Tom Robbins has written many novels with almost all of his novels
have female protagonists. Robbins writes in such a way that the
reader feel as if they are being taught a lesson.Coming out of the
story to speak in his own personal voice is common in his novels.
"Skinny Legs and All" more than any other novel coming from
Robbins, does a great job of bringing to light the importance of
women. Women from the present day, as well as throughout history
are discussed in the hopes that they will bring to light an example
for not only the female characters in the novel, but for the readers as
Being the main character of this story in particular presents
challenges for the female character
unlike any other you would find in a Tom Robbins novel. Male
dominance is much stronger in this story. It would be hard for Ellen
Cherry Charles to not understand the importance of being a unique,
independant woman. Coming from a strict, religious southern
background, she soon learns to associate herself with the likes of
Salome and the biblical character Jezebel; the queen from Pheonicia
who worshipped the Goddess Astarte. The significance and
contaversial stories provided by these two women make them
perfect role models for the main character of the story. Robbins was
smart to include them for the fact that they come into the story due
to religion. Ellen Cherry was subject to the rules of her father and
minister. Those rules didn't leave a lot of room for personal or
The biblical character Salome plays into this story with great
importance. The Dance of the Seven Veils is described to be a
provocative sight, and is the reason for the title of the book. During
the dance veils drop allowing the viewer to catch a glimps of what is
hidden underneath. While this dance has a sexual nature to it, for the
purposes of the story, it is a metaphor for all of the abstract qualities
we associate as reality. The dominance of men over women, and the
idea that it is so difficult to overcome, is a veil that one catches
while reading the story. After all, the true enemy is the tyranny of
the dull mind.
Ellen Cherry is an artist at heart. This is ultimately how she
overcomes the male dominance in her life, as well as the dull mind.
Transforming her world by creating unique realities on canvas is the
way in which she is able to realize the physical reality in which we
can see and experience our lives, doesn't have to be the only option.
For anyone interested in the representation of women in art, any one
of Tom Robbins's novels is worth a read. His unique voice, and way
of putting himself into the minds of his female characters, offers the
reader something new in the way of the issues surrounding the
representation of women.
Male dominance is much stronger in this story.