Summary, in English
The writing of Maria Sandel, Sweden’s first female working class writer, is centering on the working class women and children in the major Swedish cities during the first decades of the twentieth century. The moralistic ideal of good character, especially when it comes to sex, that permeates her stories can be traced to the Social Democratic working class movement’s strive to approach the bourgeois middle class as a method of struggle in order to lift the working class. Here, the women and their roles as housewives came into focus. In controlling the women, the bourgeois thought that they, through them, also could control their husbands and sons and prevent them from joining revolutionary mass movements. Sandel draws a clear line between the women that succeed in living a moral and sexually abstinent life, and those who live out their sexuality. One of her explanations of the coarsening of the working class was the conditions they were working under in the factories. The work, but also the public life, is described as the antipode to the normative life at home. Another explanation is the parents’ failure in raising their sons and daughters to be responseble, hard working and class-conscious members of the working class. Even though Sandel’s stories can be read as an attempt to form a working class identity
that would be an alternative to that of the bourgeois, fact is, there are many similarities between the two. The conclusion of this thesis is that it is not possible to find a single solution to the “problem of sexuality”, as it is described in Sandel’s five novels and one collection of short stories. Instead, three possible alternatives are tried. Even though Sandel highlights the abstinent matriarchy as well as the sexual affirmation as two possible solutions, fact is that most of the portrayals revolve around the marriage and the heterosexual, bourgeois nuclear family.