Saturday, November 5, 2011

Ellen Cherry Charles "Skinny Legs and All"

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

artistic freedom.

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.