Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Walk - Inferior? Not Anymore.

"The Walk" by Joy T. Dayrit

Probably, many of us, women have already experienced ill-treatment by men. Even in little ways that we are not really aware of. Most of the time, our choices are disregarded, our efforts unnoticed, and worst, our dignities crushed. But have we acted upon it? Have we decided to bring up ourselves and fight for our rights? Have we?

Alma, our main character, a woman and a wife, lives in San Lorenzo Village, a first class subdivision and a home to the privilege few in the broad and vast Makati City.With such residence, it implies a happy, contented and fortunate living. But as the story begins, we see here a woman of great sorrow, laying on the floor--crying.

Unraveling the real events in the life of a woman, Joy T. Dayrit, author of this story, The Walk, opens her short story with such setting opposing the characteristic and behavior Alma should have in line to where and what kind of life she is living.

With such opening, traditional gender roles have been successfully utilized as justification for inequality. With culture’s perspective towards women, being weak and emotionally defeated at all times, Joy T. Dayrit tries to change such point of view as the story progresses. Her motivation to show that women are not of weak character and that they can achieve success too, Joy T. Dayrit changes Alma. From a wife with no say to her husband’s decisions and is willingly weak in terms of fighting for what is appropriate for her due to her love for her husband; and from a woman who is incapable of addressing her thoughts as shown in the lines “’I feel in my heart I may not love you at all anymore,’ she wanted to say but did not,” Alma becomes a woman, a wife capable of uplifting herself as stated “This battle’s been won. She loved her Ted. But now for war.”

As the story sets foot, difference between gender roles is evidently shown. As the story progresses, patriarchy and biological essentialism are portrayed. With these ideologies occurring in the text, drastic changes will be implied and revision of beliefs will be waged.

Patriarchy, by definition, promotes women’s inferiority to the men. Alma, being the other and of less importance, her suggestions and decisions were disregarded and are made of less essential to their living. Ted’s dominance, selfishness and less focus to her wife’s welfare showed Alma’s insignificance to the family and to Ted as well as declared by the lines “What if there’s an emergency, you see, and I need it fast. But it doesn’t worry him… What if something happened to your car? I said, ‘What good is a second car if it doesn’t run? If something suddenly happened to your Corona, how will you get to the office?’ That’s when he called for a mechanic.” Alma’s welfare was not put into mind. Moreover, Ted just decided to have the Lancer fixed when his own welfare was placed in the picture.

Also, the fact that Ted, giving more importance to his work and newly-gotten car, the Corona, more than Alma as acknowledged by the line “He loves his bluff work and ill-gotten Corona more than me,” gave the deepest and most painful depression Alma encountered. Ted, having been able to put his work and Corona before his wife made a unfathomable pain, sudden impact and sting to Alma’s heart. Them bound together by the sacrament of the Holy Matrimony, promised to dedicate their whole lives as part of the other, for the best and the worst scenarios of their entire lives and for the good of them both, made Alma incredulous and doubtful of what is happening. Expressing her disbelief, “One hot tear rolled down her brown nose and hung trembling there at the tip.” Alma trusted Ted with all her heart believing that he was the right man to have her whole life together with. But in the end, after all, she felt beaten and is in disdain.

As traditional gender roles and biological essentialism strongly imply, Alma is bound to the home, receiving all the hurt she gets from Ted for not noticing her efforts, ignoring her welfare, and placing work before her while Ted is out for work, enjoying his life and his new car.

After twenty years of marriage, we see a woman emotionally beaten, thinking of the hardships and obstacles she has been through, realizing that she is over the magical spell of love that hinders her from seeing what is deeply hidden for the past twenty years. She then wakes up and starts a life anew. Having been able to awaken herself from the love’s spell, she decides to fight for what is right and justify what is initially wrong. As to how life awakens her, Joy T. Dayrit inserts a new character in the story.

As Alma walks in the old perpendicular streets of San Lorenzo Village, dreaming of a wonderful life, getting farther of reach, she meets an unano. This midget opened her eyes to what is really taking place and to what is needed to supply importance to. Having been able to awaken Alma from the fantasy she is into, this midget paved way for her to realize that there is something needed to be fixed. “’Unload,’ said the unano. ‘Your mind has full of unimportant details,” her emotions became placid, thinking of the lines the midget told her. With the midget’s line “Unload,” Alma gained the guts to release what was kept potent inside her for the past twenty years.

Next, the fact them entering the “exit” gate of the Paradise rather than the entrance, symbolized the beginning of bringing back the events that happened and the chance to change and fix what is needed to be aided. The stone, on the other hand, symbolizes the bond between Ted and Alma, changing and unstable as proclaimed “If she gave the stone to Ted he did not see a frog in it, but a star, and a discussion between them began that took them to the four hundred corners of interpretation. But this morning Ted was off in his Corona, leaving behind him the car’s healthy new motor sound, and the stone in Alma’s hand.” It is as if the stone promotes discussion between the two, nonetheless, there will be nothing of importance to be talked about.

As the story moves on, we are to face the changes that Alma underwent. All of the sudden, the weak and emotionally defeated woman becomes empowered, defending what is right for her. Fleeing from gullibility, we now have a woman ready to justify what is needed to be justified and change what is needed to be changed. In line with this, the breakage of love’s spell on her had us have a woman now ready to redeem herself from the authority and superiority of her husband.

Indeed, Alma loves Ted. She even provides her with everything he needs and wants without any complains, “Alma reset the breakfast in the way Ted expected it to be set. Coffee, rice, fish, eggs. She did that for him splendidly every morning, for breakfast…” She is with him for the past twenty years without any fuss heard. She provided Ted with much love she could. But as she long for equality and believe that it is not only Ted that needed to be provided with her love but herself too, we here encounter a woman, setting aside her obligation as a wife, her ceaseless love for Ted, now thinking about the good of herself and having a mind of her own.

Unlike any other story of a woman and a man, we here stumble upon a different and unique idea. Usually, women give in to the power of the men, falling and succumbing to male’s so-called superiority to the female without having even a little scent of redeeming herself and spice of reprisal. But with Joy T. Dayrit’s The Walk, we see here a woman instituting change, applying development education, putting into action what she learned and believes in and promoting no turning back.

Certainly, we all need each other to survive but if injustice is evident in the relationship, impertinence is being put into practice, and dignities are crushed, we have the choice, the right, and a mind of our own to live a live of freedom, of what we want, of what we need and of subsistence.

A Feminist Reading of Yannah Laluces-Lagasca
English III analysis paper, dated October 20, 2008.


YsaY said...

i find your blog very helpful. you're a good feminist reader. :D keep it up and you know what's funny i'm actually a doing a Feminist reading on The Walk for my Third Year as well =))

Anonymous said...

Hi there. I'm a sophomore student from Antipolo.
I agree to what YsaY said. I find your work a big help for my Feminist Literary Criticism. Sorry if I used it as a guide for my FLC. It just that i'm not good at doing things like this.
Anyway, I would just like to thank you for posting this. You don't know how much this helped me. :)