(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Woman on the Edge of Time is a jeremiad, a lament for and a tirade against the plight of woman in the twentieth century. Connie Ramos is a thirty-seven-year-old Chicana, impoverished and without the support of friends or family, who is imprisoned in a mental institution for an alleged outburst of violent behavior. Trapped by a lifetime of deprivation and powerlessness, she is labeled mad, drugged, held captive, and stripped of all personal dignity. The specific degradations of her life in Bellevue Hospital, in Rockover State Psychiatric Institute, and finally in the New York Neuro-Psychiatric Institute are the culmination of and a metaphor for the harsh realities of the life of a middle-aged minority woman alone in contemporary urban society. The evils which plague her life are the evils which plague her society: cruelty, physical violence, the debasement of women, the abuse of children, private rage, and public indifference to human suffering. Connie’s story is a polemic about the hell that women endure in a world where biology is destiny.

The madhouse that is Connie’s personal prison and the madhouse that is her society are escaped only in her intermittent mind excursions into the future. Through the agency of Luciente, a time traveler from the year 2137, she leaves her confinement and enters the twenty-second century. In her first trip to the idyllic society of Mattapoisett, Massachusetts, she discovers that women are no longer responsible for childbearing and child rearing....

(The entire section is 616 words.)