Feminist Undertones of "Over My Dead Body"

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African American politician and feminist Shirley Chisholm was once quoted, “The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says, "It's a girl”” (Gallagher 400). Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe novels were written during the second wave of the feminist movement. The women in his novels usually portray very typical female roles for the period. The main characters are men and the trend remains throughout the series. Over My Dead Body storyline centers two female characters that are the focus of the novel. His writing is unique in that it reexamines the roles that women typically hold and portray.

In Over My Dead Body Nero Wolfe is approached by two young women, one of whom claims he is her adopted father (Stout 484). She was accused of stealing diamonds from a fencing studio and ultimately questioned in a murder. Wolfe claims that if he is truly her father that she could not be responsible for the theft and becomes involved in the case. The novel proceeds in very typical fashion for a Rex Stout novel or any murder mystery novel of that era. Shortly after they claim that the diamonds are no longer missing, they discover the body of a dead man (Stout 1128). Archie discovers that one of the ladies Ms. Neya Tormic had hidden a bloody fencing glove in his pocket (Stout 1318). They quickly learn that the women are not being entirely truthful. He ultimately discovers that one of the women Neya Tormic isn’t his daughter or the person that she claims to be (Stout 5095). She is really Princess Vladanka Donevitch and her friend Carla Lovchen is really Wolfe’s adopted daughter. Donevitch had hoped to hide some of her family affairs and committed murder to do so.

Feminist theory discusses the ...

... middle of paper ... in the open-minded literature of Rex Stout and his eccentric Nero Wolfe.

Works Cited

Gallagher, Julie. "WAGING "THE GOOD FIGHT": THE POLITICAL CAREER OF SHIRLEY CHISHOLM, 1953-1982." Journal of African American History 92.3 (2007): 392-416. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 11 Mar. 2011.

Macionis, John J. Society: the Basics. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2009. Print.

Parry, Manon. "Betty Friedan: Feminist Icon and Founder of the National Organization for Women." American Journal of Public Health 100.9 (2010): 1584-1585. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 11 Mar. 2011.

Ross, Susan A., and Mary Catherine Hilkert. "Feminist theology: A review of literature." Theological Studies 56.2 (1995): 327. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 10 Mar. 2011.

Stout, Rex. Over My Dead Body. Northville, MI: Wonder Group, 2010. Kindle Ebook.
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