Reinterpretation of Women
Reinterpretation of Women by Edna Feber
Edna Ferber’s Roast Beef, Medium follows the accounts of the author’s adventures into the Midwest with her intent of working as a marketer, i. e. a sales representative, in one of the largest clothes manufacturing companies in the region. Her demeanor of being intelligent and confident leads her into building relationships with other salesmen and hotel personnel. Additionally, she can outsell all her work colleagues making her a go-getter in her own right. Really, the character’s road to success is not easy. As many women in both the traditional and contemporary world, she goes through never-ending challenges which she manages to handle in a commendable fashion.
Females have to work hard to attain their goal or meet their demands. Edna knows best that it takes a lot to be a woman. In fact, she requires a person to work twice as hard to stay competitive and relevant in a male dominated work industry. Her ambitions are driven by her focus to lead a simple lifestyle and take care of her 17 year old son, Jock. To underline her philosophy of a simple livelihood, she believes that it is paramount to take roast beef and avoid stomach upsets being usually caused by taking unfamiliar dishes. If you thought being an independent woman and earning respect as a great sales person among male colleagues was just casual, then consider this, it was 1913. It was the time when the social sphere was dominated by men. As a respected writer in the early year 1800 to the turn of 1900, her works are an affirmation of her intent to represent the female person in the most subtle yet detailed and powerful way. Across these periods, even today, women have been perceived to be less powerful and always played the second fiddle but not with Ferber’s stories. Emma McChensney’s, who is a main character in the novel, represents a new evolution for the woman and feminism in the entirety. From the signature adventures and working woman, the book breaks the norm of traditional roles of the female gender, which is now juggling between work and family related duties. Without a doubt, there is a paradigm shift in societal roles; expectations further underlining liberation and drive to pursue personal dreams and ambitions. What further blends in with the mentioned one is that while a male counterpart may be motivated to work for monetary needs, Emma is driven by the same only with the following condition. This time, she intends to take her rightful position as a mother which coincidentally thrusts her into a top position for the company she is working for. Here, Feber paints a picture of how any woman can take care of her needs and that of her family without compromising her dignity. The strength of the female is brought forth by how family needs can inspire self-drive into working and supporting them.
With the desire to support their families, women normally take even the dreaded paths. The desire to work hard and not to be destructed has led Emma to break up with her drinking and cheating husband, not at all shaken by the consequences of taking care of her son on her own. Emma turns around what looks like an impossible mission in the beginning by taking on the sexist and male-dominated American culture. It is not deterred by numerous hurdles present in the quest to become a self-made woman. She stepped on the road for at least a decade ago trying to make a mark in her life and career. Working her way through a corporate ladder, without diluting her character and gravitas, she ends up managing the prime Midwest region in the underwear company she is working for. Her role is put to the test when she has to teach her son into growing up as a complete man, which she does so well on her own. At the same time, Emma works diligently for her boss (T. A. Buck) and ends up getting into a relationship with him being aside the point. How she refers to their relationship with him is what appears to be distinctive. According to her, their association is a closer corporation which justifies her playing a hand in grooming the boss into realizing his full potential (Ferber 35). It means that she was influential and committed to ensuring that the boss works hard towards improving the organization. The influence made McChensney to be a representative of the new kind of woman in town being vivacious and industrious. All these characteristics have helped her succeed in whatever she does. True to this statement, her rival Ed Meyers cites that the reason she outsells everyone else including the company is due to her personality. Her stellar progression is not only enviable but also admirable. Quick to learn, she develops from one position into another one finally becoming what most men at that time would want so badly. However, the question is whether that could be based on the fact that she is a woman and knows her way around with innerwear or wearing. It is not quite true. In fact, in the novel, we get to know that her knowledge with the product goes beyond that of her boss or factory subordinates. She is well informed in regards to what the customers of that particular area need. The woman ensures this fact by constant routine checks. In addition, Emma initiates all the sales tricks in the book, being either movie tickets or dinner with her clients. Anything to close a deal will do but not compromise her decorum, of course. She is a version of a businessman who is motivated, determined, and competitive. In addition, her maternal inherent aptitude is evident in her day to day activities within the organization and lifestyle as well. It surfaces when she comments about her daughter-in-law’s friend having lack of energy. Emma refers to her as smooth and faint. She tells that she is the one who lacks interests in life. The woman compares this with her working environment, which is consuming and engaging. However, she manages to find time for her family and help work colleagues realize their potential and right footing in the American working environment.
One of the most important events in the book is when Emma’s character takes a leading role in championing for female workers in the company. As a careful listener, she manages to offer them some solutions on the merit of fraternity, understanding, and encouraging their development. The reasoning behind her actions is that females, with support, can do just as much in the workforce as with their male counterparts. The whole novel is embraced with two themes that override each other in the character’s journey to achieve her goals in life while seeking to maintain her womanhood. The themes are: spirit and materialism. In that, Emma works hard to achieve a top position in the company. She is induced by her fight for womanhood in the space of the male world being more of a spirited struggle and, at the same time, materialistic. The reason is that she does not want to rely on any man in raising her son. As a matter of fact, she single-handedly has played a part in developing two men, i. e. her son and her boss. The financial and career gains accrued by the character are more like her blood sweat and tears in the space of those ancient times. Largely, the story is brought forth by a feminized and soft embodiment amidst the rough and rugged terrain of being a successful woman.
The character has passed through endless problems in order to achieve her success. The success is her ticket to financial and societal freedom in its very essence. Ideally, readers and especially females can draw lessons from this tale as to how they can break the corporate ceilings and stereotypes going on to hang on many of these organizations. Technically, any woman can concurrently manage a role of being a parent and that of being a top manager. At the end of the day, Emma is proud of her achievements. She points out that she is doing the man’s work, earning the male salary, and demanding the same respect that any man requires. Similarly, she tells her son that she is a working woman. Emma further poses a metaphorical yet chilling question in regards to him not liking an idea of her labor yet not minding to spend her money. Ferber’s idea into the inking of this novel is like a roll coaster. She takes us on an adventure where we get to see the progress of a person, her short flings with men, break-ups thereafter, and her comeback following that. She has learned from her own mistakes and used them to her advantage to turn her life around. The essay has explored the role of women as perceived by society in regards to their work and general place in that community. It has also offered a different perception of females through the experiences of the character and her formula into realizing her dreams and taking care of her family without any help of a man. The novel provokes thoughts, evokes emotions, and surfaces a new direction for those women seeking to be independent, self-starters, dominant, and staunch in all their endeavors. The character has embodied these features perfectly with numerous challenges on her way. Therefore, anything below that would be a disappointment towards the liberation of womanhood in a rather male-dominant world is not an issue.