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

1: Jenny Cavanaugh, Jackaby series:

Jenny didn’t seem like much early in the Jackaby series. Despite being a ghost, she wasn’t as colorful as some of the other characters. But that changed with Ghostly Echoes, which focused on Abigail and Jackaby solving her murder, which had become a cold case. Jenny’s main struggle isn’t just the painful memories the investigation dredges up, nor the shocking realizations they discover. It’s also her inability to touch things, or leave her house. She feels like she isn’t much help and is just a bother. But her main trait is her perseverance and refusal to give up. She always tries her best, and by the end of the book, if you even try to hurt her friends, she is one heck of a force to be reckoned with.

2. Holly Gibney, Mr. Mercedes:

I’ve noticed a trend with characters who are implied (or declared canonically) to be on the autism spectrum: They’re all young men. Holly is a middle aged woman who is just as implied, and not only that, also has severe anxiety problems and possibly some OCD. And she’s written accurately; I can tell King did his research on autism. She has difficulty handling strong emotions, she’s socially awkward, and she stims. Anyway, because of her issues, she has been abused by her mother her entire life; even though she’s middle aged, she still lives with her mom and is treated like a child. As a result of her treatment (NOT her neurological quirks) she has horrible self esteem and a lack of confidence. Even when Hodges (the protagonist) meets her, he doesn’t think much of her, although his opinion changes quickly. Holly turns out to be fantastic with computers and incredibly brave, and she develops confidence and maturity along the way. Without her, the serial killer Brady Hartsfield would never have been caught.

3. Mrs. De Winter, Rebecca:

Mrs. De Winter may be an odd choice to put here; in the beginning of the book, she comes off as this weak, shy, overly timid, spineless woman with bad self esteem. She constantly compares herself to her husband’s beautiful first wife who died, the titular Rebecca (although with everyone telling her she’s nothing like Rebecca, who can blame her?) Heck, she’s so weak she doesn’t even get a name. However, she’s also self aware of her weakness and tries her best to become more than that. And one thing she does find out she has is resilience. She is able to cope with living in an unwittingly abusive place, and she is able to overcome her obstacle. She may not seem as strong as other leading ladies, but one thing she does do is develop her strength and overcome her weakness as the book goes on, something many book characters don’t do as well

4. Connie Hall, I Hunt Killers series:

I know I have said that I’ve had mixed feelings about Connie in this series. After doing some thinking after finishing the books, I have concluded that I have less of a problem with her, and more of a problem with her being in an established relationship with Jazz right off the bat; while I found the psychology behind their relationship to be interesting and important, being a couple right away felt out of character for them. Anyway, Connie does have a lot of emotional strength and grit; I mean, she’s dating the son of a notorious serial killer who is worried that he’s a sociopath himself. Connie is not only able to provide emotional support, she has her own narrative. In the last two books, we see her own mindset. She proves to be resourceful and brave, able to get out of sticky situations on her own.

5. Hazel Levesque, Heroes of Olympus series:

Art link: Viria13

Hazel had one of the hardest lives of anyone in Heroes of Olympus (and this is from the series where everyone had a hard life!). First, she grew up in the 1940s as a black girl, which wasn’t a good era for PoC. Second of all, her mom made a selfish wish that ended up giving Hazel a curse: whoever picks up a gemstone she accidentally unearths with her powers becomes cursed with bad luck. So, she ended up being ostracized by not only white people, but by other PoC. And then of course came her mother being possessed by Gaea and, in a desperate attempt to free both of them, flooded the mine she and her mother were in with oil. Yeah. And not to mention all the stuff she goes through in the series proper…Yet, with all her problems in life, Hazel is able to remain a kind, brave, compassionate demigod who learns some of the most interesting powers in the series.

11 thoughts on “Analyzing Women’s Strength in Fiction: Emotional Strength in Books

  1. Jenny sounds like an awesome character! You definitely made me want to read the Jackaby series now haha XD I’ve recently read and finished the entire Percy Jackson series and now I really want to read Rick Riordan’s other books! I love that fanart of Hazel and she sounds like a tough and badass character so I might read HOO next! Wonderful post ❤

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    1. She is! And while Jackaby was a good series, I wouldn’t call it a favorite of mine. They were enjoyable, but I feel if the author was more experienced, they could’ve been even better. And ooh, you.m just finished the Percy Jackson series? Cool! And that’s not fan art; Riordan hired Viria13 (one is his more prolific fan artists) to do new character art. And they’re beautiful pieces. You should totally read them! I hope you enjoy the rest of my series too.

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  2. I LOVE your thoughts on Mrs. De Winter!! I totally agree she is this weak thing in the beginning and we practically drown in her thoughts… they are so overwhelming like this stream of thought run on sentence… but by the end you are rooting for her and the killer and you see that he saw in her exactly what he needed! ❤ Excellent post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When I started reading it, I was so irritated at first. I didn’t like her or Maxim. And while I started liking it more once they got to Manderly and the plot got going, all I could think was, ‘Girl, grow a spine, please! This place isn’t good for you, you need to get out! I know you can do it!’ I just felt like he was (unwittingly) emotionally abusive. And the of the course character development and that plot twist happened, and it turned out it wasn’t abusive at all, and that they were exactly what they needed for each other. I just like how the tables were turned, especially with the characters and their relationships. It’s definitely a book that’s best with a reread.

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  3. I absolutely loved how you included Mrs. De Winter in here. I feel like it was a bit of an odd choice in the beginning because she doesn’t even get a name, but she really builds such strength as the novel goes on. You made such a brilliant point about her. And of course, Jenny!!!! ❤ Wonderful post, Kate!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh yeah. If she had stayed like that during the whole book, no way she would’ve made it on this list. But it was the fact that she started off so weak, but hen developed strength she didn’t know she had that made me like her so much. And of course, how could I not include Jenny? She had such fantastic development too!

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