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Woman and the police novel: Evolution of the feminine protagonist in five Hispanic and Latin-American authors

Myung Nam Choi, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This study examines how gender influences the female protagonists of Hispanic detective fiction. I analyze novels by two Spanish authors, Lourdes Ortiz and Alicia Giménez Bartlett, as well as texts by three Latin American authors, the Mexican María Elvira Bermúdez, the Chilean Marcela Serrano and the Argentine-Mexican writer Miriam Laurini to determine how their female detectives differ from male detectives and how they differ from one another. Like their male counterparts, these female detectives investigate crimes using logic, science and psychology. However, each faces challenges as she performs a role traditionally reserved for men and each reacts in a different way to these challenges. ^ The protagonist in Ortiz's novel parodies the typical "hard-boiled' male detective, demonstrating the absurdity of the model she imitates. In contrast, Giménez Bartlett's confident, competent detective differs personally and professionally from her male colleagues, especially her male assistant prone to outdated gender stereotypes. Rather than a straightforward parody, Giménez Bartlett subverts male/female dichotomies by inverting them. Bermúdez's intelligent detective strongly resembles the male protagonist of classical detective fiction, but all the principal characters in this text are females, lending it a distinctively feminist perspective. Marcela Serrano's detective combines empathy and intuition with deductive reasoning to find a missing person but she forfeits the rewards of her successful investigation when she decides not to reveal the location of the woman she was seeking. Ultimately she abandons her role as a detective altogether to become a writer. Laurini's reporter-detective seeks justice for the female victims of crime rather than simply searching for the guilty party. By analyzing the violence, sex and language in texts by these five women writers, we trace how the role of the female detective progressively changes, while continuing to critique or subvert the patriarchal society in which each lives.^

Subject Area

Literature, Modern|Literature, Latin American|Literature, Romance|Women's Studies

Recommended Citation

Choi, Myung Nam, "Woman and the police novel: Evolution of the feminine protagonist in five Hispanic and Latin-American authors" (2008). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3297712.