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178

(1921) Author: Sigrid Undset
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Jenny sipped at her drink, and was on the point of saying
something when she checked herself. Gunnar had stopped
by the window, standing with his back to her, his hands in his
trouser pockets:

“Oh, I think it is sad, Jenny — I mean when once in a
while you meet a woman who is really gifted in one way or
another and takes a pleasure in developing her gift by energetic
work — feels that she is an individual who can decide for
herself what is right or wrong, and has the will to cultivate
faculties and instincts that are good and valuable and eradicate
others which are bad and unworthy of her; and then one fine
day she throws herself away on a man, gives up everything,
work, development — herself for the sake of a wretched male.
Don’t you think it sad, Jenny?”

“It is. But that is how we are made — all of us.”

“I don’t understand it. We men never do understand you,
and I think it is because we cannot get it into our heads that
individuals who are supposed to be reasonable beings are so
completely devoid of self-esteem, for that is what you are.
Woman has no soul — that is a true word. You admit more
or less openly that love affairs are the only things that really
interest you.”

“There are men who do the same — at least in their
behaviour.”

“Yes, but a decent man has no respect for those effeminates.
Officially at least we do not wish it to be considered anything
but a natural diversion beside our work. Or a capable man
wishes to have a family because he knows he can provide for
more than himself, and wants somebody to continue his work.”

“But surely woman has other missions in life.”

“That is mere talk — unless she wants to be a reasonable
being and work, and not content herself with being a female
only. What is the good of producing a lot of children if they

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