Essay on Female Sexuality By James M. Cain 's Mildred Pierce

1689 Words 7 Pages
Female sexuality has often been a topic of immorality in hardboiled novels. However, in James M. Cain’s Mildred Pierce, female sexuality is a means to get to the top. In order to please her intransigent daughter, the protagonist of the novel decided to put her aptitude for cooking to good use and open up a restaurant. One restaurant turns to three, and it seems that Mildred’s success knows no bounds. All of this occurs, of course, due to Mildred’s tenacity and perseverance, but also because she is willing to use her sexuality as a tool to get the right men to do what she needs them to do, especially in a time period where women and business did not necessarily get spoken of in the same sentence. In fact, the amount of sex that Mildred has and the pleasure she feels during intercourse can be directly traced to the state of her business and how well she is running it. The first instance of Mildred’s budding sexuality helping her with her business is her affair with Wally Burgan. Wally is “one of three gentlemen…who made the original proposition to Bert [Mildred’s husband] which led to Pierce homes Inc. [Bert’s business]”(Cain 25). Wally is a shrewd businessman who is always able to get what he wants, by hook or by crook. He thoroughly understands “the intricacies of real estate deals and cash flow, of business and bank loans, and of relations with supplies and customers” (Schwarz 5). He comes to visit Mildred soon after she separates from Bert, and it doesn’t take long for…

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