Study Guide

Mrs. Dadier in The Female Man

By Joanna Russ

Mrs. Dadier

Like Mrs. Wilding, Jeannine's mother is a near-perfect portrait of domestic femininity. Even though both of her children are adults, Mrs. Dadier still spends a lot of time cleaning up after them. She helps her daughter-in-law Eileen with the daily childcare during their stay in cottage country and serves Jeannine breakfast every morning that she's there.

Mrs. Dadier was widowed when Jeannine was four years old, and she raised two children on her own while holding down a job. That's no easy row to hoe, and she should get credit for the hard work and strength it took. But despite the fact that she's clearly made of strong stuff, Mrs. Dadier doesn't stop her children from treating her like a maid. She smiles when her children and grandchildren are around, but when she's alone, the façade drops: "Mother and daughter wear the same face at times like that—calm and deathly tired" (6.3.12). Looking at her, it's easy to see where Jeannine has learned that a woman's worth comes from her willingness to serve her family.