Animal attractions

Beating, biting and battering don’t typically go hand-in-hand with love and affection.   However, the central female love interests in William Attaway’s Blood on the Forge and Frank Norris’ McTeague are attracted by being physically overcome by their partners.  Despite striking differences in both personality and sexual experience, Big Mat’s lover Anna and McTeague’s wife Trina share an unusual desire to be dominated.  Anna hopes to move up from her peon life as a prostitute and find a big man to fulfill all her monetary desires.  However, she finds out that her wants come at a hefty cost.  Oppositely, asexual Trina does not know what she wants until she succumbs to the overpowering nature of McTeague, which eventually leads to her demise.

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The greatest love of all

Love comes in all shapes and sizes.  It comes in all colors and all forms.  Sometimes it is innocent and fresh, but other times it is controversial and dangerous.  Sometimes love has no words – it is simply feelings, scents and tastes.  Janie from Their Eyes Were Watching God learned the hard way just what love is and is not. Some critics argue that the novel is a love story.  I do not disagree, but I believe that it is more a story of self-love and Janie’s journey to find inner happiness and how the men in her life challenged or encouraged her pursuit.

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Why the woman hollers

Woman.  Certain images come to peoples’ minds when they hear this word.  At her best, she is empowered, independent, successful, and free.  At her worst, she is vindictive, spiteful, unsympathetic, and diluted.  These ideas influence the way that women interact with each other.  In fact, it can cause people to blame women for the experiences they are put up against.  If a woman is beaten by a man, she must have done something to deserve it.  If a woman is cheated on by her husband, she must not have been pleasing him enough.  It is these types of symbols that the female protagonists (and in certain ways and stories, antagonists) in the short stories in “Woman Hollering Creek” by Sandra Cisneros must confront.  Cleófilas in “Woman Hollering Creek” is hurt by a man, and in turn comes to learn the strength that all women have within them.  Clemencia in “Never Marry a Mexican” is also hurt by a man, but in her revenge, she falsifies herself into believing that she gains her strength through hurting another woman.  While the relationships women have with each other are frequently complicated enough by the differences in their own personalities, backgrounds, and culture, often times, it can be the men in their lives who really shape these interactions.

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