Fowl</em> is chock-full of dude characters. The only three female
characters in it (that get names, we're not counting the pink-wearing holiday
sprite) are Holly, Juliet, and Angeline, and they all have very specific roles
and expectations. Being a female in this universe means being distinctly female—Holly
is the first girl in Recon, Juliet is all blonde hair and eyelashes, and Angeline
is mother totally failing at her job of mothering. In fact, it seems like being
female in this book means you're just a prop meant to spur the male characters
on to action—and that you'll spend a good part of the book locked up, either in
a cell or in your mind. Oh goodie.
Questions About Gender
- The book makes a big deal of Holly being the first female Recon officer, but then straight-up turns her into the damsel in distress by also making her the first fairy to be thoroughly victimized by a human. Is the whole damsel thing cool because she gets her powers back and escapes? Or is her strength still undermined?
- What does it mean that in a book where women consistently needsaving, Butler doesn't save Artemis from Holly's punch?
- What on earth is Juliet doing here? Is she just a comedic side character? Or is she maybe around as a symbol of Butler's softer side?
- Is it fair to ask Holly to be the test case for all futurewomen in Recon, like Root suggests?
Chew on This
Root might not think Recon is a place for girls, but it
actually fits quite nicely with traditional gender roles. Retrieval, the
action-hero squad that does all the things, is all male, while Recon, the squad
that's just supposed to look and not touch, has a girl as its best officer.
Angeline's entire character is all about the men she revolves
around—Artemis Jr. and Sr.—so much so that she makes a fake scarecrow husband
and the big miracle at the end is that she can be a "real" mother