Caleb's Crossing

Bethia's Crossing 10th Grade

During the 1600s, women were stereotyped to behave obediently, remain uneducated, and follow the traditions of their own culture. Although these social norms are clearly oppressive and offensive, to fight against these expectations was a brave act, as Bethia Mayfield demonstrates. In the novel Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks, Bethia becomes exposed to the first Native American to go to Harvard, a coveted yet out-of-reach college education, and a dictating family. From a young age, society expects Bethia to fit right into the mold of women during this historical period. As Bethia grows up through the novel, she learns how to become her own person and transitions from being a submissive, completely Christian, and uneducated girl to being a strong woman. Bethia’s life makes a crossing when she breaks free of the stereotypical role that her society expects a young English girl to play by embracing Native American traditions, chasing an education, and challenging the oppression that women at this time faced.

Despite women’s lack of rights, Bethia courageously manages to become outspoken in order to defend her position as a woman. Even though Bethia is initially obedient to dominant males, she eventually speaks her mind when the...

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