Herland | Study Guide

Charlotte Perkins Gilman

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Chapter 9: Our Relations and Theirs

Course Hero Literature Instructor Russell Jaffe provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Chapter 9: Our Relations and Theirs from Charlotte Perkins Gilman's novel Herland.

Herland | Chapter 9 : Our Relations and Theirs | Summary



This chapter is about education in Herland. It begins by addressing more of the differences between the country and the men's country, the idea of a singular home, and the lack of vices (and Terry's struggle with that). Van's own issues with the things he finds unsatisfying lead him to seek out Somel for answers. She explains, at length, how education functions in their country. Again, he compares it to the world he has known and finds this country superior. He realizes as he learns of the women's very immersive approach to education that it is a system that educates while being pleasurable—a concept he finds hard to comprehend. He defines it as "education for citizenship."


Here, again, the reader sees Gilman's philosophies as foundational to understanding the novel. In this case the focus is on education. Her holistic approach to education is a logical outgrowth of being raised in a family of intellectuals. Gilman, as with many of the topics covered in Herland, uses this opportunity to expand on what she thinks education should do and how it should be structured.

Like Jane Addams, who founded Hull House where the author stayed briefly when she was traveling and lecturing (after her divorce), Gilman thought education was vital to democracy. She believed that women needed access to higher education and critical thinking. Considering Gilman's educational theories—that women ought to be receiving a better quality of education, and that education was about the society, not the individual—it is not surprising to see such a lengthy discussion of those ideas in Herland.
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