Q&A: Sample Essay

Q: Discrimination of gender is very apparent in some of the stories. Discuss the truth of this point with reference to a story you have studied.

For Malaysian Form 6 Students

Q: Discrimination of gender is very apparent in some of the stories. Discuss the truth of this point with reference to a story you have studied.
Through the Wall – Pretam Kaur

Gender discrimination is pretty common among society in the past, and even today. The most common type of gender discrimination is against women, that they are inferior to men. Stereotypical people believe women are unable to perform tough jobs men are good at or cannot play a lead role in a company or society. Unlike in the past where women only took care of the family and kept the household in order, today’s women are on the same playing field as men, in fact, some women have even taken lead roles proving men that a woman’s brain is not different from man’s.

From the short stories I have studied in form 6, Pretam Kaur’s Through the Wall has elements of gender discrimination against women too. The story is about two families living side by side in a longhouse, a Punjabi, and a Chinese family, and a young Punjabi girl witnessing family feuds through a peephole into the Chinese family’s home.

In the Chinese home, after the arrival of a baby girl, angry conversations took place, and it was about the baby. However, during those angry exchanges, only two men’s voice were heard, and the mother kept silent and wept in the background, as in: “The Chinese woman would keep quiet and only a man’s voice would be heard arguing against the grandfather’s.”  This clearly shows that the mother was in no position to give her opinion or comment. It also showed man’s dominance in households and that women do not really have a say of her own household.

Moreover, months later, another incident took place in the Chinese home. The little Punjabi girl witnessed two Malay women exchanging $90 for the baby girl next door. The baby girl was last seen in the arms of the Malay women. It can be said that the angry conversations that took place in the household was about the baby. The Chinese family, already having a few children, may have not wanted another child or another girl, indicating an issue with financing the family with the arrival of a baby, or the Chinese family was not so keen into another baby girl. Nevertheless, in the end, the decision to give away the baby girl to the Malay women was made by the two other men of the house instead of the mother, but the mother’s failure to have a stand that it was not right to just give a member of the family away, or just because it was a girl, clearly showed that women were timid last time, or, it was a norm at that time to only listen to the men of the home, as women always come after men and that they only play a follower’s role, not a leader.

This story by Pretam Kaur highlights an important message about gender discrimination, discrimination against women specifically, and the evilness of a man’s mind to even think about selling a member of the family away. This story also indicates the consequences of discrimination against women, had the Chinese women voiced out that the baby should not have been sold, the baby girl may have had a chance to live with the Chinese family.

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