Thursday, January 27, 2011

the modern, well-educated WOMAN - what does she want?

Hello! How's it going?

Yesterday i attended the said book club & again was not disappointed. Being me, dying to be back in school & revive some creativity, this was therapy. The one thing i really, truly love about being part of a book club is that it gives the book you've read more depth, if that means anything. I wasn't done reading Catherine Lim's Miss Seetoh in the World when i attended the meeting last night, i was up until chapter 6 & had 14 more chapters to go but it was really building up for me. I liked it & thought 'everyone's going to give it a thumbs up, or two'. But NO. Much to my surprise, a third of the members did not like it. Very interesting.

The different views allowed for us to think about parts of the book that we didn't think much of until it was brought to light by another member. So your idea of the book forms only the root & with the addition of ideas from separate perspectives, it becomes a tree. Branching out into more avenues for thought. A tree of knowledge. You think creatively without paying tuition. I like it.

Miss Seetoh is a polished, poised, well-educated lady who made the decision to slip into a marriage with a man she did not love, or at least thought that she did. Set in Singapore sometime in the 60s, where reservation was still well maintained by tradition, she was stuck.. being a woman. A passionate lover of the English language, she became a teacher much adored by her students for her fun & unconventional methods of teaching. All she ever longed for was freedom. First she wanted to have her own bed because she had shared hers with her mother until she got married, then she wanted her own room, her own house, & of course, her own life made by her own decisions. She was a modern lady shackled by tradition or family pressure, a conservative society, a pressing government, & more than anything, womanhood.

Seetoh realizes shortly after her honeymoon that her marriage was doomed to fail. He so passionately in love with her and she, so full of regrets. The ultimate one being her accepting his hand in marriage. She & her husband were part of a community of devout catholics & divorce was unthinkable & not to mention, a solution that was not within her reach. She wasn't afraid of God as much as she was afraid of society at large. It spiraled down further when her husband became a monster fed by his insecurities which developed since he discovered that this love was not mutual. He died not long later & she had her freedom. Or did she?

I won't discuss the different views on this book but some of the things running through my mind right now..
What's the definition of freedom for a woman?
How long can you enjoy that private sanctuary you call personal space aka freedom before your maternal nature intrudes?
Does it even matter - maternity?
Is this what every brilliant, well-educated, modern woman grapple with - freedom vs. marriage?
Is marriage really nothing more than a dark, suffocating dungeon or do they just scare themselves so much?
When a woman loves her craft with vicious passion, does she lose her interest to become a woman more than to become a great artist?
Finally, the modern woman is so resistant & never wants to submit - is she too narcissistic? Or worse, just plain selfish?

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