The Men We Carry in Our Minds Summary

8 August 2016

The Men We Carry in Our Minds is an essay by Scott Russell Sanders on the roles and responsibilities given to men and women in different echelons of society. Writing from his own point of view, the author spends the majority of the essay comparing and contrasting the differing jobs of men and women, and then outlining the effects of those jobs on them. Sanders’ views on the responsibilities of women change over the course of his maturation, but his sympathetic view towards the labours of the common man remains the same despite realizing and even experiencing the plights of the average woman.

The essay opens (apart from the retelling of a debate the author had with a friend of his) with a bleak portrayal of prisoners performing backbreaking work in the sweltering heat, with their bodies barely standing the crushing weight of the work. (Sanders, 324) The men are forced onward by shotgun-wielding guards.

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This is a metaphor for the situation of most of the men the author knows growing up, as he describes several instances of men working tiring jobs their entire lives, only for their bodies to give out on them. The shotguns at their backs represent the bills to pay and the families to support.

The author gives the lone exception of the soldiers he knew as a boy, but acknowledges that they too suffered under burdens; those of boredom, and the very real threat of deployment and death in wars they had no say in nor part in the starting of. As the author puts it, the bleak nature of men is “killing themselves or preparing to kill others. ”(Sanders, 327) The second part of the essay is mainly devoted to women. The author, upon reaching university, becomes aware of the criticisms heaped upon men by the women there.

Up until this point, he had thought that women were creatures of leisure, with time to visit friends and read books. He admits that women often “suffer from the bullying of men,” (327) and how they either fill thankless jobs at restaurants or as secretaries, or they waste away alone in empty houses. However, he ultimately trumps the notion that women have it worse than men, noting that the man carries the need to care for the family, and that any financial troubles are his, stating that he would sooner tend a home and children than a factory floor.

His final thoughts are envious, contemplating the wealthy man, and how he seems to have no troubles. (328) Sanders regards this brand of man to be an enemy both to women and to the working class, due to his high station in society and role in creating the toil of men and women found in this essay. These are the two “men we carry in our minds:”(324) There is the wealthy oppressor thought of by some women, forcing the toiler on, shotgun in hand; and there is the labourer of the mind of the author, working on into decrepitude.

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