A Girl

Joan of Arc-A life, by Mary Gordon, is a very unique take on the life of Jehanette. Mary Gordon begins the book in Rouen, the city where Jehanette was burned at the stake. They are sitting outside a cafe, drinking coffee, just a stones throw away from where the execution took place. They look, disappointingly, around the square, marked by graffiti, trash, and people flicking cigarette butts. Some jerk begins kicking a soccer ball against the wall of a building, where a plaque had been placed in 1964 by Andre Malrqux, dedicating the square to the memory of Jehanette. The plaque reads, Jean of Arc, without tomb and without portrait, you who knew that the grave of heroes is the heart of the living.
Then suddenly, a fight broke out between 2 teenage girls, girls who looked to have been about the same age as Jehanette when she was burned alive, at the age of 19. Eventually, the police arrived, and the crowd scattered.
In that moment, Mary Gordon had an epiphany. Jehanette was a GIRL. What disturbed Mary the most about the fight, was that the brawlers were female. She says in her book, "Girls aren't supposed to fight like that." And in this book, Mary reminds the reader, over and over again, that Jehanette was not only a girl, but a teenager.  A quote from Mary Gordon's introduction reads, "She must be thought of as a girl. Our understanding of her must always be enclosed in the envelope of her age and gender. She was young and female, and the interpretation of her acts is inevitably colored at each moment by these two facts."


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