationship with her, she was only a sweetie for him, nothing more than that. Moreover, he had to lie to keep Myrtle away from those thoughts about marriage or running away together “It’s really his wife that’s keeping them apart. She’s a Catholic, and they don’t believe in marriage” (Fitzgerald, S, 1925:16)The Great Gatsby. Scribners. But that was just a lie because Nick mentioned that Daisy was not a Catholic, Tom said that just to keep away Myrtle of those crazy ideas. Above all, Tom treated her as an object, he was always mistreating her in front of other people, he did not care about her, that women meant nothing to him, even when she died he did not say anything and he did not do anything either.
Then, we have Gatsby and Daisy’s love affair, which was a relation very different from the one of Tom and Myrtle. Their relationship was full of love, at least from Gatsby’s side, there was a lot of love, their relationship had a history behind; they started together when they were younger, when all the illusions and thoughts were naive, but they had to take different roads. And both believe they were not going to see each other again, but Gatsby struggled against everything so as to be with her again, and they were together again, unfortunately their interest changed, mainly Daisy’s interests changed. She became an extremely ambitious girl and not only that; she was also a mother and a married woman. However, when he said that “her voice is full of money” (Fitzgerald, S, 1925:59)The Great Gatsby. Scribners. He knew that she was interested only in money, and also knowing she had a daughter and a husband, he seduced her, and the best way to do that was attracting her with his money and all his belongings. Thanks to that he could recover Daisy, especially when he took her for the first time to his house and showed her all the things he had, everything she saw there was amazing, but everything was money, all that she found amazing was covered with gold. The main difference between this relation, where Gatsby was a man in love and Daisy an ambitious woman, and the relationship between Tom and Myrtle, where he was a brute man and she was another ambitious girl, is that Gatsby had a real feeling towards Daisy and he did everything so as to be with her, but Tom was not in love with Myrtle, in fact he did not care about her, he was unable to move a finger for her. And this shows us the importance that women had in the Great Gatsby; in one side it was Myrtle, a woman-object, and Daisy the main goal of a man’s life. Their role was different too; Myrtle gave Tom pleasure while Daisy gave Gatsby happiness. Even though, there was a similarity between Tom and Daisy, both were manipulator people, both used people as they wanted, while Tom used Myrtle, Daisy used Gatsby too, and they did it just for pleasure.
In the Motorcycle diaries we could find only one relationship and that was Ernesto’s and Chichina’s relation. When Ernesto left he was dating Chichina, but then during the journey Ernesto started feeling that his relation had no future, he started feeling confused about his feelings towards Chichina “I still believed I loved her until this moment, when I realized I felt nothing (…) I had to fight for her, she was mine, mine” (Guevara, E, 2004:54)The Motorcycle Diaries. London: Harper Perennial He knew what he was feeling at that moment, he knew that he had to fight for her; even so he noticed that their relationship was going to be very hard if they continued being apart. In fact, he almost never mentioned her, because he remembered her once in a while, but every time he did it, he felt melancholia “…I thought of Chichina, now a distant, intoxicating dream… at that very moment she would probably be whispering her strange, composed phrases to some new suitor”(Guevara, E, 2004:142)The Motorcycle Diaries. London: Harper Perennial He acknowledge she would probably be with somebody else, but even that way he remembered her, in fact when he left he gave her a dog called Comeback which was “a symbol of the union demanding my return” (Guevara, E, 2004:34)The Motorcycle Diaries. London: Harper Perennial. Its name was telling, Comeback was a promise made to a woman he loved, a woman who was the only one able to jeopardize the journey they were going to carry on. Actually, Alberto noticed that, “he saw the danger and was already imagining himself alone on the roads of America” (Guevara, E, 2004:36) The Motorcycle Diaries. London: Harper Perennial but he never showed his concerning. Additionally, for Ernesto was really hard to leave her, he expressed his feelings through Otero Silva’s lines”… I don’t know where I found my strength to free myself from her eyes, to slip from her arms…” (Guevara, E, 2004:36)The Motorcycle Diaries. London: Harper Perennial. At that moment, he was a man in love, and his departure away from Chichina’s side was a really hard thing he had to do. But he did it, and he succeeded.
In this case, there is a huge difference between the relationships in the Great Gatsby and in the Motorcycle Diaries, in the Great Gatsby the two relationships that I mentioned where relationships sustained by adults, and also, both relationships were love affairs, both were just adventures, whereas Ernesto an Chichina’s relationship was a young love, they were together as a couple, they were not cheating anyone. Additionally, Ernesto respected Chichina, and he wanted to be with her returning from his journey around America, so that he gave her Comeback. Chichina was significantly more important for Ernesto than Daisy and Myrtle were for Gatsby and Tom, respectively. Her role into Ernesto’s life was the role that most women have in their couples’ life. They are like lighthouses that guide them through any difficulty they face.
Women’s role into society is also an important subject to be mentioned. In the Great Gatsby women’s right were very limited, they were not free women, and they could express neither their thought nor their feelings. For example, Daisy knew that Tom had a love affair, she knew that he was cheating on her, and even knowing that, she never mentioned anything, probably if she did that, she would have been damaged by him, and during that time there were no laws against violence against women, so she had to put up with Tom’s love affair, she could not complain about it. Additionally, Tom was not a respectful man, he was bad with his women, and he mistreated them. As Daisy said “That’s what I get for marrying a brute of a man, a great, big, hulking specimen of a…” (Fitzgerald, S, 1925:6)The Great Gatsby.Scribners. She said that when she noticed her knuckle black and blue. He was very aggressive with her, but he was worse with Myrtle, in fact once he hit her in front of her sister, some guests they had and Nick, he left her bleeding and he did not apologize with her. Unfortunately she could not complain, because if she did that she would not have been heard. Women in those times were meaningless, their role into society was as important as the role of children or old people. But that was in the 20’s, in the 50’s the situation was very different.
In the Motorcycle Diaries, we had the opportunity to see the reality of a communist couple in Chile. Alberto and Ernesto met them in Chuquicamata, where they had the chance to talk to them and know more about their reality. The most significant of this couple was the women, she was important because she was always with her husband accompanying him, no matter the barriers they had to go through, they were always together, She and her husband had to fight for their rights, as they were communist their ideas were not respected, and because of the same thing they had to endure all the mistreatment they received. They did not give up to their ideologies, even when they had to opt for worse working conditions, but they did not care about that, they were happy as long as they defended their ideas. And the role of this woman was very important because while she was with her husband, she was leaving her children with somebody else.
“In his simple, expressive language he recounted his three months in prison, and told us about his starving wife who stood by him with exemplary loyalty, his children – left in the care of a kindly neighbour, his fruitless pilgrimage in search of work and his compañeros mysteriously disappeared and said to be somewhere at the bottom of the sea.” (Guevara, E, 2004:77)The Motorcycle Diaries. London: Harper Perennial
However, she had to do that because she had to work together with his husband so as to sustain her house and to afford their needs. I chose this example because here it is clear that women had the right to work, and as they had it they took advantage of it. In addition to this, women received the same treatment as men did; they could vote they could work in the same posts that men occupied. In this book, it is also observable that there were almost no housewives, most of the women Alberto and Ernesto met were working women, and if they were housewives they were hardworking women. Moreover, they were respected as they deserved, their role in society was taken into account more than it was done in the 20’s. During that time in Latin America women started voting, at least in Chile the first time women voted was in 1952, when Carlos Ibáñez del Campo was elected president, so that gave them the opportunity to show the world that they were capable to choose, and also that their opinion was as important as men’s opinion.
To sum up, I can say that even when both books were quite different, their similarities were astonishing; women’s role into society did not change too much in 30 years, but it changed. Their relation with money was very different given that in the 20’s women could not work and in the 50’s they could, even though there were ambitious women in the two books. Additionally, their relationship with men was different too, due to the fact that in the 20’s relationships were more related to money while in the 50’s relationships were more related to love. In addition to this, their rights changed over time in the 20’s their importance was minimum, and they had no rights, different from the 50’s where women could work and their rights were fully respected. Lastly, 30 years make a great difference; women’s role changed totally and not only their role, but also their way of living; they changed starting from the way they dressed up to the way they thought, so I believe that even though two books can include two totally different topics we can find many surprising similarities.
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