Fascinating as it may be to do a gender switch on any key protagonist of any book, the pivotal of change leads me to deliberate the complexities that would arise in doing so, I shall however endeavour to deliver a few implications;
For the purpose of the exercise I am going to choose Perry Mason (Gardner 1987), probably because it was the first book my eyes settled on when I was thinking of male characters. So Perry will become Perrine. Below is an extract of, “A Perry Mason Mystery – The Case of the Crooked Candle.” The most evident change is the tone; the tone in its entirety would alter the book significantly. I’m also taking into consideration that if it was written today it would again be different as significant cultural shifts have occurred since the book was written i.e. Secretaries don’t dust off lawyers desks these days, there are designated cleaners to do it and very few would be taking dictation via shorthand as dictation is done with a recorder.
Perry Mason pushed open the door of this private office, smiled at Della Street who was dusting the corners of his desk with secretarial solicitude.
“Good morning Chief,” she said.
Mason gravely deposited his hat in the hat closet, walked over to the desk and looked down at the mail, neatly arranged in three piles.
Perrine pressed open the door of her private office, smiled at Della Street who was preparing newspapers and magazines on her desk.
“Good morning Perrine, how are you today?” Della said with a wide smile.
“Fine Della, how are you?”
“Better than yesterday, can I get you a coffee?”
“I’m dying for one, that would be great Della. Thanks.”
Perrine elegantly deposited her bag and coat in the closet, promenaded over to the desk dropped in her chair and began looking over the mail that had been sorted and complied in order of urgency.
Dialogue and character mannerisms would alter to suit a feminist culture. Relationship issues would be emotional, as women in general need company in the form of family and friends etc. Rarely do they emancipate the role of a loner. These friends and family would be written into the book.
Women as a whole can identify and pinpoint useful ways of grasping the established nature of social and cultural practices in the workplace environment. As a result by showing closer relationships and cultural practices we open up the complexities in conveying a deeper psychological impact to the characteristics of the protagonist. Thus altering the already formatted culture and feeling of the book.
Conclusively a shift in gender does not make the narrative identical in fact I would argue that there would be a vast outcome if the gender was reversed because men and women behave/react differently when faced with the same situation. Plainly, switching gender changes the dynamics of the story entirely.
What are your thoughts? What would happen if you switched the gender of your protagonist?
Gardner, S. E. (1987). A Perry Mason Mystery – The Case of the Crooked Candle.