Study Guide

Marty Women and Femininity

Women and Femininity

CATHERINE: I'm fifty-six years old. What am I to do with myself? I have strength in my hands. I wanna cook. I wanna clean. I wanna make dinner for my children.

More power to you, Catherine. People half your age have way less interest in household chores. Maybe you can work for them?

CATHERINE: What will you do if Marty gets married?! What will you cook? What happen to all the children playing in all the rooms? Where is the noise?! It is a curse to be a widow!

In Catherine's mouth, idleness seems like a threat. How is the concept of labor tied up in what the characters in the movie think women should be?

RALPH: Hey, Marty, we got an odd squirrel here, you interested?

Between tomatoes, dogs, and odd squirrels, women are always being called something other than human beings.

RALPH: These are the nurses I told you about. Money in the bank, man. Wanna get in the car? She's a pretty nice-looking doll.

What's the connection between money and sex Ralph seems to be making here?

TERESA: It's a curse to be a mother, I tell you. Your children grow up and then what is left for you to do? What is a mother's life but her children?

While Teresa seems resigned, Clara, as she argues, thinks that a woman's joys in life should come from more than one source. Do you think Teresa is mad because she didn't think of that before it was late?

CLARA: Couldn't she find some sort of hobby to fill out her time?

TERESA: Hobby! What can she do? She cooks and she cleans. You got to have a house to clean. You got to have children to cook for.

What kind of hobby would you pick for Catherine? Casual assassin? Writer of negative online reviews? Coffee spitter?

TERESA: These are the terrible years for a woman, the terrible years.

This line makes us remember that the root of "terrible" is the same as that of "terror." These years aren't just bad; they're full of fear.

CLARA: I don't think a mother should depend so much upon her children for her rewards in life.

Clara's unapologetic cluelesness is at its peak here.

CATHERINE: College girls are one step from the streets. [...] My son Joseph, his wife, you know, she types on a typewriter. One step from the streets, I tell you.

We can only imagine what Catherine would think of a lady with a smartphone.

JOE: I wonder where they find those girls that pose for them pictures.

LEO: Those are Hollywood starlets.

For the men in this movie, there are women in your family (moms, sisters) and women you know from the neighborhood, some of whom you'd like to date. And then there are the sex objects, who maybe don't seem to have families or expectations beyond modeling at all?

JOE: I always figure a guy oughta marry a girl who's twenty years younger than he is so that when he's forty, his wife is a real nice-looking doll.

LEO: That means he'd have to marry the girl when she was one year old.

We'd only heard that "half your age plus seven" rule, but, um, that's some theory you got, Joe.

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