Fearless – Some Notes From Class

Paragraph 1 – Narrator refuses the rules regarding Fearless
Paragraph 2 – Resents her mother’s acceptance of these rules
Paragraph 3 – Her attitudes are out of time with her setting
Paragraph 4 – Her continuing struggle with gender inequality


Paragraph 1
“All I saw was a flash of white sock with my foot attached, swinging out and battering into his shin.”
“my mother shaking the living daylights out of me, a furious telling off”
“a warning I’d be found dead strangled up a close one day and never to do anything like that again”
Repetition of present participles (“swinging” and “battering”) show the force of her kick.
Her mother gives this dire warning from a position of panic – she is afraid that her daughter’s independence will lead to a man hurting her. The final clause is emphatic: “never” – to disobey this rule is utterly forbidden.
Paragraph 2
“it’s more insistent now because we’re less ready to comply”
“It was what you did”
“we had to put up with it the way we put up with everything”
“so you kept quiet and turned your eyes away”
“less ready to comply” – shows the different attitude to her mother; rejecting the rules set by men, but the problem is now more important – “insistent”.
Repetition of “put up with” reinforces the idea that her mother’s generation had no choice but to endure the violence of men.
Paragraph 3
“I never could take a telling”
“I don’t remember the men doing much at all”
“I remember their eyes and their children low”
“It was our fault really”
Colloquial language – “take a telling” – she refuses to do as her mother tells her – but this has a broader impact, saying that for the rest of her life she would not let other people make rules for her to follow.
This is a pun: the women’s eyes are “low” as they try not to make eye-contact with the violent Fearless; however their children are “low” in terms of their volume – their mothers have warned them to stay quiet in case Fearless turns on them.
Paragraph 4
“I still see men smiling and ignoring it because they don’t give a damn”
“I kick like a mule”
“It was not there battle. But it was ours and it still is”
Use of the two present participles stresses that the men refuse to see it as a problem. The writer’s anger is expressed in the final phrase – “they don’t give a damn”.
Metaphor – “Battle” – emphasises the difficulty of the struggle for equality. The men except themselves from it. Contrast of past (“was”) and present (“is”) shows the struggle for equality remains.

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