Woman on the Edge of Time Characters

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: 1976

Type of work: Novel

Type of plot: Utopian

Time of work: 1976 and 2137

Locale: New York City and environs, and Mattapoisett, Massachusetts

Characters DiscussedConsuelo (Connie) Camacho Ramos

Consuelo Woman on the Edge of Time (Connie) Camacho Ramos (kohn-SWEH-loh kah-MAH-choh RRAH-mohs), a thirty-seven-year-old Mexican American woman whose early beauty has been erased by hard times and tragedy. Her first husband was killed, and her daughter was taken from her by the state’s child welfare agency, but she is determined to survive. Once she used her mind at college; now she uses it to live with crushing poverty. She is fiercely loyal to what she has left of her family, a niece, and it is a fight with her niece’s pimp that results in her entering a mental hospital. From there, Connie discovers a unique talent: She can commune with the future. With the help of Luciente, a woman from the future, she visits Mattapoisett, Massachusetts, in the year 2137 and is amazed by the utopian life that she finds there. Meanwhile, back in 1976, she battles the doctors who wish to perform neuroelectric experiments on her in a struggle that is fueled by the social consciousness that she is developing under Luciente’s tutelage.

Luciente of Mattapoisett

Luciente of Mattapoisett (lew-see-EHN-teh), a woman in her thirties with sleek black hair, black eyes, and bronze skin. She is from the year 2137 and, as a “sender,” is able to contact receptive people from the past, such as Connie. Luciente works primarily as a plant geneticist, although, like everyone in her village, she shares in a number of other tasks. She is energetic, kind, and sensitive. She acts as Connie’s guide and ambassador during Connie’s visits to Mattapoisett. In many ways, Luciente represents what Connie is capable of becoming but could never hope to be in the racist, sexist, class-conscious society of 1976.

Jackrabbit of Mattapoisett

Jackrabbit of Mattapoisett, an artist and one of Luciente’s current lovers. He is a slender young man with curly, light brown hair. His long legs and a boundless appetite for life and love prompted him to choose the name Jackrabbit. He went mad as a teenager and was strengthened by the healing process. This bout with mental illness and the caring way in which his community responded stand in powerful contrast to Connie’s predicament. Jackrabbit can be careless and irresponsible, but his silly, curious nature makes him a pleasure to know. Jackrabbit is killed while serving a voluntary six-month stint on defense.

Bee of Mattapoisett

Bee of Mattapoisett, a big-boned black man with a bald head. He is a chef and another of Luciente’s current lovers. He reminds Connie of Claud, the boyfriend she had after she left her second, abusive husband. Connie and Bee make love one night in Mattapoisett.

Dolores (Dolly) Campos

Dolores (Dolly) Campos, Connie’s twenty-two-year-old niece, a prostitute addicted to drugs. Unlike Connie, she is unable to see beyond a life of easy money and quick highs.

Geraldo

Geraldo (hehr-AHL-doh), Dolly’s handsome pimp and boyfriend. Geraldo commits Connie to Bellevue Hospital after she hits him over the head with a bottle in an attempt to stop him from attacking Dolly.

Luis (Lewis) Camacho

Luis (Lewis) Camacho (lew-EES), Connie’s older brother and the owner of a plant nursery in New Jersey. Upwardly mobile, he has left his heritage behind by adopting the Anglicized name Lewis and marrying women who are successively more light-skinned and Anglo-looking. He has no sympathy for Connie’s plight.

Gildina 547-921-45-822-KBJ

Gildina 547-921-45-822-KBJ, a young woman from the future, but a future that is vastly different from Luciente’s. A series of operations and shots have given her a tiny waist, oversized hips and buttocks, and enormous, pointed breasts. She is a contract girl, assigned to a mid-level officer for two years of sexual services. Her existence is a stark reminder of what the future might bring.

Cash

Cash, the mid-level officer to whom Gildina is contracted. He has superneurotransmitters in his brain that are capable of turning him into a fighting machine. This technology is a refinement of the experiments planned for Connie.

Sybil

Sybil, a practicing witch and Connie’s friend at the mental hospital. She is tall, haughty, and strong.

BibliographyAdams, Alice. “Out of the Womb: The Future of the Uterine Metaphor.” Feminist Studies 19 (Summer, 1993): 269-289. Adams explores the evolution of the uterine metaphor in relation to the debate among feminists concerning natural and artificial methods of childbirth. In her analysis of Piercy’s novel, Adams compares Piercy’s alternative family structure with real-life alternatives and addresses the concept of the womb as a separate entity from the mother.Afnan, Elham. “Chaos and Utopia: Social Transformations in Woman on the Edge of Time.” Extrapolation 37 (Winter, 1996): 330-340. Perceiving Piercy’s novel as a classic work in feminist utopian writing, Afnan asserts that the chaos theory is a central theme in the novel, the concept of nonlinearity being its most significant aspect. Afnan also explores the process of social change through the selection of either utopia or dystopia.Bartkowski, Frances. Feminist Utopias. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1989. Chapter 2, “The Kinship Web,” compares Piercy’s novel to Joanna Russ’s The Female Man, discussing utopian conventions and placing the novel in the context of feminist and Marxist critiques. Good on the use of language and the role of the artist.Booker, M. Keith. “Woman on the Edge of a Genre: The Feminist Dystopias of Marge Piercy.” Science Fiction Studies 21 (November, 1994): 337-350. Booker explores the political commitment that informs Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time and He, She, It. He asserts that her feminist stance is rather unusual in a tradition that has been dominated by a masculine agenda and shows how both books reinforce their feminist political statements through literary techniques.Gygax, Franziska. “Demur–You’re Straightway Dangerous: Woman on the Edge of Time.” In Ways of Knowing: Essays on Marge Piercy, edited by Sue Walker and Eugenie Hamner. Mobile, Ala.: Negative Capability, 1991. Emphasizes psychiatric critique, mentioning Piercy’s involvement with the Mental Patients Liberation Front and her familiarity with the work of Phyllis Chessler. A psychological analysis of androgyny in the novel compares it to works by Adrienne Rich and Doris Lessing.Kessler, Carol Farley. “Woman on the Edge of Time: A Novel ‘To Be of Use.’ ” Extrapolation 28, no. 4 (Winter, 1987): 310-318. Stressing the didactic function of Piercy’s novel, examines communal, ecological, and spiritual values, arguing that the violent conclusion of the novel is a call for reader involvement.Levitas, Ruth. “We: The Problem in Identity, Solidarity, and Difference.” History of the Human Sciences 8 (August, 1995): 89-105. Examines Y. Zamyatin’s We and Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time to show how the use of the word “we” is gendered and therefore reflective of society’s repression of women. Concludes that both utopian works show that language reflects social conditions, and that achieving equality, while taking into account differences, is dependent on social perceptions.Pearson, Carol. “Coming Home: Four Feminist Utopias and Patriarchal Experience.” In Future Females, edited by Marleen S. Barr. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1981. A revision of “Women’s Fantasies and Feminist Utopias” in Frontiers 2, no. 3 (Fall, 1977): 50-61. The original article places Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time in the tradition of feminist utopias such as those by Joanna Russ, Ursula Le Guin, James Tiptree, Mary Bradley Lane, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Dorothy Bryant, and Mary Staton (only the last four are discussed in the revision), systematically discussing their similar treatments of women’s work, violence against women, sex roles, and the need to revolutionize economic structures, the nuclear family, and societal attitudes toward nature.Rosinsky, Natalie. Feminist Futures: Contemporary Women’s Speculative Fiction. Ann Arbor, Mich.: UMI Research Press, 1984. Chapter 3, “Battle of the Sexes,” contrasts Piercy and Joanna Russ’s advocation of androgyny with Sally Gearheart’s separatism in The Wanderground. Noting the humorous, ironic elements of Piercy’s novel, Rosinsky analyzes the flexibility of Piercy’s feminist solutions.Rudy, Cathy. “Ethics, Reproduction, Utopia: Gender and Childbearing in Woman on the Edge of Time and The Left Hand of Darkness.” NWSA Journal 9 (Spring, 1997): 22-38. Rudy focuses on the feminist debate concerning new reproductive technologies and their relationship to male power and control over the bodies of women. Rudy asserts that Piercy’s and Ursula Le Guin’s novels strengthen women’s position in their struggle to control their own reproductive rights.
Categories: Characters