work in progress…

Below is my essay for my Wikipedia Article, I am still working on it as I am waiting for some information  about labor unions, another common theme in Indemnity Only.


For the Wikipedia Article assignment my group was assigned the book Indemnity Only, by Sara Paretsky, to read and research. When I first started researching the book, I looked at it as a whole, instead of each section individually. That was a big mistake; by doing that I was only getting summaries, copyright information and places that sell it. This was all information that I already had, so none of it really helped me. Also, since I was only looking at the book as a whole, I was unable to gather significant information any one specific topic. After I realized that I had to change what I was looking for, so, I began to focus on themes that are present throughout the book. This proved to be much more interesting.

I remembered reading something that talked about Paretsky being a strong feminist writer. I thought that was interesting because while reading the book I didn’t sense a strong female presence. In fact in the beginning, of the book, I couldn’t tell if the private investigator was male or female. Even though the private investigator, V.I. Warshawski, was a female she still had a very tough exterior similar to that of a man. I knew that one question I wanted answered was, why did Paretsky write Indemnity only, as a feminist fiction, if she did not create an intense female lead?

This question drove my research. After not finding much online, I went into the library for help. Unfortunately, the librarian helping me was unable to locate any physical books, articles, or journals that supported my theme or provided any information for themes in the book. We did however, find that the database Literature Resources of Gale contained numerous articles that discussed how Sara Paretsky was a leading feminist writer that created a mold for those after her. After seeing that I was on the right track for deciphering themes from Indemnity Only, I began to dig deeper. There were quite a few articles that talked about why Sara Paretsky focused on a feminism theme, which helped but I already knew that was one of her themes, I wanted to find out why she chose to have a soft impact in her books.

I read one article that highlighted Paretsky’s reasons for writing Warshawski’s character like she did. In the book we see Warshawski as a private investigator. Typically this role was reserved for a male, because it was tough, dark, and grimy work. At this time most women were either homeworkers or they were working in 8am-5pm jobs in a clean environment. To see a woman as a private investigator was not common, and in most times was frowned upon. This would explain why Paretsky used the approach that she did. If she went for a soft impact, and wrote Warshawski’s character so that she still showed some signs of femininity, such as worrying about her figure and being cautious, people would be more likely to accept her. This also explains why Paretsky didn’t make it clear from the beginning that Detective V.I Warshawski was a girl. By not releasing that information until later in the book, the reader is more likely to connect with Warshawski and not mind that she is woman. This isn’t all that Paretsky did. Also during this time the other feminist writings contained a very strong female lead that showed no signs of weakness, this is somewhat intimidating and would turn people away. Paretsky knew this, so she made it so that Warshawski had some definite weaknesses, such as her ability to have a relationship and her inability to love. This took away some of her femininity, but it also made it easier for people to accept her in this role.

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