Raymond Carver and Kate Chopin - Comparison and Contrast Essay - Love in Western Literature ENGL 202-03 Literary Essay Marriage Sexuality and Gender

Raymond Carver and Kate Chopin - Comparison and Contrast Essay

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Love in Western Literature ENGL 202-03 Literary Essay Marriage, Sexuality, and Gender Roles in the Works of Raymond Carver and Kate Chopin Raymond Carver and Kate Chopin are two of the most influential American writers of the last couple centuries; however, their style and tone could not be more dissimilar to one another. As Raymond Carver was the quintessential literary-minimalist writer who exposed the daily hardships of the working class, Kate Chopin ’s style was more descriptive and vividly emotional as she spoke through the minds of middle-class mothers and wives of Victorian society in the late 1800s and early 1900s. As Chopin wrote characters with internal dialogue and spiritual reflection, Carver allowed the reader to interpret his characters’ feelings through simple dialogue and action. But the core idea that connects Carver and Chopin to each other is the lack of freedom in love that they express through their characters’ unhappiness in life. Both explain hardships in marriage, both express the sensitivity of intercourse, and both expose the use of sexual stereotypes in a relationship, but both do so with gender-selective expertise. Raymond Carver’s masculine, disturbing, grungy style can be traced back t o his young family incidents and early writing days during his first marriage. He was born on May 25, 1938 as a son of lower-class parents in Clatskanie, Oregon and spent most of his childhood in Washington (“Carver, Raymond”). Many of Carver’s works tend to reflect the working class of America, and how struggling blue-collar adults handle the difficulties brought on to them by outside, unbinding forces. His male characters tend to share identical traits to one another being the main source of income in the family, having family and marriage tension, practicing a drinking addiction, showing overall discontent in life, and etcetera. Carver acknowledged his father as having drinking problems at an early age, which he himself exemplified in the mid-
1970s as he was hospitalized for four grave, alcohol- related occurrences (“Carver, Raymond”). At an interview in the 1980s, during the time his writings were seen as less literary-minimalist than his of the 1970s, Carver reflected about basing his emotions in an essay towards his father, “…I see what you're saying. I had touched on something in a very close way in regard to my father when I wrote that essay, which I wrote very quickly and which seemed to come to me very directly…In that instance I could go back and touch some ‘source material’ from my early life, but that life exists for me as through a scrim of rain” ( Mississippi Review , 244). Much of Carver’s influence for writing came from his alcohol -addicted father, but he even ended up following in his father’ s footsteps while in his first marriage with Maryann Burk. Carver was married by age nineteen, and by the age of twenty- one he already had two children (“Carver, Raymond”). Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia writes about Carver, “ Carver's early

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