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contemplation of the ramifications of the violent acts (52). In this view of the feminist hard-
boiled detective as copying masculine genre conventions, the protagonist is like a child
mimicking her elders actions, but having no real conception of the power that propels those
Feminist hard-boiled detectives are created to do more than parrot their masculine
predecessors. Feminist hard-boiled detective authors create their protagonists to represent
groups who experience social oppression. The feminist detectives have an awareness of the
power that violence provides for enforcing and protesting society s edicts, practices, and
suppositions. In Sisters in Crime, Maureen Reddy theorizes the potential subversive power of
violence when she writes that feminist hard-boiled detective fiction is a genre less a part of an
existing tradition and more a part of a counter tradition where traditional tools can interrogate the
hierarchy they once upheld (174). The counter traditions Reddy discusses utilize mainstream
tools, such as violence, but for different political ends. The feminist hard-boiled detective is
taking part in protest and rebellion by seizing careful control of violence and leaving behind the
uncontrolled havoc found in Al Halper s The Foundry. Banished is the image of the untamed
masses rushing chaotically forward in a riot of violence and freedom. In its place, feminist-hard
boiled detectives present a precise replacement and redirection of authority.
In Dissenting Fictions: Identity and Resistance in the Contemporary American Novel,
Moses carefully describes rebellious fiction as  contemporary novels that critically engage
existing political and cultural structures, creating fictional worlds that simultaneously indict and
rewrite the power relationships they define (x). Feminist hard-boiled detectives are aware that
they have the power and authority to use violence to complete their professional tasks. They are
also aware of the fact that violence gives them the power to oppress others and to inscribe an
authority that is more in keeping with their political beliefs. But there is a social stigma
connected to violent women, and the threat of violence to women pushes them to construct
themselves as survivors.
Hard-boiled detective fiction is filled with violent crimes. Generally, detectives encounter at
least one murder in the course of their investigation. In feminist hard-boiled detective fiction,
especially in the case of Sara Paretsky s V.I. Warshawski, murder is often connected with larger
political concerns (Walton and Jones 145). Walton and Jones see Paretsky using a corpse to
represent an entire oppressed, abused, or neglected class (Walton and Jones 146). This
extrapolation from the individual to one or more greater concerns is a common trait in feminist
hard-boiled detective fiction and allows the detectives to address a social injustice by solving the
mystery connected to the plight of a single individual. In this way, feminist hard-boiled
detectives use violence to reveal an idea or further a cause. One victim, for feminist hard-boiled
detectives, becomes the poster child of an oppressed group.
Apologizing is another way that Paretsky s Warshawski deals with the potential negative
reaction of the reader to her violence. Warshawski treats violence as a necessary tool she must
use, yet one she does not relish. In Killing Orders, the reader finds Warshawski exchanging
gunfire with a hit man, Walter. While she does apologize for her actions, it is but a one-page
apology in a text of many graphic renditions of violence:
He [Walter, the injured hit man] still didn t say anything. I pulled
the Smith & Wesson from my jeans belt.  If I shot your left kneecap,
you ll never be able to prove it didn t happen when you attacked me
at the door.
 You wouldn t he gasped.
He was probably right; my stomach was churning as it was.
What kind of person kneels in the snow threatening to destroy the leg
of an injured man? Not anyone I would want to know. I pulled the
hammer back with a loud click and pointed the gun at his left leg.
Warshawski s threats and actions are repulsive on many levels. With the click of the gun, she
places herself in a position to violate the same moral norms she, as detective, is designed to
uphold. Nonetheless, she remains the hero because Paretsky allows Warshawski to meditate on
her actions in ways her masculine counterparts generally do not.
Warshawski s transgression of those gendered social boundaries, and the battle to retain
her agency, is one fight many women readers understand. In the world of the reader, the dangers
of transgression, as well as the motivations of subversive acts, are of primary concern in political
fields. Chandler s Marlowe takes it as his right to instigate violent actions without pondering
their political ramifications. Marlowe violates no boundaries, because he is the one setting the
boundaries in the text; therefore, he has no need to justify or mediate his actions. Warshawski s
acknowledgement of the horrific implications of her acts lets the reader know she is aware of
how close she is to social boundaries, and that she is still in control of herself. She is not
irrational, and does not react purely on an emotional level; rather, she is constantly thinking
about the situation and the role she is playing. These processes allow Warshawski to show the
far-reaching, yet personal, scope of violence, which gives a voice to aspects of violence long
Alison Littler in  Marele Day s  Cold Hard Bitch : The Masculinist Imperatives of the
Private-Eye Genre notes Warshawski s comments about her repulsion to violence, even as she
endows them with a referential quality that cites the job of detective as the validation for the [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]