Essays are a means by which many people have expressed their ideas on a host of issues. It is a means also that affords criticisms for leaderships and governments without necessarily engaging in unlawful acts. It is a means of communication that has been in existence ever since man had evolved to the capacity that he would communicate via writing (Greetham 67). This paper considers different issues that are presented in two essays by different authors as a critique and a study of the central themes in them. For this paper, the essays that will be considered have been written by Russell Sanders and the other one has been written by Keeshig-Tobias where the humanistic perspective of manhood and womanhood and the relationships between and among them will be of interest in explaining how these genders interact as discussed by these authors in their respective essays.
The essence of manhood is treated differently by Russell Sanders and Lenore Keeshig-Tobias in their essays dubbed The Men we Carry in Our Minds and He was a Boxer respectively. The two writers examine the role of a man in different contexts. These include male to female relationships in a family perspective, the power dynamics between men and women in different social settings, societal expectations of a man and the challenges of living up to those expectations. The role of man’s physical strength is contextually treated differently by Russell Sanders and Lenore Keeshig-Tobias. In Russell’s world, the man’s physical strength is used to advance the family’s economic security. However it is at the cost of his own physical health and emotional wellbeing. He works long hours exposed to elements of weather by having to carry heavy loads and stand for long hours often sustaining physical injuries. In the evenings and weekends he toils on his land and mends broken roofs (Kay et al.
34). On the other hand, the women work at their own pace in a better environment. They cultivate their social lives around the different errands they have to run. Russell perceives the work dynamics to be in favor of the women.
He says he would rather hold a baby that work at the machines. On the other hand, in Lenore’s world, the man’s physical strength has being used to the detriment of the family’s emotional security. Lenore’s father a boxer uses his physical strength and boxing prowess to intimidate the women in his life. There is insecurity as both the mother and daughter as they cower at the sight of him (Kay et al. 335).
Russell wants to run from the roles and the expectations of manhood in his poor social setting. He finds the women’s world to be more comfortable and he dreads growing up to these manly roles in his society. He is caught between the two ideas of men in his social setups; the worriers and the toilers. The toilers work all the day long at the tiresome manual labor while the worriers work preparing them for war and eventual death. He doesn’t envy any on the roles. In contrast to Russell gender roles discordance, Lenore Keeshig-Tobias embraces the manly role and the societal expectations of the same. This comes as surprising.
Her drunkard father had often terrorized her and her mother (Kay et al. 390). Yet she makes excuses for him arguing that her mother must have had something to do with it. She hypothesizes that he is doing right. She enrolls for boxing classes in a bid to understand his world. We see that Russell is running way from his duties as a man out of understanding of what awaits him.
However Lenore is embracing the masculine world in order to understand her father and the world that he has forced her to live in. The men in Russell’s and Lenore’s world confront manhood challenges in different ways. The failure to provide for one’s family is seen as a man’s failure in Russell’s world (Kay et al. 378).
The men prevent this by working in deplorable conditions to earn a living. When they get home they work even more to mend broken roofs and till their own land. They confront the challenges through physical work. In Lenore’s world the men run away from their challenges.
Lenore’s father is driven into boxing and alcoholisms by the family strains. This explains his tantrums and physical abuse of his wife (Kay et al. 473). Lenore Keeshi-Tobia’s father never graduated from college. This makes him ill prepared to confront the different family challenges that he is undergoing leading him to alcoholism. On the other hand education opens Russell’s eyes to the different dimensions of manhood.
His perspectives had been limited to the manual laborers and their bosses. Though television and encounter with male teachers he is exposed to men who work with their brains; the lawyers, the politicians etcetera. He has a change of heart from wanting to hold babies to become this kind of man. His female college-mates challenge him further on the gender roles (Kay et al. 287). He is exposed to the comfort and power of men in a higher social setting.
The balance of power and comfort contrast to those of his social setup. In this set up the balance is titled in favor of men. Man to man relationship is treated differently in both works of Russell and Lenore. Lenore discusses his father taking his family problems to the boxing ring.
This is often to the detriment of his male boxing opponents (Greetham 145). His driving force are personal and in contrast to the sportsmanship spirit. On the other hand Russell examines the racial relationship between the black male convicts and the white male guards. The convicts are painted as miserable and working in deplorable condition. The guards are painted as being powerful. The bonnets of their guns are said to shine in the sun (Kay et al. 512). While the man in Lenore’s world is using his boxing prowess to dominate over his fellow man, in Russell’s world he is using the gun.
In both Russell and Lenore’s essays we find that man is often a victim of his social economic circumstances in his different social setting. The drive, attitude and perceptions of his acts can be digested form those perspectives. While the intensity of the man’s act may vary from man to man, they are often dictated by his environment (Greetham 145).
Greetham, Bryan. How to Write Better Essays.
2nd Ed. Cambridge: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008. Kay et al. Essay Writing for Canadian Students with Readings. 6th Ed. Toronto ON: Pearson Education Canada, 2007.