Nancy Drew, Beloved Heroine
One of the best teen role models for girls
Nancy Drew's favorite color has always been blue -- the
traditional color for boys. This is entirely appropriate, given that
the daring girl sleuth has from the very beginning posed as much of
a challenge to gender stereotypes as she has to criminals.
Nancy Drew is bold, brave, and independent. A University of Iowa
conference devoted to Nancy Drew declared that she was a true role
model for young girls, citing her "physical courage" as one
particularly positive trait.
But, while Nancy Drew tackles situations usually reserved for
her male literary counterparts, she is depicted as having the
positive traits and interests of both traditional gender roles. She
has an inherent talent for auto mechanics as well as cooking,
horseback riding, dancing, sewing and athletics. She is brave,
confident and daring but also polite, caring, sensitive and kind. In
addition, she is a thoughtful daughter, always keeping her father
informed of her activities.
Speaking of her father, Nancy Drew never lacks for anything
thanks to Carson Drew, a successful criminal attorney. During the
Depression, Nancy's wealth made her an especially intriguing
character for less fortunate readers. Whether buying the gas for her
lovely blue roadster, or flying in a jet as she does later in the
series, Nancy Drew foots the bill without a moment's hesitation. And
when the day's work is done, she returns home to her lovely brick
colonial house in suburban River Heights where she lives with her
often-absent father and their full-time housekeeper, Hannah Gruen.
Nancy's mother died when she was just three years old. This
circumstance provides her with an essential element of her appeal to
young readers -- her freedom from parental supervision. Nancy can
investigate an abandoned mansion in the middle of the night without
fear of getting grounded. With the full permission of her indulgent
father, Nancy hops into her blue roadster or Mustang convertible and
drives right into the shadowy underworld of crime.
In her personal life, you won't catch Nancy Drew passing on a
whodunit to spend more quality-time with her steady boyfriend Ned
Nickerson. Nancy's truelove is criminal-hunting. Her girlfriends,
George and Bess, who couldn't be more different in personality are
alike in their willingness to pitch in on Nancy's investigations
whenever they're needed.
Despite her privileged lifestyle and accommodating friends and family, Nancy remains unspoiled. Never rude, even to the surliest
criminal, Nancy emerges from stressful situations with her manners
intact. Adults generally return the behavior, treating Nancy with
all the deference and respect that any reader could wish.
The police, in particular, are almost
always willing to help out
the young detective. With Nancy Drew in town, the police don't
bother to compete. They have faith that she knows her stuff. And as
readers can attest, they're absolutely right!
-- Lisa Schulman