Graduation Year


Document Type

Senior Thesis


Bachelor of Arts

Primary Major

Literary and Intercultural Studies

Thesis Advisor

Carlos Rodriquez, MA


Female character development in literature can be revolutionary, especially for protagonists that bend the rules and replace a socially-based image of classical femininity with their own gender non-conforming expressions. In Pants, Not Petticoats: Transgressive Female Characters in Literature, comparative analysis is used to study the non-conforming aspects of three gender rebels: Jo March from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (1980 Illustrated Junior Library Edition), Scout Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (2002 First Perennial Classic Edition), and Eliza Sommers from Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende (2006 First Harper Perennial Edition). Through a close reading of each novel, aspects of their physical appearance, mannerisms / behaviors, and aspirations for the future are examined. Family structure and social construction are weighed in the influence over the formation and expression of gender identity. This essay illustrates the impact that gender bending characters such as Jo, Scout, and Eliza can have upon young and adult readers alike. Each novel has been notably celebrated for its coming of age story and the ways in which it has resisted gender norms. With each generation, a new wave of young readers discovers the rich complexity of these characters and are shown that there are alternative ways of being a girl.