I love me a bad girl.
There is something so appealing about the anti-hero, especially when it’s a female. So
often we see the typical bad boy – leather jacket wearing, cigarette smoking, James
Dean types that steal our hearts. It’s nice to see a bad girl, a girl who shirks the
rules and does what she wants despite society telling her to do just the opposite.
We talk a lot about that pivotal intersection of literature and feminism, the Strong Female Character, quite a bit. We talk about the differences between Elizabeth Bennet and Katniss Everdeen, we talk about the failings of Bella Swan and the successes of Hermione. The Strong Female Character might be an elusive concept. She must be intelligent, self-suffiencient, adventurous, but she must also be feminine, and not strong simply because she’s had stereotypically male traits attributed to her. She must be, in the truest sense of the word, three dimensional – complete in and of herself, without the support or presence of a man.
That is what was so appealing to me about Unbecoming. Unbecoming is an unusual story – part love story, part coming of age, part heist – that chronicles the (I’m sorry, I don’t know how to get around this:) falling from grace of it’s protagonist. Grace starts as a simple country girl from the wrong side of the tracks and turns into an intelligent and cunning woman all on her own. And while her story runs parallel to that of the men in her life, she never seems to need them – in fact, the story seems to be a progression of her needing them less and less. She loves them and wants them, but at no point do they hold her up. Often they hold her back.
What interests me most about Unbecoming is Grace’s transformation from girl to woman. At the start, she wants what we as women are often told to want – marriage, a home of her own, etc. etc. But as she grows, she discovers that maybe those aren’t things she needs after all, and through less than savory means, discovers a life of her own. Grace quickly discovers that she life has so much more to offer, and she makes choices based on what thrills her.
Now, whether you agree with Grace’s choices morally is a different matter altogether – but lets be real, if she wasn’t the way she was, it wouldn’t be much of a story, would it?