Gender Roles in Children's Literature

Gender Roles in Children’s Literature

The gender roles in both Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White and Magic Tree House #1 Dinosaurs Before Dark by Mary Pope Osborn express the roles of children in each era appropriately.   I think that it has more to do with the environment that the children were raised in, than their gender roles compared to modern times. Each generation had different opinions about the society that they lived in and what roles their children played in that society.
For many Americans, the wars and the depression were a distant memory and the country was feeling good about itself during the 1950’s.   “Society was experiencing growth, economically and socially, and new ideas of prosperity and success for families and the country as a whole were taking shape.” (Cox, p.1).   Family ties were strong and formed of love and the ability to trust. In “Charlotte’s Web” Fern is a very typical 8 year old girl in the 1950’s with very archetypal parents. Throughout the book she takes a passive role after the initial excitement and suspense in the beginning. The first sentence, “Where’s Papa going with that ax?” and the ensuing struggle with her father gives us the impression that she will be the heroine of the book. (White, p.1).   Her relationship with Wilbur starts off as her being a nurturer and develops into a mild friendship because he is moved to her uncle’s farm. Throughout the rest of the story she sits by passively listening to the animals talk about their lives, but can no longer do anything to help Wilbur from being killed.   Fern’s gender role was not to be the heroine, but to be an 8 year old girl who wanted to play at the fair and ride on the Ferris wheel with boys. It was a simpler time in America, and women were expected to play passive roles. Toward the end of the book Fern and her brother Avery ask for money to go run around the fair with. Fern’s mother says to her father “Do you think it is all right?” and Mr. Arable responds, “Well they’ve got...