The Emergence of Women in a

Literature of Their Own

by hector marmolejos '18 - reporter - 

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As August settled and the reality of a fourth and final return to Cardinal Hayes High School was approaching, I was preoccupied with ensuring my senior year would be as smooth and stress-free as possible. When my final pre-year packet arrived, I was eager to see my schedule as I hoped for the easiest classes possible. While going through my schedule, I was content and happy with what I saw. When I arrived to my listed “English 12” class on the first day of school, I thought it would be a class where topics of history and war would be discussed. Mr. Morgan surprised the class when he informed us that our class curriculum would focus on women’s literature. At first, I did not understand why our class in particular had to cover women’s literature. Mr. Morgan informed us that he felt that “more elective classes should be offered at the senior level to act as a precursor to the mature and intense setting of college classrooms.” Over the course of the year we read: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, The Awakening by Kate Chopin, and Sula by Toni Morrison.

The first few weeks of the class were difficult; feminism was a topic that felt extremely distant from my everyday life. As time progressed, it became clear why women's issues warranted our attention. The three books were all set in different historical time periods but still addressed women’s struggle to be seen as individuals and the fight for female agency in a world that fails to recognize their status. As we began to analyze the problems women faced throughout the novels, my attitude towards the focus of the class changed. Women endure economic and political inequalities in their lives—as a result of our sexist society. The class helped me to understand the ways in which women have attempted to combat sexism and to define themselves as women.

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My classmate, Louis Mendez, commented on his experience throughout the school year: “Our women’s literature class has changed my perspective towards women, and I have noticed an increase in awareness with my peers.” Another classmate of mine, Omar Dicua, also said “My attitude towards women has changed; as men, I think we have a responsibility to aid women in their fight for equality.” As we approach the end of our final school year at Cardinal Hayes, the wisdom of Mr. Morgan’s words finally made sense to me. One of the biggest lessons my classmates and I learned from this course is that we have to be willing to see and learn from perspectives that differs from our own. College courses are built on this lesson and to have learned this early on, has better prepared my classmates and I for the next phase of our academic careers.