Essay: Sold by Patricia McCormick

What Goes On

The novel Sold by Patricia McCormick is about a young woman named Lakshmi forced into sex slavery. She wanted to leave for a labor job but instead was brought into a house by a woman named Mumtaz. Unaware of what would happen to her in this place, she was eager to begin working. As time went by, Lakshmi grew closer to her housemates, and met a boy that would teach her English. She fell in love with the language, but then had to see the boy leave. Later, an American man came to the house, saw her and told her that he could save her life. Without saying a word to the man, he gave her his card and told her that he would be back someday. She waited days, weeks, and months until he came back, and when he did, her life was changed forever. Her and all of her friends were saved. In this book, we are introduced to an unfamiliar way of life or culture. There is a major theme that is demonstrated in this book, which is the huge gap of respect between the males and females in it.

In the United States, we may see some slightly rude actions toward women, but it is definitely a lot more different in the region where this book takes place. Women and young girls were forced into sex slavery. They did not have a choice. From when they were very little, they were taught not mathematics, not history, none of the things that we learn in school today. They were taught how to respect men, and how to please them. When Lakshmi first gets to the Happiness House, Mumtaz tells her exactly what she needs to do there: “‘You will take men into your room,’ she says. ‘And do whatever they ask of you. You will work here, like the other girls, until your debt is paid off.’” (McCormick 106). The fact that Lakshmi was forced by Mumtaz to do “whatever [the men] asked of [her]” reveals how little girls were taught to grow up into something that could please a man whenever they want. At that current moment, she could have been in school learning something that could make her successful, but instead she wasted her time bringing men into her room for money. The superiority of men in Sold is a theme that is constantly seen.

This book gave me a whole new perspective of the world as we know it. It opened my eyes to see the real life issues that occur in different countries. We always hear about sex slavery, but never really take into consideration that it actually happens. Reading this book made me more aware of what happens in the world around me. It makes me want to change something and empower women from all around the world. The fact that Lakshmi needed support from a male figure all her life, and would be severely punished if she did not follow her stepfathers and male friends’ orders was absolutely frustrating. There is a whole chapter designated for Ama telling Lakshmi about what to do when in male presence, and how to satisfy a male. The thing that surprised me the most was the fact that Ama, her own guardian, implied “If he turns to you in the night, you must give yourself to him, in hopes that you will bear him a son.” (McCormick 15). The diction of this sentence, especially the word must shows that Lakshmi does not have much authority over herself, but instead has to do whatever a man says she has to. Women in Nepal, Bangladesh, and other places surrounding these areas do not have many rights as a human.

One of the biggest questions I have after finishing this book is about what happened to Lakshmi. The book left off on a cliffhanger saying that the Americans saved her and her friends, but after that there was no information. I would like to know whether she is healthy or sick considering the unsanitary conditions she had to live with. When Lakshmi becomes diseased because of all the men she has been with, she cries about how unbearable the pain is: “I pray to the gods to make the hurting go away. To make the burning and the aching and the bleeding stop… No one can hear me. Not even the gods.” (McCormick 125). This quote shows how much Lakshmi is hurting. The men in this book have been hurting her, hence the “aching and the bleeding”. They do not have the decency for anyone other than themselves and their pleasure. It is understandable that people want to spare their own lives, but if you are all going through the same thing, it is very rude not to help the people around you. This book left me with tons of questions that unfortunately I do not have specific answers to.

Overall, the book Sold was like an alternate reality. The subject matter of male superiority was presented immensely throughout this novel. Over the time Lakshmi spent in the house, it has become inconspicuous that her physical and mental health was not taken into consideration by the men she had to please. In many places, especially third world countries, human trafficking and sex slavery are some of the most common issues. This book brings attention to these issues that most of the world may not be aware of. I recommend Sold to anyone who wants to see the world from a different perspective.