God Help the Child

Seeking Femininity in Others College

In order to affirm one’s personal identity in the context of social structure, we often seek affirmation through relationships with other people. While these identities are constructed by our society, they play an influential role in the development of each of our identities. One example of these socially constructed identities is the affirmation of feminine beauty and the emphasis of its importance as part of women’s identity in the United States. Women in western culture are encouraged to affirm their femininity through their relationship to other people, men in particular. Two literary examples of a woman’s struggle with femininity in their personal identity are Esch, of Jesmyn Ward’s Salvage the Bones, and Bride, of Toni Morrison’s God Help the Child. The ways that the protagonists in each of the books experience and affirm personal femininity are both universal to many women in the United States, yet also specific to their race, upbringing and age during the events of the novels. Through these differences the reader can better understand his or her own relationship to femininity in the context of the 21st century. Both Esch and Bride are women who seek themselves and their own feminine identity in others, as they have been...

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