Great Women in the Shadows of Time
Great Women in History and their impact on the novel Shadows of December
The main character in Shadows of December is Jay, a self-centered teenage boy, but strong female characters guide him throughout his self-awakening journey from his extra-perception grandmother, his loving mother to the mysterious all-knowing angelic presence of Danielle. You can clearly see the strength and fortitude of the female spirit throughout not only the book, but also time itself…
Throughout history, there have been many incredible women who have led the way in science, theatre, academia, politics and social revolution. To honor all of them is impossible, but I want to pay tribute to a few of my favorites who have inspired and motivated me.
You know how much I love science! Marie Curie is one of my heroes. She was amazing: both a physicistand chemist who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize TWICE in two different science fields and the first woman to become a professor at the University of Paris. In honor of her incredible contributions to science, she was buried in the Panthéon in Paris; the first woman to be entombed there due to her own distinctions.
I often think of Jane Austen as the “mother of female writing” as we know it today. She was an English novelist who wrote six major novels, which interpreted and critiqued the classed system of English Gentry. While fiction, her novels were based on real events of the era. With a bit of irony, humor and some tongue-in-cheek, Austen was able to comment on the social environment of the day perfectly.
Susan B Anthony
Anthony played a pivotal role in the women’s suffrage movement. She was a defender of temperance, abolition, the rights of labor, and equal pay for equal work. She risked being arrested giving speeches in public and spent her life working for women’s rights. It’s unfortunate that she died before seeing her action come to fruition with the ratification of the 19th Amendment of the Constitution in 1920. Her most famous quote: “Men, their rights, and nothing more; women, their rights, and nothing less”
Rosa Parks was the face of the civil right movement. She was charged with civil disobedience after she refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man becoming “the mother of the freedom movement.” I have always respected Ms. Parks because without saying a word, she spoke mountains: like Danielle in the book, she started a revolution with only a look. I love that.
Another Scientist: Rosalind Franklin was a chemist and as an X-ray crystallographer. Her life was short, but immensely powerful, with her work directly contributing to the discovery and understanding of the molecular structures of DNA, RNA and viruses.
Sacagawea was a Lemhi Shoshone woman, who at the age of 16, helped Lewis and Clark with their expedition exploring the Louisiana Purchase. She traveled 1000s of miles from her home in North Dakota to the Pacific Ocean with the explorers, helping to create cultural contacts with the various Native American populations and chart the territory. She was a bit of the inspiration behind the character, Miakoda, both for her bravery and sincerity of life.
Born into slavery, Harriet Tubman escaped in 1849 and returned to rescue approximately 70 enslaved people through the Underground Railroad, using a secret network of safe houses and tunnels. During the Civil War, she served as a spy for the Union Army and in her later years, was an activist in the women’s suffrage movement. I pay homage in Shadows of December towards the Underground Railroad and the bravery of all those involved in the antislavery movement.
Louisa May Alcott
Another famous author, Louisa May Alcott started working at a young age to assist her family through financial difficulties. During that time, she found an outlet in writing and went on to write “Little Women” considered one of the most famous novels in American history. As I had to step in after my mother’s death to raise my younger siblings, I feel a kinship with her: story telling was an outlet for me during difficult times.
Amelia Earhart 1897-1937
(disappeared July 2, 1937)
Talk about a trailblazer! Amelia Earhart was the only the 16th woman ever to be issued a pilot’s license (in the USA) first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She mysteriously disappeared in 1937 while trying to circle the globe at the equator. Her disappearance has continued to remain a mystery to this day. She is a powerful role model because she spent her life pursuing her passion. She is often quoted and one of my favorites is as follows: “The more one does and sees and feels, the more one is able to do, and the more genuine may be one’s appreciation of fundamental things like home, and love, and understanding companionship.” In Shadows of December, you can see Jay’s growing appreciation for his family and the “simple life”. He learns too late what it means to lose it all and the importance of home.
In each one’s special and unique way, these women, along with countless others, made impacts on the future which drive our lives today. That concept has always stuck with me and is the running theme throughout Shadows of December: your choices today define the future of mankind tomorrow…What choices will you make today? How will they impact future generations?
Want to learn more about other influential women in history? Check out the following links and resources:
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*all pictures available to the website linked to each: further bios of each of these great women