A FEMINIST READING OF ANNE MORROW LINDBERGH’S “BRING ME A UNICORN“1
Many women, throughout the history, are given a bad reputation as a human being such as possessing numerous weaknesses, triviality, and many more negative adjectives. However, it is true that men themselves govern the society and so, they impose the power upon the society. There are women who are attached to men, part of a great section of the society. For example will be, a simple woman marrying a lieutenant colonel with given nicknames, “Slim,” “Lucky Lindy,” and “The Lone Eagle.” Perhaps the first two nicknames can be associated with something adorable, the last title signifies a massive influence of power. If a great figure of American politics marrying a simple woman who loves literature and creative writing, what would be the result?
Bring Me A Unicorn, a collection of Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s diaries and letters from 1922 – 1928, showcases her life as a youth, a college student, and a future wife and mother, whose identity as an unknown woman is stripped away and replaced by a greater title: the wife of the lieutenant colonel. Through a feminist reading, this analysis will critique the book’s portrayal of power relations between men and women, as well give minor details about the coming of age of Anne Morrow Lindbergh through the many phases of her life.
The book begins with a set of introductions on her childhood age. Anne Morrow Lindbergh showcases a lot of blissful memories through her [still intact] letters sent to her relatives (most especially to her mother and grandmother) and friends, as well as the letter of those people to her. As Anne goes through the college life in Smith College, she pictures the landscape of her school: surroundings, environment, people, places, and books. She writes these as entries in her diary, depicting her appreciations, self-thoughts, comments, and ideas. She would not create any bias within her diary—whatever thought would come up to her, which is deemed truthful and necessary; she will inscribe it in her diary. Not only has she written her present thoughts for what she sees around, but also its “futuristic end.” Such as, what kind of people will be sitting in this very garden after ten years? Or, what would be the new book acquisitions of the library so readers can plant them on their minds? These questions would raise arguments on her ideas on how she depicts the present and the future through what is seen visibly in the eye.
As the book unfolds more information, Anne Morrow Lindbergh is depicted as someone who has a literary talent. She loves to read literary books and spend time writing poems dedicated to her family. She would spend time reading books that may instigate [unconscious] inspiration or most probably, happy thoughts. Anne Morrow Lindbergh now can be described as someone who loves to read and write at the same time. She can be depicted as a “literary figure” with a sense of poetry writing and literary books reading. In her diaries, she preferred to read poetries by female poets such as Sara Teasdale and as well retrieve an influence of femininity from Teasdale’s poems.
A sense of adventure cannot be disregarded when talking about Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Anne loved to travel to many places, whatever thematic image it portrays. A restaurant would be one travelling place Anne would love. A place with paintings; a place with tons of artistic images; a place imbued with historical figures; a place with a whimsical architecture—all of which fascinates the artistic mind and curious eyes of Anne. Not only she is amazed by the general structure of her adventure places, but as well, she expresses even little details and articulates them within her diaries and letters with creative imagination by playing with words that would seem lovely both to the eyes and ears of her reader(s). Her depiction of unflawed intent to record even the little details creates parallelism of Susan Glaspell’s Trifles. It is evident in the play that women are disregarded for their concentration to the little details and their sporadic desire to observe and keep-an-eye to men-proclaimed trivial things around. However, these “trivial things” became the key to the better understanding of the real case on the story. And such, these trivially small things penetrated the keyhole in solving the mystery behind the play’s character, “Minnie Foster.” Perhaps, it would be the same with Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s desire to detail everything—for it may unfold many unknown keys that would fit into mysterious unknown keyholes.
By the depiction of information about Anne Morrow Lindbergh, it is imperative for the readers to think that Anne is a wonder—an intellectual, literary figure who enforces her feminine powers through her philosophical ideas, critical thoughts, and literary mind. Her power is much more concentrated in the world of arts and her power to move the society is perhaps, impossible due to the weakening power relations between men and women. Men outnumber women in the public roles in politics and governance. Women are much more concentrated in the field of academe, or just plainly being a housewife grounded in the home to serve its family.
The father of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, being a politician, has a great political influence in the America. And having a political influence, entitles you a base of power in the society. It is obvious that men are always being topped as great figures, great instigators of greatness throughout the history. Men have always presented various codes and laws originating from Hammurabi’s Code, and the other historical kings of the Mesopotamia, all of which are men. Even in the modern context of the Chinese, having a son is much more considered a blessing than having a daughter. Concubinage is rampant in the Chinese society and gives low regards for women; as well as the desire of men to marry women to obtain a son, who will serve as a might successor for their businesses. The depiction of the power of men is continuously severing the idea of feminine power and rule over the society. If women would be depicted as courageous leaders, enough to formulate codes and laws to promote the idea of feminine power, it would create a greater mark on the contemporary society. And to say, that many women in the contemporary period are rising to power and rule, as well as being great parts of businesses and organizations.
Implying the power between the men and women, it may be evident that many female oppression throughout the world is already disengaged by the society, it would still be a proper base for the historical or classical times. In the time of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, there are still female oppression (however, not that rampant and not that violent) in such a way, their feminine value is lowered.
Criticizing first the many women and children of Charles Lindbergh, it would be already evident that this man regarded the value of Anne Morrow to a lower state. A man wouldn’t cheat on his wife (if he values and treasures her dearly) and as well would not engage on adultery. Many would say that it would be alright for men to engage on different women because such is the political and military role of Charles Lindbergh, he would be away from Anne. However, this only presents his image of women as a “sex figure” or an “entertainment pastime.”
It would be true that Anne Morrow Lindbergh succumbed to the many evil consequences that would be imposed to her as she marries the lieutenant colonel. It is already imperative on her side to follow all the rules that would be imposed by Charles Lindbergh, with a family background of having a role in the World War I. Anne Morrow Lindbergh, as a woman with great intellectual sense, already knew the consequences awaiting after she marries. She might have already predicted what would happen in the future. Some consequences that Anne Morrow Lindbergh was able to endure would be her shortened time to devote her single life to her youth. Anne married at a young age and she can still do many things that single women do (such as enjoying social gatherings without the thought of married life and meeting much more men to choose who will be the rightful one). This was unpainted from the colors of Anne’s life. She could have chosen a better man that would respect her womanly image and revere her with great respect, with great admiration, and with great profound importance. Another consequence would be the feeling of being weak because of the political involvement of her husband. In the book, “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas,” the Schutzstaffel officer Ralf holds a high position in the political and military situation of Germany. Having two children and a wife, he is deeply involved in politics and his time for family and recreation is already out of the context in his married life. The wife accepted everything happening from the start, because it was told by Ralf everything would be better, and everything would be for the best. Deluded by the lies of Ralf, the wife continued to believe everything. Until she witnessed the true world of cruelty happening, she loses her stand on how the world runs because of her husband. In the end, she wanted a separation from her husband, including the two children because the things happening around is not suitable already for the children and for the wife as a woman with dignity. This scenario, of course, is not impossible to happen in the life of Anne Morrow Lindbergh. However, she trusted herself more that she will be able to surpass the impassable and the impossible.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s desire was always to be a writer. She did not want a position in the political arena, a position where she can impose her codes and laws to the society. Simple as it goes, she wanted to be writer (in which she accomplished it, along with her images as a memoirist and a diary-keeper. She have always stayed in the corner, recording all possible details on her life—including her pre-marriage and post-marriage life. Her pre-marriage life was livelier and more imbued with fun-filled adventures throughout the places. Her father, being ambassador to Mexico, enabled her to travel to places and records many memories she can jot down in her diary. This Mexico trip became the catalyst for the meeting of Anne and Charles because of the diplomatic power and relations of Anne’s father to many of the political icons of the America. The influence of Anne’s father also instigated the marriage between Anne Morrow Lindbergh and Charles Lindbergh. This again depicted the inequality of men and women. Anne Morrow Lindbergh may or may not have a desire to marry Charles Lindbergh. However, because of the fatherly and masculine power being imposed indirectly to Anne, marriage is just a one step away. It would be mustered in the mind of Anne that her father chose such a great political figure, Charles Lindbergh, to swear love and living together in front of the altar with Anne. Thus, this empowers the idea of influences—the greater the position, the greater the influence. Men of great figures, of great honors, and great titles have more influence than those without. Imagine, two people: one is very intelligent and artistic, however not affluent and no remarkable title that would show prowess of power; and another one is perhaps, not too intelligent and artistic but holds a great rank in the society, who would have a better influence for you? Who would you follow? Of course, the latter, because you will have a notion that this man is experienced and well-versed in the language of the society. That man would be more promising and more suited to deliver great messages and talks.
As a result, it would be evident that even in the ninety’s, men possess greater power and influence than women. The power relations between the two are severed by the ideas of influence, social status, affluence, and power, and so negate the idea of women being able to do things as well without the pre-requisite of having a strong-look as a primary image. The mustering idea of the book entails that women are always depicted as writers, poets, painters (perhaps), housewives and other more that only requires intellectual skills and mastered artistry. Women do not deserve to fit in the role of becoming great political figures, or great influences in the society. The book, in the form of recollected memoirs, diaries and letters, evidently projects how women are acting and how men are different. Being the years of the World War I and the World War II, an approach to what is power is the ability to participate both in political and military matters of the American state. And such, women’s power relation with men are already dropped at the lowest level—the level of just becoming trivial images of the society, scattered to serve men.
1. This is a paper submitted for my Creative Nonfiction class at my undergraduate. I lost the source part and I apologize for this matter. ↩