Women Who Led the Way Critical Essays

David King Boynick


(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Boynick’s portrayal of these heroines is by no means a succession of triumphs. Ironically, however, failures were turned into successes. For example, Antoinette Brown did become a woman minister in 1853, but she only held the position for a short time. Public prejudices forced her out of her position as minister but possibly into a more influential one: interpreting religion and scripture in favor of women. She published nine books and hundreds of articles. These women had to overcome the prejudices of those who believed the only reason women wanted a higher education was to equip themselves for radical political activity. According to Boynick, they had to ignore jokes such as “They’ll be educatin’ the cows next.” Especially noteworthy is the author’s honesty in showing the many sides of those heroines, some of whom juggled marriages, child rearing, and careers and all of whom made great personal sacrifices in order to fight for women everywhere.

To present each heroine realistically and believably, Boynick draws from letters, journals, personal anecdotes, and historical facts, sometimes quoting directly. He presents the women as they were: some tomboyish, some the typical “lady,” and some a combination of the two. For example, Lyon’s “manners were untutored,” “she walked with the long strides of a farm boy,” and she “remained all her life indifferent to her clothes.” Amelia Earhart did not like housework and day-to-day cooking; when not flying, however, she dressed casually or in gowns of her own design and was “utterly feminine, good looking, lovely.”

Of the eight...

(The entire section is 663 words.)