Letters of a Javanese Princess
I do not desire to go out to feats, and little
frivolous amusements. That has never been the cause
of my longing for freedom. I long to be freed, to be able
to stand alone, to study, not to be subjected to anyone,
and, above all, never, never to be obliged to marry.
But we must marry, must, must. Not to marry is
the greatest sin which the Moslem woman can commit;
it is the greatest disgrace which a native girl can bring to
And marriage among us—miserable is too
feeble an expression for it. How can it be otherwise,
when the laws have made everything for the man and
nothing for the woman? When law and convention both
are for the man; when everything is allowed to him?
Love! What do we know here of love? How can
we love a man whom we have never known? And how
could he love us? That in itself would not be possible.
Young girls and men must be kept rigidly apart, and are
never allowed to meet.
Learn to Read
A. Check Your Vocabulary
Study how the following italicized words are used in the
text. Choose the best definition from the given options.
a. frail b. trivial c. hilarious
2. long to be freed
a. released b. broken c. delayed
3. never to be obliged
a. condemned b. obeyed c. forced
4. feeblean expression
a. weak b. funny c. incredible
5. keptrigidly apart
a. rarely b. firmly c. lively
B. Check Your Reading
1. Describe the writer.
2. What is the writer’s cultural background?
3. What religion does the writer practice?
4. What is the greatest sin that can be committed by
one who practices the writer’s religion?
5. What things does the writer do not like?
6. What does the writer want in life?
7. What must the writer do as a woman in her culture?
8. What does the writer feel about marriage?
9. Why does the writer think that the law is not fair?
10. Why does the writer feel this way about life?
1. Reading the letters of Kartini, what thoughts on the
role of women in the society did she reflect?
2. Do you think her letters met the approval of the
Indonesian women? Why or why not?
3. What conflicting views on the role of women in the
Moslem tradition did she present?
4. Discuss how the Filipino women’s role has evolved
from the pre-Spanish era to the present. What factors
were responsible for the changes?
5. If you could suggest changes in the Filipino women’s
role in our society today, what would they be?
1. Do you appreciate the role of men and women in our
society at present? Why or why not?
2. Would you say the Filipino women are “more free”
than their Asian counterparts? Why or why not?