The short story The Buddhist Priest’s Wife written by Olive Schreiner (1855-1920) is arguably a conversation between the socio-culturally constructed genders portrayed through an intimate dialogue between the female protagonist and her male counterpart in which one is saying goodbye to the other. In this exchange, both characters smoke consistently and discuss the reasons for the protagonist’s imminent departure. The pair discuss societal life, marriage and death with their regards to how these are affected by their respective genders. The cultural patriarchal ideal that women should marry, have children and be subservient to men is challenged by the woman. This sentiment is encapsulated when the woman talks of the liberation from her sex through the act of death.
Death means so much more to a woman than a man; when you knew you were dying, to look round on the world and feel the bond of sex that has broken and crushed you all your life gone, nothing but human left, no woman any more, to meet everything on perfectly even ground.
In light of international woman’s day ‘Cover her up’ is a response to this short story told in a time when marriage and children was the only way and anything else was considered a wasted life.