Connie’s powerlessness equals the feminine condition in this world. She is an institutionalized woman, literally and figuratively. Piercy graphically depicts the horrors of Connie’s life in mental institutions. She shows the isolation; the sluggish nightmare world of strong tranquilizers; the neglect and disdain of the staff and doctors; the malign bureaucracy; the lack of hygiene, good food, clothing, privacy, and contact with the outside world. The horror increases when Connie is among the patients forced to participate in an experiment in which electrodes are to be surgically implanted in her brain to suppress violent behavior. Yet the ghastliness of her situation is felt far more intensely than the strength of her personality. The character of Connie is the central weakness of the novel: In both worlds, she is a spectator. As a character, she certainly arouses sympathy, but not strong identification and caring. Connie is the author’s self-conscious political construct, an emblem of victimization of all women more than a fully realized and engrossing fictional being.
Connie seems a puppet in a political allegory because this is a thesis novel. Thesis overpowers characterization. The thesis is simply summarized, though not simply realized in life. Woman must go to war with her society, battle the many forces that hold her captive, and win freedom, if not for herself, for future generations. This is not, however, the archetypal war of the sexes....
(The entire section is 419 words.)