Journal Entry #1 – Breaking Gender Expectations

Scout inside a tire, playing with Jem and Dill during summer.

“I was not sure, but Jem told me I was being a girl, that girls imagined things, that’s why other people hated them so if I started behaving like one, I could just go off and find some to play with.”   This was said by Jem Finch to his little sister, Scout Finch on page 54, we can see how Scout, main character of Harper Lee’s novel, To Kill A Mockingbird struggles to fit in Jem’s expectations.

Scout did not have a female role to follow except for their maid, Calpurnia since when she was young, her mother died.  Scout lived with her brother Jem, her dad Atticus, and Calpurnia, so she spends most of the time playing with Jem.  During summer, Jem’s best friend, Dill, will come over to play with Scout and Jem.  Scout was always playing around boys, which influences her tomboyish personality, which brakes the gender expectation during the 1930’s.

Women were expected to stay at home to look after their children, cook, do laundry, and clean the house.  Women and young girls were also expected to wear dresses, were not allowed to be barefoot since it was a symbol of shabbiness, never use or hear curse words, and they were not allowed to get into fights.  If they had any problem, they were expected to solve it through speaking to each other.  Girls were expected to play with dolls, and attend to parties to drink tea while playing with dolls.

Unlike the typical Southern girl in the 1930’s, Scout played into rough games with the boys, got into fights in school, used an inappropriate language, liked playing with guns, and wore jean overalls.  Scout’s tomboyish personality, challenging the gender expectations of the time period while living in a small town, as she reaches adolescence, could potentially bring her problems related with fitting in with the rest of the community.

 

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Dear Diary,

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       Dear Diary,

      Today, my first job, my first day of work.  I went to work at Peter Pan Photo Finishers, where I had to lie about my age.  Aunt Lala works there, she told me that I just had to lie about my age, saying I was a year older and I was going to get the job.

     All was going pretty good, until break…I think it was time for night or middle shift, because some new staff came in.  I was sitting at the bench by the lockers, alone, until I met an Oriental Man.   He said hello, and we talk for a while.  He told me that I could sit with him at lunchtime, after talking to him, I felt relieved, I didn’t feel nervous anymore.

     We talked for a while, he told he to guess what day it was, I didn’t know.  He said it was his birthday, so please give him a birthday kiss.  He is old, what could possibly go wrong?  I thought that there wasn’t going to be any problem to give him a kiss on the cheek, but I was incorrect.  When I was going to kiss him on the cheek, he grabbed my face, and pressed it so hard against his face, he didn’t let go.

     He is an adult, and I don’t like to talk back to them, I feel intimidated by them.  I just let him kiss me, I didn’t know what to do, even though I didn’t feel comfortable with the situation.  I hope not to see him again, and if I do, I will be careful, because I already know his intentions.  My mom was right, she advertised me about these type of men, that only want to use me, and my lack of knowledge.

     Sincerely,

Esperanza