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Of Women and Salt


A kaleidoscopic portrait of generations of women from a 19th-century Cuban cigar...
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Many of the characters in the book engage in acts that are illegal. What do you think this shows about the nature of criminality and the powers that define who or what is criminal?

Created: 04/26/21

Replies: 9

Posted Apr. 26, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 2732

Many of the characters in the book engage in acts that are illegal. What do you think this shows about the nature of criminality and the powers that define who or what is criminal?

Many of the characters in the book engage in acts that are illegal. What do you think this shows about the nature of criminality and the powers that define who or what is criminal?


Posted Apr. 27, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
scgirl

Join Date: 06/05/18

Posts: 152

RE: Many of the characters in the book ...

Boy, you are really making us think this time Davina! There are many reasons why we need law; to regulate society, to protect people, and to solve conflict. Laws prevent or deter people from behaving in a manner that negatively affects the quality of life of other people. Disobeying laws has different repercussions depending upon the law itself and are considered crimes and illegal activity. In this story - domestic violence, murder, rape, child abuse, underage drinking, illegal drug use, prostitution, theft, and immigration violations are all crimes. Most of the crimes committed by women in the story, except for Jeanette, are committed in order to survive. Jeanette commits her crimes not because she has to but because she feels a need to. I think you could make a case for self defense for many of the crimes the women have committed. They are criminals with extenuating circumstances.


Posted Apr. 27, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Tired Bookreader

Join Date: 08/19/11

Posts: 172

RE: Many of the characters in the book ...

Laws are made to protect the people who write them; rarely do they consider who will be affected by them. There are many social injustices that some laws cannot correct.


Posted Apr. 28, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
elisabethc

Join Date: 07/16/19

Posts: 42

RE: Many of the characters in the book ...

I find this concept interesting not just in terms of who or what is considered criminal in terms of the law, but also in terms of popular perception. Literature and popular entertainment like TV shows are full of stories that romanticize crime when it is carried out (either for a good reason or not) by someone who is automatically viewed as having a greater degree of autonomy (a white American man, for example). People who are seen as racialized (regardless of actual race), foreigners or otherwise marginalized are often expected to take on victim-like traits in order to appear sympathetic - this is something that's frequently reinforced by pop culture. I found Of Women and Salt refreshing for this reason - none of the characters are perfect people and, independent of that, the criminal choices that they make are understandable. You're not driven to feel sorry for them or to view their actions as justified by their circumstances or unrelated behavior so much as to see them as whole people who are capable of a variety of actions. They react to their circumstances, but aren't defined by them.


Posted Apr. 29, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
juliaa

Join Date: 12/03/11

Posts: 238

RE: Many of the characters in the book ...

I agree with other posters that laws are necessary in most cases, but I did see in the book that some of the "Crimes" committed were necessary for the survival of the characters. As an example, Gloria broke the law by her illegal border crossing, but she did it to try for a better life for her and Ana. Jeannette broke the law by her drug use, and that led to her sad ending; however, her struggles made me question the way our drug laws work. If the emphasis were on treatment, not punishment, and there were enough treatment slots, wouldn't many addicts,and all of society, benefit?


Posted Apr. 30, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
cm28015

Join Date: 11/01/15

Posts: 37

RE: Many of the characters in the book ...

What a difficult question to answer! If you needed to do something to survive or for a better life for you and your children would you do it regardless of the law?? Most of us don’t have to think about that in our lives. It’s not as black and white as it seems. Sometimes we find ways around it and that makes the difference between spiraling farther down and moving forward.
Maybe the question should be do our social policies work so people don’t have to break the law.


Posted May. 01, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
swchis39

Join Date: 09/26/12

Posts: 113

RE: Many of the characters in the book ...

I agree with most of the other reviewers.desperate people do desperate things to survive. However we can’t exist in a lawless society.


Posted May. 10, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
justina

Join Date: 05/05/21

Posts: 2

RE: Many of the characters in the book ...

Sometimes laws do not correlate with what is actually right or wrong. These characters did what they had to do to survive. Even if that was illegal.


Posted May. 10, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
gerrieb

Join Date: 09/03/19

Posts: 125

RE: Many of the characters in the book ...

I agree with many of the other posts. Survival often requires drastic measures and laws often are blind to the plight of people. The experience of those who make the laws often effects the tenor of the law. It does say a lot about any society about what is deemed a criminal act, what is not and what is chosen to be prosecuted and what is not.


Posted Jun. 04, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
taking.mytime's Gravatar
taking.mytime

Join Date: 03/29/16

Posts: 282

RE: Many of the characters in the book ...

The type of 'crime' committed by these characters were for survival. They were trying to make better lives for themselves and in many cases their children. Until you are subjected to the criminality that those women were born into, you cannot judge them for wanting a better life and doing everything in their power - legal or otherwise - to find that freedom.


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