Analyzing Women’s Strength in Fiction: Mental Strength in Books

Well, here we are again! I did this series of articles last year, where I took several female characters from fiction and looked over the ways they could be considered “strong”. I was able to come up with three types of strengths: physical, emotional, and mental. Even within those three categories, the types of strength vary from character to character. Basically, I look at some examples, and see what makes them strong, as they are all strong in very different ways.

I never expected this series to get as popular as it did, which is why I am continuing it, using new characters I have discovered or rediscovered recently.

I’m going to be doing mental strength first, then emotional, and then physical.

Honorable mention: Kasey Young, Little Monsters

1. Bronwyn Rojas, One of Us is Lying:

(No picture available)

Subcategory: emotional

Bronwyn seems like a stereotypical overachiever when we first meet her; she’s a straight A, Yale bound student who is always busy doing something that’ll look good to colleges. But when Simon, the student who created the most popular gossip app at her school mysteriously dies with Bronwyn and three other students as witnesses, she finds herself a suspect in the murder. And for good reason; it becomes clear that all four suspects had good reason to want Simon dead. As Bronwyn becomes closer to the other witnesses (and even develops a surprisingly cute romance with one) she becomes more and more determined to clear all of their names, even when it seems almost impossible. Bronwyn is a remarkably resilient character who doesn’t give up. Even when things look hopeless, she drives their private investigation, and all while remaining a kind person at heart.

2. Charlotte Fairchild, The Infernal Devices series:

Subcategory: physical

Even before the events of the first book, Charlotte Fairchild was only an eighteen year old girl in the 1800s when she became the head of the London Institute, and even then, only when it was clear her husband was supposed be the true head. To have the Clave breathing down your neck is hard, but to have to deal with some problematic Shadowhunters would be enough to cause anyone to break down. These include a twelve year Will Herondale, who acted like a moody jerk on his best days, and Jem Carstairs, a boy who was literally dying. And then of course, the books do happen, and Charlotte, now twenty-three, gets involved with a possible warlock (Tessa), and the strange mystery surrounding her. Add some personal problems to the mix, and it’s amazing Charlotte was able to keep her calm most of the time, be a rational leader, and be a mother figure all at once.

Art source: Cassandra Jean

3. Emika Chen, Warcross:

Subcategory: emotional

Art source: Marie Lu Books

Emika is a bounty hunter in a technological world where everyone uses Warcross, a site that is equal parts a game and a world. But when she gets notice of a possible eviction, she makes a desperate, not-so-wise choice: hack Warcross’s annual tournament. She ends up accidentally exposing herself. But this leads to her getting in contact with its’ mysterious creator, Hideo Tanaka, a young billionaire who hires her for a job. Someone is infiltrating Warcross, possibly trying to sabotage the tournament, and he wants Emika to join so she can try to find the perpetrator. Emika is incredibly independent and intelligent; she’s fast to sniff out clues, and she is willing to do dangerous things to try to find out who the hacker is, especially when she finds out about a possible assassination. Emika is also able to make incredibly tough, emotional calls, and rarely lets her heart sway her actions.

4. Melissa Lewis, The Martian:

Subcategory: emotional

Lewis is the first female commander to a mission on Mars, but this doesn’t daunt her in the slightest. She’s incredibly tough and logical, even when one of the members of the crew (Mark Watney) seemingly dies while they’re evacuating Mars. But when she gets the news that he survived, Lewis is determined to not abandon him, as is the rest of her crew. Lewis is an amazing leader, making difficult choices while also communicating with her team (finally! Good communication skills in a book like this!) She doesn’t allow anyone to remain outside the know, and is willing to make some hard sacrifices, all while being a near mother to her crew.

5. Viola Eade, The Knife of Never Letting Go:

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Subcategory: physical

Okay, this will have MAJOR spoilers for the first book in the Chaos Walking series. Just letting you know ahead of time. Anyway, Viola is from a different planet, having visited the planet where Prentisstown is with her family. But something went wrong, and their ship crashed, killing her parents and leaving her alone. When she meets the protagonist, Todd, she can hear all his thoughts because of the Noise that affects the men of the planet. Viola is forced into difficult situations fast; first, she hears that the Noise will kill her in Todd’s thoughts. And then they are both being chased by the men of Prentisstown, especially one that just won’t die called Aaron. Throughout the story, Viola learns to trust Todd, and vice versa. She is a fast thinker and doesn’t lose her cool, even when all hope seems lost.

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