Since sex and love are important themes in Hush, Hush (more on those topics elsewhere in this section), it makes sense that gender is in the mix, too. In some ways, the book works with extremely conventional stereotypes of gender: Patch is a by-the-book bad boy, a stereotypical macho man through and through, while Nora, despite indications that she's brainy and independent, is an anemia-weakened pawn and sex object who knows less information about her own life than the guys interfering in it do.
Adding to this stereotypical strong-man, weak-woman dynamic is the fact that Patch doesn't invite Nora out for coffee dates and stimulating conversation; he feels her up in hotel rooms and shows up uninvited on the regular. This sort of boy-is-strong-and-powerful-and-girl-is-weak-and-needs-protection dynamic isn't totally cool with 21st-century views of gender.
We have Susan B. Anthony and Simone de Beauvoir on standby, but before we release them for a full condemnation of the book, it's worth noting that at the end, Nora defeats Jules, and she has a strong enough effect on Patch that she changes him from the selfish playboy he once was into someone willing to sacrifice his own wants to save another… though the person he saves is Nora. Hey, we didn't say Hush, Hush shatters gender stereotype molds, now did we?
Questions About Gender
- What female stereotypes do you see at play in this book? Don't just consider Nora. How about male stereotypes? How do secondary and minor characters like Vee, Dabria, Elliot, and Rixon reinforce or diverge from gender stereotypes? Be specific, yo.
- Are Nora and Patch equals in their relationship? Why or why not?
- How does Nora's brand of female power compare to that of other female protagonists in contemporary YA literature? (Having a hard time thinking of other leading ladies? You might consider Katniss, Tris, or Bella.)
Chew on This
Hush, Hush reinforces cultural stereotypes that women are sex objects and weaker than men.
Hush, Hush subverts traditional gender stereotypes by giving the central female character the ability to destroy and transform powerful male characters.