Women and Western American Literature

By Helen Winter Stauffer; Susan J. Rosowski | Go to book overview

Women in Western American Fiction:
Images, or Real Women?*

Barbara Howard Meldrum

Joanna Russ, a contemporary writer of science fiction, asserted in her essay, "What Can a Heroine Do?, or, Why Women Can't Write" ( 1972) that very few central actions can be imagined as being performed by female protagonists. For the most part, protagonists are male; though there may be many women in fiction, what we are given are "not women but images of women: modest maidens, wicked temptresses, pretty schoolmarms, beautiful bitches, faithful wives, and so on. They exist only in relation to the protagonist (who is male)." These women characters "do not really exist at all-at their best they are depictions of the social roles women are supposed to play and often do play, but they are the public roles and not the private women." 1 Is this true of western American fiction? Certainly the history of the settlement of the West provides many instances of courageous women doing "men's work" or coping with great physical or emotional stress. It would seem that fiction writers would have plenty of opportunities to portray exemplary women. Have they responded with women who go beyond the image stage to become vital, active human beings?

Let us look first at some of Vardis Fisher's women. This Idaho author wrote many excellent novels during his long career, and he is rightly esteemed one of the finest writers of the West. His last novel, Mountain Man ( 1965), is subtitled "A Novel of Male and Female in the Early American West." Surely here is where to look for Fisher's mature reflections on man's and

____________________
*
This essay is a revised and expanded version of one published in Idaho Humanities Forum, Spring, 1981, pp. 9-10.

-55-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Women and Western American Literature
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 331

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.