If as women began to enter the

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If men are not around what are women to do?World War II marked a
significant turn for women in society as women began to enter the workforce
in large numbers, filling and expanding the void left by the many men who
went to fight in Europe’s epic world war. Eudora Welty’s short story,
“Petrified Man,” contradicts the typical thought surrounding the gender
roles and the social norms of Southern Americans. In the story women are
the controllers of the household, and men are weak inactive figures, as
they do nothing. Leota and Mrs. Pike, two strong female characters in
“Petrified Man” have steady jobs and are the economic supporters of the
family, while Fred and Mr. Pike are unemployed and live at home. Although
Mr. Fletcher is employed, he takes a subordinate role in his marriage as
Mrs. Fletcher takes the reins and does as she pleases. The Petrified Man is
even an inactive figure, hiding from the police and acting as if he is a
man that is made of stone. Through the actions and traits of the female and
male characters in “Petrified Man” gender role reversal becomes a prevalent
and meaningful theme of the short story.
World War II started in 1939 and during this time most able-bodied
men went off to Europe to fight, leaving the women to do the work outside
the home. Women therefore became both domestic keepers and often the
financial provider of the family. Around this time, women’s rights were
becoming more accepted as they were allowed to vote, own property and had
many civic liberties of their own (Carter 1). In the “Petrified Man,” Welty
describes the gender role reversal through the characters of Leota and Mrs.
Pike, “He don’t wanna go, but I ain’t gonna put up with nothin’ like that.
Lays around the house an’ bulls-did bulls-with that good-for nothin’ like
Mr. Pike. He says if he goes who’ll cook, but I says I never get to eat
anyway.” It is the men, Mr. Pike and Fred, who are a…

Categories: Workforce


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