Eleanor english class, for her bold red

Eleanor and Park, a novel by Rainbow Rowell, is best known for its’ beautiful love story among two teenagers. However, by analyzing the characters, Eleanor and Park, the book presents insight about gender stereotypes in Nebraska, within the 1980’s. The teenage characters Eleanor and Park, both challenge gender stereotypes with their own perspective of gender. Eleanor demonstrates many of the un-traditional gender expectations for girls. Eleanor stands out for her intelligence, especially in english class, for her bold red hair. But she often dresses in men’s clothing such as a shirt and tie, to remain as an ‘outsider,’ even while knowing she doesn’t fit in with the rest of the kids and as a result, she gets teased. Eleanor had to learn how to defend and protect herself, because of her abusive stepfather, Richie. It isn’t easy for Eleanor to trust people. Park’s mother had a difficult time of accepting Eleanor because of her appearance, but Eleanor defies the beauty standards. To everyone besides Eleanor, appearance means everything.Meanwhile, the character Park also challenges the expected gender roles within society for boys. Park is one of the very few Asian-American students within their school, he dresses a lot different from the rest of the kids by wearing eyeliner and doesn’t enjoy the “typical boy stuff,” like playing football, hunting and other “masculine” activities. However, he likes taekwondo, comic books and music. Taekwondo seems to be the only way he can talk to his dad since his dad is disappointed that he isn’t masculine enough and Park feels like he is letting his dad down. Park and Eleanor never had a connection with anyone at school until they met and soon they become infatuated with each other. Park had told Eleanor he loved her, but she didn’t say it back. When Eleanor is being teased, Park stands up for her and since then his dad accepts Park for who he really is.  Eleanor and Park both challenge gender stereotypes by reversing the traditional perspectives. Eleanor wears men clothing, is strong, and bold. She doesn’t care about how she looks or of what people think about her. Park wears eyeliner, enjoys comic books and didn’t have acceptance from his father.  Girls are viewed as popular, pretty, and the first ones to say “I love you,”  while boys are viewed as tough, strong, and insensitive. Both Eleanor and Park defy and challenge gender stereotypes.