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    How to Tame a Wild Tongue and The Squirrel Mother Essay

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    The first text, How to Tame a Wild Tongue by Gloria Anzaldua, discusses her relationship to language as a young Hispanic girl living in the United States. In this text the author makes use of a lot of metaphors and symbolism to indicate the significances in the roles of gender. When the narrator’s tongue could not keep still while the dentist worked on her, it symbolizes how the girl is trying to break free from her role as a female but is restrained. The irritation the dentist had while pulling out the metal from her mouth portrayed the anger the narrator’s peers would get if she tried to flee her role. The metal from her mouth can also symbolize restraint. When the dentist comments on how “strong and stubborn” her tongue is, it suggests that her will to break free from her gender role is also strong yet stubborn. The juxtaposed rhetorical questions then indicates that there has been attempts on ‘taming’ and ‘saddling’ her will to break away from her role, portrayed by her uncontrollable tongue and the dentist.

    We then explore a Mexican student’s experience learning English in America. As a child, this Mexican student learned about certain phrase. One of them was “Muchachitas bien criadas”, meaning that well-bred girls do not answer back. This shows that in culture, there is already a set role for both genders. In this case, if you were a well-bred girl, you are presumed to be polite and do not talk back. Another phrase is “hablar pa’tras, repelar”, meaning the act of talking back to your mother, suggests that children are expected to listen to their mothers and never doubting their words. The act of talking back shows that you have no respect and no manners. This again shows that there are certain roles set out for different genders and ages. The narrator also tells the reader that there are words that are “derogatory if applied to women”, implying that there are certain disrespectful words only directed to women, as the narrator then tells us that she has “never heard them applied to men”. When two women use the word “nosotras”, the narrator was shocked as this word is only directed to men, but was used by women. She feels as though the masculine plural has robbed them of their female being. Again, this shows that there are different words, phrases and roles set out for men and women. Lastly, the narrator tells us “language is a male discourse”. This suggests that language is biased to the males as often the females are given more disrespectful or inferior adjectives whilst the men have more strong, superior and noble words.

    The second text, a graphic novel created by Megan Kelso, shows the brief exchange between a daughter and her hard-working mother whilst being juxtaposed by a squirrel mother trying to abandon her children. Because it is a graphic novel, the artist uses imagery and juxtapositions to state her points in gender roles. This novel emphasizes the role in females because we see how the human mother and the squirrel mother go pass their life while taking take of their children. The human mother, seen in the novel, is constantly trying to create a dress for her daughter. Firstly, the act of creating a dress at home already suggests an obvious gender role.

    Females are often known to be home-makers and the embracers of motherhood so what the human mother is doing in the novel goes towards the ideal female role in society. However, when we look at the never minimal narrative, the reader learns that while doing all this, the mother actually wanted to play guitar, learn to speak French and travel. This shows that just because females must fit into their specific gender role, they have no choice but to sacrifice what they truly love or want to do. While keeping that in mind, the reader then directs their attention to the squirrel mother as it is juxtaposed to the human mother. Unlike the human mother, the squirrel mother ultimately chooses to abandon her children to pursue what she wants to do. Taking into account that it is an animal and does not need to consider the society’s expectations for her as a mother, it only seems natural for her to leave. The power of imagery can emphasize a point very effectively with minimal writing and prolong its effect in the reader’s mind.

    In conclusion, I believe the two texts are very different as they approach gender roles in two entirely different ways. Firstly the first text is a written first-person piece, which can help emphasize the points of gender roles to the narrator as most of the content is actually happening in her mind, showing her thoughts and opinions. The second article is a graphic novel, in which words are very minimal and most of the indication in gender roles is portrayed through drawings. This is very effective in stressing a single point.

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