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Sunday in the park essay

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“ She must do something, stop them, call for help. She wanted to put her hand on her husband’s sleeve, to pull him down, but for some reason she didn’t” (P2L36) Through time there has been a large revolution of the gender roles. Women are no longer depending on an economically or physically support from a man, to make a living. Women do no longer need a big and muscular man to take care of them, but does this necessarily mean that they do not want one? In the short story “ Sunday in the park” by Bel Kaufmann the issues of standing up for your own rights and choosing between the “ caveman” and the modern man are raised.

In the following analysis I will mainly focus on the characters and the theme, to create a better understanding and view of the conflict in the short story. The narrator of the story is a third person narrator, and is referred to as “ she”. In the beginning of the text, she describes an exquisite and pleasant situation, where her family is gathered on a playground. Her son is playing in the sandbox with another boy, and she and her husband is sitting on a bench, watching. “ How good this is, she thought, and almost smiled at her sense of well-being.” (P1L9)

She describes an enjoyable scene, in which she feels comfortable. Also “ She squeezed his (Morton’s) arm affectionately and glanced at Larry, delighting in the pointed little face frowning in concentration…” (P1L12) This quote shows that she is fond of her husband, and wants to show him affection. She truly seems to appreciate the sophisticated qualities of Morton. Their son has the same characteristics as his father, which is an obvious delight to her. The conflict begins when the other boy in the sandbox throws sand at Larry.

She tries not to interfere too much because “ She always said that she wanted Larry to learn to fight his own battles. ” (P2L4). It worries her though, and she looks around for a mother or a nurse, but she only locates a huge man on a bench. The big man claims that his son can throw all the sand he wants, because it is a public sandbox. Morton and the big man end up standing, facing towards each other, here it is more or less like seeing two opposites. Morton is a small, timid and city-pale university teacher, whereas the other man is huge, muscular and straightforward.

Morton’s language is very civilized and polite, while the other man’s vocabulary is very simple and his language is quite discourteous. Before the incident, Morton was reading Times Magazine, possibly some work related material, while the big man was reading a comic. This clearly shows the difference between the two men; one is modern, intelligent, civilized, and has a lot of inner qualities, and the other is a primitive, aggressive, dominating, and has a lot of outer strength. They argue quite a lot, Morton in his polite manner, and the other man uses his simple below-the-belt method.

The mother wants to do something, but for some reason she does not. This could be a sign that she actually wants to watch her husband stand up for their son’s rights. This theory is also confirmed by her disappointment, when Morton turns around and informs her that it is time to leave. She is frustrated and feels humiliated. “ Her first feeling was one of relief that a fight had been avoided, that no one was hurt. Yet beneath it there was a layer of something else, something heavy and inescapable. She sensed that it was more than just an unpleasant incident, more than a defeat of reason by force.

She felt dimly it had something to do with her and Morton, something acutely personal, familiar, and important. ” (P3L10) At first it seems like an insignificant occurrence to her, she is just happy that no one was hurt. But then she realizes that it actually matters to her, because her husband, who is supposed to be strong, did not stand up to fight for their rights. She feels very embarrassed and dishonored. In the end of the story the mother says: “ You and who else? ” This was the same line as the big man used to frighten Morton.

When the mother says “ You and who else?” she is referring to raising and disciplining a child. This would have been a woman’s function in a primordial society. The woman is questioning Morton’s ability to discipline the child, which was Morton’s own suggestion. When the big man spits out the line, he is scornful. He does not think that Morton can beat him alone, which would have been a manly thing to do in a primitive society. So, Morton could actually be an example of a man who has exchanged the original gender role with a woman, and that could be the reason why his wife is so disappointed in him.

Therefore I believe that the main themes of this story are modern gender roles and standing up for your own rights. We also see others corroborations of this presumption, an example could be when the big man raises, and “ she” immediately turns to look at her husband, hoping that he will take care of the problem. It seems like our narrator is going to leave Morton, the last line could indicate this. This could be because of Morton’s lack of manliness and strength. It is almost as if her last words swap the roles of herself and her husband, suddenly she is the authority, and he is the one left gaping.

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