Midterm paper

Midterm paper - Nancy Drew: female heroine, courageous...

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Nancy Drew: female heroine, courageous detective, girlfriend to a football player from Emerson College. Girls who grew up with Nancy Drew were imbibed with her clearly female sex, but androgynous gender qualities. Strong yet pretty, smart but dependent, Nancy Drew seems to straddle the gender and power continuum. In The Secret of the Forgotten City —Number 52 in the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories series —author Carolyn Keene paints Nancy as the sole heroine in solving the mystery of an “ancient Indian treasure.” However, a deeper deconstruction of the plot reveals Nancy in powerless in her genderless state. None of her actions are independent. Nancy simply exists for “the maintenance of male power” (Fetterley 500). Nancy Drew is not a feminist hero. She is just a powerless female. The plot opens with Nancy Drew and her boyfriend, Ned, at the Drew household planning a gold mining trip to Nevada. Suddenly, an old woman screams, and the couple discovers that the woman’s handbag containing ancient tablets has been stolen. Nancy, Ned and friends go on an expedition to recover the tablets in ancient Nevada mines, stumbling upon a lucrative secret in the process. The six friends— Nancy and Ned, George and Burt, and Bess and Dave embark on the adventure with the blessings of police Chief McGinnis, Nancy’s father, and the maternal housekeeper, Hannah Gruen. The story ends with capture of the “half-Indian”— Fleetfoot Joe—the discovery of the buried treasure, and the returning of the tablets to the grateful old Indian woman. Each character plays a distinct part in defining gender roles. Femininity is better defined by Nancy’s friends than by Nancy herself. Her two friends, George and Bess, arrive at the Drew household with their dates in tow:
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George, a girl who enjoyed her boyish name, walked in first. She was slender and athletic looking and wore her hair short. Bess in contrast was blond with longer hair. She was slightly plump and pretty. (Keene 11) Bess exemplifies Keene’s “feminine norm”: emotional, passive, pretty, and adept in the kitchen. Her appearance—“plump and pretty”—suggests a lifestyle of knitting and cooking, not exploring. She hangs back from the action, refusing to get dirty or involved with the main action plotline. Action is a male characteristic. In one instance, Nancy is about to leave on an adventure and asks George about Bess’s whereabouts. George says, “'I bet I can tell you where she is…in the kitchen. It’s already past mealtime and if there’s one thing that bothers Bess it’s going too long without lunch.'” (Keene 101) Not only is Bess avoiding the desert escapade, but clearly holds food as more important than helping her friends. The female is too weak to go to the desert. She must stay in the kitchen where it is safe, where men will not
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Midterm paper - Nancy Drew: female heroine, courageous...

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