Characters

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 298

Because My Own Words is a work of nonfiction, strictly speaking it cannot be said to have characters. However, a number of actual people are discussed, sometimes in depth, so that they serve many of the functions that characters would serve in fiction.

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The principal personage is of course the author, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She has served as a U. S. Supreme Court associate justice since 1993—only the second woman appointed. Ginsburg began a distinguished legal and judicial career by entering Harvard Law School in 1956. Born in 1933, Ginsburg has been a trail blazer for women in many ways; there were hardly any female law students when she began her legal studies, completed at Columbia in 1959. Even earlier, however, Ruth Bader had challenged the gender discrimination that might have deterred her from pursuing her dream. The book offers glimpses of her childhood convictions—including a high school newspaper editorial praising the United Nations—and her lifelong commitment to Judaism.

Martin Ginsburg, a fellow attorney to whom she was married for 55 years until his passing in 2010, is another recurring character. In addition to Justice Ginsburg’s mentions of him, the book includes an essay that he wrote about her.

Featured as well, as might be expected, are other Supreme Court justices, including her predecessor Sandra Day O’Connor, and current sister justice Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. The book offers a tribute to Chief Justice Rehnquist on his passing. One speech offers her insider’s view of daily life at the court.

A unique place is occupied by one late justice, Antonin Scalia, who developed a long friendship with Justice Ginsburg when they bonded over music, specifically opera. Ginsburg both explores her musical life, begun in childhood, and how it became a basis for a friendship that transcended political differences.

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