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Marquez’s “Erendira and Her Heartless Grandmother” is a quite fascinating and, at the same time, confusing novella. A 14-year old girl, who is the protagonist of the story, has accidentally set the mansion of fire and got bound with her grandmother by a contract to pay back by prostitution for this damage. The situation in general together with the emotions it represents and evokes among the readers is quite complicated and shocking. Therefore, the life story of the main heroine and the cruel attitude of her grandmother towards her have been interpreted in different ways by various critics. However, the motive of the gender exploitation cannot be neglected by any means, especially form the feministic point of view (Dandekar, 1995). Such unfair treatment of the female character is depicted as hyperbolic in almost all spheres of life, including family, church, commerce and politics. The exaggeration of the exploitation is used to strike the readers more and make them reflect deeply on how painful the injustice towards close people and, especially, females with their high emotionality level can be.
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To begin with, one should pay attention to the fact that the family relations represented by Marquez are astonishing and even shocking. It is not an accident that, in his essay, Hancock (1978) calls this work “a parody to melodrama”. The family relation become the parody on the generally accepted norms of morality; “The wind of her misfortune” for a young girl began to blow from the side of the close family member, her grandmother (Marquez, 1972). Erendira has become a prostitute and suffered the injustice that originated from a woman that was supposed to love and care about her, instead of exploiting and humiliating. In such a way, the relations in the family are perverted and the moral values are neglected. Keeping control of her own dignity, the grandmother “protected herself from the sun” and all the other things while not taking any concern about the bigger threats that exist over the life of her granddaughter, instead these “threats” were created by her (Marquez, 1972). In addition, the protection of the grandmother together with taking care of her hair, body, bathing her and all the other things of the personal hygiene for account of Erendira’s efforts, that were not awarded neither by money nor by any familial attention. Therefore, the central idea of novella is loneliness of each person. Grandmother, on her example, shows that every man is for himself and has to defend only the personal interests. The unimportance of the family can be followed through the contrast to the mercantile ones. The grandmother is bound with her granddaughter by means of a contract. The means that are used to get the money were of no importance, while the profit is considered by a “heartless grandmother” as the main life priority (Marquez, 1972). As Marques marked out, the grandmother “went back over her calculations with her eyes closed” and corrected all the bigger and minor expenses (Marquez, 1972). Therefore, she took the so-called bargain with her granddaughter as a serious business. These hyperbolic representations of the shocking attitude of the grandmother towards Erendira that put the commerce as more important than morality, money more valuable than feelings, create the contrasts between the things that really matter and those that embrace the modern to Marques society.
The novella can be regarded as the reflection of the political ideas. Erendira founded herself “under the spell that had dominated her since birth”, she felt this dependency quite well, as it influenced all of her actions as desires the same the society and the political structure of the country makes dependent each of its members (Marquez, 1972). Regarding the fact that the bonded Erendira tended to get freedom from day to day, it was “her free, true, and definitive will” to become independent, and the grandmother was not going to set her free, but grew fatter, one can follow the motive of how the governing lets abuse the power and the workforce of the dependent people (Marquez, 1972). At the same time, the pain and humiliation become the things that let young Erendira discover her individuality and meet her love. However, the exploitation and humiliation of a young girl “is accepted by the society” (Guiffrida, 2011). At the same time, the cruel exploiter is the grandmother, who has no redemption from the way of life she leads. With all the details Marques uses to depict the feelings of the main heroine and her sexuality, the behavior of the grandmother is left unchanged and focused on earning money and staying indifferent to any “terror” or “beating on the kidneys” that her granddaughter can suffer (Marquez, 1972). At the same time, not only the family members appear to be not eager to help each other, but the government stays indifferent to the people’s needs. When the heartless grandmother asked for help to get Erendira back after she was taken away by group of missionaries, the government has not helped her. Although they were not aware of the exploitation to which Erendira was subjected, the attempts of the grandmother to find her daughter were neglected. Therefore, the family issues were not regarded as important not only by the general public but the authorities as well; and such beliefs can be regarded as generally perverted by all society members. At the same time, the theme of the church values in the society is also depicted as anomalous. Grandmother is depicted as a “noble lady” from the point of view of the church, as she visits it regularly (Marquez, 1972). In such a way, the emphasis on the relativity of the church morality and indifference of people can be observed. Consequently, the church and the society authorities are depicted as not any different from the cruel grandmother, but those who taught her to be such.
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