In the Company of Detective Ladies

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Title: In the Company of Detective Ladies Gendered Modes of Detection in the Works of Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Alexander McCall
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Charles, Alexandra Alden
Publisher: New College of Florida
Place of Publication: Sarasota, Fla.
Creation Date: 2010
Publication Date: 2010


Subjects / Keywords: Detective Fiction
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theses   ( marcgt )
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Electronic Thesis or Dissertation


Abstract: The rational male detective, exemplified in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle�s Sherlock Holmes, is frequently portrayed as a socially unfixed, unemotional, loner figure. He protects, but is divorced from domestic realm. Because female characters cannot disengage from their domestic identity in the same way in which male characters can, female detectives have to incorporate two seemingly conflicting identities. In order to negotiate the issues that result from their gender�namely, assumed differences both in types of knowledge, and in the construction of personal and professional identities�female detectives employ different modes of detection. Miss Marple, Agatha Christie�s spinster detective, gleans information from town gossip and uses her observational skills and �intuition� to solve the mysteries that disrupt life in St. Mary Mead�however she struggles to assert herself as a legitimate detective. Dorothy L. Sayers�s Harriet Vane, an author of detective fiction who incidentally falls into the role of the detective, calls upon her academic training to solve mysteries, but struggles to combine her personal life and her detective persona. Alexander McCall Smith�s Mma Ramotswe, a �traditionally built� Batswana woman, uses her common sense and the �old Botswana Moral code� to help restore the social fabric of Botswana.
Statement of Responsibility: by Alexandra Alden Charles
Thesis: Thesis (B.A.) -- New College of Florida, 2010
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The New College of Florida, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Local: Faculty Sponsor: Wallace, Miriam

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Source Institution: New College of Florida
Holding Location: New College of Florida
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Classification: local - S.T. 2010 C4
System ID: NCFE004235:00001

Permanent Link:

Material Information

Title: In the Company of Detective Ladies Gendered Modes of Detection in the Works of Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Alexander McCall
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Charles, Alexandra Alden
Publisher: New College of Florida
Place of Publication: Sarasota, Fla.
Creation Date: 2010
Publication Date: 2010


Subjects / Keywords: Detective Fiction
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation


Abstract: The rational male detective, exemplified in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle�s Sherlock Holmes, is frequently portrayed as a socially unfixed, unemotional, loner figure. He protects, but is divorced from domestic realm. Because female characters cannot disengage from their domestic identity in the same way in which male characters can, female detectives have to incorporate two seemingly conflicting identities. In order to negotiate the issues that result from their gender�namely, assumed differences both in types of knowledge, and in the construction of personal and professional identities�female detectives employ different modes of detection. Miss Marple, Agatha Christie�s spinster detective, gleans information from town gossip and uses her observational skills and �intuition� to solve the mysteries that disrupt life in St. Mary Mead�however she struggles to assert herself as a legitimate detective. Dorothy L. Sayers�s Harriet Vane, an author of detective fiction who incidentally falls into the role of the detective, calls upon her academic training to solve mysteries, but struggles to combine her personal life and her detective persona. Alexander McCall Smith�s Mma Ramotswe, a �traditionally built� Batswana woman, uses her common sense and the �old Botswana Moral code� to help restore the social fabric of Botswana.
Statement of Responsibility: by Alexandra Alden Charles
Thesis: Thesis (B.A.) -- New College of Florida, 2010
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The New College of Florida, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Local: Faculty Sponsor: Wallace, Miriam

Record Information

Source Institution: New College of Florida
Holding Location: New College of Florida
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: local - S.T. 2010 C4
System ID: NCFE004235:00001

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IN THE COMPANY OF DETECTIVE LADIES: GENDERED MODES OF DETECTION IN THE WORKS OF AGATHA CHRISTIE, DOROTHY L. SAYERS, AND ALEXANDER MCCALL SMITH BY ALEXANDRA ALDEN CHARLES A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Humanities New College of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts in English Literature/Anthropology Under the sponsorship of Dr. Miriam Wallace Sarasota, Florida April, 2010


ii For Harold, the best dinosaur a girl could ask for


iii Acknowledgments This thesis would not have been possible were it not for the patience, kindness, and support of all of the lovely people that I am lucky enough to have in my life. Thank you to Professor Wallace, who put up with partial drafts, thesis anxiety, and far too many parenthetical statements. Her endless reassurance and guidance helped me turn a 15 page Scottish Nationalism. Thank you as well to Professor Vesperi, who made me realize that I loved Anthropology and whose gracious comments and supportive evaluations gave me the confidence to try applying what I learned in her classes to my thesis. My thes is would have been very different had she not forgiven me for being forty five minutes late to the first meeting of my first class with her my first year. Thank you to Professor Myhill, who kindly agreed to be on my baccalaureate committee and who told me early on that I needed to branch out from five paragraph essays. I owe a great deal of love and thanks to my roommates and friends, all of whom put up with a lot of prattle about my thesis. Thank you to Jeremy, Chelsey, and Patrick, for all of the need to apologize. Thank you to Jamie, who will always be my soul mate. Thank you to and the endless joy of laser sharks. Thank you to Lauren and Kate, who heard way too much about my thesis during our fall semester, and never told me I sounded silly. I also want to thank Mr. Goldsmith, for listening to me talk about my thesis when he could have been enjoying his vacation, and for reminding me that Sherlock Holmes Thank you to the entire Goldsmith family for being so kind and for treating me like family. Thank you so much to my family. First and foremost, thank you f or the fifth year; I could not have written this thesis if you had not given me the time. Thank you Daddy, for all the advice and for not hesitating when I asked for a new hard drive. Thank you Mommy for care packages, reassuring phone calls, and for sit ting with me while I made dozens of tea sandwiches. I shudder to think what my life would be without you. Thank you to Nyr and Teri, for listening to me talk about my thesis, and for never calling me a nerd. Finally, thank you to Daniel, who saved m y computer, who let me cry when I lost all those pages to the hard room anymore, who learned more about female detectives and British literature than any computer science student should have to


iv Table of Contents Introduction ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 1 Chapter 1: Gossip at the Vicarage ................................ ................................ ................................ 10 : The use of Academic Identity and Intellectual Equality in the works of Dorothy L. Sayers ................................ ................................ .............................. 30 Chapter 3: Detective Work for the Traditionally Built ................................ ................................ .. 59 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 86 Works Cited ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 88


v IN THE COMPANY OF DETECTIVE LADIES: GENDERED MODES OF DETECTION IN THE WORKS OF AGATHA CHRISTIE, DOROTHY L. SAYERS, AND ALEXANDER MCCALL SMITH Alexandra Charles New College of Florida, 2010 Abstract frequently portrayed as a socially unfixed, unemotional, loner figure. He protects, but is divorced from domestic realm. Because female charac ters cannot disengage from their domestic identity in the same way in which male characters can, female detectives have to incorporate two seemingly conflicting identities. In order to negotiate the issues that result from their gender namely, assumed dif ferences both in types of knowledge, and in the construction of personal and professional identities female detectives employ different modes of detection. Miss Marple, Vane, an author of detective fiction who incidentally falls into the role of the detective, calls upon her academic training to solve mysteries, but struggles to combine her personal life and her woman, uses her common sense and fabric of Botswana. Professor Miriam Wallace D i v i s i o n o f H u m a n i t i e s


1 Introduction In Modernity and Self Identity Anthony Giddens discusses the way in which the modern life dis embeds individuals from their traditional familial and social contexts, 1 As individuals are e xposed to a wider range of lifestyles, they have a wider variety of options to choose from when creating their identity. At the end of the nineteenth century, two forces were causing the daily world of the average English citizen to rapidly expand: urban ization due to the Industrial Revolution, and globalization due to the expansion of the British Empire. The industrialization of Great Britain spurred a new urban migration, altering limited to the social possibilities of an insular town, the individual could venture into the city and there find a plethora of social and economic opportunities. Similarly, the ongoing expansion of the British Empire propelled British citizens into a larger, global community, 2 allowing the individual even greater access to economic independence. The fringes of the Empire beckoned young British men with the promise of adventure and fortune in some cases defying the limitations of the (comparatively) socially rigid England. However, these mechanisms for broadening the social and economic opportunities available to the (primarily male) British citizen also signaled a growing anxiety over 1 stress of the book is upon the emergence of new mechanisms of self identity which are shaped by yet also shape the institutions of modernity. The self is not a passive entity, determined by external influences; in forging their self identities, no matter how local their specific contexts of action, individuals contribute to and directly promote social influences that are global in their 2 Though this global community w rapid communication systems.


2 pop ulation density of urban centers introduced the possibility of anonymity; with the influx of new workers came more nameless faces on city streets. Where individuals once might have been able to name most of their neighbors and (possibly more importantly) sense of social obscurity. Because the city afforded individuals the opportunity to recreate their lives, this obscurity fueled the anxiety that one might be tainted by inadvertently mixing with those of the wrong social sphere. This fear was compounded as citizens returned to England from the edges of the Empire; now one and one's home might be polluted not only by mixing with the lower class, but by mixing with thos e The growth of the English city also posed problems for law enforcement. Anonymity increased the number of unsolved crimes: police officers (and the witnesses they once might have relied on) were no longer familiar wit h all the denizens of their city, thus reducing their ability to identify and apprehend criminals in a timely fashion. Criminals associated with the foreign posed an even greater potential problem as police officers lacked the knowledge (at least assumed) necessary to investigate the means and motivations of their crimes. What's more, there seems to be a greater fear of the In literature, the modern, rational detective emerges as the means for negotiating these anxieties. The detective functions as neither an officer of the law, nor a criminal: (he) has a knowledge of the criminal that eludes regular police officers, yet (he) does not indulge this knowledge, but instead utilizes it to solve ca ses. The detective also remains socially unfixed. Though often a man of independent means an actual paying profession would


3 negate his ability to move in aristocratic circles the detective remains aloof from the upper echelons of society. Virginia LaGra nd and Craig E. Mattson compare the detective cast up on an island whose culture they adopt, knowing full well that it is not the only possible culture and that it is detective is adept at mixing in different circles of society, he claims none as his own; he can transition between them depending on his needs. His identity is defined by his function, rather than his (given) social position, and thus he can move fluidly throughout all social circles. Finally, the detective's store of knowledge and rationality allows him to super natural taint. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes is arguably the ideal template for this modern, rational detective. When Sherlock Holmes proclaims himself as the creator of his profession he i s not merely exercising his ego; Doyle is establ ishing him as the standard to which all future detective figures will be judged 3 He exhibits those qualities that are identified as necessary for the ideal detective in The Sign of Four : the power of observation, the power of deduction, and a vast stor e of knowledge. 4 As Watson references repeatedly throughout the various stories, Holmes's powers of observation and deduction have been honed to the point that they seem supernatural. However, the knowledge to which Holmes is referring is a particular ra 3 4 Of course, Sherlock himself is the one crafting the definition, so he may be biased.


4 however, that a man should possess all knowledge which is likely to be useful to him in his work, and this I ha ve endeavoured in my case to do The knowledge Holmes deems to be useful is emphatically fact based; he emphasizes reason, science, and empirical deduction. Placed in opposition to this em piricism, is emotional knowledge. Holmes makes many references to his detachment from emotion. In The Sign of Four he emphasizes [1890]: 25). Emotions pose the threat o f obscuring facts, or worse: distracting a detective from the case at hand. Love romantic or familial in particular seems anathema to Holmes's character. As Watson notes in Scandal in Bohemia Holmes understands love only as a : 1). to admit such intrusions into his own delicate and finely adjusted temperament was to introduce a distracting fa ctor which might throw a doubt upon all his mental results. Grit in a sensitive instrument, or a crack in one of his own highpower lenses, would not be Emotional knowledge, then, is posited as both peripheral and potentially harmful to detective work. Like the supernatural, emotion is reduced to a matter of fact and action, and not of feeling. If the rational detective is established as the figure who is best able to negotiate the anxieties of the modern city, then those characters who are strongly associated with emotional knowledge (namely women) emerge as those in the greatest need of protection.


5 women in detective fiction Emotional knowledge within the Sherlock Holmes stories is most strongly associated with Watson and with women in general Watson is highly susceptible to a pretty face. In The Sign of F our (Doyle 2001 [1890]: 19) He intuits her sensitivity and refinement from her appearance and he immediately places her within a framework of spirituality and sympathy. This association with emotion is heightened later when Watson views still seem to see that little group on the step the two graceful, clinging figures, the half opened door, the hall light shin ing through stained glass, the barometer, and the bright stair rods. It was soothing to catch even that passing glimpse of a tranquil English home Likewise in Scandal in Boh emia he places Irene Adler into a sympathetic framework know that I never felt more heartily ashamed of myself in my life than when I saw the beautiful creature agains t whom I was conspiring, or the grace and kindliness with which seems inextricably tied to emotional knowledge and the domestic tableau. In contrast, Holmes views these be autiful women in rational terms: he does not accept Miss Morstan's outer appearance as a marker of inner virtue, and he does not divorce Irene Adler's beauty from her actions. It is perhaps because of his connection to emotional knowledge that Wats on is unable to fully function as a rational detective. He cannot extract himself from an emotional and sympathetic framework, and thus has trouble approaching cases objectively. This


6 emotional susceptibility seems to imply some level of irrationality. While his perpetual bemusement at Holmes's skill ostensibly makes him a placeholder for the audience (he prompts Holmes's explanations), it also reflects the fact that he perpetually fails to separate the rational from the supernatural. This inability to negotiate the detective world is further emphasized when Watson assumes the role of the detective in The Hound of the Baskervilles and fails to comprehend a relatively simple case. 5 However, while Watson is not fully rational, he is recognized as a man of science and therefore cannot be wholly emotional either. If the ideal detective is presented as a rational being in order to negotiate the anxieties prompted by modern English life, then how is this representation warped when female characters confla assume the detective role? As female characters enter the detective field, their identification with the domestic sphere becomes more tenuous. If the reader uses Doyle's framework for approa ching female detectives, the characters become contradictions ; their assumed emotional knowledge puts them, and by extension their home, at greater risk of rationally as sess cases (which makes them bad detectives), while their rational knowledge seemingly negates this emotional knowledge (which makes them bad mothers). The female detective's continued participation in, or her displacement from, domestic roles both marita l and maternal offer a means of exploring this creation of modern self identity, especially as social position shifts from familial to professional basis. American 5 According to James Kissane and John M. Kissane; see Chapter 1, p.12 for a full quote.


7 tradition, the fictional detective, male or female, is more often than not an outsider with no satisfactory personal life, being either an isolated unwilling single, in a troubled relationship or divorced. S/he has an obsession with the job, and with the discovery of does not differentiate the gender of the detective. There is no question as to whether Sherlock Holmes is leading a satisfactory life, despite the fact that his only close companion is a doctor who personal lives of so many female detectives continue to intrude in the text? Dorothy L. fulfillment lies in the academic or the domest ic realm; mother to two orphans find a way to deal with her visiting nephew while trying to solve the mystery in Murder at the Vicarage This persisting interest in the personal lives of female detectives is, at least in part, a Susmita Dasgupta discusses the way in which men can become sexually of the woman cannot disengage from the discourse of their personal lives because they cannot become


8 defined by th eir personal lives. 6 In order to negotiate the issues that result from their gender namely, assumed differences both in types of knowledge, and in the construction of personal and professional identities female detectives employ different modes of det ection. These modes of detection reflect the information available to the detective (knowledge), the way in which the detective engages in the actual investigation (activity), and the way in which detective work relates back to issues in ersonal life (i dentity). This model can be applied to Holmes. As an active, rational detective Holmes uses deductive reasoning to evaluate evidence, he can move freely during his investigation, and ultimately, his detective persona is the identity which matters most. Each of the female detectives discussed in this thesis functions under a different mode of detection. I will attempt to determine the way in which these modes work and the problems that persist despite or due to their usage. Miss Mar ple is a passive social, but fairly rational detective. Her range of movement is extremely limited throughout Murder at the Vicarage ; in general she remains at home. While she does not have the broad base of knowledge exhibited by Holmes, she has an exte nature. Her role within society helps her function as a detective, because as a spinster she is expected to engage in people watching and the exchange of gossip. As such, Mis s Marple does not have to actively seek out information; because of her gossip network, information usually finds its way to her. By using what she gleans from gossip to help 6 An example of this might be the way in which Western t radition assigns titles and names to married and en the woman who chooses it.


9 return order to her community, Miss Marple is able to distance herself from the stereotypical and often derogatory conception of the spinster. However, her personal identity continues to cause problems: despite evidence of her ability, Miss Marple has a hard time convincing her fellow characters, and even herself, that she can solve the mystery correctly. Harriet Vane functions as an academic detective. Sayers denies Harriet the internalized information characteristic to rational detectives like Holmes and Wimsey in d fire deduction exhibited by Holmes was too often confused for intuition. LaGrand and Mattson cite Sayers as d and Mattson 2007: 635 636). 7 Harriet instead relies on the skills she learned at Shrewsbury College: she turns to the encyclopedia or another research tool when she needs to learn a detail about a piece of evidence. Because of her scandalous personal history, Harriet is freed from worries of reputation (after all, the damage has been done) and thus has a greater range of movement than many of her fellow female characters. However, her scandalous reputation also makes marriage between Lord Peter Wimse y and Harriet problematic, if Harriet and Wimsey as intellectual and spiritual equ als, Sayers lessens the impact of the 7 Finnegan attributes this oath to G.K. Chesterton (Finnegan 2006: 131); whether the oath was originally hers or not, empirical forms of detective work.


10 detective work resurface. Ultimately she loses her detective persona and assumes a more passive, domestic role. Precious Ramotswe is fully able to merge personal and professional identities, and can move as she ple ases and she draws upon extensive knowledge of the needs of her community. Mma Ramotswe works outside of the legal system, focusing on reparation rather than punishment; her goal is restoring the social fabric of her community, not protecting it from crim inal forces. She fulfills her role as a detective by also restoring balance to her personal life: she heals her own family, just as she heals families in the re, Alexander McCall Smith is creating a positive image of a Botswana that can take care of itself. This message is complicated, however, by the fact that it is a message about internal structure, from an external source.


10 Chapter 1 Conan Doyle, the roots of the modern female detective can be traced to the works of Agatha Christie. Recognized as one of the most prolific mystery novelists of the 20 th Though certainly not the first female detective in a long lineage of such characters, Christie's creation represents and encapsulated in Sherlock Holmes. Miss Marple not only differs from Holmes because she is female, but also because of the way her story is structured. In this chapter, I intend to elaborate o n the differences between Holmes and Marple particularly in regards to activity and research methods, intuition, and prominence within the novel and discuss the way in which the formulation of these differences contribute to the creation of a distinctly fe male detective. Ultimately, these characterizations also help role, specifically: are detectives active or passive, what sources do they use in order to formulate their hypotheses, and is familiarity with detective fiction as a genre enough to The structure of Murder at the Vicarage differs from that of the Holmes stories. When reading a Sherlock Holmes story, there is very l ittle doubt about the identity of the central character. Though the stories are primarily narrated by Watson and populated by


11 scandalous and intriguing characters, it is the meticulous and methodical Holmes who captures the reader's attention. During the early Holmes stories, Watson establishes that the purpose of his writing is not to detail the mysteries that propel each plot, but rather Holmes's detective prowess. The stories focus less on the crimes, and more on the investigations that follow them: t he action that is included within the story is not the murder, burglary, or scandal which generates the mystery, but rather the methods which Holmes employs to solve the mystery. In contrast, Murder at the Vicarage begins before the eponymous murder at th e heart of the novel's various mystery plots takes place. The novel itself is focused on the social tensions which exist prior to and are heightened by the onset of the mystery. As such, those characters who are deeply entangled within the plot are given primacy. Miss Marple, a character almost wholly disassociated with the various social dramas that populate the book, does not appear until the second chapter and remains an infrequent spectator and commentator until the final chapters. The action wi thin Murder at the Vicarage is set against the backdrop of a town rife with troubling domestic spheres. The vicar has chosen an unsuitable, indomitable, and unabashedly modern younger wife; Colonel Protheroe was left by his first wife, and is participati ng in an unstable second marriage at the opening of the novel; and Doctor Stone and Miss Cram are stirring up the town gossips by scandalously staying on the same floor at the inn. The social tension mounts after Colonel Protheroe is found murdered in the vicar's study. The vicar, intrigued by the mystery and feeling obligated to protect his parish, allows himself to become embroiled within the investigation. The case appears to be closed when Lawrence Redding, a young artist who is rumored to be involved with Protheroe's daughter, confesses to the murder in order to protect his actual


12 lover: Anne Protheroe, the Colonel's dissatisfied second wife. She in turn confesses to the murder, ultimately clearing them both of suspicion. While investigating clues in the wooded area behind his home, the vicar bumps into Redding, who explains that he, too, has taken on the investigation. Meanwhile, Inspector Slack, a pompous and unfamiliar figure head of the county legal system, bumbles about the village riling the pack of spinster gossips who feed information to both the Vicar and Miss Marple. The investigation also highlights a number of mysterious characters within the village: Mrs. Haydock; Dr. Stone and Miss Cram, an archaeologist of dubious credibility and his young, modern assistant who have been skulking about the woods; and Hawes, the vicar's unsettling curate who is obviously hiding something. By relegating Miss Marple to the fringes of the narrative, Christie allows herself ample room to expand the plot of the novel. As James and John M. Kissane argue in The Hound of the Baskervilles Sir Arthur Conan Doyle uses Holmes's cont rived absence and Watson's bumbling efforts as a to preserve mystery through the length of a novel without casting doubt upon the superior intelligence of the master S leuth? The detective must remain in the dark nearly as long as the reader, for to have him reach a solution early and not disclose it is both irritating and ane 1963: 358). Because Holmes is abroad and Watson becomes distract ed by the supernatural elements of the mystery, the plot unfolds at a slower pace. Miss Marple, who emerges as the only truly effective detective within novel, must remain a peripheral influence within the book; if the reader was


13 allowed a grea ter glimpse at Miss Marple's investigatory process, the mystery would be solved relatively quickly. Instead, the reader is given a variety of red herrings and the occasional comment from Miss Marple to make sure that they do not fall too far off the track 8 However, withholding Miss Marple doesn't just allow Christie to prolong the plot ; it also highlights the way in which Miss Marple works as a detective particularly in comparison to the other detectives figures featured within the novel. Miss Ma rple remains conspicuously absent from the majority of the novel especially when compared to the other detective figures 9 because she is not as affected by the plot itself. Of the four detective figures prominently featured within the book, Miss Marple is the only one whose investigatory actions neither stem from entanglement with the plot nor produce further turmoil. The Vicar becomes embroiled in the investigation because the crime was committed within his home and involves his parishioners, for whom he feels morally responsible. His investigation then ha s implications on his own life: it foments some unease within his already complicated household. While they joke about f a of the investigation also drives the Vicar temporarily to adopt a sermon styl e which he previously detested the emotional revivalist style. For Lawrence Redding, the murder and its subsequent investigation offers the potential either to complete or destroy his happiness. The murder itself negates an 8 A red herring is a piece of information which is inserted into the detective novel with the intention of misleading the reader. 9 The Vic ar, Inspector Slack, and Lawrence Redding


14 existing threat to his illicit relationship with Anne it removes the impediment of her husband. However, because their relationship establishes a clear motive for the crime, the couple faces a new set of problems. Lawrence ostensibly begins his investigations in order to clear his and his lover's names, with the hope of not only staying clear of jail but also of opening up an avenue for a legitimated future relationship with Anne. As the reader eventually learns, though, the investigation also allows Lawrence to solve the prob lem of covering up his crime; by claiming that he is trying to clear his name, he is able to return to the scene of the crime and destroy evidence. Like Miss Marple, Inspector Slack has no investment in the outcome of the investigation itself he is on ly interested in ensuring that there is some sort of outcome. Whereas Miss Marple indulges in her investigation and speculation as a mere diversion and a mental exercise, Inspector Slack is pursuing this case because it is his job. If the case remains u nsolved or if Miss Marple reaches an incorrect conclusion about the case it will have no real effect on Miss Marple, other than perhaps wounding her vanity. Such an outcome for Slack would signal an inability to perform his job properly As the Vicar not any personal views of his own on the murder. The easiness or difficulty of getting a Slack only enters the novel as a function of the investigation; he is the legal form of detection. Slack's investigations also have more of an impact within the novel. Miss Marple unobtrusively observes from her garden, or gleans information through casual gossip and pleasant conv ersation. In contrast, Slack disrupt s the lives of the villagers.


15 He's an intrusive force, leaving a wake of complaints and bruised feelings wherever he goes. Aside from the uneventful arrival of her nephew and a few instances in which she acts as a witness to various plot moments, Miss Marple has little entanglement with the plot. Her presence is not necessary for the propulsion of the plot; with few exceptions, the action of the novel would remain the same if Miss Marple was not involved with the story. For each of the other detectives, solving the mystery offers some means of solving a personal problem. Miss Marple has no such investment in the mystery she and her context remain the same throughout the novel. Be cause of this, her story requires less narrative attention: she remains a constant presence through the Vicar's comparisons and momentary allusions, but there are no divisive plot moments to highlight. Miss Marple is mentioned more often than she appears within the novel. When she is present, her actions are all observational; she's aware of the plots occurring around her, but she is not affected by them. In many ways, she feels tangential to the multiple plots within the novel; she observes, but does n ot participate. It is her vantage point rather than her actions whic h becomes integral to the novel; Miss Marple's reasoning influences the vicar and ultimately resolves the case. Miss Marple inhabits both the fringes of the narrative and the fring es of the society of St. Mary Mead. She remains aloof and untouched by the events and, like the reader, Miss Marple is situated far enough away from the direct influence of the mystery that she can view it figures are suitable detectives because they function on the fringes of society, and thus can better assess and fix the social order issues that function as the crux of the novel


16 (Mezei 2007: 104). Because the outcome of the mystery will not directly impact her, Miss Marple is not biased in her suspicions; everyone with a motive becomes a suspect, and every event can be viewed objectively. Miss Marple does not have to leave her garden in order to solve the case. Unlike the other detectives, her movement is not necessary: all of her information can be obtained within the comfort of her own garden. She does not act out moments of the case as Lawrence Redding and the Vicar do nor does she have to rush about the vill age interviewing her neighbors like the Vicar and Inspector Slack. Information has a way of finding Miss Marple. In the few instances in which she does need to seek information, she does so by suggesting the active male detectives undertake a course of a ction that will make the evidence more available to her. For example, when Miss Marple needs more information from the servants at Old Hall, she prompts Lawrence into obtaining this l. There, with There is no need for Miss Marple to leave her garden; the male detectives unearth the evidence she cannot obtain through other sources. Miss Marp le, like Sherlock Holmes, constructs her view of the mystery from several sources of information however the sources she relies upon, and the ways in which she interacts with these sources, differ greatly from those featured in the Holmes stories. Miss M not need it to solve a country mystery. She instead relies upon her own experience within the village, gossip, and literature as a means for unraveling the mystery. The types of


17 knowledge that Miss Marple calls upon are tied to the way in which Miss Marple gathers her information and the way in which Christie portrays her spinster detective. The setting of Murder at the Vicarage is not congruent with the early presentation of detective fiction. While Holmes made a few forays into the country to gather information he and the mysteries he pursued were enmeshed within the burgeoning city of London. The country does not afford the same kind of anonymity that one finds in the city: there are very few unnamed characters in St. Mary Mead. Because of the assumed Christie reco the curiosity of the villagers. Though the characters that populate the village have names, many of them also have secrets. When Lawrence Redding protests that no one but the Vicar man, you underestimate the detective instinct of village life. In St. Mary Mead everyone knows your most intimate affairs. There is no detective in England equal to a spinste r becomes entangled in the murder mystery. Miss Marple, then, does not ne ed the same type of varied knowledge that the city requires of Holmes; she only needs to have intimate knowledge of a handful of characters. Even the mysterious figures that have only recently arrived in the town Professor Stone, Miss Cram, and Mrs. Lestr ange exist only as red herrings. Christie


18 ultimately ensures that her mystery involves only those characters with which the townspeople are already familiar: Anne Protheroe, wife of the most prominent man in town, and Lawrence Redding who, though he has not been in town long, has become enmeshed within the village more readily than the other characters new to St. Mary Mead. What is needed to solve the mystery is not a vast deal of information concerning poisons and politics, but rather some inkling of h uman nature 10 and a thorough knowledge of the town. The Vicar acknowledges the importance of this knowledge and designates Miss Marple as its expert. After an interview with Miss Marple, Colonel of this information stems from two sources: her own observations of others, and (more througho ut the novel, she is able to observe a great deal from her own backyard. Her backyard allows her a good vantage point for viewing several of the events throughout the novel, while her status as a spinster allows her justification for looking. While there is most of the characters verge on being too interested in their neighbors more innocent hobbies are conducive for spying on others. Unlike Sherlock Holmes Miss Marple does not need to rely on a variety of disguises in order to eavesdrop; she can 10 This is the term Christie uses, though Miss Marple is actually studying social dynamics of a small town.


19 collect information under the guise of indulging in hobbies that keep her in the garden. een, and the pretense for her seemingly innocuous hobbies, it also grants her the freed om to pursue her detective work. Without the burden of husband and family, Miss Marple has ample time to cultivate her interests. After she sheepishly admits to indulging in an do, in a rather out of the f convoluted role within the novel; it is presented both as a pervasive and influential source, and a force of dubious intent and credibility. As Patricia Meyer Spacks discusses (Spacks 1982: form contrast to the younger, more nave Griselda; they pass around gossip and judgment based on continues


20 destructive force 11 e gets not to expect very much from it. I daresay idle tittle tattle is very wrong and unkind, but : she neither approaches it as a mere form of entertainment, like her fellow spinsters, nor as an invalid source of information, like her fellow detectives. scandal meeti away, Miss Marple manages to understand the subtext of the gossip and see through Griselda's ruse. Gossip represents far more than entertainment to Miss Marple; it offers a mea [1930]: 350). This difference becomes crucial as Christie uses the other three spinsters as d to its source, create gossip out of spite, abuse their positions within society, and finally refuse to swear to the veracity of their gossip or use it constructively. Miss Hartnell has evidence against Mrs. Lestrange because she attempted to visit her she realizes that Mrs. Lestrange isn't home, Miss Hartnell seizes on the opportunity to rstood her perfectly. Taking advantage of the fact that the house was empty, Miss Hartnell had 11 [19 30]: 187).


21 given unbridled rein to her curiosity and had gone round the house, examining the garden and peering in at all the windows to see as much as she could of the in whole scene highlights Miss Hartnell's use of her station to force her company on others. She is the spinster who seeks to solve poverty by forcing her way into the parlors of the poor and reading lectures on their unfortunate circumst my way home, I ran into Miss Hartnell, and she detained me at least ten minutes, declaiming in her deep bass voice against improvidence and ungratefulness of the lower classes. The crux of the matter seemed to be that The P oor did not want Miss Hartnell in nuisance and she is avoided within the village. Miss Wetherby, like Miss Marple, seems to take only an observational stance. Her inf hority is represents the undiscerning gossip the spinster who gathers information through any means, no matter how invasive the action taken to uncover the gossip or how u nreliable the source. Using servants is particularly problematic as it represents both the mingling of classes and intrusion on the home sphere that detective fiction in general seems anxious about. When the Vicar arrives at Mrs. Price Ridley's hou se, the reader learns that she is easily the most odious of the so odious that she receives a phone call warning her to stop spreading gossip. Whereas the other


22 women participate in sharing gossip based on th ings they have seen or heard, it is implied that Mrs. Price Ridley creates gossip based on her own wild conjecture. At the end of the novel, Miss Marple discusses the way in which Mrs. Price Ridley was trying to convince the village that the Vicar was ste must be guilty, and Mrs. Price Ridley was going about everywhere hinting that you were in an imperious manner acting as if casting judgment upon everyone is her particular burden. She is the type of woman who uses her position within society and the gossip she accrues (or creates) perniciously. Her moral ambiguity is further emphasized by her strained relation ship with the Vicar. The other three spinsters all exhibit some measure of distrust of the police or the judicial system; they are content to spread gossip to the Vicar, but they balk at the threat of being called to give sworn testimony. Miss Hartne ll's decision to turn to the Vicar this time I wouldn't go near any wretched Inspector. After all, a clergyman is a gentleman 930]: 339). Ostensibly, Miss Hartnell was offended by Slack's rebuff; after encountering his general condescension for the power of gossip, Miss Hartnell turned to someone she knew would accept her information. However, as the Vicar correctly guesses, Mi ss Hartnell's main motivation was the fact that the police might not look as kindly on her actions. Miss Wetherby is Her resistance might stem from the fact that she cannot prove the veracity of her


23 statements; because she is indiscriminate in gathering her gossip, she cannot bear truthful witness to anything. Mrs. Price Ridl ey is, as ever, condescending and disdainful about being involved with the police. Before her interview with the Vicar can begin, she stems from her pride. The police a re meant to work for her, not her for them which is why she does not hesitate to storm the police station after she receives the threatening phone call, but works exclusively through the Vicar when she has evidence to pass along. Miss Marple then emer ges as the model spinster or at least, as the exception from does not force herself upon anyone, but rather observes from her garden. Miss Marple is also much more dis false gossip, nor allows other incorrect gossip to be passed as truth. She cautions unwise thing to do, my dear. If you make up these things, people are [1930]: 186). Miss Marple succeeds where the other three spinsters fail she logically and privat products of her study directly t o the police when she is confide nt in the solution to the mystery. Though she does consult the Vicar throughout the story, she does not share all her own information; instead she waits until she is assured that she knows the truth and tells the Vicar and Colonel Melchett (Chief Constable of the County) the news concurrently. the other


24 dubious, sometimes pernicious, and highly feminine force. Spacks discusses the way in which gossip sessions often exclude men, causing anxiety over the power gossip grants frighten those who do not share it. What secrets do they tell one another, what power do p and the influence it holds over his parishioners however he does not completely distance himself from it. mistrust of gossip that the other male officials do. The Vic ar takes a mediating role when dealing with gossip. The Vicar then becomes the intermediary between the spinsters and the police. However, though the spinsters feel more comfortable talking to him, they do not present information to him in an unbiased ma nner. Each spinster adjusts her story in order to present herself in a positive light: Miss Hartnell obscures the fact that she than admitting that she has been listening to the servants, and Mrs. Price Ridley refuses to acknowledge that she fabricates some of her gossip. the information given to him. In general, Inspector Slack ins pires little camaraderie in those he interviews; his brusque nature tends to rankle the villagers into silence, rather than encourage them to talk. Even the Vicar is less forthcoming with Slack. During their first encounter, the Vicar makes several attem pts to alert the Inspector to an important piece of evidence and is repeatedly told to keep quiet. Slack is too intent on his own


25 he is questioned by his wife later, : 208 ). Slack is not from the village of St. Mary Mead, and as such his rhythms are often at th his status as an outsider and his official position create distance between him and the villagers, and affect the way in which he receives information. It is implied throughout the novel that his investigations disrupt the village his determination to solve the case quickly often leads to rude behavior. The probably make the life of everybody there quite unbearable to them in his efforts to get at istie 1976 [1930]: 265). As the investigation continues, the Vicar grows more reluctant to share information with the Inspector. After Inspector Slack makes a have given Inspector Slack the steps in reasoning which led me to this particular spot, but the only villager to become more reticent with the official. Miss Hartnell complains to the it class of men in the 12 Her decision to share her information with the Vicar is The characters who represent the law Inspector Slack and Colonel Melchett have the most problematic interactions with gossip within Murder at the Vicarage Though 12 Then again, Miss Hartnell feels that most people dismiss her too quickly.


26 Slack is never cordial about receiving information, he seems especially dismissive when it comes to gossip. H is relationship to gossip seems to be predicated on the way in which gossip is potentially harmful to legal work. Inspector Slack is highly invested in uncovering facts; 13 he wants to be certain of his evidence before making any judgments. never concrete ature makes it impossible for Inspector Slack to rely on gossip. Even worse, gossip can also threaten the timely resolution of night trip to the woods, Inspector Slack begins looking into the matter It becomes imperative to the investigation that Miss Cram should not learn that she had been seen. Gossip becomes a threatening force; a means for disrupting the investigation. If Miss evidence. For Slack, then, gossip seems to be a force th at has the potential to work against him. Because Miss Marple is a member of St. Mary Mead society (if a peripheral one) the neither as actively, nor as intrusivel y. As such, Miss Marple tends to receive information in a more direct fashion: her sources do not censor themselves out of modesty or 13 Sometimes to the detriment of the case. Slack has a tendency to focus on making the story fit the facts; exactly like the young lady in the boot shop who


27 frustration. More importantly, she continues to obtain information from all of her sources throughout the story. The Vi car even shares more information with Miss Marple as the story continues, ultimately showing her all the information he has collected in the form of a diagram (Christie 1976 [1930]: 352). Miss Marple interprets the evidence she gleans from observation experience, and gossip based on a framework acquired from reading. Christie includes several references to the popularity of detective fiction throughout the novel specifically in regards to the read detective fiction is established at the beginning of the novel. When Griselda begins describing the new eases him in turn for borrowing one of the best things in life, and to find a real detective story, complete with corpse, to speak, is bound to send a healthy minded boy into Anthony Giddens describes in Modernity and Self Identity has been mediated by fict on the part of specialized professionals, but in respect of mediated experience it is very Denis reacts as he would to a story he gets excited by the mystery.


28 However, Denis is not the only character drawn in by the mystery of Colonel ted in relation to fiction. While comparing evidence detective fiction try to translat e their reading skills into the skills of a detective. Because Miss Marple is aligned with the reader, Christie uses her to bring this idea of the reader becoming the detective to its full conclusion: Miss Marple not only imagines herself acting in the ro stories from the Marple is able to compensate for her lack of official training and worldly experience by consulting detective novels. When explaining her reasoning to the Vicar and a skeptical Colonel Melchett, Miss Marple uses detective fiction to support her conclusion. The Colonel asks her how no one heard the actual shot which killed Protheroe, 14 believe, an invention called a Maxim silencer. So I gather from detective stories. I wonder if, possibly, the sneeze that the maid Clara heard might have actually been the just as the reader of Murder at the Vicarage uses his or her knowledge of the detective genre to guess the outcome of the novel. 14 Marple later reveals that this noise was caused by dropping a stone on a crystal container of picric acid: dear Vicar, that you met Mr. Redding carrying a large stone just in the part of the woods where you picked up that


29 However, despite her thorough knowledge of St. Mary Mead, the town gossip, and several tropes of detective fiction, Miss Marple remains an amateur detective. Several voices throughout the novel cas y and accurately solve the case, most notably Chief Constable Colonel Melchett and Miss Marple herself. Melchett protestations are rooted not just in professional bias, but gender (and age) bias as well. These biases permeate the novel; several characters voice the assumption that women, especially those of a certain age, are somehow less competent and reliable tha are waiting all e ager like, why time simply flies for them. And anyway, no lady knows to the rule: Given the examples established by the other St. Mary Mead spinsters, it is perhaps not surprising that these assumptions ha ve become so ingrained. It quickly becomes apparent specifically as it relates to the imagination and narrative. Shortly after being introduced to the reader, Colonel Mel way in which gossip is assumed to be frivolous entertainment; they chatter a nd make up stories about crimes they


30 Melchett has these assumptions about woman and gossip at the forefront of his mind when he is first introduced to Miss Marple. When he asks the Vicar if her information so far as she is talking of what she has actually seen. Beyond that, of course, when you get on to what she thinks well, that is another matter. She has a powerful imagination, and systematically thinks the worst of eve sustains these assumptions throughout his interactions with Miss Marple, and thus has a difficult time accepting her logical explanation of events at the end of the novel. When Miss Marple arrives at Mr. Hawes room hoping to help, 15 Colonel Melchett regards her fact that he mistakes Miss Marple for a spinster prowling for gossip. The Vicar similarly relapses into this as sumption, noting that though his previous interactions with Miss incorrectly assume that her presence is prompted merely by a wish to collect g ossip: to be exposed to death and criminal drama first hand. As such, neither man guesses at or is reveal the real murderer. that Lawrence Redding is the murderer been denied throughout the novel and sets the stage for the ensuing expla nation. Neither 15 Lawrence Redding, the real murderer, has framed and poisoned Hawes; luckily the Vicar arrives on the scene before Hawes dies and calls for help. Miss Marple serendipitously learns what is going on and


31 (Christie 1976 [1930]: 365). Their surprise is not wholly unjus tified given that they have a piece of false evidence 16 and that they believe that Redding has already been cleared of any suspicion. However, even after Miss Marple calmly begins to explain her reasoning, they are resistant to her logic. Colonel Melchett is especially derisive: he speaks to her resume of the case. She spoke with such certainty that we both felt that in this way and in beginning to believe her, this quot e emphasizes her narrative ability, not her logic. The Vicar is persuaded by her confidence, not her evidence; Miss Marple has succeeded in telling a good story, but the men have yet to acknowledge the logic behind the story. Towards the end of Miss Marp Melchett struggles to maintain his veneer of disbelief after Miss Marple finishes giving ever made a statement that sounded more unconvincing. It must have sounded 16 wrongdoing, and they belie ve it provides a motive for the murder.


32 capabilities, he refuses to acknowledge them out loud and continues to demand proof. 17 Miss Marple, herself, frequently underrates her own deductive capabilities. 18 While 19 Miss Marple labels her investigatory uction because it has had s o little experience. But a grown up person knows the word because distinguish her ability from that of logical detectives and minimize this ability by likening it to some doubt I am quite confidence, M iss Marple often seems eager to appeal to the judgment of others. Christie Miss Marple is self deprecating when it comes to her hobby of people watching, she is hum ble when it comes to her investigatory skills. Miss Marple offers a partial even so 17 Although, one can hardly blame him on this latter insistence; he is the Chief Constable after all. 18 At least in so 19 Miss Marple has solved various domestic mysteries prior to the novel


33 str ong as to amount to knowledge demonstrates that while she can utilize gossip in her investigation, she can also comply t hat she can capably and rationally solve the mystery; she just has to convince the officials to see the logic of her explanation.


34 Chapter 2 Placetne, magistra 20 : The use of Academic Identity and Intellectual Equality in the battlefield of opposites, whom we are asked to respond to as simultaneously the God like, imperturbable detective of convention, and a human being bristling with emotional detective fiction by having her detective fall in love. Cushing Strout discusses the way in which Sayers plays with the conventions of detective fiction by combining mysteries with novels of manners (Strout 2001: 425). Sayers admits that within the detective genre, By introducing Harriet Vane into her existing detective series, Sayers is able to experiment with the way in which detective novels and love stories interact. She addresses this genre blending in an introductory letter to Honeymoon been said, by myself and others, that a love interest is only an intrusion upon a detective story. But to the characters involved, the detective interest might well seem an irritating intrusion upon their love ]: front matter). While she acknowledges that she created as an exploration of this theme, all of the novels which comprise the courtship of Harriet Vane and Lord Peter Wimsey are experiments in melding the love story with the det ective novel. The novels 20 ]: 501).


35 relationship to detective work. In Strong Poison Peter falls in love with Harriet while attempting to prove her innocence; she has been wrongly a ccused of murdering her former lover, and spends the majority of the novel in prison. Have His Carcase finds Harriet enjoying her newly regain ed freedom by taking a walking tour of the English coast. Her vacation is cut short when she discovers a dead bo dy on the beach and becomes entangled in the ensuing investigation. Peter joins her and they grow closer together as they puzzle through the mystery. In Gaudy Night, Harriet fully assumes her role as a detective while helping her alma mater, Shrewsbury C ollege, solve the mystery of the Poison Pen a vandal who has been leaving scathing notes and destroyed property strewn across the campus. Peter returns from abroad, helps Harriet solve the mystery, and courts her in a manner that befits their collegiate s urroundings. In Honeymoon body. As Peter begins to become more embroiled in the investigation, Harriet begins embracing her new passive domestic role. lous reputation is a constant thread throughout the first three novels been cleared of all charges. This damaged reputation at once liberates her from the conventions of female chastity that inhibit the movement of the other female characters who inhabit the novels, while it prevents her from fulfilling her personal life and marrying Peter. Returning to the neutral academic space of Shrewsbury allows her to sort out he r conflicting desires. By stressing her intellectual equality with Peter, Gaudy


36 Night ameliorates the issues caused by her body and sexual history, allowing her to negotiate and combine her identities. ofessional and personal fulfillment, Sayers echoes the anxiety generated by the movement of women out of the domestic sphere, and into the public sphere. Many women at this time were pursuing careers that had previously been apportioned to men. 21 Because of the burgeoning female workforce, the presentation of female activity in fiction could no longer be relegated to primarily passive domestic activity. 22 Literature reflected the shift in society: just as more women were creating self identities that enc ompassed both family life and careers, authors were creating more female characters who participated both in the domestic realm and in the working world. Action could no longer be divided simply based on the previous association of women, domesticity, and passivity. However, just as within Agatha While Sayers references this idea of feminine action influenced and restricted by a connection to the domestic particula rly with her presentation of Lady Mary she cannot rely on the traditional binary alone. Sayers solves this problem to some extent by making the danger inherent to female activity more blatant than it had been in the works of Christie. Female activity within detective fiction is problematic because female detectives are presented as more vulnerable both to sexual assault and sexual corruption than their male 21 Sayers herself was one of the first female Oxford graduates. 22 While Agatha Christie featured a young working woman (Miss Cram) in Murder at the Vicarage her e questioned but rather using her career to snare a husband. (Christie 1976 [1930]: 183 184)


37 activity is presented but this influence stems from problems of gendered sexuality. 1530) Class status exacerbates these restrictions because of expectations of female purity and the emphasis placed on the chastity and fidelity of women of the upper classes due to anxiety over paternity, inheritance, and (perhaps most importantly) reputatio n. This emphasis on female chastity leads to the larger discussion of gender inequality that Sayers grapples with through the character of Harriet Vane; 23 once this physical inequality is established, Sayers transitions to focusing on the way perceived gen der inequality affects the way in which men and women interact intellectually. Ultimately, negate, or at least overshadow, the problems of their physical and social inequality. Peter Wimsey because both Harriet and Sayers insist that she cannot marry him because they are unequal. Over the course of the four novels in which Harriet Vane is utation, and then negate Harriet and Peter are free to marry. (However, as Sayers explores in Honeymoon their marriage shifts the dynamic of their partn ership once more.) 23 Peter may have as many lovers as he likes without monogamous relationship has produced a scandal.


38 status and her body. While there is anxiety over the vulnerability of female bodies in general, this concern is especially prevalent in regards t o women at the upper tiers of reputation. The lives of these aristocratic women, and consequently the mistakes they make, come under more scrutiny than women who do not live such visible lives. traditional sexual history hinders the acceptability of their relationship. 24 mother of his heirs and as such, her reputat ion will affect future generations of of the former lover and suspected murder ess of Phillip Boyes and the man who cleared her name would not (and ultimately does not) go by without generating a great deal of excitement. Sayers addresses these issues of sexuality, class, and reputation in her novels by placing them in the conte xt of female activity. The movement of female characters of a certain class and a certain age is circumscribed by their status. Women who are not as dependent on their reputation elderly women, women whose movements are not as scrutinized in the public ey e, and women who have already damaged their reputation have the largest range of movement. On the other end of the spectrum, women who are 24 Although it is certainly useful to ask whether the characters in question feel this hindrance: Peter does not openly acknowledge any concerns over Harr iet, and she phrases her concerns in terms of being in debt to him.


39 heavily invested in their reputations women in the upper echelons of society who move in small, highly visible circl es 25 have much more limited activity available to them. Sayers illustrates the way in which these distinctions impact the range of activity female characters can engage in by contrasting Harriet with her other female detective figures particularly Mi figures, Miss Climpson initially has the greatest range of movement. As an elderly unfettered by social ties a nd therefore has no external force limiting her movement; like Miss Marple, Miss Climpson has ample time to indulge in her hobbies, or in this case to movement: she is too old to bear children, and if she were to start a family there would not be as great a concern over inheritance or reputation; even if Miss Climpson were to become involved in something scandalous, it would likely not be fodder for the gossip column. 26 Because of her relative freedom of movement, Miss Climpson allows Sayers to explore the ways in which female detectives can pursue active investigatory roles. Miss e detective, particularly when dressed as a workman, an errand boy or a telegraph attention. The female detective must not loaf. On the other hand, she can stare into shop 25 The aristocrats within the novel are almost always being gossiped about in the newspapers. 26 The Cattery would certainly chatter about it, but the city of London would be too busy waiting for the next tidbit about one of the Wimseys.


40 which gender takes the more active role. This example reflects the way in which p ublic (Dasgupta 1995: 1530). While in both cases, the detective must present a ruse for remaining a short distance away from his or her target, women are further taxed w ith the unnoticed. Women, however, need an active pretense to keep them on the street. r of society, Lady Mary draws a great deal of notice. 27 Her situation is complicated by the fact that Lady in Strong Poison she becomes engaged to Chief Detective Inspector Parker. Though inheritance is not as pressing a concern as it might have been if Lady Mary had married another aristocrat, her reputation still limits her mobility. In some ways, protecting her reputation matters even more now that she has married a man unaccustomed to having his private life on display, but who is not invulnerable to gossip. As Chief unflatteringly written about in the newspaper. Once married, Lady Mary is often seen within her home, caring for her children. Li ke second hand, through the accounts of her husband and brother. When Lady Mary 27 Sayers frequently points to the way in which gossip has been translated from an oral tradition to printed media; Peter and his family often appear in the newspaper.


41 n the mystery, but she inevitably has to return to her domestic duties. Harriet begins somewhere between these two extremes: initially, she is neither as active as Miss Climpson, nor as cloistered as Lady Mary. 28 movemen ts are more complex than those which regulate the action of these other female al status works within the series. Because of her scandalous and very public affair with Phillip Boyes, and the trial that marriage. Her affair alters both Harri marriage. Harriet professes reluctance towards marriage several times. While discussing marriage with Peter at the end of Strong Poison Harriet confesses that the [1930]: 245). Her relationship with Phillip is presented as trying and uneven: once released from the burden of this relationship, Harriet has reservations about entering into another, particularly o ne as binding as legal marriage. As Harriet admits, she left the relationship because of his attitude towards her: ing 28


42 boy, to see if I was good enough to be condescended to. I quite though t he and then it turned out that it was a test, to see whethe r my devotion was abject enough (43). The pattern of marriage Philip offers and expects of Harriet is based on the submission fancy they can do things. to help and look after a genius l career even as her e gh t to have been ministering to his work, not making money for them both with her own independent trash. B The relationship, however, has a greater impact than simply affectin outlook on marriage it, the murder trial, and the public scandal that followed it, alter the eyes of many characters in the novel. As a possible murderess Harriet poses a threat


43 29 and reputation. After reading about Harriet in the in 2). 30 At the end of the novel, the exchange between Peter and his brother concerning the possible impropriety of Lady Harriet would be even more degrading. Peter tells hi wife. Though Harriet is acquitted in the legal trial, by consenting to live with Phi llip she has flouted social law. During the trial, the judge outlines the way in which her actions obviously felt her unfortunate position very acutely cutting herself off from her family friends and refusing to thrust herself into company where her social outlawry might cause embarrassment and so on yet she was extremely loyal to her lover and expressed herself Her potential criminal status in Strong Poison -as one 29 trained on detective stories. One would be always wondering whether there was anything funny about the 30


44 At the end of Strong Poison Harr iet attitude and social situation make it evident that it is likely she will never marry. Without a husband looming over her, and knowing that uninhibited. 31 Once fre ed from prison, Harriet is almost completely unfettered. At the beginning of Have His Carcas e she is engaged in a walking tour along the south west coast of England (Sayers 1995 [1932]: 2). The walking tour removes Harriet from the prying eyes of the to wn, but in doing so it also places her in a much more vulnerable position. By walking alone, Harriet exposes herself to more opportunities for danger. Traveling without a vehicle means she moves more slowly and without protection, while traveling alone l eaves her without anyone to protect her or witness anything that might befall her. Harriet looks forward to being without responsibilities and where there can be occasio white smoke from a distant railway engine, the landscape was as rural and solitary as it re becomes a problem in Have His Carcas e once she reaches the town. Wilvercombe highlights the way in which Harriet becomes more marriageable over the course of the novel. Th e resort is filled with aged women who are separated from the possibility of marriage, trying to recapture their youth and sexuality; this desire is manifested most clearly in Mrs. Weldon, 32 a widow who believes her affair 31 There is no way to change Harri 32


45 with the young, Russian dance inst ructor at the resort will eventually lead to marriage. 33 This motif the transition from independent, active 34 woman to domestic, passive woman is emphasized when Harriet first encounters the guests at the resort. However, as Harriet notes, this transition is incomplete and false. While watching the flirtations downcast eyes, the mock modesty hailed by the fashion correspond ents, it was to a quite different kind of womanliness set on a basis of economic independence. Were men really stupid enough to believe that the ? (38) reflects this motif; at the beginning of Have His Carcas e Harriet is independent and unhindered, but by the end of the novel her activity becomes more in the mystery. a position which, as d iscussed before, will place a great deal of importance on her chastity. Because she refuses her consent, however, Harriet is still free to actively participate in the investigation. In doing so, Harriet places herself, and her body, in a great deal of danger. Unlike Agatha Christie, Sayers makes the threat to female activity blatant. W hile trying to 33 Paul Alexis is the corpse Harriet discovers at the beginning of the novel; he was murdered by Mrs. 34 Here hinting at the sexual activity of the women of the resort. While the invalids are exempt from this activity by name, they are also separated from the domestic world and hence cannot be placed in the domestic, passive category.


46 tion, alone with a man who thinks her flirtatious behavior entitles him to some gratification. Again, Harriet has placed herself in a position with very little buffer between her and danger luckily, though, she is able to retreat back to the picnic site a nd the company of Strong Poison elike, as it were, into the honor. Because he is interviewing two servants at the great deal of threat to any party involved. Whereas Harriet and Weldon are in a field with no witnesses, and no one to answer should she cry for help, Bunter is sitting at a As a male, Bunter is not as sexually confidence without fear of consequence. Harriet cannot. allocates the ability to initiate and end the interaction to the male. Bunter remains in control throughout his scene; he initiates contact with the two servants, and he ultimately controls the extent of the flirtation. Harriet, on the other hand, can neither begin nor end her interaction with Weldon. Because the novel encodes sexual forwardness as a male attribute, and the instigation of sexual interaction as the domain of male characters, Harriet is limited in her response to Weldon. As a woman, she is supposed to be


47 control over the situation; Harriet can only encourage or att empt to dissuade Weldon, she Even more frightening, Harriet is dependent on W eldon for a ride back into town. At the end of Have His Carcas e Harriet and Peter have seemingly formed a friendship, or at least a working relationship. However, Harriet still refuses to marry Peter. Sayers sets herself two tasks that must be accom plished before Harriet and Peter can marry: she must reconcile Harriet to the idea of marriage, and she has to eliminate first two novels, it is only in Gaudy Night that Sayers is able to finally create a space in which marriage is possible for her two leads. In Gaudy Night Sayers deals with the expectations of marriage; she attempts to work through ideas of female fulfillment and traditional conceptions of male ce ntric marriage in order to present a new image of marriage as a partnership. Once this version of marriage is established the only version which Harriet might find palatable Sayers must make marriage between Harriet and Peter possible. She does so by est placing the setting of Gaudy Night in a university, Sayers effectively situates her characters in a space removed from the social world more importantly a space in which intellectual ability matter equality not only by showing the way in which their educations mirrored each other, but the way in which they can both function effectively as detectives. Once this intellectual equality is e


48 determined never to marry and therefore never to submit her independence to another person. Their relationship, though not official or socially sanctioned, conform ed to a socially approved notion of gender relations: Phillip expected Harriet to be submissive to his needs. For Harriet marriage to Peter initially represents an exaggerated version of this uneven power dynamic. Harriet like most of the other characters within the book and a better social position than Harriet. Once married, Harriet will be given a new title and provided for with a share of his wealth both of which will make her feel indebted to Peter. This debt is further compounded by the fact that Peter proved Harr in Strong Poison : if they married, Harriet would not only be indebted to Peter for her lifestyle and social standing but also for her life. One of the main projects of Gaudy Night is to produce a new model for marriage specifically a model in which both Peter and Harriet can participate. The predominant model of marriage, in which the female submits to the male, 35 is not a feasible choice for Harriet and Peter. Harriet has an aversion to marriages based on female submission. Sayers instead presents another model of marriage in Gaudy Night : one based on partnership and mutual affection. 35 Lee Edwards corroborates that this is the dominant view at the women an d of the position of women in the world is, if we see it apart from the book, the dominant view in


49 Sayers uses many of the characters in Gaudy Night to work through ideas of female fulfillment, especially in regards to marriage. The women 36 o f Shrewsbury are predominantly single some are even resistant towards men and relationships. least in itially) represents a community of women who have transcended the demands of love and family. Harriet frequently questions her choices, wondering if she should endeavor to live the academic life, or if she should continue as an author of popular fict ion. Embedded in her indecision is her hesitation towards embracing celibacy and eschewing marriage. Like Harriet, many of the students of Shrewsbury College are caught between the academic life and the domestic life. Even the dons, themselves, do not al ways seem completely satisfied with their lives; Auerbach argues that the 37 becomes increasingly prominent in the latter half of Gaudy Night that the other women recede into the background makes her pathetic mooning after Wimsey seem perforce typical of Shrewsbury women, rather than her own 59). As Harriet begins to consider accepting for example, the Senior Common Room member s worry how publication of the scandal of the Poison Pen will affect the future of Shrewsbury College. There is a 36 Specifically the dons 37 Miss Hillyard is also commonly read as a lesbian figu re, making her supposed obsession with Wimsey even more problematic.


50 great deal of anxiety concerning the perceived possibility of sickness lurking in this rs is exploring is not the crazed maladjustment of women who work, who achieve, who do not marry, but rather the fear in the minds of even these women that such maladjustment must u suggestion remains. The friction between marriage and academic life is especially central to the mystery that runs throughout the novel. The servants of the college seem most ly opposed to women privileging their academic careers over the expectation to get married, while the Senior Common Room is torn on the subject. Harriet and Miss de Vine who is some ways an echo of Harriet, created in order to help her work through her is sues with the tension of work and marriage discuss the idea that Vaughan brings up in Strong Poison : that marriage becomes a full time job for a s prepared to make him a full on themselves as jobs but as fellow Harriet, Miss de Vine, and Wimsey The Senior Common Room has a more difficult time approaching the subject. The issue for the SCR is more pointedly the question of fulfillment; some worry that fulfillment can only be found through marriage and sexual fulfillment, while others


51 view marriage as an impediment to the true life of the mind and intellectual fulfillment. Ultimately they are unable to reach a compromise. he most decisive voice in th e book: that of Annie, the Poison Pen herself. Annie, opposed to women entering the work force becomes the Poison Pen not only to seek revenge against said colleague, but al so in hopes of creating a scandal that will close the college. In her final scene, Annie delivers a tirade against working women, especially intellectual women. She accuses Harriet of murdering her lover through inattention, and claims that the SCR is je alous of women who can get husbands. Annie echoes the earlier arguments for female children. I wish I had killed you. I wish I could kill you all. I wish I could burn down t his place and all the places like it fundamental problem, at least for the modern reader, is the assumption that working t, and derive her own fulfillment from her marriage and a woman should submit he rself to a man and find happiness by supporting his by ultimately revealing Annie


52 as the Poison Pen, Sayers undermines this notion of female submission as a correct choice. Given that Sayers se ems hesitant to place female fulfillment fully in either the intellectual or the domestic realm, one might surmise that she is advocating some amount of balance between the two. Yet, Sayers offers very few examples of women successfully navigating persona l success and family life. 38 Sayers may have been writing from personal experience. As one of the first female graduates of Oxford, Sayers struggled to balance her personal and professional lives. 39 Cushing Strout ideal partnership for Harriet and Wimsey marriage of Harriet and Peter? She had several unhappy experiences with men, one of who left her with an illegitimate son, whose wel professional life and domestic life in fiction may then stem from her inability to create such an identity in real life. While Lady Mary is happy, she is certainly aligned with the domestic. Miss Climpson, similarly, is divorced from the domestic and aligned with the active working world. At the beginning of Gaudy Night Harriet encounters two of her former classmates and comments on their married lives. The first is Mary Stokes, a once outgoing and promising girl that Harriet lost touch 38 This may, however, just be further commentary on the difficulty of achieving this balance. 39 The Remarkable Case of Dorothy L. Sayers for an extensive discussion of


53 all her friends, was marked for a First; only the dim, inscrutable dons had not been su the Second. And since then, Mary had married and scarcely been heard of; except Meeti reunions clinging to her academic past but she is unable to participate in the intellectual world as she once did. As Harriet notes, Mary is cut off from her friends my intimate friend talking to me with a painful kind of admiring polit eness about my books. And I am talking with a painful kind of admiring politeness about her children. We out not (9). 40 However, Sayers carefully points to some deficiency in Mary herself, rather than placing the blame sol seemed cut off from them, by sickness, by marriage, by it was no use to blink the truth by a kind of mental stagnation that had nothing to do with either illness or t she had one of those small, summery brains, innate tendency to allow her mind to languish. Once married, Mary allowed her academic pursuits to fall away and assumed a fully domesticated identity. 40 accomplishments.


54 bre adth, in spite of added are able to work together. 41 o had married an archaeologist, and the combination seemed to work remarkably well. They dug up bones and stones and pottery in forgotten corners of the globe, and wrote pamphlets to be a produced a trio of cheerful youngsters, whom they dumped casually upon delighted marriage as an institution that presents a problem for Phoebe, but her interaction with it: whereas Mary abandoned her mind after marriage, Phoebe, though married, refuses to compromise her academic life and so fails to fulfill her domestic role. a better marriage model: partnership. Harriet, however, still needs to be convinced th at she and Peter can exist as equal partners. Though Harriet and Peter make an effective mystery solving team in Have His Carcas e Harriet is still uncertain of their equality. as a detective. In Have His Carcas e Harriet continually questions her ability to solve 41 It is worth noting, however, that his care er guides hers; she writes about and researches his findings


55 mysteries. On the beach at the beginning of the novel, Harriet is incapable of investigating the corpse without mentally referencing Wimsey and her own fictive detec continually references the actions of her fictional hero, comparing and lamenting what she perceive s as a gap between their knowledge base. Later in the novel, she repeatedly undermines her investigatory prowess by suggesting that she might have made mistakes while collecting the data. What Harriet fails to realize, though, is that as an author of detective fiction, she has effectively trained herself to become a detective. As Terry Eagleton notes, knowing the necessary jargon is the game was to learn cert 42 Harriet is familiar with the trappings of detective fiction: the investigation process, and the terminology that accompanies it. Harriet is further prepared for detective work by the fact that as an author she not only creates mysteries, she also has a great deal of research on which to draw. However, she does not recognize the way in which she employs a different mode of detection. Harriet cannot function as a detective in the same way in which Holmes, Temple ton, and Wimsey do: these rational detectives all have an extensive store of internalized knowledge which they can use to make quick deduction in a case. From the power to Harriet in part because it is interpreted differently when it is utilized by a female character. If Harriet were to employ such a technique, it might appear as if she were 42 Though he is specifically referencing work in Literary theory, I believe that this can be applied to a great variety of situations.


56 a plot trick that Sayers disavows. Instead, Sayers fo rces her detective to use her academic skills and research the various details of each case. detective fiction. While examining the body on the beach in Have His Carcas e she detective abilities are only her creation: his detective prowess comes from her mind. She recognizes that the only reason Robert Templeton can identify a m inute detail is because Harriet has looked up the fact in the encyclopedia. While examining the corpse on the happened, in the course of his brilliant career, to investig ate a sea mystery, she would, of However, she still feels alienated from detective work she considers Robert Templeton to be a separate entity, rather than an extension of he the perfect archetypal Robert Templeton knew all about it, but the knowledge was locked detective, just as she refuses to consider t he possibility of marrying Peter. It is only in Gaudy Night that Harriet begins to come to terms with her own detective ability although she still voices doubts. However, because she is the only person capable of pursuing the case, she is forced to assume the role of the detective. Her activity here is not a concern because the college is a predominantly female space. Harriet can roam the halls at night without fearing a sexual attack. She is still susceptible to sexual pursuit, but the undergra duate Mr. Pomfret is more of a nuisance than a threat to her as a fellow. Ultimately Harriet cannot be the only detective on the case because the


57 issues brought up by the crime are too closely related to her own personal dilemma for her to view the crime Y phenomena inner turmoil over whether she will be fulfilled without sex and marriage has skewed h er towards looking for the wrong pattern within her evidence. Later Wimsey points out, P ractically all the data necessary to the formation of the theory are contained in the very valuable digest of the events prepared for me by Miss Vane and handed to me on my intersects with her personal life. By consulting Wimsey, Harriet also h ighlights the way in which she is acting in a notebook. This notebook does two things: it emphasizes the conflation of the author of detective fiction with the detective, and it reverses the usual gender dynamic in detective mystery novel base d on the information the author provides. 43 The book also symbolizes 43 Like a good reader, Peter also reads the subtext and catche s what the author implies.


58 actively seeking evidence in Gaudy Night ; Peter, like Miss Marple in Murder at the Vicarage simp ly interprets the data Harriet has collected. The setting of Gaudy Night Previously, Peter and Harriet existed in spaces which made it impossible for them to be equal. In Strong Poison, Harriet an d Wimsey are set against the backdrop of a city that cannot allow them equality: within the city, Wimsey is famous and Harriet is infamous. The city becomes associated with her incarceration; Wimsey can move freely throughout the novel, but she cannot. Because of this incarceration, Harriet is unable to regain the autonomy she lost by submitting to Phillip. To marry Wimsey after she regains her are only compounded by h er relationship to Wimsey after she is set free. Now, not only will she be sacrificing herself in marriage, she will be doing so to someone to whom she owes her life. Have His Carcas e is set in a more neutral space. The seaside resort and village ho ld no previous associations for either Harriet or Wimsey. However this neutrality does not necessarily equate itself to equality. As Wimsey says, he hates watering places (Sayers 1995 [1932]: 440) and when the pair squabbles he blames the argument on t he implies that she is seeking to recover her independence, but she is still resistant to the idea of entering what she believes will be an unequal partnership with Wimse y. He


59 the possibility that she can pursue a relationship with Wi msey without inevitably ending first novel. Sayers highlights their inequality by showing another unequal pairing: Mrs. Weldon and her gigolo. Harriet watches the rel ationship between the rich old lady and her kept man, and mistakes their inequality for something like that between her self and Wimsey. It is only in Gaudy Night that Wimsey and Harriet can find equal ground. In Gaudy Night women like Harriet who obliterate their own origins in order to recreate them through autonomy. Harriet can return to her intellect ual self, and finally slough off the Wimsey and Harriet can be truly equal. Though they may be from different social spheres, Harriet and Wimsey share intellectual history a nd aptitude. Again, speak and learning to do is useful for learning how to be an academic and how to separate from the (separa te) body and pursue the life of the (collective) mind. Harriet and Wimsey have both been trained to function as academics, and once they are returned to an academic social space


60 rather than the highly visible public space of London or the highly problemat ic liminal space of Wilvercombe, they can communicate as equals. her presum their intellectual equality, based on the fact that they both graduated from Oxford. According to McClellan, the Latin question and answer that constitutes the proposal and acceptance is taken from the gradu ation ceremony of Oxford University (344). By putting his proposal into those terms, Wimsey acknowledges their equality: he anticipates that Harriet will recognize his reference, and answer in kind. It is also through this academic space that Sayers is able to eliminate the problem of situation is organized in such a way that scholars do not have to worry about their physical needs. As such, the scholars are in a way divorced from their bodies. By returning Harriet to this academic space, Sayers mitigates the effects of her affair with Phillip Boyes. While at Shrewsbury, Harriet exists as a mind, and therefore is untarnished by her body. While listening to a speaker (Sayers 2006 [1936]: 29) at dinner on her first night, Harriet has a vision of Shrewsbury as a place of mental unification:


61 And then, her imagination weaving in and out of the spoken words, she saw it as a Holy War, and tha t whole wildly heterogeneous, that even slightly absurd collection of chattering women fused into a corporate unity with one another and with every man and woman to whom integrity of mind meant more than material gain defenders in the central keep of Man S oul, their personal differences forgotten in face of a common foe. emotional life, that was the way to spiritual peace. How could one feel fettered, being the freeman of so great a c ity, or humiliated, where all enjoyed equal citizenship? (29). The vision is initially very tempting for Harriet; she wonders if she should leave the cares presence causes her to vacillate between her desires. Ultimately, academia offers Harriet not a way to escape her body, but rather a means for reasserting the importance of her go (311). The robes are a physical manifestation of their intellectual equality. Once Harriet dons hers, the robe obscures her body and the scandal that accompanies it and emphasizes the importance of her intellectual equality with Peter. Though H arriet and


62 With the addition of however, the events of Gaudy Night have not truly divorced Harriet from the problems of the female body, but rather re c onsecrated that body so that it may become the body of Lady Peter Wimsey. Once married, Harriet and Peter slowly lose their status as equals. Over the course of Harriet becomes increasingly passive. Harriet also becomes increasingly associated with the house and the domestic sphere, while Bunter resumes Peter begins to send Bunter to deal with Miss Twitterton, but changes his mind and chooses Bunter (Sayers 2006 [1937]: 352). Instead, Peter sends Harriet, unnamed and seemingly unimportant and in doing so distances Harriet both from himself and the role of the t and spoke to her as though she had been his footman. mystery: after she realizes how the cactus pot 44 was cleaned, he first questions and then smiles at her. This momentary proof of their intellectual equality allows them to once again interact, but there is a change in their relationship. Harriet is no longer a detective she cannot d head, as he stood and smiled at her, balancing himself lightly and swaying a little on t has fully assumed her role as Lady Peter, and while they 44 The murder weapon


63 remain intellectual equals, she and Peter have ceased to be physical equals. Harriet is Auerbach sums u p the problem of Honeymoon domestic is almost completed at the end of the novel when it is Bunter, rather than Harriet, who accompanies Peter on his visit to the jail. However, this moment also with emotional complexes and hidden from guilt over condemning the criminal especially wh en his evidence condemns the criminal to death. This depression stems from the shell shock Peter experienced struggled with responsibility. As the Duchess of Denver explain blown to pieces it give s you a what does one call it nowadays? an inhibition or an unter, whom Peter had served with in the War, who ultimately roused Peter from his first depression. By bringing Bunter with him to the prison at the end of Honeymoon Peter underscores the way in which Harriet has lost her identity as an active detective figure (she cannot accompany him to the resolution of the case), but has yet to be fully accepted in her domestic role. Peter initially continues his previous


64 domestic pattern, relying on Bunter to support him through the depression. Only when Peter seeks out Harriet for comfort does she fully become enmeshed in his domestic world. 45 vigil. It waited with her, its evil spirit cast out, itself swept and garnished, ready for waiting to be transformed at the end of the novel: the house is not yet a home, and Harriet has yet to be confirmed in her role as the domesticated wife. On ce Peter returns, Harriet is forced to resist the urge to take an active role in comforting him, She could think only one thing, and that over and over again. I must not go to him; he must come to me. If he does not want me, I have failed altogether, and that failure will be with us all our lives. But the decision must be his and not mine. I have got to accept it. I have got to be patient. Whatever happens, I must not go When Peter finally comes to her, she fully assumes the role of his domestic care taker and, in a way, his shelter from the outside world. As the execution draws near, g his head in equals once she becomes Lady Peter. Her autonomy diminishes and her activity becomes circumscribed by the needs of her husband. Ultimately, Harriet must give up her role as a detective 45 Again, Harriet loses her autonomy: she cannot decide to comfort him, he must choose to come to her.


65 because it cannot be combined with her role as a domesticated wife. Peter needs a safe haven from the emotional rigors of his detective work. By distancing herself from the role of the detective, Harriet can draw closer to Peter in the domestic realm.


66 Chapter 3 By choosing Precious Ramotswe as his detective figure, Alexander McCall Smith Whereas Doyle predominantly used women to represent the domestic world which needed to be protected and used foreigner characters as manifestations of the inscrutable forces intruding on British life, 46 47 in wh of th Satisfactory the intended audience. For the British readers at the end of the 19 th century, Sherlock Holmes embodied the newly popular emphasis on science, and the also achieved succes s by embodying values that capture the popular imagination at a 46 47 acters within her novel, Precious Ramotswe complicated as the books have grown quite popular in Botswana.


67 plagued by uncertainty and strife, 48 Precious Ramotswe and the (fictional) Botswana she inhabits repre sents a moral clarity and a simplicity of life that is often inaccessible in the real world, and is thus highly desirable in the fictional world. Christine Matzke warns that this characterization is a form of postcolonial nostalgia: British readers mourn in contrast to other presentations of African characters. Whereas in the past Africa was often presented as a continent of tension, trouble, and corruption, McCall Smith creates a starved and nobody languished in prison for their political beli efs. As Mma Ramotswe had pointed out to him, the Batswana could hold their head up anywhere empire, waiting to be saved and governed by the British 49 nor the e xotic, morally that McCall Smith presents a vision of Botswana in which the people are capable of saving themselves both from criminal and immoral influence. Mma Ramotswe b ecomes the emblem of this characterization of Botswana: she is the perfect woman, in the perfect country. 48 Finnegan cites a talk McCall Smith gave in 2004 in which he discussed the popularity of his books in 123). 49 Or any other European official, for that matter


68 However, Precious Ramotswe is more than just a popular and positive African character; McCall Smith presents her as an effective, albeit unconve ntional, 50 detective. Mma Ramotswe is able to do what the previously mentioned female detectives cannot: she integrates her identity as a woman and a detective. Unlike Miss Marple, Mma Ramotswe unabashedly draws upon sources of information which were pre viously namely intuition and gossip and never shies away from the title of detective, even when she is met with male resistance. Mma Ramotswe also manages what Harriet Vane and Peter Wimsey ultimately cannot: she is able to combine family life and detective work without compromising either role. McCall Smith is able to accomplish this integration in part because he is dealing with very different conceptions of both detective work and family relationships. Batswana ideals of marriage and familial life differ from the British formulation of As Susmita segregated, work place and the homestead were separated. The male inherited the women are biologically tied to reproduction. Homes became a private sp ace, linked to the public world through the father/husband. 50 When considered against the param eters set up by Holmes and reinforced through the other female detectives.


69 This Western framework for family relationships does not work when applied to the Batswana Batswana families is instead tie 51 At one point in Tears of the Giraffe Motholeli, one of the young orphans who will eventually be adopted by Mma Ramotswe, wonders why others have taken care of her. A housemother at the orphanage responds: brothers and sisters. If they are unhappy, then we are unhappy. If they are hungry, then biological reproduction d oes not work in the Botswana context because Bat swana families are formed not by blood, but by networks of social interaction and cooperation. The relationships between fathers and their children take just as much prominence as that of mothers and their c hildren: though a father has only limited physical involvement in The emphasis o n fatherhood, not just paternity, pervades the text: Mma Ramotswe continually references her Daddy; 52 when Puso, her adopted son, begins to act out it is determined that he needs a stronger father figure (McCall Smith 2004 [2002]: 132); Mma Ramotswe and M ma Makutsi decide not to tell one of their clients that he is not the biological father of his son because they do not want to disrupt his relationship with the boy (McCall Smith 2002 [2000]: 147). The dynamics of the Botswana families presented in McCall 51 Not to be confused with Western ideas of morality, Botswana morality is tied to ideas of unity, community, generosity, and duty. While writing this chapter, I struggled with tryi ng to find a better term ever possible, I have attempted to spell out the ideal behavior rather than just using the blanket term in the in stances that I have included it, I do so because it was specifically referenced as 52 A term which in the Botswana


70 marriage is based on support rather than reproduction, because families are based on interaction and emotional ties, rather than blood. 53 Christine Matzke argues that McCall Smith is employing this trope in representative of the essence of Africa n values and another in which women serve as a detective figure and the ult imate goal of his novels. In combining the familial and maternal identities with the detective persona, McCall Smith is appropriating and re sustains the people of Bots wana, she is also capable of solving their mysteries, mediating their problems, and meting out justice outside of official legal networks which still reflect Colonial legal constructs. Initially, Mma Ramotswe only physically embodies this idea of Mother A frica, but over the course of the series and through the intervention of another Mother Africa figure, Mma Potokwane Mma Ramotswe begins inwardly to embody this notion as well. The type of detective work in which Mma Ramotswe engages, and the way in w hich this work impacts her community, differs from that which is presented in both the Miss Marple and the Harriet Vane novels. First and foremost, Mma Ramotswe is a professional detective. Like these other female detectives, Mma Ramotswe lacks any sort 53 he Mother Africa trope has a long and complex history in African affirmative, often nationalist, reclamation in the African male literary tradition, and its subsequent resignification by women writers from an African


71 of professional training: instead, she calls upon her existing skills curiosity, cunning, and intuition The Principles of Private Detection 54 and the information she has gleaned from reading various detective novels as her guide for conducting her investigations. in the same sense that Miss Marple, Harriet Vane, and Lord Peter Wimsey are. For the English detectives, detective work represente d a hobby; whether the detective was independently wealthy (Miss Marple, Sherlock Holmes, or Lord Peter) or actively employed elsewhere (Harriet Vane), detective work did not represent his or her primary source of income. 55 Though Mma Ramotswe does have so me means of support, she has invested the majority of her wealth into the detective agency, and is thus reliant on the s estate, but she could not live on that Mma Ramotswe is not always properly compensated for her detective work, however, com her national pride and her desire to help her countrymen. 54 A fictional guide to the detective world that resembles National Detective Agency written in 1878 (Finnegan 2006: 135). Though the guide technically represents the advice undercuts its influence. 55 This designation is especially important for B ritish female detectives because of the way in which work identities for men as well: leisure time was considered marker of their elite status; only the rich and powerful could afford not to work.


72 country, one might say. She loved her country, Botswana, which is a place of peace, and she loved Africa, for all its trials. I am not ashamed to be called an African patriot, said Mma Ramotswe. I love all the people whom God made, but I especially know how to love the people who live in thi s place. They are my people, my brothers and sisters. It is my duty to help them to solve the mysteries in their lives. That is what I am called This differs from conventions of detective fiction which posit the det American detective figures often function on the fringes of soci ety; they are near enough to the social world that they can understand it, but they have the distance from it necessary to clearly evaluate it (LaGrand and Mattson 2007: 637). However, Mma Ramotswe does not fit this model. McCall Smith designs his detect ive differently; Mma sphere. Mma Ramostwe finds multiple connections wherever she goes: cousins, aunts, friends, and school mates. Mma Ramotswe is very much an inside r; there is no part of Botswana life that eludes her. This insider position is partially necessitated by the setting familiar, though perhaps not completely known, to the ir readers. In these novels, the British reader does not need any (or at least, much) help imagining London, or the small,


73 country village of St. Mary Mead, they only n eed assistance in understanding the motives the Botswana landscape of his novels. McCall Smith uses Mma Ramotswe as a guide for his audience : a means for linking the re crime and punishment, but rather on t is interested in returning social balance. Because she is familiar with the needs of her and impersonal legal system to rest ore justice. At the same time, Mma Ramotswe has a sufficient understanding of legal authority, and can therefore use the threat of it to reinforce her moral judgments. This desire to return social balance rather than enforce the law underscores one of the greatest differences between Mma Ramotswe and the detectives of both Sayers and Christie. For the English detectives, mysteries generally involve some criminal action that needs to be uncovered and legally rectified. Most of the novels begin with a murder functions less as an extension of the law, and more as a moral force. The crimes she investigates are not those which plague the cities and villages of Englan d in fact, if deaths that Mma Ramotswe investigates stem from accidents, and the one exception in the first novel, Mma Ramotswe suspects a witch doctor may have kidnapp ed and killed a


74 boy ends with the detective discovering no murder has taken place at all and the boy is alive. Mma Ramotswe reunites the family, returning order to their household. Mma Ramotswe, unlike Lord Peter Wimsey and Miss Marple, works arou nd rather than with the existing legal network. She generally does not hand over her suspects to legal authorities. Though she is interested in justice, she focuses on the moral, rather than legal, ramifications of the mysteries she investigates. After one of her clients reveals himself as a former thief, she encourages him to apologize and offer compensation to the resolution of a case hinges not on catching and puni shing the criminals, but on restoring the social balance which has been disturbed by the mystery. Distancing herself from legal authority empowers Mma Ramotswe socially, morally, and professionally. Legal authority in some ways represents the legacy of colonial involvement in Africa. While the Botswana Penal Code itself represents post colonial common law system of decisions built up by precedent and used in both England a nd permeated with Western influences. This is communicated within the novels by Mma r impossible, these people; they had a few years of lectures at the University of Botswana


75 and they set themselves up as experts on everything. What did they know of life? All they knew was how to parrot the stock phrases of their profession and to continue to be 158). Though the Botswana represented in the novel is independent, the legal system is still influenced by an external, British model. without outside intervention is reaffirmed in the fourth book of the series, The Kalahari Typing School for Men A rival de tective agency, the Satisfaction Guaranteed Detective Agency, opens up in town. Its ad campaign openly speaks to the assumptions about legal training and foreign experience make a better detective. One sign reads, CID. 56 Ex New York. Ex been to London or New York, and common sense, he argues for legal authority and training; w he proudly boasts of his worldly experience. Ultimately, in this test between the two tropes of detective work, Mma Ramotswe and Botswana Morality win. Mr. Buthelezi 56 The CID are Policemen


76 he focuses only on the legal issues, rather than the moral problems, he fails to understand the cases he investigates. He leaves bel ieving that Gaborone the town in which Mma Ramotswe works and lives, has no mysteries : lead very boring lives. They have no problems to sort out. It is not like Though the novels m ay not include many of the criminal problems Mr. Buthelezi seems to prefer, there is no lack of social problems within the Botswana of McCall is that these issues cann ot be solved simply by legal intervention. Because Mma Ramotswe is working to repair the social fabric of her community, engaging with the legal system is not always the most effective means of closing a case. An example of this occurs in The No.1 Ladies when Mma Ramotswe takes on the case of weeks of catering to him while he lazes around and issues orders, Happy begins to suspect the man is a fraud not resent this, you know, except for one thing. I do not think that he is my real Daddy. Ramotswe acknowledges the le gal and medical means of determining the legitimacy of


77 this person would agree to that. No, she would have to try something more subtle, (11). These tests only disprove a biological link by using DNA however, as McCall Smith has established, Batswana famil ies are based in more than just DNA. Instead, Mma Ramotswe must find a way of reinstating the proper social order: she needs the imposter Daddy to sever his social bond with Happy by admitting that he has taken and leave to resume his role as a productive member of Botswana society. confessing. Recognizing that he will be both unfamiliar with and likely afraid of medical procedures and playing on a Botswana ideal of familial relations, Mma Ramotswe tells She have to tak e about half your blood. And that is very dangerous for you. In fact, you Batswana context in order uses to give the blood, Mma Ramotswe understands that he is a fraud, for a true Motswana Daddy would not hesitate to give his child what she required. The Daddy is subject to the same tradition that compels Happy however, getting him to admit his fraud aloud. She then invokes legal authority in order


78 to force him out of the hous Mma Ramotswe does not need to actually call upon the police. If she cared about the she is primarily concerned with the social ramifications of his taking advantage of Happy Bapetsi, she e had come from, Mma you might like it a bit more. There are lots of melons to grow down there. How about By keep ing the matter in her own hands, Mma Ramotswe is able to both ensure that her client is satisfied, and to force the man to become a productive member of society. Her solution reflects the way in which avoiding the legal system allows Mma Ramotswe t o bring about the best moral conclusions to each of her cases. By handling telling the truth, she was also able to encourage him to assume his proper role in society. The leg the members of his church are ultimately not implicated in his death he was eaten by a croco dile the Reverend who presided over the baptism did not contact the police after them. God will punish me for it. But I was worried that I would be blamed for poor accident and I thought they would take me to court. They might make me pay


79 culpability; death, he might be penalized for withholding information. Mma Ramotswe recognizes that the Reverend can better serve the community if the authorities do not interfere with him, and reassures the Reverend that he has done the right thing. The legal system also represents a form of justice susceptible to corruption. After police had a limited interest in pursuing crime, and certain sorts of crime interested them have le gal authority, they do not always exert it in a moral manner. In contrast, Mma Ramotswe frequently breaks the law in order to bring about the most beneficial resolution to the case in question. She does not take these illegal actions lightly, however, an d often spends a great deal of time rationalizing and defending her choices. While investigating the mystery of the missing American boy in Tears of the Giraffe Mma Ramotswe is forced to lie and blackmail a man in order to uncover the truth. She struggl es to justify troubling issue of means and ends raised its head. Was it right to do the wrong thing to


80 sometimes morally ambiguous actions are needed to bring about the best conclusion. Detective Agency open. As a professional detective, Mma Ram contingent on her ability to find and keep clients. It is not enough for her to solve mysteries efficientl y and effectively ; she also has to gain and keep the trust of her clients. Gossip in everyday interactions and even in her actua l investigations, is expected and is 57 Botswana liked to talk, she discovered, and the mere mention of the fact that she was a private detective would let loose a positive outpouring of information on all sorts of subjects. It flattered people, she concluded, to be approached by a private detective, and of her clients are more reticent when it comes to sharing the details of their problems. Because the majority of her cases involve private issue s philandering spouses account for a great deal of her revenue Mma Ramotswe has to prove that she will keep her might be incriminating for the client. In one such c ase, a client suspects that her husband has stolen a car and she asks Mma Ramotswe to investigate the incident. After Mma Ramotswe confirms the suspicion, she decides not to turn the matter over to the police: anded over, but her client had asked that Ramotswe, keeping distance between legal authority and her work as a detective is 57 Sayers and Christie. Though her femininity certainly helps her in all female situations, Mma Ramotswe engages in gossip with both men and women.


81 Because she emphasizes confidentiality, her clients are comfortable discussing a wide range of potentially embarrassing or incriminating details. By not invoking legal authority, Mma Ramotswe proves that she can resolve her cases personally and privatel y. The trust Mma Ramotswe engenders in most of her clients 58 becomes a recurring theme in the novels. It stems not only from this clear separation from the threat of legal Ramotswe, but was soon put at ease by the comfortable, overweight figure sitting behind Mma Mma Ramotswe in (body) paradigm that differs from European standards: her des irable to Batswana men. This physical ideal is frequently contrasted with the European fixation on delicate, slender women. These moments both remind the reader of the postcolonial tensions that remain ever present in Botswana j ust linger in the legal sphere, it also persists in society as a whole and infects the way in code, she also laments the growing influence of Western and European ideals. At one not want her people to become like everybody else, soulless, selfish, forgetful of wha t it 58 There is one instance in which a client foolishly believes Mma Ramotswe is using detective work as a ruse to steal husbands.


82 means to be an African, or worse still, ashamed of Africa. She would not be anything but ay no. Never. moment in which Mma Ramotswe asserts that she is not ashamed of her weight (195). Africa figure: the maternal identity of Batswana women. There are several maternal aspects associated with Mma Ramotswe from the outset of the novels. Her large fame is a physical manifestation of her maternal nature: it marks her biological ability to produce and nurture children. Her girth in particular implies the abundance necessary to provide for children. A large, well rounded woman is a woman of some means: she has access to enough money, or at least enough food, to support a family. Mma Ram maternal attributes are not limited to her physical presence, but also pervade her demeanor and attitude towards detective work. Mma Ramotswe is constantly concerned s detective work


83 Though she is a physical figure for Mother Africa, Mma Ramotswe, like Harriet Vane before her, is initially distanced from family life. Over the course of the novels, Mc Call Smith returns his detective to family life though, unlike Sayers, he is able to do so the way in which family relations and gender work in the Botswana of his imaginat ion, and cements the way in which Mma Ramotswe functions as Mother Africa. At the outset of Mma Ramotswe has been dislodged from her family. This rift is initially caused by her marriage to the attractive but abusive m usician Note Mokoti. After her marriage dissolves, 59 awful years spent with Note Mokoti, when she knew that her Daddy had suf fered so much, knowing, as he did, that Note would only make her unhappy. When she had the scar of the latest beating, he had said nothing, and had stopped her explanat ion in its care of her father but at his deathbed she once more chooses a path that runs contrary to o sell his cattle and open her own business, Mma Ramotswe announces that she will open a detective o protest approval. 59 Note Mokoti walks out on her after their child dies.


84 Initially it seems that Mma Ramotswe has traded her familial identity for that of the detective. It is, after all, the death of her father that affor ds her the opportunity, fourth birthday, and that was the point at which Precious Ramotswe, now parentless, veteran of a nightmare marriage, and mother, for a brief an d lovely five days, became the Ramotswe has lost what remained of her immediate family and is geographically separated from her extended family. At first, Mma Ramotswe does not seem interested in forming any new familial connections particularly any connections forged by marriage. Like Harriet Vane, Mma Ramotswe has decided not to concern herself with marriage and seems content to invest herself fully in her career. Though mul tiple men request her hand in marriage, Mma Ramotswe keeps her resolve. After J.L.B. Matekoni proposes to her am. I have got the agency, and the house. My life i 138). Eventually, though, Mma Ramotswe fulfills her role as this Mother Africa detective, and restores the social fabric of her own family. Her marriage to J.L.B. Matekoni is, in some ways, a means for reconciling herself to Obed Ramotswe. Not only is J.L.B Matekoni the type of man Obed Ramotswe would have selected for his daughter, J.L.B. Matekoni functions as a replacement for Obed Ramotswe. After his first proposal, Mma


85 Matekoni also offers Mma Ramotswe unswerving approv al, resolving the rift caused first by her marriage to Note, and then reopened by her decision to start the detective agency. After Mma Ramotswe agrees to take in the children, Motholeli and Puso, J.L.B. had felt about her was, in his mind, now confirmed beyond doubt. Obed Ramotswe, her father, who had brought her up after the death of her mother, had done a very fine job. He had given Botswana one of its finest ladies He was a hero, perhaps without ever Mm 60 to marriage. Like Mma Ramotswe, Mma Potokwane is a figure for Mother Africa in the modern world although she derives this association more from her role in Batswana society than fro m her physical appearance. As the matron of an orphan farm, Mma farm itself is a product of modernity; it functions as a marker of the way in which Botswana has changed child; everybody would be looked after by somebody. But things were changing, and within the community h as shifted, but not disappeared. Though many of the citizens no longer take in orphaned children, the community still supports them through monetary contributions to the orphan farm. This generosity is represented as a particular facet of 60 status somewhere between spinsterhood and marriage; committed to another, but n (McCall Smith 2005 [2003]: 7).


86 Batswana society : while it is partially supported by Government institutions, Batswana Government looked after its orphans well and gave a generous grant each year. But there were also priva te donors a network of people who gave in money, or kind, to the orphan farm. This meant that none of the orphans actually wanted for anything and none of them was malnourished, as happened in so many other African countries. Botswana was a well blessed marriage of the first characters to comment on the engagement between Mma Ramotswe and J.L.B. Matekoni. After she tells J.L.B. Matekoni that she knows his news, the narrator om this point capacity as matron of the orphan farm, it falls upon her to find proper homes from the children but by having J.L.B. Matekoni foster the two orphans, Mma Potokwane is also building a proper family for Mma Ramotswe. Mma Potokwane convinces J.L.B. Matekoni to take in the children, knowing that they will eventually reside with Mma R amotswe as well. For Mma Potokwane, who has taken on more than her share of domestic duties, it is a given that Mma Ramotswe will be happy to assume responsibility g ive the children to Mma Ramotswe as a wedding present. Women love children. She


87 only for a little while. One minute maybe. But then I thought: D o I want to marry the kindest man in the country? I do. Can I be a mother to them? I can. That is what I ca ring for the children, she turns to Mma Potokwane. Naturally, because of her profession, Mma Potokwane is the authority on helping and understanding orphans but this interaction also highlights the way in which Mma Potokwane is also helping initiate Mma Ramotswe into motherhood and, by extension, her role as Mother Africa. Mma end, it is Mma Potokwane who pushes the couple past their long engagement. 61 Once Mma Ramotswe has fulfilled her professional role a detective who focuses on mending the social fabric of her community on a personal level, the differences between her and her British counterparts are cast in even stronger relief. Mma Mma Ramotswe is able to incorporate both family life and detective work without compromising either. This (nearly) seamless incorporation hinges on the way in which the Batsw ana conceive the domestic world and family life. For Mma Ramotswe and J.L.B. Matekoni, marriage is not about the production of heirs or sexual domination of 61 Mma Potokwane convinces J.L.B. Matekoni to sky dive in order to raise money for the orphan farm, and after he lands, she surprises him with a wedding ceremony for the couple (McCall Smith 2005 [2003 ]: 196).


88 the female by the male. 62 As Virginia LaGrand and Craig E. Mattson argue, marriage in Botswana is not that which is laid out in the Oxford English Dictionary some of the same terms love, marriage, honesty, responsibility but in a context that Mattson 200 marriage to Note Mokoti, it is partially the absence, or rather the absence of a desire for Througho her independence. It facilitates her movement around Botswana, and allows her to freely conduct her detective work. The van is what initially brings the couple together (McCall Sm ith 2004 [2002]: 7) and it ultimately leads to their engagement. When the van experiences problems at the end of J.L.B. Matekoni independenc e is placed within his hands, and J.L.B. Matekoni proves that he has no desire to hinder it he restores it to her. 63 After he fixes the van, Mma Ramotswe finally consents to marry him. Batswana marriage, at least for J.L.B. Matekoni and Mma Ramotsw e, then represents a support system. This dynamic is again expressed through metaphor based on their respective professions. After their engagement, both J.L.B. Matekoni and Mma Ramotswe assert their professional independence. When Mma Potokwane commen ts on 62 a lion (McCall Smith 2002 [1998]: 182 183). 63 If one wants to read farther into the metaphor, an interchange on the next page underscores the would have been sorry if somebody had el se had lied to you and said it was not worth fixing. There are (McCall Smith 2000: 235)


89 44). Mma Ramotswe is similarly insistent on distinguishing her profession f rom her marriage. When J.L.B. Matekoni attempts to forbid her from entering a dangerous very please d ich is book the relationship between the two businesses changes. Just as Mma Ramotswe and J.L.B. Matekoni are preparing to become united in marriage, their business es become united under the same roof. Shortly after they become engaged, J.L.B. Matekoni becomes very ill prompting Mma Ramotswe to move her detective agency from its separate establishment into the back offices of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors. 64 Doing so solves two problems: it allows Mma Makutsi to assume the role of assistant manager keep the garage open, it eliminates some of the costs of running the detective agency, and it resolves some of the finan cial business benefited in other ways. Those who brought their cars in for repai r sometimes realized that there was a matter which might benefit from investigation an errant husband, for example, or a missing relative while others who came with a matter for the agency would arrange at the same time for their cars to be serviced or the ir brakes to be remain distinct but related through common interest and the work of Mma Makutsi. 64


90 ni support but do not dominate each other. By marrying J.L.B. Matekoni and taking in Motholeli and Puso, Mma Ramotswe brings her familial life back into balance and fully assumes the role of Mother Africa. Her union with J.L.B. Matekoni brings her closer to the Mother Africa identity not only because it balances her life on a personal scale, but also because J.L.B. Matekoni himself sees Mma Ramotswe as Mother Africa. As he builds his courage to once more ask for her hand in marriage, J.L.B. Matekon looked at her in the darkness, at this woman who was everything to him mother, Africa, wisdom, understanding, good things to eat, pumpkins, chicken, the smell of sweet cattle breath, the white sky across the en dless, endless bush, and the giraffe that cried, giving its Smith 2002 [1998]: 234). To J.L.B., Mma Ramotswe represents all that is good about life. Her being encompasse s all that is needed to sustain him and her presence brings him children. Like Mma Potokw ane, Mma Ramotswe provides support and nourishment to these orphan children. Equipping her with these literal trappings echoes the way in which as a moral detective Mma Ramotswe functions as a modernized Mother Africa. In addition to the role of healer, this detective Mother Africa is in charge of protecting her citizens. She becomes detective, judge, and jury: she uncovers the truth, evaluates it, and finds the way in which to restore balance to the community.


91 very few problems. By portraying Botswana as an idyllic, morally responsible community, McCall Smith works in contrast to previous trends in Western depictions of Africa. Mma Ramotswe represents a healing, rather than a corrupting force. Christine Matzke argues that in his novels, McCall Smith constructs Botswana, rather than England, as a wholesome world. Just as Holmes protected England from the infringement of the criminal world, Mma Ramotswe maintains the traditional morality of her Botswana. The agency granted to Mma Ramotswe itself reflects a change in the presentation of which European presentations of Africa because history less purposeful West with its history McCall Smith asserts that Botswana is rife with history: Mma Ramotswe not only physically embodies this histo ry, she also repeatedly references it throughout the novels. While these moments are often linked to her detective work, one such instance occurs after she tucks Motholeli into bed. Mma Ramotswe reflects on the future, and comments on the Africa of her y Africa become independent and take its own steps in the world. But what a troubled adolescence the continent had experienced, with its vainglorious dictators and their corrupt bureaucracie


92 Smith deliberately creates a character who remembers the struggle for independence, and can compare the world of her childhood with the Botswana of her present and future. With Mma Ramotswe as its No.1 Lady Detective, the Botswana McCall Smith slayer, riding to the rescue of a voiceless African c Africa is troubli ngly present in many facets of popular media. 65 He raises the question, McCall Smith creates a heroine who speaks directly to this issue. Through Mma and restore moral balance to her community, McCall Smith creates an image of a Botswana that can save itself. The difference in the ways in which McCall Smith presents Botswana may stem from his experience with Africa. Because he spent his childhood in Zimbabwe, and then spent several years working in the Botswana, 66 Botswana is neither as exotic nor as distant as Africa was for Conan Doyle (Matzke 2006: 64). However, his experience alo ne is not sufficient explanation, especially given the fact that other authors with personal experience of Botswana create different representations of the country and its people. 65 Lonsdale cites the original Live8 concerts which were meant to raise awareness about African issues, yet featured no African performers (Lonsdale 2005: 380). Another recent, though fictional, example occurred Avatar f or portraying a race of marginalized indigenous aliens who are ultimately saved by a white (human) protagonist. 66 Both in the Department of Law at the University of Botswana (Mekgwe 2006: 176) and as an interpreter of the Botswana Penal Code (Finnegan 200 6: 130).


93 swana detective writer who, like McCall Smith, creates an amateur, female Motswana detective. with overt child and woman abuse, damaging traditional practices and a powerful, corrupt 129). In the missing boy is returned to h is family, representing the (at least temporary) restoration of moral justice. There is no such moral McCall Smith is making very specific choices about the Botswana he presents. These (Mekgwe 2006 : 183). His presentation of Botswana resonates with his Western audience in part because of the way in which it familiarizes the foreign. By generating this familiarity, McCall Smith allows his readers to recognize and sympathize with the p roblems and needs of his African characters. McCall Smith recognizes the ways in which Botswana is a place like any other: the Batswana readers, are people attempting to live their lives as best they can. At o ne point, McCall Smith has Mma Ramotswe muse on this familiarity between people and the problems who made all the decisions in this world, the powerful people in places like Washington and London, know about people like Motholeli and Puso? Or care? She was sure that

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94 they would care, if only they knew. Sometimes she thought that people overseas had no room in their heart for Africa, because nobody had ever told them tha t African people 205). He is constructing Mma Ramotswe as a voice for Botswana and its people however, this legitimacy of this voice is problemat ic. The voice may be of a Motswana woman, but the words are those of a Scottish man. 67 the desire to help bring justice to Africa is being employed: McCall Smith is helping bridge the gap between his Batswana characters and his Western readers. However, seemingly negated at least until the reaction of the Batswana is taken into account. Though originally intended for a Sco novels have proved popular not only with other Western readers, but with Batswana readers as well (Finnegan 2006: 125). According to Pinkie Mekgwe, a Motswana who is speaking to the world about 67 Though he spent his childhood in Zimbabwe, and visits Botswana frequently, Alexander McCall Smith was educated in Scotland and currently lives there. This dynamic exists outside of the novels as well: on ), people can ask Mma Ramotswe questions, which

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95 Conclusion The female detectives examined in this thesis come from disparate backgrounds and use different modes of detection to varying degrees of success. Miss Marple is a spinster who has hardly ventured beyond her small English village in Murder at the Vicarage She is able to draw upon town gossip for information while using her observational skills ife in St. Mary Mead. However, she struggles to assert herself as a legitimate detective. Harriet Vane, on the other hand, is an the detective thrust upon her in Have His Carcase and Gaudy Night She calls upon her academic training and research skills both to craft the plots of her novels and to solve the she has to distanc e herself from detective work in order fully to assume her role as Lady Peter Wimsey in Mma Ramotswe is a Batswana woman whose She uses her commo n sense and Botswana moral compass to help restore the social fabric of Botswana own familial sphere. Though these women are very different, their novels share a common thread: an emphasis on the importance of insider knowledge in detective work. Contrary to the idea capable when trying to solve mysteries within their own communities. Though Miss Marple functions at the fringes of St. Mary Mead, she has intimate knowledge of the town and its inhabitants gleaned from observation and gossip. Harriet Vane only fully assumes her role as a detective in Gaudy Night when she returns to the academi c world

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96 of her alma mater, Shrewsbury College. As an active member of her Batswana community, Mma Ramotswe is able to effectively address its needs through her detective work. This emphasis on insider knowledge partially accounts for the role gossip plays in 68 For Miss Marple, gossip is a means for reaffirming her connection to the community. She is not personally community is instead defined by her participation in gossip; she ma y not have familial or financial connections to any of her neighbors, but she knows all of their business. Gossip establishes a classification and a function for Miss Marple: she is one of St. Mary munity by talking about it. Mma Ramotswe does not need gossip to define her place as a Batswana because there is no separate category for those who participate in gossip. Instead, gossip is presented as a facet of Batswana life and a bond between all Bat swana: everyone in the community gossips because everyone is connected. use of gossip problematic. In Murder at the Vi carage Miss Marple explains that her general: the gossip Miss Marple is so interested in only provides information about the villagers of St. Mary Mead. Miss Marple c onflates knowledge of her neighbors with an 68 status at Shrewsbury College is marked by another form of discourse, academic language.

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97 generalization by emphasizing the differences between Botswana and the rest of the world. Mma Ramotswe understands, and speaks for, her fellow Batswana. This emphasis on specificity rather than generalization ultimately reflects the way in which McCall Smith presents his novels: they are a window into a very specific (fictionalized) Botswana, not a reflection of Africa, or the world, in general.

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98 Works Cited Auerbach, Nina. 1975. Dorothy Sayers and the Amazons. Feminist Studies 3, (1/2) (Autumn): 54 62. Christie, Agatha. 1976 [1930]. Murder at the Vicarage New York: Dodd, Mead, and Company. Dasgupta, Susmita. 1995. Redeployment of the 'Feminine'. Economic and Political Weekly 30, (25) (Jun. 24): 1529 31. Doyle, Sir Arthur Co nan. 1984. The Illustrated Sherlock Holmes Treasury New York: Chatham River Press. Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan. 2001 [1890]. The Sign of Four Ontario: Broadview Press. Eagleton, Terry. 2003. After Theory New York: Basic Books. Edwards, Lee. 1977. L ove and work: Fantasies of R esolution. Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies 2, (3) (Autumn): 31 8. Finnegan, Lesley. 2006. 'A Completely Satisfactory Detective : The Detective Fiction Genre in Alexander McCall Smith's Botswana Novels. English Studies in Africa: A Journal of the Humanities 49, (2): 123 47. Giddens, Anthony. 1991. Modernity and Self Identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern Age Stanford: Stanford University Press. Kenney, Catherine. 1990. The Remarkable Case of Dorothy L. Sayers Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press. Kissane, James, and John M. Kissane. 1963. Sherlock Holmes and the Ritual of Reason. Nineteenth Century Fiction 17, (4) (Mar.): 353 62. LaGrand, Virginia, and Craig E. Mattson. 2007. Peter Wimsey and Precious Ramo tswe: Castaway Detectives and Companionate Marriage. Christianity & Literature 56, (4) (Summer): 633 64. Lonsdale, John. 2005. African Studies, Europe & Africa. Africa Spectrum 40, (3): 377 402. Matzke, Christine. 2006. 'A Good Woman in a Good Country'; or, the Essence is in the Pumpkin: Alexander McCall Smith's Mma Ramotswe Novels as a Case of Postcolonial Nostalgia. Wasafiri: The Transnational Journal of International Writing 47, (Spring): 64 71.

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99 McCall Smith, Alexander. 2005 [2003]. The Full Cupboard of Life New York: Anchor Books. McCall Smith, Alexander. 2004 [2002]. The Kalahari Typing School for Men New York: Anchor Books. McCall Smith, Alexander. 2002 [1998]. New York: Anchor Books. McCall Smith, Alexa nder. 2002 [2000]. Tears of the Giraffe New York: Anchor Books. McClellan, Ann 2004. Alma Mater: Women, the A cademy, and M othering in Dorothy L. S ayers's G audy N ight Literature Interpretation Theory 15, (4) (October/December): 321 46. Mekgwe, Pinki e, and Alexander McCall Smith. 2006. "All that is Fine in the Human Condition": Crafting Words, Creating Mma Ramotswe. Research in African Literatures 37, (2) (Summer): 176 86. Mezei, Kathy. 2007. Spinsters, Surveillance, and Speech: The Case of Miss Marp le, Miss Mole, and Miss Jekyll. Journal of Modern Literature 30, (2) (Winter): 103 20. Sayers, Dorothy L. 2006 [1937]. New York: Harper Torch. Sayers, Dorothy L. 1995 [1932]. Have his Carcase New York: Harper Paperbacks. Sayers, Dorothy L. 2006 [1936]. Gaudy Night New York: Harper Torch. Sayers, Dorothy L. 1995 [1933]. Murder Must Advertise New York: Harper Paperbacks. Sayers, Dorothly L. 2006 [1930]. Strong Poison New York: Harper Torch. Spacks, Patricia Meyer. 1982. In Praise of Gossip. The Hudson Review 35, (1) (Spring): 19 38. Strout, Cushing. 2001. Romance and the Literary Detective: The Legacy of Dorothy Sayers. The Sewanee Review 109, (3) (Summer): 423 36.