Since my group focused on Sara Paretsky’s Indemnity Only, we had difficulty finding a lot of information and responses from the time period given as it was most recent, even with Peter’s help. I did, however, learn a little more about how to use search engines and which engines to use specifically with the help of the resource desk in the library. My group didn’t convene until a little later in the process and, up until then, we had all been continuously contributing which is why the information seemed a little choppy and disjointed. After meeting up, we came to a common understanding on who was to work on what, who wasn’t working, and what needed to be done. During this time, we also went back through some of our prior research and edited it up to make sure it had more of a common theme coming from the same voice.
Although we’d all contributed to the plot, I was the one to go back and revise it to hopefully add some more specifics as well as try to make it sound more fluid. Again, this was after meeting with the group. Before that, I was having difficulty finding things on my own, so I went to the resource desk at the library and emailed Peter. There wasn’t a lot of actual tangible text that would be of use, but Peter did point me in the right direction on how to properly use the school’s data bases. Doing so, I found articles on several of her books in relation to similar authors of the time period, all discussing breaking the atypical feminine mold in detective literature before their novels. It was greatly emphasized, especially in Sara Paretsky: Overview but Kathleen Klein (Klein, Kathleen Gregory. “Sara Paretsky: Overview.” St. James Guide to Crime & Mystery Writers. Ed. Jay P. Pederson. 4th ed. Detroit: St. James Press, 1996. St. James Guide to Writers Series. Literature Resource Center. Web. 16 Dec. 2012 http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.umw.edu/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CH1420006265&v=2.1&u=viva_mwc&it=r&p=LitRG&sw=w) that before these novels, the female character in hardboiled fiction was typically the sexual object or the femme fatale who turned into the villain. Several articles following these lines identified that Paretsky was one of the first to write a female P.I. from a feminist outlook. Also in Women, Myster, and Sleuthing in the ‘80s by Hileman (Paretsky, Sara, and Monica Hileman. “Women, Mystery, and Sleuthing in the ’80s.” Sojourner: The Women’s Forum 14.7 (Mar. 1989): 16-17. Rpt. in Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. Jeffrey W. Hunter. Vol. 135. Detroit: Gale Group, 2001. Literature Resource Center. Web. 16 Dec. 2012. http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.umw.edu/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CH1100033930&v=2.1&u=viva_mwc&it=r&p=LitRG&sw=w ), she talks about developing her characters to have a realistic and cynical outlook on the world and their circumstances, as well as to have their smarts about them. They break into roles that were designed for men of that time period, and often times do a better job than they do. Paretsky even dated back to Adam and Eve, pointing out Adam’s blame of Eve for the eating of the forbidden fruit. She comes off as a strong feminist who is determined to infiltrate this idea of women being inferior in any of sort of way to men.
This seemed to be a very common them not only in Indemnity Only, but also in Paretsky’s other books. This could also be confused with writing styles since it seems to be common in her novels, but the realistic feminist characters are hard to deny. Another thing that was brought up in the articles that the book verified was the throwing over of typical patriarchies, especially since it’s a feminine PI (who is in a few professional roles, also new for the time period) bringing down several men. The issue of white collar crime is more specific to the Warshawski books, which somewhat introduces the breaking of another mold, that being the condemnation of those who normally get away with crimes. After further research, I realized that white collar crime more or less piqued in the 80s, with a lot of corporate fraud tied into it. The “victims” of these crimes typically ended up being the companies themselves with men who were previously rich and powerful becoming subject to the law. This is more of what we saw in Indemnity Only, but occupational fraud that benefits a single person at the expense of the company was also a raging trend of the 80s (“White Collar Crime.” Reference For Business – Encyclopedia of Small Business, Business Biographies, Business Plans, and Encyclopedia of American Industries. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2012. http://www.referenceforbusiness.com/encyclopedia/Val-Z/White-Collar-Crime.html). While the goal of white collar crime typically involves smuggling money, it usually ends up costing the corporation much more than they were able to get away with, especially since it’s unlikely that the crime of the company will forever go unnoticed. I also discovered that the type of fraud we saw in Indemnity Only is seen more among corporations that are more established, or with more powerful figures running them. Because of their credibility, they’re not as prone to extensive background checks like other smaller, less established companies might be. Another thing to take notice about the novel is how it was the guys at the top of the line who were orchestrating the fraud, while those of lesser power either idled ignorantly or unknowingly came upon, much like Peter Thayer did. It’s here that we see the effect of being an established, rich, white male in a corporate setting.
The other people in the group noticed this also, but they discovered a more prominent connection with labor unions than I found. These were more of my contributions, other than rewriting the plot summary, but it’s hard to tell what is to be placed where since a lot of the reading was more or less the same. As I said, it was hard to find a lot of information, but especially differentiating articles. I more discovered the feminist plot amongst Indemnity Only and following with her other novels. Eventually, I was lead towards researching things such as Sara Paretsky herself and strong themes throughout the novel, such as white collar crime and feminism, to relate back to the book rather than articles revolving around the actual novel. It was hard to find much other than the break of feminism in many resources since that seemed to be the main impact of the book, especially for the time period it was written in. Overall, I think our book was a little more challenging than the others, but I enjoyed my group and everyone in it which helped the experience. It was difficult to find all the necessary information, but I think that my group worked nicely with the resources available and am overall pleased with just our rough draft of the article, let alone the final product.