Patriarchy, one of the most powerful systems of oppression establish a center-periphery paradigm by dictating that men hold the power and women are largely excluded from any access to this power. Theorist Emmanuel Wallerstein describes the systematic relationship between the powerful and the powerless and demonstrates how the dynamics of this power operates. The periphery represents the weakest and most disadvantaged area of the three. The center-periphery paradigm is a model for all systems of oppression and its modus operandi of creating a difference is clearly visible in the oppression of women by men. The play writer, Sophie Treadwell, highlights this center-periphery paradigm through the relationships that the artist figure and other characters establish, specifically the male character, Mr.Jones. This center-periphery paradigm reveals itself in three different areas of the play. These areas are at the young woman’s workplace, in her home, and in her marriage. However, Treadwell presents the young woman as one who rejects this system by refusing to accept these social constructions that dictated how she was to behave as a woman.
This center-periphery paradigm reveals itself in three different areas of the play. These areas are at the young woman’s workplace, in her home, and in her marriage. However, Treadwell presents the Young Woman as one who rejects this system by refusing to accept these social constructions that dictate how she is expected to conduct herself as a woman.
Treadwell highlights this paradigm in the first area of the young woman’s life, her job which does not give her any fulfillment. This paradigm unfolds when the Young Woman does not do what she is expected to do, be on time for work. She explains that she had to escape the airless crowd of the subway to get some fresh air. All of the characters laugh because her response is seen as absurd because she deviates from the normal behavior that is expected to be displayed by an employee. One is expected to be on time, and for the Young Woman, she deconstructs this paradigm by changing the rules which dictate that men are in control. Although most women in the play accept the traditional conventions that dictate that marriage is essential for security, The Young Woman rejects her boss’s proposal
Another area Treadwell highlights how The Young Women deconstructs this center-periphery paradigm is through her refusal of Mr.Jone’s marriage proposal. Although most women in the play accept the traditional conventions that dictate that marriage is essential for security, The Young Woman rejects her boss’s proposal by pulling away when he rests his hands on her shoulder. Being the woman, The Young Woman is expected to automatically accept the proposal and all that comes along with a marriage, which are babies, exhaustion, house chores, and other types of domestic work.
The most crucial area of The Young Woman’s life, her relationship with her mother reveals how this center-periphery paradigm operates to control all of the character’s lives and their logic to certain things. Her mother, another typical female, expects her to marry the boss because he is the Vice President and her future will be “secured”. The second episode reveals the unsatisfying relationship that The Young Woman has with her mother, a nag who accepts the traditional status quo that love is not necessary, but to be taken care of by a man is one important reason for getting married. Again, The Young Woman deconstructs this paradigm that dictates that a woman should get married to gain a sense of security in the arms of a man, but, rather one should marry for love. Her mother, depicts this traditional view when she states ” He’s a President, of course, he’s decent ( 591).
The honeymoon, the most obvious depiction of this center-periphery paradigm is highlighted in a number of instances throughout the play. Her husband, Mr.Jones questions her about her display of comfort in the room with him. He often questions her and demonstrates his power and control by suggesting that she does a number of things although he knows that she prefers to do things her way. He asks her ” Aren’t you going to take your hat off – stay a while? This is all right, isn’t it? Huh ? Huh (593)? Her reply is somewhat nonchalant and uninterested as she says to him in a very brief manner ” It’s very nice” ( 593). As a man, Mr.Jone exercises his authority by constantly questioning her actions and behavior because it is not expected that a woman would act in such a stand-offish way to her husband. Again, when Mr.Jones asked her what was under her clothing she responded in a strange way with ” Nothing”. This suggests that although women were expected to be the least powerful person within a marriage, The Young Woman rejects this stereotype by answering him back with smart remarks. The man, the most “powerful” figure becomes powerless by the way to which she responds. Treader reveals this deconstruction through The Young Woman’s defiance to do whatever he asks of her.