Marge Piercy's Woman on the Edge of Time is a dichotomy of two worlds: one utopic and one distopic. Although the world of the future is utopic in many senses, e.g. Marxist, environmentalist, etc., Piercy seems to especially focus on feminist issues. The two main characters, Connie and Luciente, are both women, and are both products of their respective societies. It is through these two characters that Piercy reveals not only extrinsic societal features, but also those that are only apparent in the bearing they have on individual social character. As both characters are women (by Piercy's choice), it is not odd that Piercy focuses on female issues. Piercy uses the two women as windows to a feminist utopia and a feminist distopia.
Connie's world, our own world, is the distopia. Women, as a social group, are subjugated. All of the women we see in the present are weak and must rely on men, who, with the exception of skip (who is homosexual), seem to be in positions of power. Dolly relies heavily upon Geraldo and later Vic, although they do absolutely for her, and Luis signs Connie into the mental institution. The existence of traditional gender roles stifles the characters further. Women are exploited; Dolly is a prostitute and Connie becomes a lab experiment. In the opening scene of the book we find Connie in her apartment which only consists of two rooms: a bedroom and a kitchen, the traditional "places for women" where men exploit them. The fact that Connie used to be a secretary, who was seduced, and now does cleaning jobs only reinforces the idea of subjugation. For feminists, women are/were a type of "proletariat." Piercy seems to echo this idea by having one of Connie's ...
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...sacred and they would not consider it expendable, even for equality. To put it another way, many feminist do not think it is necessary to sacrifice it. Piercy also frees women of the burdens of children and family, yet many feminists would hardly consider these things to be burdens. Although Piercy definitely gives us a utopia, it is only one version. Connie herself questions whether or not some aspects, e.g. birthing machines, of Luciente's world are actually better. As we question the future world, we must also consider our world. How true or representative is Connie's situation. Certainly these things happen, but is this world the distopia for every modern women? This work bleeds idealism and ideology. This marks Woman on the Edge of Time as a feminist novel – fasure!
Piercy, Marge Woman on the Edge of TimeFawcett Crest: New York 1976.
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