If we treat the superheroes in Watchmen as one big, dysfunctional family, then Sally Jupiter is the mom to Hollis Mason’s dad. His presence might kick start the book (thanks to Under the Hood) but after he dies, it’s up to Sally Jupiter to bring us home. Literally. What would Watchmen be like without Dan and Laurie’s Christmas visit? It would be like ripping the heart out of the story.
Now, the Silhouette may have been the first female hero, but Sally Jupiter as Silk Spectre is the one who defines it, who adds the glitz and glam of a pinup star like Betty Page. Sally has dreams of stardom, but the sad reality is that men are only interested in her looks. Check out the Daily World headline from 1939: “VILLAINS VIE FOR VOLUPTUOUS VIGILANTE” (Chapter I.1). Do you see a point Alan Moore could be making here?
The word feminist gets thrown around an awful lot, but at its core, it depends on real equality between the sexes. In comic books, that’s very rarely been the case. Watchmen is more enlightened than most, though, and through Sally Jupiter we can see Moore calling attention to an unfair system. Unfortunately, Sally isn’t able to overcome the odds on her own, and aligns herself with Hooded Justice and Laurence Schexnayder to get ahead, even as her heart is set on the abusive Edward Blake.
Sally Jupiter may not change much between Chapters I and XII, other than coming to terms with her past. However, her relationship with her daughter goes from broker-than-broken to mutual appreciation. Sally probably hasn’t been the best mother, what with forcing Laurie into the superhero life and teaching her by example to use certain assets she has at her disposal (Laurie also has relationship problems—first with Dr. Manhattan, then with Dan Dreiberg). But by the end of Watchmen, just by being a survivor, Sally deserves to stand up and scream, “Man, I feel like a woman!”