Katniss, Tris and…Lucy Dixon
In case you aren’t up on your dystopian young adult literary trilogies, Veronica Roth is the author of the Divergent series, and the reason I need her to hurry up is because the books are amazing and she’s only 2/3rds of the way done!
In Roth’s world, society is divided up into five factions, delineated by a particular virtue. So, there’s Amity (the kind), Erudite (the intellectual), Abnegation (the humble), Candor (the truthful) and Dauntless (the brave). Toss in a bit of violence, some impossible moral choices, and, of course, a wee bit o’ teenage romantic angst, and you have the makings of a really entertaining read.
Like its dystopian twin, The Hunger Games, Divergent has a young woman as the main character and heroine. And as with The Hunger Games‘ Katniss, Divergent‘s Tris weathers a slew of trials, both external and, more significantly, internal on her way to surviving her situation. To be sure Katniss and Tris are complex characters and yet in the end, Tris emerges, as Katniss did, with perhaps the most precious of commodities:
And this begs the question: why do you think these young adult authors are casting young women as their heroines?
Could it be because young girls/women in our culture need a confidence boost? Could it be that in a world dominated by male privilege, our young women need to know that they have power? That they can choose their destinies? That they are more than able to fend for themselves, thank you very much?
Needless to say, strong, confident, even violent female leads are not the norm in our culture’s epic stories. In this article, sociologist Kathryn Gilpatric diagnoses the situation:
“This research provides evidence that the majority of female action characters shown in American cinema are not empowering images, they do not draw on their femininity as a sources of power, and they are not a kind of ‘post woman’ operating outside the boundaries of gender restrictions.”
In short, they’re not Katniss, or Tris. They’re not confident.
In our house, we are focused on raising three strong and confident women. Of course we want more than just “strong and confident,” and we’ll need to help them learn how to relate in healthy ways with the men around them, but a dose of Katniss or Tris would be fine with us as well.
Today we cleaned out the living room, and in a box of papers from last school year, I found our daughter Lucy’s “Alamanak,” and specifically the “Sports Rap” page. Yes, we’re raising an artist.
One of the things I noticed was how Lucy is talking about boys. In true Katniss/Tris spirit, right now she doesn’t need any boys!
After all, they’re just “wacky:”