In forming a well-developed society, males and females should both play significant roles. However, through history, gender stereotype has already influenced the majority females deep inside, especially in long time patriarchal society where women’s idea is not taken into consideration. Gradually, men become authority of strength while women receive less and less recognition even though some of them made significant efforts. The novel A complicated kindness by Miriam Towes describes a pathetic highly-censored Mennonite society whose females suffer many of depression.
In the play Waiting for the Parade by John Murrell tells the story of five ladies during WWII, who, more or less, encounter different kinds of pains. Clearly, both Towes and Murrell demonstrate that females, the inferior subordinating gender group, are destined for mental sickness because they are the sacrificing lambs for the dominant male group; ultimately, their attempts to escape are futile. Normally, how the dominant group conducts the society determines the life how people live in it, especially in totalitarian or in chaotic ages, but the attitude the government holds may be totally different even they appear the same treatments towards their people. One kind of attitude is that the manipulating group is only using and oppressing people for their own interests, just like what happens in the novel A Complicated Kindness. The Mouth, the dominant theology group, is willing to keep the existence of the Mennonite community, so they ignore the mental sickness of the females. For the residents of East Village, “It’s hard to grieve in a town where everything that happens is God’s will.
It’s hard to know what to do with your emptiness when you’re not supposed to have emptiness.” (Toews 25). In this specific society, males are the ones who can become rulers where many are still normal citizens, but there is few chances for females to be normal. Moreover, since the creed is never meant for entertaining. Under such huge social patriarchy pressures, anxiety in society, especially towards females, are non negligible. As a consequence, people choose to use different defence mechanisms, like denial and repression, trying to ignore the government’s misbehavior and survive. Different from the Mennonite community who focuses on their own benefits only, in the play Waiting for the Parade, the controlling group involuntarily chooses to neglect the mental disorder of the females to win a big war. Just as Janet complains, ” Who the hell do you think I’ve been doing it for? … I wanted you to be proud of me.
I wanted them to respect both of us! Now I realize they’ve been laughing at me…. And you’ve been laughing hardest of all – haven’t you?” (Murrell 77). In the play, five women whose husbands have left for the battles are forced to work together for the war effort at home. The work they do such as rolling bandage of gauze, preparing necessary articles for soldiers is tiring and tough; even worse, the effort they make are seldom noticed by the patriarchal society. Their contributions to the battlefields are indispensable and as important as male soldiers on front line. So, there are disputes among them on whether they are supposed to continue supporting the war or disobey prefects and fight for their own rights. However, the group of women finally insist till the victory of Canada since they understand their treatments are not the results of greedy governments but for the whole county’s benefit.
Fortunately, their id did not take control for desire, but it is always hard to figure out what attitude the dominant groups have since people will face the same treatments. Despite of different purpose, both dominant groups fulfill their intentions by the same way – control and sacrifice the female groups. In A Complicated Kindness, Normi, trying to figure out what makes her mother and sister leave the town, searches her mother’s stuff only to find “No stamps. No exotic locales.
No travel-worn smudges or creases. Just the ID information and hermother’s black-and-white photo which if it is used in a psychology textbook on the meaning of facial expressions would be labelled” (Toews 28). Nomi finds her mom’s passport with no stamps on it, which means her mother has never considered for her self’s joyful as travelling but follow the law which allows no entertainments. For a long period, particularly since her elder daughter flees away and brings humination to the family, Normi’s mother counters the quiet oppression silently and hopelessly, and finally cannot bear the hegemony and run away. Nomi, another victim of the theologically-controlled society, has to not only endure the humiliation caused by her mother and sister, but she herself is excommunicated by the community based on her uninhibited behaviour which are totally against the law. Similarly, in Waiting for the Parade, the ladies must serve the army since the lack of human resources.
When Catherine intends to buy some necessities for herself, she feels too tired to go because she and other females have to “work double shifts at the plant” the whole week and she “must’ve made fifty million tuna sandwiches” in total (Murrell, 33). To their dismay, no one concerns about their troubles and health, just as Janet responds to Catherine, “well, you can’t get sick tonight. I don’t have anybody to fill in for you. ” (Murrell, 33). Under the urgent circumstances as fighting a big war, women have no choice but support it by working time-consuming hard work, and they are not supposed to complain because all is their responsibility. Everybody has his own role to play and there is nobody is available for the filling, which means there is no enough support to women’s physical and emotional conditions in the patriarchal society. In this sense, in both the novel and the play, the dominating group definitely controls and sacrifices the female group whether it is in the interest of the nation or for the benefit of some communities. Consequently, even though both female groups attempt to rely on themselves for solutions, their effort of escape is inevitably costy and futile.
In A Complicated Kindness, Tash is considered as a rebellion who pursues free spirit and dreams to live her own life, but she only ends up escaping, leaving the whole family humiliation and excommunication. However, things become worse as Trudie is also compelled to leave the town later because of shame of the excommunication. With two female family members away, Nomi is confusing and helpless. She dreams to get out, but she knows she can’t because “there’s this old guy in a wool suit sitting in an empty house who has no one but her” (Toews 165). Since the disappearance of Tash and Trudie, Nomi constantly scorns at the norms of the Mennonite and never stops dreaming of following the path of Tash and Trudie. She chooses not to leave right away not because she is not courageous but because she loves Ray, her father.
It is also the warm and nostalgic time the family has had that keeps Normi struggling. However, Nomi’s effort does not give her and Ray more hope as she herself is excommunicated finally and Ray is also punished. The family’s attempt to live their own way without hurting others only brings them humiliation and dissembles the once loving family. Similarly, in Waiting for the Parade, Marta’s effort to alleviate family’s shame is distressing.
When her father is locked for their suspicious family background, Marta protests, “I’m not asking you to release him. I wouldn’t dream of asking for that! For him to be treated like a human being! What would be the use!” (Murrell 40). Marta can do nothing to save him because the soldiers strongly oppress her. All she can do is to try her best ignoring the backlash placed on her and to beg the soldiers not to move her father so far away from her. In this way she can still have the chance to visit him even though her father already forgets the existence of his own daughter and has no clue about all the effort she puts into freeing him. Marta’s pain and humiliation last until the war ends and her father is back. Both Towes and Murrell reveals a cruel truth – each individual is powerless and his effort is effortless when he is facing the hegemony of the society he belongs to whether it is the time of peace or war.
Set in different social circumstances, A Complicated Kindness and Waiting for the Parade addresses the same issue of female oppression in the male-dominating society. Standing from the position of dominant groups, they are justified to employ a totalitarian rulership, which causes subordinate group’s oppression to satisfy authorities own subject intension and pushes the whole society for the overwhelming majorities’ interests by the effect of specific environment. However, regardless what kinds of attitude the dominants group are holding, there is no difference in their attitude to the society. So,no matter how hard the subordinates fight against them, it will lead to the same result. With no better choice, the only way for healing the oppression is either to go away or stay and wait.