In both The House of Bernarda Alba, and Chronicle of a Death Foretold, the double standards of society are clearly illustrated through sex, marriage and everyday life. These aspects of society, both in the physical form and the very concepts expose the double standards of people. It is not only the males that contribute keeping these double standards, but almost all individuals within the society. Throughout both novels, sex shows the double standards of society. Males use their sexuality as power, and with it, they show who is boss.
In Chronicle of a Death Foretold (DF), Santiago Nasa enforces his own power within the house by maintaining a sexual dominance over the females. He grabbed my whole pussy... It was what he always did when he caught me alone in some corner of the house (14). He grabs Divina, and feels dominant, which he displays by being sexually aggressive toward her. His grabbing her demonstrates his mind-set. He sees this girl as an object to play with.
He can do what he desires with her because she is a weak female, and by exercising this power, he maintains his authority. He does this a lot, and sustains his place of power what he always did when he caught me alone. Women on the other hand, are not allowed to be powerful in this way, without being stigmatized as prostitutes, such as the mulatto girls in DF. Males have much more sexual freedom than women. Years ago, another of these [prostitutes] arrived, and I myself gave money to my oldest son so he could go. (241).
Ponca, a maid in Bernarda s house has double standards. She says that [Adela, one of Bernarda s daughters] should have known her place, meaning, she feels that women have a place in society, [she should have] not led him on, in which they have to control themselves, yet condoning the behavior of men, renouncing it as A man is a man (477). Yet, she gives money to her older son to go see a prostitute. Men need these things (241) Men have more sexual freedom than women. These societies have double standards about sex, just as the societies in both BA and DF have double standards on the every-day life of men and women. In The House of Bernarda Alba (BA), men have more freedom than women by being able to go where they want and do what they want.
The girls are behind bars and within the inner walls of the house, which are thick. The house is constantly compared to a prison and a hell. The are not allowed to leave the confines of their house. I don t want to be locked up! ... I don t want to waste away in these old rooms (220).
Bernarda s daughters are being treated like prisoners by their own mother They are afraid of wasting away, which society has condemned them to do, by having these double standards. The girls are not allowed to listen to the conversations of men, or even look at them improperly. In Church, women should look at no man but the priest, and at him only, because he s wearing skirts (201). Bernarda, the mother of five daughters, aspires to keep them in this lowered position in society. By teaching them lessons like this, and upholding the values of her society, she is contributing to the double standards. These preconceptions of the traditional roles of men and women lead to the double standards.
Needles and thread for women, whips and a mules for men (). In both The House of Bernarda Alba, and Chronicle of a Death Foretold, the double standards of society are shown throughout each novel. Through sex, marriage and everyday life, show the double standards of society.