You are on page 1of 7

Ashim Nabith

Professor Ditch
English 113B
21 March 2015
Nonconformity in World War 2

The book, The Guernsey and Potato Peel Pie Society was written after the Second World
War. The book is composed of letters written by Isola, Mr. Dawsey, to the author Juliet about
their experience during the German Occupation. World War 2 made many women more
independent. The war gave women the chance to get out of the house and work in factories,
fields and any other jobs areas that was important to the war effort. During the German
Occupation many islanders like Elizabeth and Juliet dont follow traditional gender roles and
stereotypes that are normal to society. The women like Juliet and Elizabeth became more
independent and hardworking outside of the house. During World War 2 many women followed
the traditional gender norms of staying home and be a housewife and mom. Going against these
gender norms is revolutionary because it was unnatural for women to go against the traditional
gender role and they are one of the first women to go against traditional gender norms. Even
after the war many women defied traditional gender roles and norms.
During the occupation of Guernsey Juliet and Elizabeth became non-conformists, going
against the traditional gender role in society. People who follow traditional gender roles are
conformist; those who go against the roles for a particular reason are non-conformists. In the
book Juliet shows her independence from Mark, a man who is very obsessed of her. When she
decides to go to Guernsey Sidney asked her if Mark would allow it? On page 136 Juliet responds


remark she made could be evidence of how Juliet is a non-conformist. During this time it was
uncustomary for women to do things without their significant other. She shows her independence
when she stated Mark Reynolds does have any say in her personal life decision. This is also an
example of how Juliet became a nonconformist and went against gender norms to be
independent. During this time men had a huge say in what and where a women goes and does.
When she stated Mark Reynolds doesnt have a position to say what she can do she stated her
own independence over him and proved that his opinion doesnt matter in her life. In the short
story My Hips and My Caderas, the author Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez quotes, When I want to be
loved for my mind, I flock to liberal intellectuals, usually whites. Valdes-Rodriguez explains
that in her original gender norms she is seen as an object because of her broad hips when she
went outside her gender role and became more intellectual she started looking beyond her ethnic
region. Even though she goes against her original gender norm she doesnt go back and that
makes her a nonconformist, she, like Juliet states her independence. This can be seen
revolutionary or radical because it wasnt generally normal for women to go against their
respective native gender norms.
Having child of wedlock was an act not accepted in society, especially having a child
with a Nazi soldier. In the book on page 138 Amelia wrote Elizabeth kept Kits paternity a
secret from her. During the war Elizabeth falls in love with a German officer and they both had
a child out of wedlock. During the war having relations with soldiers occupying your land wasnt
accepted, many women who had relationships with German soldiers werent really accepted in
society. They were shunned and prosecuted for having relations with a German soldier. Having a
child out of wedlock during World War 2 wasnt accepted socially. Even today the majority of

the world dont socially accept having a child out of wedlock, especially in the western countries
such as the United States of America. It goes against womens traditional gender performance.
Women are expected to meet a nice man, get married and have a child while being a stay in
home mom. Elizabeth having a baby out of wedlock proves that she is a nonconformist. She goes
against social norms of what a women is expected to do and has a child out of wedlock.
On page 272 Juliet goes against gender roles when she proposes to Dawsey. It has been a
worldwide gender norm for men to propose to the women. When Juliet proposed to Dawsey it
became a huge deal. She proved that she isnt a conformist to the idea that only a man can
propose to a woman. By proposing to Dawsey she showed that she isnt conforming to the
traditional gender roles and is going against it. Going against this particular gender norm doesnt
have any social back lash however it isnt normal for a women to propose to a man, especially
during the time when its a gender role for the man to propose. During the war many women had
a chance to work outside the house. They worked in factories, shipyards and other areas that can
help the war effort. In the article, Empowerment or Endurance? War Wives Experiences of
Independence During and After the Second World War in Germany, 1939-1948, the author Hester
Vaizey writes, The war, by contrast, gave married women greater opportunity to be involved
outside the private sphere. Many women who had to support their family worked in factories,
this not only allows them to workout side of the gender role, it also helped the war effort. This is
revolutionary because the many women before the war worked in offices as a secretary or as a
nurse. Moving from a stay in home mom to a tank-building factory is a huge leap in the short
amount of time when the war started. While women were working in factories multiple
propaganda were created to recruit women. In the article, Who Said this is a Mans War?
propaganda, advertising discourse and the representation of war worker women during the

Second World War the author, Bilge Yesil quotes, Wartime propaganda idealized the image of
war worker woman and portrayed her as the strong, competent, courageous unsung heroine of
the home front. Yesil shows during the war women were against the gender norm by working
in factories to help the war effort; this made them be depicted as storng and courageous. When
the war started everything changed. Women started to not conform to traditional gender roles and
became nonconformist. Slowly they started to accept their new gender roles as the ones who can
provide for the family and became the idealistic model for feminism. Being the provider for a
short period of time women started to realize that they could be part of the work force and works
the same jobs and men.
People can agree with the idea that World War 2 made women non conform to original
gender roles and as a result became nonconformist, many can say that they arent really
nonconformists because they were forced into accepting gender roles change and propaganda
helped push women to work in factories for the war effort. During the war men were taken from
homes and no one could provide for the family except mostly for women. They were forced into
working in factories and other areas that helped the war effort. If they didnt work then no one
will provide for the family and they will slowly perish. In the short story How to Tame a Wild
Tongue, the author Gloria Anzaldua writes, Chicanos, after 250 years of Spanish/Anglo
colonization, have developed significant differences in Spanish we speak. Anzaldua writes how
during European colonization they changed the way they spoke. During the colonization of
Central America the indigenous people had to adapt by learning the European language, or else
they will perish. Like the colonization of Central America women where affected by the war had
to adapt by working in factories to help the war effort. The German Occupation of Guernsey
helped push women into working in factories because they had no choice for their families.

Whether a woman was in occupied territory or not she was pushed into being part of the war,
whether its working in the factories or removing rubble in the streets they were forced to do it.
During the war propaganda was all over the place. Countries used propaganda to rally up masses
for a common cause. One type of propaganda the United States of America used was the We
Can Do it poster, produced by J. Howard Miller it was meant to show that while men were
fighting in battlefields for the war women can also help them by working in factories that helped
the war effort. It inspired many women to join the war effort. This didnt influence them to go
against gender norms and become nonconformist. It inspired them to work in factories to help
the Allies win the war against Japan and Germany. Only in the future years will it become a
symbol for feminist all around the world.
The book gives evidence to how women went against traditional gender roles and
stereotypes to live through World War 2, especially during the occupation of Guernsey. Juliet and
Elizabeth are the two women, who really defied traditional gender roles. Juliet proposed to
Dawsey, which is huge because its a worldwide gender role for the man to propose. Once Juliet
proposed to Dawsey she defied her own gender role to be the one who is being proposed to. For
Elizabeth she had a child out of wedlock with a German soldier. She fell in love and had a child;
this is still socially unaccepted today. Its generally a womens gender role to have children after
they got married. In the end of World War 2 gender roles for women and men changed over
time, as did the world. Women got more rights all over the world, especially in areas that were
touched by the war such as Europe, Japan and America. Even after the war many women were
still independent, especially those who lost their husbands during the war. Others who had
husbands and fathers returned most likely returned to the traditional gender roles. Those who
were still independent were part of a movement that would lead to more equality rights for

women in Europe and America. During the German occupation Juliet and Elizabeth had more
independence and were more independent to do what was considered manly. This is true for
many women during and after the war. The war gave women an opportunity to work outside of
the house, which gave them independence. This independence women started having during and
after World War 2 becomes a radical change in the future. This change will push forward for
future feminist to fight for gender equality. The kind of independence Juliet, Elizabeth and other
women who went against traditional gender roles during and after the war were a new kind of
nonconformist. A kind of nonconformist that will make most of them modern feminist. Juliet and
Elizabeth can be considered modern day feminist because they go against traditional gender
norms and are more independent.

Work Cited Page

1. Yesil, Bilge. "'Who Said This Is A Man's War?': Propaganda, Advertising Discourse And
The Representation Of War Worker Women During The Second World War." Media
History 10.2 (2004): 103-117. Academic Search Premier. Web. 2 Apr. 2015.
2. Shaffer, Mary Ann.Barrows, Annie.The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society.
New York, N.Y. : Dial Press Trade Paperbacks, 2009. Print.
3. Vaizey, Hester. "Empowerment Or Endurance? War Wives Experiences Of Independence
During And After The Second World War In Germany, 19391948." German History
29.1 (2011): 57-78. Academic Search Premier. Web. 2 Apr. 2015.
4. Valdes, Alisa. "My Hips, My Caderas." The Contemporary Reader 9 (2008): 69-71. Print.
5. Anzaldua, Gloria. "How To Tame a Wild Tongue." Situating Inquiry. 6th ed. Boston:
Bedford/St. Martin's, 2007. 252-60. Print.