Gender is a topic that Frederick Philip Grove's Settlers of the Marsh and Sinclair Ross's As for Me and My House both have in common, more specifically, its portrayal of gender. Both novels seem to have, in most ways, a gender portrayal that is mostly opposite to what one would expect in the period to which the novels are written. However, the reader is forced to ask themselves why each author does this. What is the significance? The answer can be revealed in the author's attempts to add some sort of happiness into the seemingly miserable lives of the main characters. .
As for Me and My House by Sinclair Ross was first published in 1941. Gender roles and expectations were still very much traditional in this period, traditional in a sense that the women would perform the domestic tasks around the house and the men would look after work outside the home and would also be the primary breadwinner for the family. Men were also seen at this time to be very masculine, they worked at their jobs, socialized with other men and did not do much of anything else. However, in As for Me and My House, these gender roles are largely reversed, with examples of men being much happier taking on the role of an artist and the women becoming less traditional and taking on the role that would typically be reserved for men.
The primary example of gender role reversal in As for Me and My House, is the presentation of the central character, Mrs. Bentley. In the early 20th century, women were mostly restricted to the domestic tasks in the house, they did not participate in fixing things around the house as this was generally reversed for men. However, Mrs. Bentley was quite the opposite. She enjoyed doing the tasks that the men were supposed to look after. From the very beginning of the novel, Mrs. Bentley recognizes that she would be better suited for handling the tools and fixing up their house. When referring to her husband she says, "He hasn't the hands for it.