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The Portrayal Of Women Essay Research Paper

Women are portrayed differently in literature depending upon the societal

customs and the acceptance of women in the culture of the author. Although this

is true, it is only partially so. An author is not obligated to write about his

customs and norms, and in fact may use completely different ones in order to

show dissent to the ones he has lived with. Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred

Years of Solitude takes place in a Latin American setting. The passage (1) used from the novel in the comparative analysis

involves a strong willed woman who is respected, however, is unaware of the

situation she is part of. The young woman is unknowingly sleeping with two men

who are identical twins. Similarly, Jorge Borges’ short story “The Intruder”,

also set in Latin America. The woman, in this case, is involved with two

brothers, but she is weak and her awareness of the situation is questionable.

Both selected pieces share common ties in situation, however, differing outcomes

arise, thus, a thoughtful analysis can be generated. Petra Cotes, the young woman in the selection from One Hundred Years Of

Solitude, intrudes in the narrative and distracts the Segundo twins from their

normal daily activities in the isolated village of Macondo. Aureliano Segundo

meets Petra Cotes while she is selling raffle tickets for an accordion. He

doesn’t reveal to her that he has a twin brother when she oddly greets him

familiarly. Petra likes Aureliano Segundo and his brother Jos? Arcadio Segundo.

She does not know that they are two different people. Aureliano Segundo

discovers after two weeks of sleeping with Petra Cotes that she has been

sleeping with his brother too. Once again he doesn’t clear up the girl’s

confusion that they are one person and instead he continues to share her with

his twin for two months. One morning Aureliano Segundo is really sick and he

does not know why. A few days later Jos? Arcadio Segundo becomes sick and tells

Aureliano that Petra Cotes is disgusted with the “low-life sickness” he has

given her and consequently refuses to see him. Jos? Arcadio Segundo never finds

out that his brother had shared Petra Cotes with him. Aureliano Segundo secretly

is cured of his sickness separately from Jos? Arcadio. He begs forgiveness from

Petra Cotes and once they live with each other, their animals begin to

proliferate at an alarming rate. A fortune is made by selling the extra animals

and through raffles. Aureliano takes advantage of his shared physical appearance with his brother

in order to sleep with a woman. Furthermore, he neither informs his brother, nor

the woman he “loves” that there he is a third party in the relationship. An

interesting element of the passage involves Petra Cotes’ name. Aureliano Segundo

describes the entire situation and after the line “Aureliano Segundo obtained

her pardon and stayed with her until his death” a new paragraph begins with “Her

name was Petra Cotes”. Aureliano Segundo’s future with Petra is revealed to the

reader before her name is. Does this suggest that her name is an unimportant

detail according to the Aureliano? Considering Aureliano Segundo irresponsibly

doesn’t inform Petra that he and his brother are sharing her it is a possible

assumption. Without respect for the truth, he may not have respect for the woman

involved. A deeper level involved with Petra’s name is that it means “rock” in

Spanish. She could be considered the “philosopher stone” of the novel due to

this association and her purpose in the story. Petra Cotes (the rock or stone)

brings wealth to Aureliano Segundo. The philosopher’s stone is a magical

substance in alchemy which will cause the transmutation of metals (e.g. a

plentiful supply of aluminum into gold), is a cure for all problems and can

provide immortality. This substance, however, exists only in the imagination. It

is relevant because Petra can propagate money (gold) by her supernaturally rapid

animal breeding. Also related to the stone is Aureliano Segundo’s preoccupation

with alchemy prior to Petra’s arrival, and his later obsession with making gold

fish in his laboratory. Garcia Marquez use of magical realism in his novel makes

this conclusion a fairly valid one. In Jorge Luis Borges’ short story “The Intruder” one woman is primarily

involved. The story is told by a man writing down the account of the Nilsen

brothers as he had heard it in a bar. The Nilsens names are Eduardo and

Christian. Christian Nilsen brings a woman, Juliana Burgos, home to live with

him. Eduardo, like his brother, leaves town to pick up a woman but he ends up

“thr(owing) her out” (2) a few days later.

Eduardo loves “Christian’s woman” (3). One

evening Christian tells Eduardo to “make use of her”. Eduardo realizes that

Juliana is an object to Christian and even so, from then on they “share

her” (4). The brothers, who had never disagreed

on anything, begin to argue about trivial skin dealings when “they were really

arguing about something else” (5). The two

brothers decide the only way to stop their fighting is to sell Juliana to a

prostitution house and divide the money between themselves. Temptation brings

the two men separately back to Juliana. Christian decides that it is ridiculous

to wear out the horses (or so that is his excuse) and it is necessary to take

action to halt the destruction of his and Eduardo’s family relationship. The men

ultimately decide to sacrifice (by killing) Juliana in order to mend their

brotherly bond.The brothers obviously see Juliana as an object not worth

calling by name. She is trapped in this situation and isn’t strong enough to say

“no”. Interestingly the man who is retelling the tale of the brothers before

delving into the story writes: “I write it down now because, if I am not wrong,

it reflects briefly and tragically the whole temper of life in those days along

the banks of the River Plate” (6)This

provides a possibility that the women in Latin America at the time of the story

were treated roughly and used by men. However, the way that Juliana was treated

in relation to Latin American women can only be a reflection of the society at

the time because life can only be a base for literature. The two men in the

story are built up to be tough and rough cowboys but end up being weak as they

succumb to their urges. The short story and the passage are comparable. The narrator in “The

Intruder” describes a Bible in the Nilsens’ house which “records the misfortunes

of the Nilsens” (7) . This is quite similar to the overall narrative of One Hundred Years of

Solitude which is being read out of Melquiades’ history book by the last of the

Buendia family. This mystical book contains all of the Buendia family’s history.

The family was doomed to extinction, hence all that was written in the book was

a misfortune. In both stories, the men who shared a woman were brothers. Also at

least one of the brothers consented to the sharing of the woman. Petra Cotes’

name wasn’t mentioned until Aureliano Segundo revealed the truth to her and the

reader learns of the future of Aureliano Segundo with her. Juliana’s name wasn’t

uttered by either brother after they both became involved with her. Neither of

the “sharing” situations lasted more than half a year. For the Segundos it was

two months, and the Nilsens “some weeks”. Both sets of brothers were around the

same age – their early twenties – and the girls were beautiful and youthful.

These examples illustrate the similarities between the two stories and the

behaviour of the men towards Petra Cotes and Juliana. With the common Latin

American setting it is possible to attribute these similarities to the way life

progressed around the Latin American authors perhaps it is not the sole factor

relating to the women’s treatment, but it can be regarded as one

reason.There are differences between the stories as well. In One Hundred

Years of Solitude Petra Cotes is unaware that she is being violated, whereas

Juliana, in “The Intruder”, does. An issue arises here. If Juliana knew she was

being used as an object to satisfy the desires of the two men, why didn’t she

attempt to leave? A reason, that further supports the explanation of the

similarities in the story is, Juliana was not permitted, culturally, to react to

the ill treatment she was receiving. Brotherly relationships are priority. The

women are not important, as they are potential intruders into the brotherly

love. Petra Cotes ultimately marries Aureliano Segundo whereas the Nilsens kill

Juliana. Aureliano Segundo marries Petra because he tells her the truth and then

respects her. These significant differences in the outcome of the tales

influence their analysis. The stories could have resulted in the same manner if

Aureliano Segundo and Jos? Arcadio Segundo were closer and more rough and tough.

It is safe to attribute the history of the Nilsen brothers and their cultural

opinion of women to their choice to kill Juliana.The treatment of the

women by men within One Hundred Years of Solitude and “The Intruder” depended

upon the characters’ backgrounds. The twin Segundos hadn’t ever been violent.

The Nilsens always were protective of their brotherly bond. Without the violent

background in one story or the gentler background in the other story, the

results of a similar situation were unique.Endnotes 1. 1 Appendix 1: Passage from One Hundred Years of Solitude, 192 -

197 2. 2 Borges, Jorge Luis. A Reader, “The Intruder”. ed. Emir Rodriguez

Monegal. trans. Alastair Reid. Fitzhenry & Whiteside: Toronto (1981),

291 3. 3 Ibid. 291 4. 4 Ibid. 5. 5 Ibid. 6. 6 Ibid. 290 7. 7 Ibid.Appendix A Passage from Gabriel Garc?a M?rquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. p.192 -


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