Sunday, March 7, 2010

"If I Were A Boy" :Catherine's Transformation in The Garden of Eden

Ernest Hemingway’s The Garden of Eden was my favorite novel of the quarter. The most interesting part of the plot dealt with Catherine’s physical transformation mimicking her emotional rollercoaster. I thought it would be interesting to see a picture of Catherine’s transformation. We all have our unique picture of her in our head stemming from Hemingway’s description, but I thought it would be really neat to depict the changes in the novel creatively. Thus, after years of babysitting under my belt, I came to the conclusion that the Barbie website had a program in which one could manipulate the hair and skin color in order to create your own doll. I thought this would be the perfect way to demonstrate Catherine’s changes throughout the novel. The Snip and Clip Salon allowed users to selected portion of Barbie's hair to cut.

The first depiction of Catherine at the beginning of the book is above. The newlywed that was enjoying her European getaway with her husband appeared to be a womanly character. However, as I went to the Barbie website to further my styling, I noticed that it was impossible to cut Barbie’s hair above the shoulder. I also was unable to change her skin color. The only change I could make was to straighten her hair, and I was allowed to change her hair color to white. This is absolutely appalling, and this is a perfect example of what society deems as "normal" concerning gender roles.

In an effort to continue my search for a character building website, I was able to find a site that enabled users to try out celebrity hair styles on a picture of a model. Thus, I chose a picture, and I began on the journey to show Catherine's changes. It was difficult to make the hair color and hair cuts as extreme as I wanted, but the changes were easily detected. I was unable to change the model's skin color drastically darker so I applied a dark colored foundation to her face so that a tan could be sensed. Needless to say, it was very difficult to make accurate depictions since the Barbie website would not let me manually manipulate the character as hoped. However, I hope this shows how I have pictured Catherine from Hemingway's description, and I think it will be very interesting to see how the upcoming film also shapes our perception of the character's physical changes.

*Barbie website


  1. Anisa,
    I think what you did here was really interesting! Putting the images to Catherine's transformation allows us to visualize what she looks like. The transformations are an integral part of the novel, and with every change made by Catherine, we became more interested in her character. I think the reason we all loved Catherine so much is because she broke the categories and dared to be different! I also think the Barbie aspect is hilarious and interesting, because it shows us that society really does place norms upon us, and the Barbie website doesn't want little girls to have dolls with short hair cuts!!!


  2. Ted,

    Thanks for your comment! I think we should start a letter writing campaign on the Barbie website!! You are right, that is the perfect example of how society constructs what appropriate gender roles are!