Instructions: Discuss the role of men in the play. How do men impact the lives of the women in the play? Do they help or hinder the growth and developement of the female characters in the play?
How Men Affected Women in "The Rez Sisters"
In Tomson Highway's "The Rez Sisters",all the women in the play were negatively affected by men in their lives. Instead of giving up or running away, they have overcome many obstacles that have been set before them and were able to accomplish their goal by going to the "BIGGEST Bingo in the World". Although the men's actions have been all negative, it actually helped the growth of the women in the play. The role of men in the play is to be burdens in which they would actually help grow the mental and physical growth of the women. The men's abusive actions, alcohol, and doing nothing to help the women all cement the role of men in the play. The men's negative actions in the play actually helped the women grow for the better.
The men in the play have been known to abuse some of the women. Although the women have been abused, one would not immediately notice this in the play. This shows that the women that were abused built some sort of mental toughness. One woman, whose name was Emily Dictionary was badly mistreated by her husband. She was mistreated so bad that she immediately left her family. But instead of letting this situation bring her down, she is now seen in the play as a stronger, more independent woman, who does not let anyone talk her down. Another woman that was abused was Zhaboonigan. Although she is mentally challenged, in the play, she does not show symptoms a lot of abused women have. Symptoms like being anxious, temper, or regret. She does not let the incident affect her and continues to live her life with Veronique. With the situations both the women faced, in the play, it can be seen that they do not let the abuse affect them negatively but grow positively from the experience.
An element in the negative roles of men is alcohol. When people turn into alcoholics, they negatively affect others around them. In the play, a challenge the women face is poverty. Alcohol and poverty can be both linked in the play because it was stated that Veronique's husband Pierre, drinks all the money away. Veronique overcomes this challenge by going with the sisters to the biggest bingo in the world with hopes of winning the prize money. Pierre's drinking problem helps Veronique for the better because it gives Veronique a goal to improve her life and focusing on something positive like buy a new stove and having the opportunity to cook for Marie-Adele's kids. Another woman who is affected by alcohol is Marie-Adele. She has a husband named Eugene and has fourteen kids with him. Eugene drinks a lot and Marie-Adele has cancer. Instead of letting Eugene affect her negatively. She steps up and fights cancer. She decides to help the sisters reach Toronto for the bingo and her cancer tests even if she is experiencing fatigue. This is seen in the play when she would sometimes collapse when fatigued. With Marie-Adele stepping up, she is looking to improve the life of her family, who she is constantly worried about. This shows how she is growing selflessly, worrying more about her family than herself. So with alcohol affecting some of the women's lives, it is shown in the play that instead of running away or turning to suicide, they look for a more positive alternative and work together in order to improve their lives.
In the play, the men are either doing something negative for the women or nothing at all. There are many instances where the men are inactive in the women's lives. The first example would be the chief, who has the power and money to help the women out. But the chief obviously does not want to help because the sisters complained how if the chief was a woman they would see some work done around the reservation. Pelajia also commented how, if she was chief, she would get rid of the dirt roads. But Philomena responded by saying she cannot be chief because she is a woman. This shows how the men truly treat the women. Not only do they do nothing but at the same time believe that men are superior to women in being a leader. This actually helps Pelajia for the better because it strengthens her belief in how she can make a better impact in comparison to other people. For the other sisters, the men's idleness is helping them grow as well. With the men, not cleaning up, not working, refusing to give money, the women are forced to do everything themselves and therefore increases their responsibility and grow more independent. This is seen where the Chief refused to fund the trip to go to bingo. The women then cooperate and work many different jobs. From window washer to babysitter. In the end, it showed the sisters capability to work together and their determination to reach their goal. Therefore, the men's idleness helped the sisters grow more independent and learned to cooperate.
In conclusion, the men's negative actions helped the women grow. They learned not to rely so much on men and realized if they want change, they would have to go out and do it themselves. All the driving, raising money, getting food, were all done by the sisters. While all this is happening, the men continue to drink and disregard the women. Not a single man helped prepare for the sisters trip and they also did not help them while in Toronto. In the end, the women are by themselves and learned to be more independent. They also worked and did not wait for change to happen. Noticing they cannot depend on the men in their lives. The men's actions were very negative towards the women but it actually affected the women in a positive way.