My last two posts, Name that Woman Round One and Name that Woman Round Two, invited you to identify women whom we know and admire from literature and history. How did you do? For this final round, I threw in a couple of lesser-known ones. But don’t worry—you’ll find some old friends here too.
The answers to Round 2 are listed at the end of the post.
1. Genre: Young Adult fantasy; Published, 1977. When her fiance disappears, this young but powerful sorceress travels the entire land to find him, fighting shapechangers and ghosts along the way. This is one of my husband’s favorite books, since he loves both fantasy and this author’s poetic style of writing.
2. Real Person, lived 1867-1951. This Irish girl, plagued all her life with chronic illness, left her home for missionary work. She eventually settled in India, where she fell into the dangerous work of rescuing temple prostitutes—usually young girls—at risk to her own life. She established a refuge for thousands of children who otherwise faced a bleak future. Three years before her death, India finally outlawed temple prostitution, but her community continued to offer care and refuge for the poor and oppressed. She insisted she didn’t want a tombstone over her grave when she died; the children she’d cared for erected a stone birdbath on her grave inscribed simply, “Amma,” which in the Tamil language means “mother.”
3. Genre: Juvenile/Young Adult mystery; Published: originally in 1938, periodic re-issues and rewrites till present day. This intriguing teenager was always on a case. She solved mysteries flanked by her two best friends, her ever-loyal boyfriend, and in the blue convertible that her lawyer dad gave her. Depending on which era you read, she’s sassy and plays fast and loose with the rules; or she’s immaculately dressed and frequently cooks a nourishing meal for her friends while tracking down clues; or she’s edgy and modern, torn between her boyfriend and her attraction for one of literature’s famous boy detectives. I myself read a few of the middle-era books, but what I really enjoy are the computer games developed by HerInteractive featuring this iconic American young woman.
4. Real Person, lived circa 33 A.D. In a time and place when women had slightly higher property value than cattle, this young woman was singled out to raise a long-awaited hero of her people. She knew from the start that her task was hard and would end in heartache, but she accepted. She never abandoned her son, even when he died a humiliating death that devastated and disillusioned most of his other followers. She was probably one of the few who wasn’t too surprised when he returned, alive again. She held prominence among his followers, cared for by one of his closest friends, until her death. Exactly how she died is a matter of traditional interpretation, but her unwavering faith is a solid fact.
5. Genre: Young Adult Fiction; Published:1958. When her father dies, this young woman leaves her hot, luxurious tropical home to live with relatives in 1687 Connecticut. The austere life baffles her, just as her exuberance and creativity unsettles the community. She’s lonely, cold, unused to having to work, and doesn’t understand how to live in this new world. She befriends an old woman who is also viewed with suspicion by the townsfolk. As a dire sickness sweeps the community, accusations of witchcraft threaten her very life. But she truly loves her adopted family and her friends, and refuses to let injustice rule the day. I particularly like this book because it shows that nothing—and no one—is entirely bad or entirely good. The ending provides a perfect resolution.
6. Genre: Adult Mystery. Published: various books from 1932 to 1976. An old lady in a quiet little village, this unlikely heroine doesn’t seem to do very much. She chats about people she once knew, ponders her neighbors’ problems, and—oh, right—solves murders. You won’t get anything past this sweet little old woman.
7. Genre: Young Adult Fantasy; Published 1991. A street rat in an alternate version of 1880s London, this young teenager catches on really fast that a performing magician isn’t just doing tricks—he can do the real thing. She gets pulled into a complicated plot involving theft, magical schemes, and her own destiny as a magician. This book and its sequel are lighthearted and funny, with a smart, streetwise gal who refuses to be left out of any of the excitement.
These three quizzes represent only a fraction of the suggestions my friends gave me for their favorite strong female characters. Did I mention yours? Who is she, and why?
Thanks for playing. Go forth and be inspired!
Answers to Round 2:
- Jane Eyre, Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
- Judith, from the Apocrypha section of some versions of the Bible
- Skeeter (Eugenia) Phelan, The Help, Kathryn Stockett
- Anne Shirley, Anne of Green Gables, M. Montgomery
- Meg Murry, A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle
- Elnora Comstock, A Girl of the Limberlost, Gene Stratton-Porter
- Molly Weasley, the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling
Photo Credit: Graphic design by Charity Klicka.