Close Reading for “The Matter of Seggri”

In this excerpt from page 32, a female outsider is commenting on the lives society has created for its men. She refers to their lives as “miserable,” meaning that she sees it as depressing and even unfair. She comments on the fact that their happier, freer lives basically end once they reach the age of eleven and have to be locked away into the castles and away from the world as they had previously known it. That age sticks out to me as the start of puberty and important developmental years, so the fact that the boys are brought to the castle for strict training at that point leads to a true end in boyhood, and in turn an end to the person that boy once was. He will then, after that point, be transformed into a new person, which one man later describes as “dead” after spending time within the castle’s walls. The woman’s sentence are short as she describes the lack of freedoms; “No options. No trades. No skills…” This mirrors the repetitive and boring lives the men face in this society. These boys are given no choice but to participate in “masculine” activities such as competition, sports, and sex, even if they may take no particular interest in those things. This alien woman seems to observe that the lack of freedom in this society for men is unfair leads to misery. They are not allowed to develop their own skills, get an education, find their own interests, or make any personal choices whatsoever. Women are in complete and total control, and believe that they are “protecting” or “benefiting” men when they keep them from being educated. The men are treated as less than human and more as objects of sex and reproduction, and also as entertainment for the women to watch and touch. My question is, who are the women to decide what is best for the men? What gives the women the right to this total control, other than their huge majority in society over men? There seems to be a total lack of understanding between genders.


One response to “Close Reading for “The Matter of Seggri”

  1. While you made some really great points, I tend to disagree with how you stated that the boys live happy and free lives throughout their boyhood. When I was reading The Matter of Seggri, my understanding was that although the boys were cherished births, they were highly controlled by the women even from a young age. Because very few boy pregnancies come to full term and are born alive, they are over protected. When I read the account of Ush’s brother Ittu, I gathered that, although he was highly cherished by his motherhouse, they limited his freedoms. They even punished Ush when she and Ittu created a trick show on their cows. It was so restricting that, even prior to his 11th birthday, he attempted to run away. Therefore, I believe that even in their boyhood, the men of this society have their lives completely controlled by the women.


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