In the film, Eve’s Bayou, when Eve, the protagonist of the story, witnesses her father her father’s extramarital affair, there are several political and social implications, some which relate to gender, and others to race.
In Eve’s Bayou, Eve Batiste’s father is the strongest male influence in her life
he’s her mother’s sexual partner, the family’s bread winner, her protector and she very much desires his attention. Because of this, her interactions with him, and his interactions with other woman, become her model for the way that males and females should relate. In the film’s opening we see just how much Eve’s father’s attention means to the young girl. When she observes her father dancing, first with woman other than her mother, and then, more importantly, with her sister, she becomes jealous and stomps with off.
This type of social modeling is not a new idea raised by the film. It falls in line with many psychological theories of how female socialization occurs. So when Eve witnesses her fathers indiscretion, it becomes a hugely traumatic event in her young life, fundamentally altering her perception of male female relationships from that point on. What is a young girl to make of seeing her father being sexually active with someone other than her mother? What does it say about fidelity? What does it say about how to gain a male’s attention? And, what does it say about her mother?
The social disturbance that this act creates is most visible in the actions of Eve’s sister, Cisely. As the film progresses, their father’s affairs become harder and harder
to ignore. For a while, the sisters pretend that they affairs do not exist. Then they begin to blame their mother and then, slowly, they begin to accept the truth. Once they are entering this stage, they are forced to wrestle with what this truth says about their father,
and men in general. Cisely, seeing that sexuality seems to be the primary thing that gains her father’s attention, attempts to alter the nature of their relationship, to make it a sexual one.
There are also political implications to the gender relationship between Eve and her father because Eve’s family actively participates in patriarchy. Her father is the head of the family, and care taker of the family. Their father holds authority not only in their home but also outside it, where his position as a doctor heightens his male power
and makes him something of an alpha male, and an object of desire for many woman other than his wife.
Eve’s father’s patriarchal view on the lesser value of woman is underscored
when he reduces his wife to solely a sexual object by making an analogy that compares her to a used pillow. They live in a world that will accept infidelity in males as not much of an issue. It is also a world that in some ways, male attention can be related to survival. Eve’s mother lives in a large house and has expensive clothes, but she did not provide these items for herself, and her children are aware of that.
There is also a race issue to the indiscretions that Eve witnesses. While extramarital affairs have long been a characteristic commonly associated to men of any race, it is even more common to find black men associated with them. Statistically, there are more African American single parent families in America than in any race, so seeing a black male engaging in this type of activity has an even more intense negative connotation than it might if it were a black male.
In Eve’s Bayou the character’s race isn’t an issue that’s central to the plot. The story doesn’t racialize them at all. They are simply people living in the south. But,
viewers bring their past experiences with them when they watch any film, so commonly held beliefs about are phenomena pertaining to African Americans may still play a role when viewing the film.
This is the beauty, and the curse, of looking. No one can ever look at an image with bringing their past experiences to it, thus there are many political social implications to Eve’s Bayou.