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The transition of how women are perceived from the 20th century to then, post-modern times is differential and quite arguably, dramatic. In both ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ and ‘Catcher In The Rye’ there is a significant pattern of subversion against stereotypes, specifically women. More specifically, this is shown through the contrast of both female protagonists in ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’, (Blanche and Stella Dubois), where Blanche depicts herself as a ‘Southern Belle’ whereas her sister, Blanche is shown as a more modern woman. In ‘The Catcher In The Rye’ there appears to be a lack of detailed analysis of female characters, however, it is shown that female characters such as Jane Gallagher are seen as idyllic from the male perspective of Holden’s character, suggesting she has stereotypically feminine traits such as fragility and desirability.

In Tennessee Williams ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ the character of Stella juxtaposes the expectations of a woman in the 20th Century to an extent. During a brief disagreement with her husband, Stella portrays a sense of dominance for example, ‘This is my house and I’ll talk as much as I want to’. The possessive noun ‘my’ may have connotations of independence and quite arguably superiority that Stella withholds in her marriage with Stanley. It also shows a lack of fear as it is evident that Stella can defend her case against her husband. ‘My’ may also show that Stella is subverting gender roles by possessing their belongings which could be the reason why she The phrase ‘as much as I want to’ implies a sense of freedom and that she is aware of her rights within her marriage. This phrase could also show that Stella is adapting to the era that she is in, where women acknowledge the importance of gender equality and social reconstruction. A Streetcar Named Desire is set in the year 1947 which is the post-suffragette movement and the Second World War. During The Second World War, women obtained a sense of liberation as they were able to maintain male-dominated professions, for example, the production of ammunition in factories. It is possible that these events influenced Williams’ writing to show how women’s mindsets and submissive aspects began to change. To a modern audience, this behavior from Stella towards her husband is seen as the norm and is respectable. This is due to the changing attitudes and values within society and the difference in how much freedom women now have in the 21st Century. However to a 20th-century audience, this may not be the case, this is because women were expected to be submissive to their male counterparts, especially to their husbands. Although the character of Stella may be distorted by the expectations of women of her time, we still see a sense of struggle and tolerance towards her husband. As a spectator, it comes to attention that Stella is still a ‘stay-at-home- wife; and carries out the typical domestic duties such as cooking and cleaning. Critic Yang Zhao progresses to describe Stella as a ‘tragic heroine’ due to Stella seems to be glorifying her and Stanley’s wildly intimate relationship over the fact that he verbally and physically abuses her. Women like Stella knew how reality worked, while in an abusive relationship, it was wiser to just tolerate it rather than escape it. Stella’s biggest sexual ‘turn-on’ was when Stanley was the most violent with her. For example, they look and rush at each other with ‘animal moans’ not long after the stage directions imply that there are signs of beating her off-stage after Stella ‘yells’ at him. As a reader, it raises the question of did Stella finds Stanley’s violent behavior seductive. Or was it the fact that she had become desensitized to the danger he constantly put on her life?

In Salinger’s ‘Catcher In The Rye,” we learn about the character ‘Jane mainly through the male eye. Similar to the character of Stella in ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’, in Sallinger’s ‘The Catcher In The Rye’ we see a sense of innocence but sexual desire through the character of Jane Gallagher. According to Carl F. Strauch of Lehigh University, basing his analysis on Jane’s views on sex with Holden he said that, ‘Jane’s reluctance to put her kings into play is not merely an expression of her desire to remain sexually innocent!’ [2]. The fact that Jane doesn’t play her kings could potentially reflect the power that she withholds over her sexual desires. We also learn that it is not her playing strategy, she finds it ‘cute’ which creates a sense of teasing and seductivity. From Holden Caulfield’s perspective, it is evident that Jane appears to be a somewhat desirable female. This is particularly interesting as Holden describes himself as a ‘sex maniac’ and treats many females with little to no respect at all. Even though Holden likes the idea of having access to females, he is still attracted to his close and preserved friend Jane. It could be argued that Jane would be considered as an idyllic female of the 1950s and the typical ‘perfect woman’ as she obtains purity and innocence. A close observation of Jane’s character is given by Holden where he says ‘She was a funny girl, old Jane. I wouldn’t exactly describe her as strictly beautiful. She knocked me out, though.’ To a modern reader, this may be a relatable and shared thought on views in a relationship, where looks are not as important as personality. However, we learn that Holden has a hard time expressing his emotions toward Jane, as a ‘typical’ male of the time should be strong and show little towards no emotion at all. Jane’s character represents the minority of females who are respected by men but only by living up to their unrealistic expectations of women such as obedience and fragility.

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Furthermore in A Streetcar Named Desire southern Belle Blanche represents a typical woman of the 1940s, dependent and fragile. During a disagreement with her sister Stella, Blanche blames the loss of ‘Belle Reve’, (a prestigious plantation home), on the fact that she paid for the costs of family members’ deaths but disregards the fact that she had no money and not having a job. She then says to Stella ‘Sit there and stare at me, thinking I let the place go? I let the place go? Where were you? In bed with your Polack!’. This is a typical Southern ideal, the idea of restricting sexual liberation, especially against women. Blanche’s way of belittling Stella by shaming her sexual desires raises some concerns, especially for a postmodern audience. This is because, in the 21st century, women have more freedom sexually and are less likely to be judged. This expression can also show Blanche’s impotence and weakness as she cannot come to terms with the consequences of reality and deflects her problems. Although this quote may seem that Blanche is sexually innocent we learn that she lost her teaching job towards the beginning of the play after having an affair with a seventeen-year-old student. Blanche also lies about her age to Mitch whom she meets later in the play to make herself appear younger. Blanche’s

hamartia is her age. Indefinitely, Blanche associates herself with youth as she thinks it makes her more attractive and it aligns with the idea of beauty. Possibly, Tennessee Williams used the character of Blanche to represent the desperate measures that women would take, to not be lonely. This idea is further supported by critic Samuel Tapp who states, ‘Blanche Dubois is a victim of the mythology of a Southern Belle’.

The character of Sally Hayes In A Catcher In The Rye is described as a ‘royal pain’ by Holden for simply following the ‘rules’ in life. This is evident when Holden explains his fantasy of them running away together and living in a small wood cabin and she replies with, ‘You can’t just do something like that’. It could be argued that her lack of deviance is due to her social upbringing or because of her fulfilling female stereotypes of obedience. Although Holden tells her he loves her, she appears to be everything he hates. For example, he calls her, ‘the queen of phonies’. One reason for this is because she likes to boast about her experiences such as the plays she saw. The noun ‘queen’ has connotations of royalty and power whereas the collective ‘phonies’ suggests artificial behavior. The juxtaposition of the two nouns could show that the love Holden has for Sally may be real, but she is everything that he hates. It seems that Holden does not enjoy conversing with Sally but uses her for his desires such as being seen with her for image and ‘making out’. This enforces the idea of women being sexualized for male pleasure which is arguably a shared experience in both the 20th and 21st centuries so it is likely that readers from both centuries would be able to comprehend. From a feminist perspective, this may become problematic as Sally is objectified by Holden which is commonly seen as the norm on a global scale.

In conclusion, the contrast between female and male perspectives of women from both A Streetcar Named Desire and The Catcher raises concerns for the readers and audience. Quite evidently women face hegemonic femininity. There is a clear pattern that all female characters are expected to live up to their male counterparts’ expectations which could lead to their downfall or impact their behavior and mindset negatively which is arguably shown thoroughly through the character of Blanche. For example, Although women’s rights and sexual liberation have evolved since the 20th century it is difficult to determine what a ‘perfect’ woman is, especially living in a patriarchal society.

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