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The Twelve-Mile Straight


An audacious American epic set in rural Georgia during the years of the...
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Discuss The Twelve-Mile Straight by Eleanor Henderson:
Which gender roles does Elma end up submitting to, and which is she able to subvert?

Created: 07/11/18

Replies: 4

Posted Jul. 11, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 1626

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Which gender roles does Elma end up submitting to, and which are she able to subvert?

Which gender roles does Elma end up submitting to, and which is she able to subvert?


Posted Jul. 20, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
JLPen77

Join Date: 02/05/16

Posts: 259

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RE: Which gender roles does Elma end up submitting to, and which is she able to subvert?

She doesn’t seem to challenge gender roles except in one way: she is outspoken. Even when she is lying as told to do, about the “twins,” she doesn’t seem shy. She speaks blunt truth to her father even though she does what she’s told, or goes behind his back to have her way. She gives up her idea of going to college without much regret, and grasps at marriage as the only way out of her father’s house— in her outspoken way, directly asking Oliver his intentions in their correspondence. She is prepared to offer herself to Oliver (as with Freddie) even before marriage— based on her understanding of what a woman is supposed to do. As a wife she mostly defers to Oliver, or at least says she is ready to; he is not the typical male dictator she is used to. She only refuses to go to Warm Springs with him when it appears to her that she owes it to her father to protect him from Wilson’s plot to have Sterling kill him. That is still a gender-role obligation in her mind, as spelled out for her by Parthenia: women are supposed to keep men from fighting. Even though she doesn’t agree, she doesn’t challenge that expectation. Elma represents the plight of strong, intelligent women of her place and time: she asserts herself mainly through subterfuge, she talks back but doesn’t resist or challenge.


Posted Jul. 20, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
melanieb

Join Date: 08/30/14

Posts: 125

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RE: Which gender roles does Elma end up submitting to, and which is she able to subvert?

I agree with JLPen77. Elma is innately strong and has some clear ideas of what she wants in her future, but Elma is outwardly passive and often resorts to manipulation instead of plainly stating what she wants or questions.


Posted Aug. 11, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
rebeccar

Join Date: 03/13/12

Posts: 363

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RE: Which gender roles does Elma end up submitting to, and which is she able to subvert?

Elma's life is bound by gender roles: she must find a husband or live with her father. Despite her lack of education, she seems to be intelligent (and wily.) Without Oliver as her husband, she had not able to subvert or gain acceptance from women of the so-called higher class in that town.


Posted Aug. 28, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
taking.mytime's Gravatar
taking.mytime

Join Date: 03/29/16

Posts: 97

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RE: Which gender roles does Elma end up submitting to, and which is she able to subvert?

Elma submitted to the female gender role of the time, living with her father, until she would take a husband. She goes with the flow, even tho she does speak her mind.


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