To continue, Wharton clearly shows that patriarchal attitudes are evident in males’ socially accepted violence against women. The father, brother, and, later, the partner exert violence over women as a means of socialization and control. In many instances, a woman may not be expected to defend herself from a man’s aggression. Some contend this can be interpreted as social power but not necessarily characteristic, given traditional role complimentarily behavior, where not being equal does not mean unequal value and where women have other social channels to exert power and influence.
Both Wharton and Alcott illustrate that the world may be seen as divided on the basis of masculine and feminine principles, which complement each other but also compete. Vertical kinship systems are important for males, and horizontal systems are important for females. Additional examples can be found in religion, housing arrangements, marriage, and perception of nature. Residence patterns tend to be on the male’s side and may also be progressive, but rarely are they progressive on the female’s side. Marriage is seen as a promise that undergoes a series of testing stages, through which the boy chooses the girl. He tries to win her agreement to being ritually kidnapped and later searches for their families’ approval.
The lamplight struck a gleam from her bracelets and tipped her soft hair with brightness. How light and slender she was, and how each gesture flowed into the next! She seemed a creature all compact of harmonies. As the thought of Haskett receded, Waythorn felt himself yielding again to the joy of possessorship. They were his, those white hands with their flitting motions, his the light haze of hair, the lips and eyes. . . (Wharton 10).
This passage illustrates that although Waythorn has very tender feelings for his wife, he treats her as his possession, a sweat thing that he controls and manipulates. Wharton shows that male dominance has been at the base of the culture since ancient times, with a system of compulsory cooperation among family members, families, neighbors, and communities. This is why such ideology may be found to be patriarchal, with different gender roles but equal value.
To continue, sex typing occurs not only with regard to persons and roles but also in relationship to nature. Rain is considered female; drought, male. Upper sides and lower sides are ascribed gender, as are natural phenomena and the seasons. In the language, sex is a status indicator; different terms are used when the speaker is male or female. For many women, status derives from their role as wife, mother, sister; there is no strong feeling of common gender identity with other women. Marriage highlights gender differences more than any other social activity; in kindred relations, sex typing is less rigid than in marriage relations.
Wharton’s Alice proves that feminine roles have traditionally been limited to home, children, and community. Yet, such strong women as she managed to develop a strong sense of ender identity. At the end of the story she proves that females may have status higher or equal to males. Nowadays, male dominance–especially political dominance is partially decaying due to interchange among women and feminists.