Whether it is novels, short stories or critiques; John Updike gives the reader his analysis on human behavior. He starts with realistic issues and adds a little imagination to create a novel that is rich in quality and relevant to the lifestyles and actions of man (Towers 157). A persons color, gender, and social class all influence and assemble their personality and view on life. Updike expresses this concept in his works and sometimes uses moral dilemmas and discriminations to show the influences. Moral dilemmas are evident in John Updikes novels Brazil and The Coup; related to color gender, and social class.
What attracts one person to another? Michael Faraday discussed how charged molecules in an electric field attract and repel. Molecules that are negatively charged attract the opposite positively charged molecules and like molecules repel (Zitzewitz and Neef 426). John Updike expresses this concept in his characterization of people within the book Brazil. Especially pertaining to the color of the characters skin. Tristao, the main character in Brazil, is a Negro man that lives in a low class environment and falls vigorously in love with Isabel, a higher class Caucasian woman.
As Faraday explains with molecules, when other substances become involved interference takes place (Zitzewitz and Neef 426). In Brazil, on a racial aspect, the substances that become involved bring the moral dilemmas. Trisao had been exposed to crime all his life, but when he met Isabel he was willing to throw away his past and concentrate on a future with her. Unfortunately, it wasnt that yielding. Isabels political father did not approve of the Negro, Tristao, because of the color of his flesh. He looked at blacks as being beasts and on a much lower and almost not human level.
John Updike expresses his feeling to his readers in the beginning of the book that blacks and whites are on the same level. He says that Black is a shade of brown. So is white, if you look. (qt. Updike, Brazil 3 ) in the opening sentence of the book. He hints that we should depend on each other, as this black ink depends on the piece of white paper. If we dont then a tremendous problems exists. Isabels political father attempted to establish a blockade on the force that attracted the opposite skinned couple together by sending men to capture Isabel and to guard Tristao.
Because of a white mans inability to see beyond the flesh, into the spectrum that the whole human race possesses, a dilemma of morality resulted. In The Coup, John Updike also comprises moral dilemmas related to color, when the main character Colonel Hakim Felix Ellellou, reflects upon his experiences in The United States. Colonel Ellellou is often referred to as the black among blacks, because he stands out in the customarily Negro population as being a leader and almost a heroic figure for his efforts to keep his needy nation a model of Islamic Marxism ( Towers 157).
While attending college in Wisconsin, Ellellou was faced with racial questions by his soon to be first wifes father. The man asked Ellellou What do you make of our American colored people? (qt. Updike, The Coup 154). Ellellou then realized that there was a sense of misunderstanding between whites and blacks. What is morally right has been shadowed and replaced by peoples opinion. He answered that it is not because of the skin that some people drowned a life of crime it is the nature of the person and how they have been taught to live and survive all of their life.
The man was to narrow minded to understand and except Ellellous views. This created the moral dilemma of race. How can one race truly understand the feelings of another? Ellellou created another problem by leaving The United States and returning to his country of Brazil, with the American girl. In the traditional history of the United States and in many modern customs women and men have been given different freedoms and roles in their society. Women have been treated as property and have not been allowed the basic rights, that morally everybody should be allowed.
In some cultures men have full control over their wife and sometimes there are many wives to one man. In Brazil, moral dilemmas are caused by these gender differences as well as racial issues. As a woman, in the society of Brazil, Isabel is more vulnerable to discrimination than a male would be in that particular nation. At one point in the story, Isabel was forced to be the wife of a Paulistan King. Women in the book Brazil, just like in many traditional societies, are thought of as being the caretaker. They watch over the children, do the housework, and essentially are their husbands servants.
As a male and a king, the Paulistan had the power to just choose a wife, without the womans control. A woman could not just choose a husband; the male only had this power. So while Isabel was the bride to the King, she was forced to do many tasks just like the Kings slaves. Tristao was captured as one of the kings slaves because he was black and Isabel could not easily save him because she was a female in a male dominated society. This was the dilemma related to gender and race. Isabel and Tristao could not be together because tradition was splitting them apart.
Updike expresses in The Coup, gender differences and how they create dilemmas as Ellellou visits each of his four wives with very different personalities. Kadongolimi, an enormously fat older woman from his home village; Candy, a white Wisconsin suburbanite who goes about veiled from head to foot disguised as a pious Berber and whose race as escaped public detection for many years; Sittina, the long-legged daughter of a Tutsi chief who prepped at a small college in Alabama and is, among other things a fashion designer and a world class sprinter, and Sheba, who specializes in getting stoned and oral sex (qt.
As you can see men can have many wives in the Muslim religion. They are accredited four wives to be exact. Men, in the imaginary nation of Kush, are very real to the historical and some modern societies on earth. Men have all the power and are on a much higher level than women, in the nation of Kush. That, right there, is a discrimination related to gender.
Women have no say in how the nation runs or works; unless they present their idea to a man; who, if he liked the idea, would then use the idea as his own. Many of Ellellous wives gave him ideas on how the nation should run, but Ellellou would use them as his ideas and sometimes he would neglect to listen. He was desperate for an improved nation of Kush and was unsure whether to allow women to help correct the nations destitution.