Questions about Gender Roles in Bones

David Washburn (English 27, Postcolonial Studies, Brown University, 1997)

p>9. Gender roles play a very large role in Bones. Marita serves as Janifa's mentor and confidant. She is someone who Janifa relies upon a great deal. Through her discussions with Janifa, she shows her strong feelings on the subject of male-female relations.

"Men will kill their own mothers if they stop them from satisfying the desires of their things... Men are like children, my mother used to say. They rule everything, like children. Do they not say children are like kings? You let them play with fire, but you always keep looking... This is what we do all the time. Look and watch over them... [Men] look at their things erect in front of them and think they are kings. They do not know that it is just desire shooting out of them, nothing else. So child, you do what you can with the weaknesses of men, but do not let them play around with your body. It is your last property, you will die with it." (27-38)

Marita is shown in a very heroic light, but do you feel this is a healthy way of thinking about male-female relationships? Is she simply trying to protect Janifa? Do you feel that she is overly critical? Does it make a difference that the author is a man? What effect do you think colonization and interaction with Manyepo had on the male-female relationships in the stories? Would Marita have felt the same way about men before she and they had to work on the white men's farms, or is this an age-old problem?

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