Is mysoginism the main theme?

Use this forum to discuss the October Book of the Month "McDowell" by William H. Coles.
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A_Wolfe
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Re: Is mysoginism the main theme?

Post by A_Wolfe » 30 Oct 2018, 14:08

There are truly a great number of examples where McDowell is prejudicial and misogynistic, although I find that the experiences in the book that reflect that are under much bigger umbrellas. The actual psychology beneath many of the character's biases doesn't find its roots in this book often, but the atoning of these events does offer up equally important ideas like reconciliation and self-truth. I like some of the points made here as to the examples of Hiram's daughters, and even his prejudice with the press and examples later on in the book. Interesting stuff.

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Post by Sahar Majid » 31 Oct 2018, 12:29

I definitely think it was a theme and there was a mix of characters; some who put up with it and some who fight it. The writing style also reflects this when talking from McDowell's perspective. It a subtle theme though, not as evident as the others.

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Post by A G Darr » 31 Oct 2018, 18:03

gen_g wrote:
01 Oct 2018, 23:03
Eva Darrington wrote:
01 Oct 2018, 23:00
I am noticing some misogyny, both in the characters and the narration. Part of misogyny is a hyper-focus on women's body sizes and physical appearances. The author writes about three women in a row, and comments on their weight and appearances. Carole was "flabby now" and wasn't exercising; "Tasha teetered on the cusp of overweight with legs like ice cream cones," then he wonders if she would "splat" another cheerleader; And of Sheryl, "He didn't like the size of her nose with dark deep wells for nostrils. She was a little overweight...." This is just the first few pages of Chapter 1.
This type of writing honestly puts me off - and in Chapter 1, no less! It's definitely obvious that the narrator/author sees women as objects, and that's rather gross.
I hope you did not stop reading the book because of Chapter 1! I was also very put off by the actions of Hiram McDowell, and I had similar judgement about the author. But, as you go through the book,Hiram does start to change. Not right away, but he does change. I think that William H. Cole was attempting to create the vision of a man very much enamored with himself. Hiram seemed to feel that everything good in his life flowed from him, and anything negative that happened was due to other people trying to hurt him. He never took into account the way he treated others caused them to work against him. William H. Cole is a fantastic writer. He can lead you into the darkest parts of a characters mind so that you can watch that character claw and bite their way into the light.

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Post by gen_g » 31 Oct 2018, 20:37

A G Darr wrote:
31 Oct 2018, 18:03
gen_g wrote:
01 Oct 2018, 23:03
Eva Darrington wrote:
01 Oct 2018, 23:00
I am noticing some misogyny, both in the characters and the narration. Part of misogyny is a hyper-focus on women's body sizes and physical appearances. The author writes about three women in a row, and comments on their weight and appearances. Carole was "flabby now" and wasn't exercising; "Tasha teetered on the cusp of overweight with legs like ice cream cones," then he wonders if she would "splat" another cheerleader; And of Sheryl, "He didn't like the size of her nose with dark deep wells for nostrils. She was a little overweight...." This is just the first few pages of Chapter 1.
This type of writing honestly puts me off - and in Chapter 1, no less! It's definitely obvious that the narrator/author sees women as objects, and that's rather gross.
I hope you did not stop reading the book because of Chapter 1! I was also very put off by the actions of Hiram McDowell, and I had similar judgement about the author. But, as you go through the book,Hiram does start to change. Not right away, but he does change. I think that William H. Cole was attempting to create the vision of a man very much enamored with himself. Hiram seemed to feel that everything good in his life flowed from him, and anything negative that happened was due to other people trying to hurt him. He never took into account the way he treated others caused them to work against him. William H. Cole is a fantastic writer. He can lead you into the darkest parts of a characters mind so that you can watch that character claw and bite their way into the light.
That’s lovely to hear! Especially if Hiram gets a redemption arc, which to me is the sign of character development, something which makes a character much more relatable. (:

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Post by ShailaSheshadri » 02 Nov 2018, 03:04

I don't think mysoginism is the theme of this novel. This is a fiction, and the author has created the characters, maybe by seeing the people in society. It is true that McDowell married many times, and he maintained a few other sexual relationships. He is portrayed as a complex personality. There are many prominent female characters in the novel. The author must have included a good number of female characters to attract readers! We can see McDowell helping and guiding many women. He respected Rima, Sophie, and many of his female acquaintances.

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Post by jibby9 » 14 Nov 2018, 16:47

This book dredges up the common themes and appearances of modern-day misogyny without ever fully addressing them. I think that's part of the intended impact--you see the injustice, the mistreatment, the awfulness of what these women go through but there's never really a resolution or full acknowledgment of these truths, just like in society.

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Post by Shrabastee » 07 Dec 2018, 00:33

I wouldn't go as far to say misogynism is the theme, but it is too prevalent in the book for my choice. I can not honestly say I liked the portrayal of women in McDowell. Most of them seemed insecure, weak and sometimes overly clingy. Was this a concious choice on the author's part? Or did he just wanted to show the readers the plight of women-be it in a high-flying society in America or a rural area of Nepal? However, with the protagonist so demeaning towards women, I am not sure what message the readers will glean from this.

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Post by Ekta Kumari » 08 Dec 2018, 09:12

It definitely portrays the present state of our society, but I don't think the theme of the novel is just mysoginism; I thought the author was very much successful in portraying the present state of human behaviour and the degradation in the character of individuals just for their own survival. But it definitely has undertones of mysoginism too. Great question.
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Post by MalMartin » 10 Dec 2018, 01:03

I noticed a lot of misogyny in his writing. It kind of shocked me at first. I usually see this kind of writing in classics, not in a modern day novel. However, I am kinda glad he did this because a lot of women still deal with this today. Even so, I am not sure if the author is like that himself. It did make me want to stop reading the book because I don't want to support misogyny.

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Post by Shalu1707 » 10 Dec 2018, 10:51

Misogynism exists in the book, but it was not the main theme. It was subdued to a side track by potrayal of Hiram's larger than life ambitions. Just like present world where misogyny still exists but is not the main problem in society. It is subdued by the Patriarchal practices that exists in daily life.

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Post by KRay93 » 18 Dec 2018, 08:53

While misogyny is present both in the book and in the character of McDowell, I believe that selfishness and narcissism would constitute the main themes around which this story revolves, something explicit from the very beginning with the situation in the mountains. As for the descriptions of the women, most are made from Hiram's point of view, which is a reflection of his personality. Of course, if this is related to the author itself and his personality, that is already a matter of speculation...

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