Presentation of the Main Female Protagonists in the “Great Gatsby” and “A Thousand Splendid Suns”


Presentation of the Main Female Protagonists in the “Great Gatsby”and “A Thousand Splendid Suns”

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Presentation of the main female protagonists in the “Great Gatsby”and “A Thousand Splendid Suns”

The excerpt reveals the archaic ways, jealousness, insecurity, andsexist aspects that Tom Buchanan depicts. However, the passage alsoreveals the ways of the female protagonists in the “Great Gatsby.”The passage reveals women as embellished figures of apparentlydelicate beauty, but debutants, socialite, effervescent, andflappers. In fact, the passage demonstrates that women, with theirapparent beauty, have developed into marginalized, yet sexual andartistic human beings with narcissistic, vain, and destructivemanners. Although Tom Buchanan reveals the flapping and promiscuitynature of women during the “Roaring Twenties,” he helps revealthe subordinate roles that women played as well as contemporarysexual and social liberty they enjoyed thus, his assertions that“women run around too much to suit me.” On the other hand, KhaledHosseini’s “A Thousand Splendid Suns,” reveals the tragedies,difficulties, gender-based violence, discrimination, and a barragefrom active life that women encountered (Lam, 2009). In this regards,the novel reveals the role of women in Afghanistan as marginalizedlike in “Great Gatsby” but with a degree of tragedy, isolation,and hardship. In fact, the similarity of women in the two novels endson the effervescence nature of the women the novel reveals women asdetached, but progressive and living in a harsh society that seesthem as objects. In this regards, the discourse will assesses thepassage, “By God, I may be old-fashioned in my ideas, but women runaround too much these days to suit me,” and draws a parallelbetween the suggested novels.

Analysis: Parallels in the two novels

Fitzgerald (1925) acknowledges the emancipation that women have gonethrough i.e. he portrays the new sexual and social liberty that womenrelished through the lives of Myrtle Wilson, Daisy, and JordanBarker. However, he also exposes the old authoritarianism orstereotype that sees women as pretty objects of male desire. Netto(2009) and Will (2005) contend that Tom Buchanan, in the passage,advocates the typecast that subordinates women as sexual objects, butalso rejects the moral inadequacy and indifference that some such asJordan Barker shows. In raising the identity and status of women,Nick asserts, “Dishonesty in a woman is a thing you can never blamedeeply,” (Fitzgerald, 48). As such, the novel shows the hostilityand concomitant perception that men show for women a patronizingcontempt for women. On the other hand, A Thousand Splendid Sunsis set in Afghanistan, when society was under the very harsh andauthoritarian rule of the Taliban (Lam, 2009). The novel defines theroles and behaviour of women through Islamic laws and culturalcustoms. However, the society obligates women to obligate obligatedto comply without resistance, similarly to women in the GreatGatsby, but women still face victimization and men usually viewthem as sex objects. In fact, the society treats women throughsocial considerations and obligations. Mariam, In A Splendid Suns,get wedded at a tender age to an abusive husband, which shows thatmen do not treat women more than sex objects.

A big difference exists between the two novels when it comes tomarginalization, detachment, sex, and isolation. Although menadvocate a typecast perception of women regarding their sexuality,Daisy’s assertions, “Oh, let us have fun,” (p. 95) reveal thatwomen in the novel desire good time, approval, and affairs of heartand caprice. As such, women have developed as beings who desire fundespite the harsh society and the effects of wars. Unlike AThousand Splendid Suns, where women get married at a tender ageor live a manipulative society where only a handful of women enjoysome form of liberty, women in the Great Gatsby contribute toerotic interest in the society and they do not care about socialstatus. Myrtle Wilson has a voluptuous fleshiness, one she emphasizesby wearing tight dresses sharp manners, comic affectations, andruthless vitality. She controls people around her and impresses Nickwith her overt sexuality, which represents a stark difference whencompared to women in Hosseini’s novel. Rasheed insists that Mariamand Laila must wear a burqa when going out, lest he will beat them(Hosseini, 2007). The description shows that while Fitzgerald’swomen express their desires and even confront men, Hosseini’s womenshould appear submissive and unquestioning.

Like Myrtle, Daisy Buchanan is innocent and child-like, yetmanipulative. Fitzgerald often describes her voice as her way ofluring and dominating people. In one instance, Nick’s asserts, “anexcitement in her voice making it difficult to forget.”’ Nickalso describes it as a ‘singing compulsion’, known for drawingsailors in and then consequently losing their lives. She is portrayedalmost as a mythical creature with a siren, luring people in, only tocause harm. During the changes of the Jazz Age, Nick believes womenare ‘as magnetic as they are selfish’ (Will, 2005). She has anartificial happiness, and she takes out her frustration on herhusband Tom by mocking and making immature comments. This is conveyedthrough her provoking Tom after he clearly states his dislike for theword hulking. Daisy provokes him through her incessant use of theword ‘hulking’ after he explicitly states his dislike for theword. This portrays her attention-seeking manner, immature nature,her lack of fulfilment and boredom. Upon Nick’s reunion with hiscousin and first encounter with Jordan Baker, Daisy’s innocence isportrayed through his description of the pair ‘in white, and theirdresses were rippling and fluttering’. By lacking a form ofindependence and affection from her husband, Daisy develops amanipulative way. However, Jordan Baker, unlike Daisy and Myrtlecomes out as a detached, unmarried, financially independent sportswoman, with a nonchalant attitude and a sense of self-importance.However, she is dishonest as we find out when Nick states that she is‘incurably dishonest’, intimating that her golfing success may bea false representation of her talent.

In the Great Gatsby, women exhibit desire for a good time andmaterial possession. For example, Daisy’s fragile beauty requiresprotection and connivance of males to preserve at whatever price toher moral individuality. In fact, in page 41, Fitzgerald (1925) saysthat girls put their heads on males’ shoulders in a convivial andpuppyish manner, which shows that although they are emancipated, theystill depend on men. As such, men institute the world while women actas mistresses or marginalized entities to an unequal society.Likewise, women in A Thousand Splendid Suns, i.e. Mariam and Laila,gets emancipated but they have to deal with political, social, andreligious restrictions forced upon them, before they taste any formof liberty. Although Jordan and Myrtle demonstrate superiority andcontrol, Mariam and Laila demonstrate sobriety and a struggle toemancipate from political, religious, and social restrictions.Women’s independence in the Great Gatsby supports thegrowing perception of the time that women’s behaviors were not‘suiting’ the ‘old-fashioned ideas’ of their malecounterparts and older generations (Netto, 2009). Likewise, theaggression towards women especially in terms of marriage, dress code,schooling, and relation to men, supports the passage, but a lesserdegree of promiscuity and “running around,” as Tom Buchananasserts. Mariam’s mother is an unmarried mother, raising herdaughter Mariam to remain independent from all men and discouragingher close relationship with her father, Jalil. However, herindependence of thought is not at all typical of women of her culture(Lam, 2009). There is no obvious perception that the female role insociety is changing in any way, but she demonstrates the oppressionthat men direct on women

The social evolution evident in the 1920’s setting of The GreatGatsby did not happen peacefully. Men and older generations feltthat it was provocative and inappropriate for women to be dancingfreely and independently without the approval and company of theirhusbands (Netto, 2009). Therefore, men would use typecasts and theirpower to control women, just like in A Thousand Splendid Suns,where men use their power and place in society to curtail theindependence of women sexually. The social expectation of a man ofTom’s standing in the social hierarchy of the 1920’s is to leavehis wife to her domestic responsibilities, while he goes out to rebelagainst Prohibition by gambling and drinking (Will, 2005). Tom likeRasheed lives his life accordingly and believes his masculinepresence and dominance, both physically and psychologically, to be arite of passage to be an aggressive, violent and controlling husband.It is evident that Tom ‘resorts to childish petulance and primalviolence to express his frustration’ when he lashes out at hismistress Myrtle and breaks her nose as a result of his viciousoutburst of uncontrolled anger. The antagonists of both novels,Rasheed and Tom Buchanan, both take out their anger and place blameon the women in their lives. It is apparent that in both cultures andperiods, men accuse women greatly.

Rasheed uses his position in society as a male to control andintimidate his wives, Mariam and Laila, by abusing them physically,verbally, and taking advantage of their vulnerability. Mariam as achild is similar to Daisy. She is naïve and innocent and easilyinfluenced by those who control her but still has her opinion thather Nana is wrong, in the same way, that Daisy follows Tomobediently, yet silently has her repressed opinions and ideas. Daisyis envious of Jordan Baker and her freedom because she is trapped inher hollow, unfulfilled lifestyle. Similarly, Mariam and Laila, in AThousand Splendid Suns, ‘cannot escape their circumstances’and have ‘their humanity overlooked’, yet display silent strengthof character. All three of these women have endured pain andheartache, but have learned to persevere through it, by pullingtogether the strength to carry on silently.


In both novels, women make efforts to move outside the socialconventions of their class, but they suffer or make little progress.Women displays overt behaviour, which men find challenging andamoral thus, they cultivate structures through which women willbecome submissive and unquestioning. Jordan Baker losses herintegrity and femininity Myrtle is ripped open and destroyed Daisyis tempted to break out, but finally retains her captive position. Inthis regards, the novel presents a mixed feeling for women i.e.aggression, emancipation, sexuality, and a long way to liberty.However, Hosseini’s women makes much more progress in theiremancipation as evidenced by their roles at the end of the book, forexample, Laila becomes a schoolteacher.


Fitzgerald, F. S. (1925).&nbspThe Great Gatsby. Best ClassicBooks.

Hosseini, K. (2007).&nbspA Thousand Splendid Suns. Penguin.

Lam, M. (2009). The politics of fiction: A response to neworientalism in type. Journal of Multicultural Discourses,&nbsp4(3),257-262.

Netto, V. B. (2009). Violent Geographies and Bruised Bodies: KhaledHosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns.&nbspTJES, 54.

Will, B. (2005). The Great Gatsby and the obscene word.&nbspCollegeLiterature,32(4), 125-144.