Gender, Sexuality and Love in “Perfect Peace”

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Daniel Black’s Perfect Peace introduces the themes of love, suffering, and coming of age through the language used by the characters, their written thoughts and actions. The character dialogue is in broken English (also known as “Ebonics”) which is used to portray the primary mode of speaking of uneducated African Americans in the 1940s through 50s. Black changes the language within the actual writing and between the characters, their thoughts and attitudes. The language used can be aggressive, negative and mostly subjective, but the author uses this type of language to form perspectives of the social aspects of gender in this time period. The language shows a shift in the book through character aggression, character upbringing, religious bases, and the mental state of the characters. The setting of this book was during a time period where gender played a strong part in what someone could do with their life and how they were treated. In the book, men were farmers or carpenters and pretty much did anything that required hard physical labor, while women did house work, were active in the church and owned business, which very few did. The children were raised according to their gender. Girls tended to live more lavishly than the boys, even if the family was poor.

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Set in the 1940s and 50s, Perfect Peace is about Gus and Emma Jean Peace who are about to have their seventh baby. Emma hopes this time she would be blessed with a beautiful baby girl after birthing six other boys. Upon the arrival of the new baby, Emma finds out that the baby is in fact another boy- she loves her kids, but because of childhood abuse, emotionally and physically, from her mother, she wanted to raise a little girl the way she wanted to be raised as a child. While looking at her newborn baby, Emma couldn’t shake the thought that her new baby boy had features that resembled a little girl, caramel skin, long eyelashes and big brown eyes. Emma then decides to go against God’s will and raise her son as a daughter. No one knew the truth except the midwife, whom was present when the baby was born. Emma threatened her to keep quiet about the situation. She named the baby Perfect and raised the baby as a beautiful little girl up until the age of eight. Perfect then becomes Paul.

Gender Construction is the social construction of gender with no relation to sexual genitals, gender identity, as the means by which society jointly accomplishes the differentiation that constitutes the gender order. (Chapter 1: An Introduction to Gender) According to, gender identity is how you feel inside and how you express your gender through clothing, behavior and personal appearance. (Planned Parenthood) Gender identity does not always correlate with a person’s assigned sex, male or female, The sociology of gender examines how society influences our understandings and perception of differences between masculinity (what society deems appropriate behavior of a “man”) and femininity (what society deems appropriate behavior for a “woman”). Sex and gender are two different concepts, which deal with a common situation of whom a person truly is.

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Gender, Sexuality and Love in "Perfect Peace". (2021, Mar 20). Retrieved November 29, 2022 , from

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