Departmental Honors Project Title
Date of Award
College of Liberal Arts
Young adult literature is a medium that catapults our youth into fictional realms, gives them courage, and prepares them for realities of our world. As a female warrior, having served as a soldier in Afghanistan, I learned firsthand what a female warrior must be. While there are many YA novels written with women warriors as main characters, there’s a significant lack of female warrior representation that resembles our modern day military and the trials female warriors face in a primarily male-dominated field.
I have examined four authors who have tackled the issue of strong female warriors. While each author depicts particular, authentic aspects of a female warrior’s character, they leave out some crucial characteristics: emotional, mental, and physical strength. If any of these three is lacking, the female warrior must strengthen the weakness, so her true potential can be attained.
I examine the character traits and messages of these fictional works in light of the realities I experienced as a member of the military. I also bring in research about women in the military and critical articles written about female warriors.
In the novel I am writing, my experience has led me to create an accurate portrait of a modern-day female warrior. She is tough, but she also lives in a male-centric world that always stands ready to criticize her every weakness. My portrait of a female warrior always works to better herself so she can stand ready to protect and defend. In my novel, the main character stands at the cusp of a life choice to become a warrior, and she must follow through with her decision in the wake of the unexpectedly harsh military culture where nothing of worth is expected of her.
Walker, Jessica A., "What Experience Can’t Tell: How to Show Reality in Young Adult Fiction, A Female Warrior’s Story" (2014). Departmental Honors Projects. 13.