Skyscraper and Relationships

All ideas, comments, and help for future paper ideas appreciated 🙂

Relationships of all kind play a large role of Baldwin’s Skyscraper. There’s friend relationships, love relationships, paternal relationships, risqué relationships and even non-human, object relationships.  As human beings, we understand and appreciate the importance of forming and maintaining healthy relationships.  It helps define us, makes us who we are. We, like the characters ofSkyscraper,have relationships that last, relationships that suffer, and relationships that fail.  I think that Faith Baldwin may have been trying to tell us something about relationships and how they can influence us in society as well as how they can influence your life.

I think it’s interesting that the only constant, healthy relationship Lynn has is with her job.  That’s surprising for a 1930’s novel.  Women weren’t supposed to work.  If they did, we’re they supposed to thoroughly enjoy it like Lynn did?  I think when you examine the women in this novel who actually enjoy their job, Lynn and Sarah,  you see that they really do treat their job like their precious husband.  They love it, they can’t wait to go to it, they never want to lose it.  It’s not even the money that they love; its the pure intrinsic value that they get from their job.  So if we begin to look at their job like their main relationship and love affair, it sheds a different reading on why Tom may not want Lynn to work, or why Sarah has never settled down.  Maybe it’s not the hurting of the masculinity that makes them so anti-work or anti-earning wages, maybe it’s the idea that a woman should not have more than one relationship.  The man should be the largest factor in a woman’s life that makes her happy.  If she has a job that she is “in love with”….does he feel cheated on?  Did Tom not want Lynn to share her love with anyone or even anything? And while yes, Tom did say that these values of not wanting his wife to work, came from his family and his upbringing, the core of these values could be lying with the fact that a woman shouldn’t get internal joy from anything but her family and husband.  It would explain men feeling “intimidated” around women with a job.  Maybe they’re just jealous.

 Going off what I commented on in class today, I think there’s also a lot to be said about Sarah’s desire to be like a mother to Lynn and even live vicariously through her.  I do feel like Baldwin was a definite feminist and all for women’s rights, etc. but I also see a message in her portrayal of Sarah.  We discussed Sarah wanting to “teach” Lynn and be her mentor or mother like figure.  It seems like the message may be that a life of solitude is not easy, and it’s not for everyone.  It’s natural for women to feel like nurturers and want to be a mother.  Maybe Baldwin is suggesting that a happy life, like we assume that Lynn will have at the end of the novel, is a balanced life – one with a man by your side, a job you love, and kids.

 

Baldwin, Faith. Skyscraper

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7 Comments

Filed under City Cultures

7 responses to “Skyscraper and Relationships

  1. Cool ideas! I agree with you that part of what makes a woman who loves her job so intimidating is her independence. She doesn’t have to depend on a husband and family for money or for self-definition. I think that if you wanted to pursue a final project that looked at women’s relationships to their jobs in this period, you would be able to find a decent amount of criticism. But I did like what you were saying today about trust as well. I think you have a bunch of different directions to take, but at the heart of it is the idea that once women no longer exist in a separate sphere from the working world, their relationships are much more complex than when they do.

  2. lbbk91311

    I like your summary of the various relationships going on throughout the book–especially the observation regarding women and their work. You asked for potential paper ideas, so here’s mine:

    To expand/enhance your relationship discussion, you could consider what those relationships meant THEN–it’s hard to do this, because we tend to interpret them from a contemporary perspective. However, choosing a career over a family was a huge deal at this time…Some of the relationships are normal, others are less so, and some are almost unheard of (controversial, taboo, condemnable, etc.). With that being said, you could look at the relationships from a dominant, emergent, and residual perspective. These are terms used by Raymond Williams, a Marxist cultural theorist, but the vocabulary isn’t necessarily important, and the terms are pretty self explanatory: Dominant- the primary, accepted cultural practices (behaviors, choices, decisions, etc.); emergent- cultural practices that are growing in popularity, but have not been adopted by the majority; and residual-practices that were once part of the dominant culture, but are decreasing in popularity. (Applying these concepts to fashion helped me understand them better: just think about bellbottoms in the 1960’s vs. the 1980’s…it was a BIG no no, the standard was parachute pants…)

    I explained all of that because we haven’t talked about Williams in class, but he would be a credible source for the essay. Also, looking at the relationships in this way could make for a good contrast with what is considered the norm today.
    Just a suggestion…hope it helps…

  3. aualum12

    I find it interesting to study the relationships seen in Skyscraper and use them to discuss the impact that women having careers has on their different relationships. To me, it’s interesting to think about the characters in the novel and then compare their relationships and actions to actual people. Although we obviously didn’t live in the 1930’s, we can read Skyscraper and have no doubt that Tom has issues with Lynn’s desire to have a career. Maybe Tom’s reluctance is due to his insecurities, or like you said, maybe he’s simply just jealous. The fact that I didn’t get to experience this time period first hand gets me to wondering what life would have really been like.

    As a woman, I like to think that one day I will have both a family as well as a career. However, I find it interesting how Sarah chooses her career over a husband and family and encourages Lynn to do the same. As you mentioned, Sarah puts her career first, but then she acts as a maternal figure to Lynn. There are several angles you could take for your final paper, and I don’t think you could go wrong with any of them. I really like this topic.

  4. I think your analysis of the relationship between Lynn, Sarah, and their jobs is an interesting one. I think it could make a very interesting paper, and I would not mind reading more about it. Your analysis really made me look at those two characters in a different light, and made me understand a little more about why they were so dedicated to their jobs.

  5. auburn22

    I really love your discussion of Sarah. I think that it is very interesting that Sarah encourages Lynn to choose a career, but still seems to get her maternal fix through guiding Lynn. This seems to paint a complicated picture of feminism. Thanks for bringing up that point.

  6. nam88

    While working on my final project for class I came across a quote for an article that reminded me of your blog post. “Platonic female friendships are more important than romantic and sexual love and that women can be each others life partners in a way that men cannot.” It later goes on to give an example from Sex in the City when Charlotte says “Maybe we could be each others soul mates. And then we could let men be these great nice guys to have fun with.”

  7. bkl0002

    I actually wrote a paper this past semester about the importance of female friendships. In Frances Brooke’s “The History of Emily Montague” the “strong” female character, Arabella, describes her relationship with her best female friend, Emily, as the most important relationship in her life. Their friendship even sort of blurs the lines between platonic and romantic love. The two are separated for a while and Bella becomes so distraught over it that she is nearly “incapable of writing,” claiming that she has never before felt such sorrow. Supporting what aualum12 says, Emily’s lover in the novel is even jealous of the girls’ friendship. Nonetheless, Bella later states that romantic love is ultimately better than female friendship. I think it’s also interesting that you say that “Skyscraper” perhaps explains that a balance of love and friendship is best, yet “Emily Montague” stresses that the two cannot coincide; a woman usually is entirely devoted to her friends or her lover. I can definitely see this. I feel like there are plenty of women who completely neglect their friendships when in a relationship, as well as people who neglect their relationships in order to spend more time with friends. So maybe the issue is not so much that women should strike a balance, but rather that the balance can be difficult to achieve – particularly when women are conflicted themselves.

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