Free Essay: Intertextuality Between Dagoberto Gilb's Shout and Jhumpa Lahiri's A Temporary Matter

Published: 2022-05-22 22:37:35
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Intertextuality is a form of literary analysis in which one compares or contrasts the contents of one literary text to another. Intertextuality seeks to establish the connection between two texts in terms of their meanings and their respective underlying messages. Different authors aspire to convey a specific message using different themes that are prevalent in their literature. Intertextuality allows the comparison or contrast between the literary works of different authors by looking at the literary devices, characters, and key scenes that bring out the intended themes. As it normally happens, some of these themes turn out to be similar or framed from a different perspective, making intertextuality a necessary literary tool for comparing literature. The two stories, 'Shout' by Dagoberto Gilb and 'A Temporary Matter' by Jhumpa Lahiri, will be used to bring out the comparison and contrast of the gender roles and conflict as presented by the authors.

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In 'Shout', author Dagoberto Gilb makes the use of his characters to portray the stereotypical gender roles in the society. The apt character used to reveal the conflict between the two genders and their distinct roles as expected by the society is the husband. The husband is portrayed as a hardworking man who goes out in the morning and comes back in the evening to toil for his family. He is depicted as the breadwinner, a role prescribed to him by the society and his Hispanic culture (Gilb and Rodriguez). As a man, he comes back in the evening and takes a strategic place from where he watches the television expecting minimal disturbance. The children disturb him and he scolds them with their mother intervening, only to be scolded as well. It shows a macho man exerting his male dominance over his wife and family.

In comparing the text to Jhumpa Lahiri's 'A Temporary Matter', the attentive reader cannot help but notice that there are gender roles assigned to the characters used by the author in the story. However, unlike in 'Shout', author Lahiri reverses the gender roles as it is the woman in the conservative Indian community who is assigned the male duties (Dhingra and Cheung). Shoba, as per the name of her character, is the working partner in the marriage with her husband, Shukumar. She goes out in the morning, sometimes leaving him asleep, only to come back in the evening and continue with the editing work that she brings home. The main similarity is that, like the husband in 'Shout', Shoba sits in front of the television in the evening after her day at work. She is the breadwinner and enjoys the financial independence expected of men in this macho society.

The wife of the husband in 'Shout' seems content with the assignment of her place as the kitchen since she is a woman. She stays at home while her husband goes to fend for the family. She executes homely duties that include cleaning, cooking, and washing dishes. She is the one in charge of taking care of the children when the husband is not around during the day. Her place in the society is beneath that leading position of her husband as she can only play the supporting role. This is the reason that she is not expected to retort back when her husband shouts at her trying to intervene on behalf of the children. It is also evident that part of her duties is making babies for her husband whose only worry is to feed the family and nothing else.

Although the same feminine roles are present in 'A Temporal Matter', the author has managed to twist the roles and assigned them to the husband, Shukumar. Until the recent death of their newborn child, Shukumar was the busiest of the two partners but he is confined at home where he is writing his dissertation. This happens on a daily basis where his wife leaves for work and spends the entire day in her editing job. She comes back home in the evening to find Shukumar has prepared meals for the two of them that they can share together or eat separately. He stays at home as the househusband while she is the breadwinner. His secondary status in the marriage is confirmed by her imminent relocation into a new house yet he depends on her.

There are various literary devices that the two authors employ in showing the different gender roles in their respective books. The story 'Shout' uses symbols in showing the gender roles between the characters. Two main symbols that the author utilizes in the story are the lock and the hard hat. The hard hat is used to show the masculinity of the man in which he needs a protective wear whenever he is outside to shield himself from the sun. It forms part of the rugged wear that the husband dons in his daily breadwinning activities, together with the sweaty clothing. There is also the lock that locks the man out of his home, away from his wife and his matrimonial bed. It shows the importance of the man having a place to coil back to when he is done with the days' struggles.

In 'A Temporary Matter', the author fuses the impending blackout as a symbolic gesture that brings out the underlying roles of the quarreling couple to the surface. The couple decides to play a game that entails telling each other all the secrets that they ave kept away from each other. They are helped by the darkness to be as honest as possible due to the privacy that the blackout affords them. They also use the cover of dark to reset their reversed roles back into their original settings. This is where both decided to get intimate and make love during the 5-day blackout, showing the importance of the blackout in bringing them back together. However, this blackout is double-edged in that at the end of the blackout period as announced by the power company, the husband sadly finds out that the wife is ready to move out into her own house. This shows the dependence of the husband and the financial independence of the wife.

The title of the story 'Shout' i also suggestive of the automatic gender roles that the characters will be assigned in the text. The title suggests a dominant male that is at liberty to bellow all they want towards their wife or children without expecting any repercussions. He can shout to his children and when his wife tries to intervene, he shouts back at her for wondering why she is shouting at him. It creates the perspective that it is only him who should shout. They have a rocky marriage that has made unbearable for the wife due to the extensive chores that she has to do, especially looking after the children. The husband does not think these are important responsibilities that are tedious and time-consuming. The children make it complicated for her to leave the abusive marriage.

This is in stark contrast to the 'A Temporal Matter' couple, in which Shoba is not dependent on Shukumar at all as she makes her own money from working. In fact, it is her househusband who requires her financial support due to his stay-at-home status (Prasad). The title suggests a marriage that is on the wane with both parties seem ready to quit because they cannot stand each other. The matter is further complicated by the fact that they lost their newborn baby, an act of nature that frees them from any obligation or responsibility towards each other, thus they have the luxury to divorce and lead their lives separately. That is why the wife has already found a new place to which she plans to move and leave her husband whom they do not agree on various issues of late.

As can be seen from the intertextuality discourse, there is no denying the similarity of themes or broad message portrayed by the authors in both of these texts. The essay revolves around the theme of gender roles and their stereotypical expectations in the society, or in the case of the story, the conflicting aspects brought about by the reversal of these gender roles. The essay has explored the key characters and literary devices that both the authors have used in bringing out the gender issues contained in their respective literature stories.

Works Cited

Dhingra, Lavina, and Floyd Cheung. Naming Jhumpa Lahiri: Canons and Controversies. Lanham, Md: Lexington Books, 2012. Internet resource.

Gilb, Dagoberto, and Artemio Rodriguez. Woodcuts of Women. New York, NY: Grove Press, 2001. Print.

Prasad, Amar N. New Lights on Indian Women Novelists in English. New Delhi: Sarup & Sons, 2003. Print.

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Free Essay: Intertextuality Between Dagoberto Gilb's Shout and Jhumpa Lahiri's A Temporary Matter. (2022, May 22). Retrieved from https://speedypaper.com/essays/intertextuality-between-dagoberto-gilbs-shout-and-jhumpa-lahiris-a-temporary-matter

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