Today,most body of literature depicts women in a positive manner unlike inthe past when most writings demonstrated women as inferior to men inall constructive things. However, the difficulty in achieving a morefeminist-based perception of women lies in the subtlety of setsystems and yardsticks, which leaves women to advance their status.In this regards, most writers have especially women writers haveassumed the male inkling of the feminine thus, created womencharacters shaped by the suggested idea. However, some women writershave managed to depart from this perception and repudiated topropagate the sexist mythoi that prevail in societies. For example,Nicole Cullen in the “Long Tom Lookout” depicts women asaggressive, ambitious, resolute, meticulous, and capable ofinculcating the best of both worlds. Cullen depicts a woman lookingfor a wayward husband and after failing to find him takes his car anda five-year-old boy. Cullen manages to focus on the woman, Lauren, asshe tries to understand the autistic child, as well as thedissolution of her matrimony. On the other hand, Ariel Levy in thestory “Thanksgiving in Mongolia” demonstrates the relentlessnature of women as they deal with heartbreak and adventure. However,the story breaks to the surface more than a yearn for adventure as italso tries to focus on the loss of a child. Levy shares theexperience of a pregnancy as well as the miscarriage and sorrow thatfollow the pregnancy thus, provides a travelogue, grief account, andbiography. As such, the story depicts women as relentless,determined, victim of cultural innuendoes and perceptions, andbearing the closest connection with children. Both stories depictwomen as caring, determined, ambitious, but also suffering fromcultural and social innuendoes. In this regards, the discourse willreveal how the two stories depict women or say about women as well asassesses the characters that define these women.
“Long Tom Lookout” revolves around Lauren, a woman who suddenlygets guardianship of her husband’s illegitimate child. The boy hasautism-spectrum symptoms. Nicole Cullen, the author, is a well-knownfictional literature writer. Her short stories are important forteaching issues about the contemporary society, especially from theas aspect of women and children. In this story, a woman called Laurenis looking for her errant husband, with whom she separated sometimeback. Regardless of her efforts to trace him, all is in vain. Out offrustration, she decides to steal his truck. Along with the truck,Lauren picks up a five-year-old boy whom her husband had with a drugaddict, currently in jail. It is after a while that she realizes thatthe child has symptoms of autism, and barely speaks. The boy also hasa bizarre fascination with maps, which he keeps staring at all along.She drives the pick-up truck along with the boy from New Orleans toIdaho. At Idaho, Lauren secures a job at a remote site for a firecompany. The story is about the relationship that develops betweenLauren and the child, along with her efforts to accept them both as afamily. This happens as Lauren tries to come into reality with thedissolution of her marriage with her now estranged husband. Theweight of the story is what is implied but not stated by the author.In this story, there are two women whose actions inform us aboutwomen today. The first woman is the autistic child’s mother whilethe second woman is the Lauren.
Theautistic child’s mother’s drug addiction is an example of howmany women in the present day society are irresponsible and careless.In the modern society, there are thousands of children who have beenabandoned by single mothers, mainly because of drugs. Given that thechild is autistic, leaving him alone without parental care wouldworsen the situation. This societal issue has created debate amongstthe lawmakers, since the number of single mothers who are beinglocked up every day because of drug abuse is rising significantly. In2014, the State of Tennessee resurrected a law that aimed to addressdrug abuse by pregnant women, by pressing charges against new momswith crimes (Sakuma 1). The bill was signed into law to allow chargesto be brought against new mothers. According to the law, the motherswould be charged if her infant’s “addiction or harm is a resultof her illegal use of a narcotic drug taken while pregnant” (Sakuma1). The boy’s autistic condition can, of course, be because of hermother’s drug abuse. In the past, such kinds of laws were not inplace. However, the rising cases of irresponsibility because of drugabuse have necessitated the creation of such laws to help bring thesituation under control. The story’s main character, Lauren, thewoman looking for her husband, is used to portray motherliness andresponsibility. Through her actions, the reader is informed thatthere are indeed women today who have the sense of care. When Laurenis driving to Idaho, her attention is constantly pulled to the boy,who is sitting in the driver’s seat. Regardless of the fact thatthe boy is too small to ride in the front, and that Lauren is tootired to fight, she is conscious about his well-being. The authorsays, “Lauren places her hand on the boy’s back to know he’sbreathing…” (Cullen 1). Through these actions, a sense ofresponsibility and motherhood is portrayed. Despite the fact thatsince they left Texas, she had thought that she could never be thechild’s mother Lauren is worried about his wellbeing. Therelationship between her and the boy is complicated by the fact thathe cannot communicate well, he has a self-destructive behavior and isquite unpredictable. Nevertheless, a number of events later provethat Lauren loves and cares about the child. For instance, when shegrabs the map from him, he bangs his head on the passenger window.Not wanting him to hurt himself, she grabs a helmet and puts it onhim. This is proof that the modern women can still be caring andloving as the women of the old days.
On the other hand, Ariel Levy, is a writer in The New YorkMagazine. Her works have appeared in number of other magazines,such as The Washington Post and The New Yorker. Her writings are ofliterary value, and through them, The Advocate (Levy 1) hasrecognized her as one of the most influential individuals.Additionally, her work is important as it touches on issuesregarding American drug use, gender, culture and modern feminism. Inthe story “Thanksgiving in Mongolia,” Levy shares herexperience of pregnancy, her miscarriage and the sorrow that followsit. The story is partly a travelogue, partly a memoir and partly asorrowful narrative. It starts with opening memories of herchildhood, pregnancy and the sorrowful ending marked by amiscarriage. Levy’s story tells of the modern woman’s struggleswith maternal tragedy. Miscarriage is one of the most sorrowfulthings to happen to any woman, especially those who have been longingto have a child. Within a short period, the woman’s pride can gowith the wind. The tragedy can change the way she lives, interactswith people, how she feels about herself and even worse, cost hermarriage. Levy says, “When I got back from Mongolia, I was so sad Icould barely breathe. On five or six occasions, I ran into motherswho had heard what had happened, and they took one look at me andburst into tears” (Levy 1). These words carry the weight of thefeelings that Levy had. It was even unbearable for her peers, andthey could not easily get to terms with what had happened. To addweight to the mother, Levy says that this occurred once to a man. Byintroducing the feelings of the opposite sex, Levy highlights thedevelopment of the relationship between men and women. Given that theauthor is a renowned feminist, she uses the men’s feelings tosupport her course.
Awayfrom the sad part of the story, Levy describes her childhood and theeffects it has had on her present life. This is a show of thedevelopment of the modern woman as a free and adventurous person, notlimited by the traditional beliefs that their place is at home. Shesays, “I’ve spent the past twenty years putting myself in foreignsurroundings as frequently as possible. There is nothing I love morethan traveling to a place I know nobody, and where everything will bea surprise, and then writing about it” (1). Through these words,Levy asserts that the modern woman is independent and free to theiradventures. Additionally, the element of courage in the modern womanis portrayed by the fact despite the obvious fear that is presentedby traveling, she is ready to take it head on, and is assured ofvictory. Levy asserts that she “gets terrified right beforetravelling”, however, goes ahead to challenge the fear by sayingthat she is “become convinced that this time will be different”,and that despite the fact that she “won’t be able to figure outthe map or communicate with non-English speakers”, she would beable to find her way out (1). Pregnancy is a major theme in thestory. In the modern day world, pregnancy is an issue that carries alot of weight, especially amongst feminists (Woliver 14). Levy saysthat she got pregnant shortly before her thirty-eighth birthday.Having gotten pregnant at such an advanced age, almost beforeentering puberty, shows that the modern day woman is comfortable withsetting the pace of her life. In the past, the women could getpregnant at a quite young age, some from their teenage years, andmost in their twenties. Nevertheless, despite the fact that she gotpregnant at an advanced age, she still appreciated and looked forwardto her role of being a mother. Levy expresses her delight, saying,“It seemed like magic: a little eye of a newt in my caldron andsuddenly I was with the power to brew the life into being” (1).This asserts her position as a proud feminist and a happy mother, asmany modern women do today.
The two stories depict their main characters, who happen to be womenin a positive manner. Cullen depicts Lauren as caring, connective,responsibility, and determined while Levy depicts herself asdetermined, relentless, and a sufferer. In both stories, undergo aseries of adventure and torment from heartbreak, loss of a child, ordisillusioned marriages. As such, the stories depict women aspersistent, single-minded, victim of cultural innuendoes andacuities, and bearing the closest association with children. In fact,both stories depict women as compassionate, ambitious, but alsoanguishing from cultural and social innuendoes or issues that peopleoften regard as trivial such as miscarriages.
Cullen, Nicole. "Long Tom Lookout."Http://idahoreview.org/.Idaho Review, 9 June 2014. Web. 11 Feb. 2015.<http://idahoreview.org/2014/06/long-tom-lookout/>.
Levy, Ariel. "Thanksgiving inMongolia."Http://www.newyorker.com/. New Yorker, 18 Oct.2013. Web. 11 Feb. 2015.<http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2013/11/18/thanksgiving-in-mongolia>.
Levy, Ariel. The New Yorker. n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2015.
Sakuma, Amanda. “Tenn. Passes Law Criminalizing Moms who Used DrugsWhile Pregnant”. MSNBC. Web. 11 Feb. 2015.
Woliver, Laura R. The Political Geographies of Pregnancy.Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2008.