Analysis of The Short Story The Shunammite By Ines Arredondo

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The brief story Ines Arredondo's novel The Shunammite is about a young lady raised by her uncle. She had a close friendship with her uncle as a child and he could meet all of her basic needs. Her uncle, too, adored her and took excellent care of her. The uncle's name was Apollonia, and the girl's name was Luisa. Later, the two were split up and sent to neighboring cities. Then Luisa sent a telegram telling her that her uncle was ill. Terrified by the news, she started viewing life as a flame burning from all sides and she was in the middle. However, she gets the courage to travel the long trip to her uncle to help him in his sickness. Upon arrival, she is welcomed warmly and the uncle is very much pleased by her presence. This reminds him of the old days they spent together, and even decides to marry her.

Patriarchy

The Shunammite demonstrates clearly how patriarchy was highly practiced in those days, both socially, politically, economically and psychologically. From definition of patriarchy, the male persons dominate over the females, and limit their rights, as is clearly demonstrated in the story.

Socially, the males are seen to dominate the female in all aspects. For instance, Luisa is forced to marry her uncle without her consent. Though marriage is supposed to be as a result of mutual consent, this is not the case. Full of stories, he starts narrating to her about his jewelries and his marriage anniversaries with Luisa’s aunt. It is during these narrations that he makes it known to Luisa his intentions of dying close to her. This however, greatly disturbs Luisa who does not want to be involved and carried along the death of his uncle. During his address to Luisa about his marriage anniversaries, it is clear that the aunt to Luisa had no say in those plans. This shows how males dominated women in their social lives.

Politically, the males are also dominating in the story. They are the main decision makers. The priest, collaborates with the uncle, to make sure that they marry Luisa to her uncle, whether willing or not. And when she tries to conceal it, the priest exposes her. Even when she tries to escape, she is brought back. Apollonian, too has the power to decide who inherits his wealth, even in his death bed. His wife, has nothing to contribute in this whole issue, even though all that he owns was as a result of their collective contributions (Call and Tanner 7). The priest comes to visit the uncle, and here is where apollonian makes it known that he intends to marry Luisa before he dies so that all that he owns will be left under her. Though not happy with the idea, Luisa is persuaded by the priest, the other family members and the neighbors to accept the offer, which she continuously rejects, but subconsciously, she is made to accept during the night, in what is described as the wedding night.

Economically, the male dominates the female. Women are portrayed as those who cannot get wealth of their own, and so the only way they get to own something is if they allow themselves to be married to the rich men. The way people persuade Luisa to get married, clearly indicates how the society at this time were certain that women could only be rich through marriage. Though it is not morally acceptable, they find it easy to take it due to the high economic benefits accompanying it. The uncle also seems to own all the family jewelries, and has the right to give them to anyone he chooses to. This clearly indicates how male dominated the society of the time economically.

Psychologically, the way the priest explains to Luisa that if she does not visit the uncle, she will be committing murder is a form of psychological patriarchy. From the story, failing to die soon as expected, the uncle miraculously recovered due to his lust to Luisa who he is now legally married to. It is after his recovery that he even intends to sleep with her, which is an act that hurts her very much that she decides to escape (Call and Tanner 7). Later she is persuaded by the priest to come back so that she will not be guilty of murder. During her return, she is now well composed, and ready to face the uncle. It is during this second encounter, that the uncle returns to himself and dies peacefully. This tortures her psychologically, and forces her to reconsider her initial decision. This leads her to returning back, but psychologically prepared. The idea of marriage is also psychological. Just because one signed papers subconsciously at night to a dying man does not mean that he has all the rights to the young woman’s body. The uncle claiming that Luisa is now his wife is a great sign of patriarchy psychology and is meant to show her that now she has no escape, but be married to the old man and lay with him in his death bed.

Traditional Gender Categories

From the story, the traditional gender categories play out well, and it is clear they were biased in many ways and had various limitations. Accordingly, it is clear there are two gender categories, based on the sexual organs of a person. There is the male gender, which seems to be having elaborate roles like those of priesthood, whereas the other category is for the female gender. All these are biased in their definitions because it is based on the physical appearance as opposed to one’s capabilities (Call and Tanner 7). The female gender is limited and has little say in decision making, even when the decisions involve their lives. For instance, all the things that the uncle wants, Luisa implements them even though she is not willing to. Though apollonian is a married man, his wife has no say on who inherits his property. His view of women as objects, and his lust for the young daughter, is a clear indication of how the traditional gender was biased against the definition of gender.

It is evident the male gender dominated over the female gender, and men controlled females in all aspects of life, from economic, socially, politically and psychologically. The priest, the doctors, the family members, were all united in supporting the uncle even when he was making wrong decisions (McGuire and John Thomas 15). No one was there to fight for the innocent Luisa, even though she was in her early age, no one saw how she was mistreated as they were all happy with the decisions, which were morally unacceptable.

Works Cited

Call, Tanner. "Patriarchy & Feminism in the Early 20th Century: Finding Middle Ground Through Kate Chopin." (2017). P. 7

McGuire, John Thomas. "Social Justice Feminism and its Counter-Hegemonic Response to Laissez-Faire Industrial Capitalism and Patriarchy in the United States, 1899-1940." Studies in Social Justice 11.1 (2017). P. 15

October 19, 2022
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