Marge Piercy is well known for her feminist views and attitudes throughout her novels. Braided Lives is no exception. The novel follows Piercy’s pattern of feminist writing. The characters in the novel are victims of society’s crimes towards women. The protagonist, Jill, deals with many issues including rape and abortion. Due to her own experiences with these issues, it becomes her passion to help others in the same situation. Jill constantly strives to be in control of her own life; this struggle is another facet of the feminist movement. The goal of the novel is to “make its readers pay more attention to the current attack on legal abortion, and make them more eager to defend the imperiled gains of the women’s movement” (Pollitt 378).
Jill and her female companions encounter many difficult situations involving rape. At age 14, Jill is attacked by her boyfriend Freddie. This occurs at a time when Jill is first discovering her own sexuality and who she is. This experience has an effect on Jill into adulthood. In the novel, she speaks of this experience four years later, when she is preparing to leave for college. Jill recalls this event in vivid detail.
I see his face hard and angry and I remember the terror that gripped me on the kitchen floor when I realized he wasn’t going to listen to my firm loud nos that time. Terror twitched me violently… (30).
Jill’s cousin and roommate, Donna, is violently raped by a townie. Donna comes to Jill after the rape has taken place. She has been beaten both physically and emotionally. Piercy describes the rape and the aftermath of the rape in great detail. dedicating several pages to describing the horrific acts. Jill won’t leave Donna’s side and nurses her back to health. Jill takes it upon herself to defend and protect Donna against the man who raped her. This is just one of many times in which Jill defends and protects her female friends against society throughout Braided Lives.
Fighting for a woman’s right for an abortion becomes Jill’s passion in life. This is a result of her own experiences and those of her friends. When Jill is a freshman in college she becomes pregnant by her boyfriend. Neither is ready for the responsibility of marriage or a child.
Parallel Voices in Braided Lives
Parallel Voices in Braided Lives
The parallel voice is a device which is present in Marge Piercy’s novel, Braided Lives. This technique enforces the effect of Jill’s past life on her future life and views. A gauge of the protagonist’s growth is given by parallel voices, a technique which enables the reader to see how the protagonist has developed from teenager to adult.
The parallel voices of the young and adult narrator give insight to the changes that have occurred in her life. According to one critic, “Jill is survivor, and she chooses to examine her own past out of a strong commitment to the present” (Gold 378). The novel is a memoir by the adult Jill. It shows ” the beginning and the fruits of her political growth,” but it leaves the events in the middle up to the reader’s imagination (Schwartz 379). She writes of her past experiences and how they effected her. She describes her experiences with objectivity. In her flashback, she can examine why she acted in a certain way. The elapse of time provides her with this objectivity. Since she is looking…