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Inem is a portrayal of how women in the Indonesian society regardless of class of age are poorly treated and maligned in a patriarchal society. We come to know of the fate that Inem has to endure through the narrator Muk. Inem an eight year old girl is described as prettier than the other girls in her town. Despite all her endowments and potential she is still regarded as a woman an inferior being in this society (Dobie, 98).
The stereotype against women is observed in the very first paragraphs when people say that Inem would make a good daughter in law (Pramoedya, 288). Such stereotypes only see the woman as only good for stereotyped roles like bearing children and marriage. They prevent Inem from ever doing anything with her skills and intelligence due to traditional expectations. Inem being a woman cannot decide anything for herself as her parents particularly her father take up this role. As Inem is modeled from the culture to be submissive she follows all of the decisions of her parents even when they are wrong (Dobie, 78).
According to Dobie (94), the writer portrays the hopelessness of the women due to lack of economic empowerment. The lack of provision of proper schooling for Inem makes incapacitated to find jobs and take up opportunities and thus she is married off. The denial of opportunities for some women such as Inem's mother is not even acknowledged by her painting a grim picture of ignorance.
During Inem's wedding her father hires dancing girl's to entertain people. This is a portrayal of women as objects of sexual arousal. Inem's mother is against it deeming it an abuse against woman hood, yet she cannot object due to fear of being beaten (Pramoedya, 289). The hired dancing girls portray a sense that women due to strong ideas of inequality propagated by men have come top accept themselves as objects therefore they sell their bodies for money.
Finally the narrator portrays Inem, her mother and Muk's mother as a portrayal of the marginalization and suppression of women in the Indonesian cultural context. Inem's life becomes unhappy due to others denying her freedom to decide her life for her according to tradition. Inem's mother's life is miserable and hopeless due to a lack of education and opportunity for improvement. Muk's mother portrays the sentiments of the women but cannot reveal them due to strong traditions (Pramoedya, 297).