Fearless is characterised by Galloway as a deeply unpleasant character, both physically and psychologically. E. She describes his walk as, “the clink and drag, clink and drag, like Marley’s Ghost, coming up the street.” E. The repetition conveys a sense of inevitability – the sense of Fearless drawing closer to the listener. This creates an ominous tone, a feeling of something terrible about to occur. In this way, Fearless is shown as a dangerous character before he has even arrived. This danger is a direct threat to Galloway, reinforcing the misogynist structure of her society.
The unfair, patriarchal structure of Galloway’s society is also made clear through the contrasting reactions of the men and women to Fearless. E. Despite Fearless being a threat to the women of the town, they still tried to “be thought above the herd.” E. This is especially unpleasant because, in order to cause the minimum fuss, the women pretended that they were not afraid – metaphorically not part of “the herd”. This term is dismissive of the women who feared Fearless – they were cattle; unable to think for themselves. In this way the sexist nature of Galloway’s society is made clear.
When Galloway – a mere toddler – kicks out at Fearless’s intimidation of women, she breaks a strongly-held social rule: women should not challenge Fearless (or men more generally). E. The narrator is so overcome by a sense of injustice that “something else did the thinking for me”. E. She was not in control of her anger, and this loss of control allowed her to step outside of her role as a woman on the west coast of Scotland. This is revealing: it was only in a moment when thinking could not restrain her that she was able to exercise her independence. The rules of her world had been so deeply held, that they could only be broken if a person stopped thinking.
However, the story resolves in an optimistic, and defiant, conclusion that rejects patriarchal control. E. Galloway insists that she still “kicks like a mule”. E. The simile conveys the strength of her reaction against sexist control over women, and shows that the feeling of injustice she felt as a child still burns within her.