Feminist Literary Theory

Looking into How Females are Treated During the 1900’s:

The novel “Three Day Road”, written by Joseph Boyden, takes place in a time period where women were not treated as equal contributors to society compared to men. During the early 1900’s women did not get very many rights and is quite evident while reading this novel, women are not treated with the same respect and values as men are. Throughout reading this novel I noticed that Boyden only seemed to mention three different female characters named Niska, Lisette, and the Nurse. Throughout the story I noticed how poorly women were treated, as well as the fact that they suffered in the hands of men and the sacrifices they had to make in order to support themselves. The main female role within the novel however is Niska, who is also one of the narrators. She is able to tell her story in this time period being a single women raising two boys on her own.

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Being a single ‘mother’ raising two adventurous boys is a difficult task for a women during this time to do successfully. However the character Niska is unlike a stereotypical female role during this time period. Niska is a strong, powerful and independent women that isn’t afraid of being judged.” I knew that the old man we walked with wondered about the little boy accompanying me. He knew I was not a mother, but the old man kept his stare straight ahead, his wizened eyes not giving a hint as to what he was thinking.”(260). This quote emphasizes the fact that even though Niska is not technically Elijah and Xavier’s legitimate mother, she is not afraid of being judged for raising children in need of a family and someone to care for them.

A major problem that the character Niska began to face in this novel was the fact she was treated as a sex object by the Frenchman she met rather than an equal. “I realized that this is how I thought of him now, as my mate.”(165).  The unfortunate part of this situation is the fact Niska considered him her mate, but this is not how the Frenchman felt. After the Frenchman realized why Niska lives alone and the reasons why she lives in the forest he decided to leave her. When Niska goes to find the Frenchman, he takes advantage of her just using her for sex. “You are nothing special, just another squaw whore. I took your power away in this place and sent it to burn in hell where it belongs.”(174). The Frenchman thought that by having relations with Niska in a Catholic Church it would take away her powers as a Windigo hunter. Niska ends up winning back her powers in the end when the Frenchman commits suicide. The Frenchman ultimately wanted to take away powers from a women, because he knew she was more powerful than he ever would be which shouldn’t be allowed as a women in his mind. “I am a healer, nor a murderer. To heal you need to cut out the sickness”(264). Although this quote also implies Elijah’s sickness, it also talks about the fact that the Frenchman needed to die in order for Niska to be strong again.

 

Another character used as a sex object is the character Lisette. This character was actually a known prostitute however that Elijah decided that he was going to “pay a lot of money for” (257). The fact that during this time there was not a lot of jobs for women, many had to take sacrifices with their own body to make enough money to survive. Although Lisette is not a major character in this novel it still is an example of the sexist views that men presume women with. Men decided to treat women more like an object rather than an equal. Another example is how Elijah describes the nurse that is taking care of him. “The nurse with the pretty mouth.”(376). Only talking about her overall appearance like an object, rather than her skills as a nurse.

 

References:

Boyden, Joseph. Three Day Road. Toronto: Penguin Canada, 2008. Print.

McCarthy, Janelle Ann. “The Truth About Feminism.” The Huffington Post.     TheHuffingtonPost.com, 3 May 2016. Web. 08 Dec. 2016.

 

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