Even Cowgirls Get the Blues Characters
by Tom Robbins

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Even Cowgirls Get the Blues Characters

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

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Even Cowgirls Get the Blues is filled with characters who do not fit the mold dictated by normal society. From Sissy Hankshaw, with her large thumbs which provide freedom of movement, to the Chink who lives in a cave and discourses on the Clockpeople, Robbins's novels are peopled by unusual characters with large sexual appetites. Robbins generates interest by placing his dissenting characters in situations in which society attempts to command conformity. Like Bonanza Jellybean who dies rather than allow society to dictate the appropriateness of her role, each character helps Robbins advance his theme of individual freedom.

Born in south Richmond where Robbins himself grew up, Sissy Hankshaw feels out of place with her oversized thumbs, adept at hitchhiking, Sissy's thumbs represent both freedom of movement and the ideal of the non-technological human, since her huge thumbs help her gain the attention of passing motorists but prevent her from manipulating machines with any skill. When she marries the Native American artist Julian Gitchie, she becomes disillusioned and considers surgery as a way of making her like everyone else, a kind of spiritual mutilation.

Bonanza Jellybean struggles against social pressure to conform as well. Form childhood, Bonanza has wanted nothing more than to be a cowgirl. When her parents tell her that she has outgrown the cowgirl outfits sold at Sears, Bonanza rebels and asserts her freedom to be a cowgirl if she will. Her determination to follow the path she has set for herself makes her a heroic figure in the novel.

The characters in Even Cowgirls Get the Blues can be divided into two categories: those who submit to the loss of their personal freedom like Julian Gitchie, the Countess, and Miss Adrian; and those who believe that freedom supsersedes even personal happiness like the Chink, the outlaw Billy West, and the last flock of wild whooping cranes.