You're Having a Girl...Congratulations???

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NURSE (to young woman) "Aren't you glad it's a girl? You're not! Oh my! That's no way to talk! Men want boys - women ought to want girls."

This quote on page 27 in episode four of "Machinal", along with many other quotes in the play, expresses the young woman's unhappiness in life. The young woman is not happy the babe is a girl, because she knows all too well the difficulties that come with being a woman at that time. Althought the young woman was deeply disturbed by the fact that she had to "submit" to motherhood at all, she was even more distraught that the babe turned out to be a girl. Although the young woman did not seem to immediately bond with the child, she probably did not want her daughter to have to suffer the same fate as she did. This quote is also very similar in nature to one uttered by Daisy in "The Great Gatsby": I'm glad it's a girl. And I hope she'll be a fool - that's the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool." Although Daisy is glad to have had a girl, she, too, expresses her worry that her daughter will succumb to a similar fate. Perhaps if Daisy and the young woman were fools, they would be unaware of the confinement of their situations. The young woman would not mind the mechanical life she leads. She would not mind submitting to marriage and to motherhood. Ultimatley, the two aforementioned quotes are similar in that they both express the limited roles of and options for women in the past; in fact, women were expected to marry and bear children (particularly, males), and were not expected to do much, if anything else. No wonder the young woman often felt as though she were choking...


Rachael Sarver said:

I agree its almost as if females are cursed if they are intelligent. The young woman (Helen apparently) is intelligent enough to believe in love and a real relationship, but society puts so many limitations on women that she has to put these dreams aside. Her own mother stresses the importance of marrying someone who can take care the both of them. Baby girls are going to be a lot happier in life if they turn their brain off and think with their pocketbooks (or lack there of.)

Nikita McClellan said:

I see where you are coming from. And now I believe that I am starting to have some sympathy for Helen. In my blog I had basically said how I did not have any sympathy for her because she could have left and went on her own, but at the same time with society the way it was back then, it really wasn't a good option to go with. She could have possibly have been alone in life if she left her husband and her mother would have trouble surviving alone as well. Thank you for making me see this point of view.
here is my blog:

Alicia Campbell said:

Yea. I mean I felt sorry for her because it was as if she struggled against the life she was in a sense forced to lead until it ultimately consumed her. Women often aim to please, as well, and I think Helen's mother was a big influence on her decisions.

Andrew Adams said:

I also felt a great deal of sympathy for the Young Woman with her child. At the end of the play, in her desperationg before she is put to death, she is saddened because she never knew her daughter, and is afraid her daughter will never love her. Also, I like your point that her confinement as a woman of that time period is what caused her to feel like she was choking all the time.

I also liked this passage because woman usually do want girls because they have been through the girl life and can help their daughter through it as well. Helen being unhappy with her daughter does say that she was unhappy with her life because usually having children is showing happiness with the one you love. She knew about love and what it was and she wanted it but she thought the money aspect was more important.

Alicia Campbell said:

That's an interesting point, Chelsie, that having a baby shows happiness with the one you love. I considered that Helen may not want her daughter to have to suffer a life similar to her own, but maybe she also did not want her to have a false sense of love. Because the daughter would grow up and model what she knew, which would be the relationship, however dysfunctional, that existed between her parents.

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