Women with Men’s Minds
In the novel, Dunstan says, “Oh, these good, ignorant, confident women! How one grows to hate them” (Davies 81). Although he says this he does not completely mean it. Dunstan does not hate confident women; he hates women who are confident in their femininity. The reader sees this when looking at another relationship he has in the novel.
Dunstan meets Liesl later in his life, but she is very impactful on him. He describes her as “…the ugliest human creature I had ever seen” (Davies 191). Even though throughout most of Dunstan’s life he does not form close relationships with women, he takes to Liesl and tells her many things about himself which leads her to reveal to Dunstan that he is fifth business. He finds himself able to form this relationship with Liesl because he does not view her as a woman or in a feminine way. She looks manly and has taken on male roles throughout her life. Even when the two sleep together, Dunstan does not view her as feminine because she does not fit any feminine stereotype. Dunstan does not view her as weak or silly like Mary Dempster, and he does not see her as overbearing like his mother. She is wise and straightforward forcing Dunstan to take her words seriously. Although their relationship is not necessarily normal, it is by far the healthiest and mutually satisfying relationship that he has with any woman in the novel.
Liesl is also the only successful relationship Paul has in the novel, that the reader sees. Paul and Liesl are business partners and have a very successful relationship. Paul can handle this because he does not see Liesl as a woman but as a partner and as just another person. He does not see any of the fragility or silliness of his mother in Liesl making it, so he feels no fear, guilt or resentment towards her.
Then there is Boy. After the death of Leola Boy eventually, meets and marries Denyse. Although the marriage is not conventional, it is far more successful then Boy’s first marriage. Denyse can conform to the wife that Boy needs because their goals are similar. Denise changes herself to be masculine to succeed as said: “He became aware that this poor girl had sacrificed so much of her feminine self in order to gain success in the business world” (Davies 226). Denyse is willing to think like a man in order to get what she wants making her the perfect match for Boy. It is said “Soon he discovered that she understood his political ideas better than anybody else, and he aids her compliment typical of himself by assuring everybody that she had a masculine mind” (Davies 224). Boy’s relationship with Denyse succeeds because his unconscious does not see her as fragile or easy to control because she is not feminine. He can not run her down like the other women in his life because he does not see her as a woman or as feminine.
The men in this novel are not cursed to have wholly broken relationships, but femininity is something that cannot be a part of their lives.