As I look at Mattie through the eyes of a resistant reader, I'm reminded of another famous female character in literature who sought an education despite poverty and loss of parent(s) - Anne (with an
"e," thank you) of Green Gables. This could be because I took my daughter to Prince Edward Island a while ago and we've been reading the series ever since (it's pretty wordy for a nine year old to read on her own... imagine reading that entire narrative out loud!!!)
It's strange - both girls live in conditions that are pitiable, but the authors develop their characters in drastically different ways. Anne is spunky, outspoken, and every bit as confident as her male contemporaries. She doesn't let the abusiveness of her foster parents dampen her spirits or stop her quest for knowledge, not even for a day. Compared to Mattie, she is an independent, shamelessly eccentric, a pioneer in a world that was probably much more prohibitive than Mattie's. She doesn't fawn over Gilbert or let him trip her up even for a minute, and is unafraid of her mother's resistance to her continued education. After Matthew dies, Anne does not abandon her plans to get an education out of pity for her mom, who is left alone with the farm; instead she comes up with a plan to continue her education. Anne is proactive and determined, not at all willing to accept defeat at any point in the novels.
Is it possible to develop a character female character in this context that is slightly less demure and subordinate than Mattie? We love her for her vulnerability and pity her situation- but if you look at this through the lens of feminist criticism (I'm speaking here of the first 150 pages so I'm a little blind to how she develops) she fills the traditional role and societal expectation of women, even in our 21st century eyes; still we love her for her weaknesses, excusing them based on context.
Can anyone else comment what they're seeing the resistant reader to be?