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Jacqueline Hernandez

Professor Ditch

English 115

3 October 2017

Prescribing and Breaking Gender Formality

Society has an idea about how one should act based upon our sex, but in reality, one does not

know how each gender should behave. Society makes up a gender construct on how each sex

should behave. In society one may attempt to conform to gender roles by showing a behavior

that is believed to correspond with gender role. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society

by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows is epistolary historical fiction book in World War II.

Juliet Ashton is a writer who loses her touch for writing until Dawsey Adams and other islanders

begin to write to her about their book club they had during the war. The characters break through

the norm of their gender role and behave the opposite form of their gender ideology as well as

correspond with their gender formality. Markham conforms with his gender and is dominant as

his character. However, Juliet both breaks through her described gender role and conforms.

While reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society one will notice that Juliets

character is masculine if looking at her traits from a gender perspective. She is not only

masculine but feminine too. She cares how she is perceived sometimes and holds herself back

from what she wants to do. Markham is a macho man or a manly man one can say he

portrays behavior that men would normally portray. In Is everybody doing it? Perceptions and

misperceptions of sexual behavior in the college freshman population, Zelin explains,

Descriptive and injunctive norms have been shown to influence people's perceptions of what
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actions are considered appropriate, but they are frequently based on misperceptions, Because

society believes different genders having the same behaviors is wrong. Markham sticks to those

descriptive behaviors and language that men normally use; moreover, on societies direction

towards gender norms. This book is out of the ordinary and rethink what action the character just

rehearsed. The book jumps out of the norm; nevertheless, has Juliet do what a woman may not

do. Furthermore, has Markham act upon a normal gentlemens behaviors. However, the

characters can do both stick to society norms and crack through gender norms.

Markham Reynolds is an American man and a publisher. He was a well-dressed easily

attractive man is what I got from the book. People are easily charmed by Reynolds. Reynolds is a

strong and dominant man who starts off by being Juliets secret admirer. Juliet receives flowers

from him more than once and finally begins to question the delivery guy whom is the person

behind all these flowers. Markham comes off to Juliet as a gentleman due to the how nice he

treats her and speaks to her.

Reynolds had the opportunity to get Juliets attraction in with his words and the way he

speaks to her. However, Sidney is not fooled, she told Juliet she had a bad feeling about Mahram

Reynolds and to be careful. In Rhetoric for Radicals Jason Gandio states No one is good at

everything, but everyone is good at something, (95) Mark is good at using his words with Juliet

to make her fall for him in the beginning of their relationship. Markham is getting positive

perceptions of himself by respecting Juliet as well as treating Juliet out for dinner and giving

flowers to Juliet. Everything that Reynolds does for Juliet are things that some people in society

believe a man should withstand. Reynolds is prescribing to his gender by giving the flowers to a

woman. He is Portraying acceptable, appropriate, and desirable behavior as male. Gender

hierarchy is being approached because in our society it is normal for women to be the only ones
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receiving the flowers. The characters endorse their behaviors corresponding with their gender.

Not only what they say equate to their behavior, but their actions mostly. Observation is

important when determining gender role because people not only communicate through talking,

but movement as well. The communication from the characters determines one can commence

what gender role is being represented.

In addition, from society it is looked at as weird if a woman proposes to a man, Markham

sticks to his set societal norm and proposes to Juliet. Markham purposes to Juliet and couldnt

receive a response from her. She practically ignored his proposal. Juliet left London on bad terms

with Mark he protested for her not to leave London. Juliet knew it was not a good idea when

later Markham moved all her books from the shelf and replaced her books with his trophies;

moreover, placed her books in the basement. Markham treats Juliet as if she doesnt understand

that the islanders are using her to care for Kit an Orphan. Kit McKenna is Elizabeth McKennas

and Christian Hellmans daughter. However, she is an orphan that everyone takes care of because

Elizabeth was deported to German concentration camp. Juliet feels that Mark has no sympathy

for anyone or anything and is hurt by Marks comment about the islanders and Kit. Juliet

officially breaks things off with Mark; moreover, suggests for him to leave Guernsey. Marks

comment broke her because Juliet wanted to adopt Kit as her own.

Different genders correspond with different behaviors. Depending on whether one is a male

or female one is supposed to behave a certain way. Society describes what male and female traits

those genders should contain. In Becoming Members of Society: The Social Meanings of

Gender Devor explains, These two clusters of attributes are most commonly seen as mirror

images of one another with masculinity usually characterized by dominance and aggression, and

femininity by passivity and submission. (39) because these are the traits that men and women
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portray the most, it relates to Marks behavior. Mark was portraying dominance when he told

Juliet not to leave London to write her book. Moreover; Juliet was showing aggression when

Markham spoke about Kit in an intolerable way to Juliet and she yelled at Mark to leave. Mark

telling Juliet that Guernsey Islanders were using her was the straw that broke the camels back.

After that she realized Mark and herself didnt have the same viewpoints.

Juliet showed masculinity at hot tea at book meeting when she threw hot tea at someone in

the audience as well. She threw the hot tea out of anger the press questioned what happed with

her and her ex fianc Rob Dartry. Although the hot tea hit no one she still threw it which portrays

a masculine trait. To portray gender corresponding with our sexuality we need to think before we

act. We must think before we act so we dont get characterized into the wrong gender. We think

about peoples gender, without even thinking we are thinking about that. But to do this we need

to be smart and strategic; we need to think about our languages, statements, styles, actions

(Gandio ix) gender role behavior is made up of those three things that people do. Juliet abides by

their gender behavior with her action of throwing the book across the room. Juliet was not

portraying behavior that is acquired with her sex. Later Juliet without self cautiously thought

about her action and apologized to Sidney to tell Stephen and Stark.

Nevertheless, Juliet was apologetic about throwing the tea. Juliet speaks to Susan and Sidney

about how awful she felt afterwards. Susan wrote a letter to Sidney talking about how

embarrassed Stephens and Stark might have been by Juliets action. Sidney then wrote a letter

regarding what Susan had sent and confirmed that Stephan and Stark were not embarrassed of

her throwing tea in front of the press. Then later Juliet wrote back to Sidney two days later

discussing ho relieved she was S & S were not ashamed of Juliet for the poor event. She

explained that she was tired of hearing about Rob Dartry. The press has continuously been
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asking the cause of Juliet and Robs relationship. everyone does gender without thinking about

it (19). Juliet got fed up of the press asking and asking and dealt with it in a masculine way.

Ashton broke free from her gender and later realized that was not the right way to confront the


Juliet could conform within the book as well she cares about what people interpret of her and

changes her look to correspond with her gender. Juliet went and bought a beautiful dress and got

a haircut as well. The truth is that human desires and capacities have a tendency to go beyond

what explored the narrow limit of our traditional gender roles. Indeed, it takes a constant

combined effort by all social authorities to keep this tendency under control. (Kehinde) not only

is Juliet trying to change her look for herself, but she is also changing it because Susan suggested

she should. Juliet is going out of her way to give herself a brand-new way because a friend stated

it was about time that she got a new look. Through cognitive development children extract and

apply to their own actions the appropriate behavior for those who belong in their own gender.

(Lorber 25) Juliet decided that by purchasing a new dress and changing her style she would abide

by Susans standards along with societys standards. She is trying to adjust her look not only for

herself but the people that perceive her as well. Juliet Ashton is conforming to prescribe gender

roles in society today.

The social concept of women and men behaviors are opposite. Men are supposed to be

dominate and strong while women are to be passive and quiet. Not all the characters stick with

their preferred gender behavior. Sometimes the Juliet Ashton and Markham Reynolds did not

portray conduct corresponding with their sex. The characters established their act to the norm of

society overall. Juliet was more out there and portrayed roles from both traits. Juliet could be

feminine; moreover, portray masculinity when it was least expected. The reader can analyze that
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Juliet was out going and didnt think before she acted sometimes. Reynold was dominant and

strict towards his gender role. He was aggressive and dominant towards Juliet; moreover, Juliet

did not put up with that type of behavior. According to society Juliet is not behaving how a

woman should, women should be behaving in a passive and quiet trait. Juliet is more masculine

she speaks her mind and is dominant like Markham.

Works cited
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Ayenibiowo, K. O., Akinbode, G. A., Ayodeji, F., & Adewuyi, T. D. (2012). Young adults

perception of appropriateness of some domestic/ home-related activities: Implications for gender

role acquisition. Gender & Behaviour, 10(2), 4767-4791. Retrieved from


Devor, Aaron. Becoming Members of society: The Social Meanings of Gender.

Composing Gender: a Bedford Spotlight Reader. Boston/St. Martins, 2014.

Gandio, Jason. Rhetoric for Radicals. New Society Publishers, 2008.

Lorber, Judith. Night to His Day: The Social Construction of Gender. Composing Gender:

a Bedford Spotlight Reader. Boston, Bedfords / St. Martins, 2014.

Zelin, A. I., Erchull, M. J., & Houston, J. R. (2015). Is everybody doing it? perceptions and

misperceptions of sexual behavior in the college freshman population. Gender Issues, 32(3),

139-163. doi: