By Keith Walker
Documents the stories of a conflict within the phrases of these ladies brave adequate to stroll into hell. --San Francisco Chronicle
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Extra info for A Piece of My Heart: The Stories of 26 American Women Who Served in Vietnam
554). Here is a mother, the embodiment of the “domestic affections,” prepared to take action to defend not only herself and her child, but also her faith and her city, taking on the role of commander in the absence of the imprisoned Louis. Marguerite appears thus as a combination of Ximena and Elmina, displaying qualities of both. Her activity, like Elmina’s, is “excused” because of her status as mother, when in fact she is a queen of “imperial glance” (554) who can command troops and lead a city as successfully as a man.
Contemporary reviews were split between those who thought that, “It is indeed, in the display of a mother’s feelings that Mrs. Hemans uniformly and pre-eminently excels,” and that Elmina’s agony, “could only have been painted by a woman—perhaps only a mother” (La Belle Assemblée), and those that suggest the work contains, “too much vehemence, too much effort,” and that, “The military spirit that breathes and glows in many of her pages, does not add to their real excellence. 11 38 Wo m e n W r i t e r s a n d M e di e va l i s m The contrasting roles women can play in troubling or unifying a politically driven public are clearly played out in The Siege of Valencia.
As inciter, women encouraged men to partake in the male-waged wars, the white feathers given by women in 30 Wo m e n W r i t e r s a n d M e di e va l i s m the First World War reflecting from the distaffs given centuries earlier by Eleanor of Aquataine and her women to men reluctant to join the Second Crusade. Camp followers were traditionally laundresses, cooks, nurses, gravediggers, and, most obviously, prostitutes. 2 Other rarer exceptions include the occasional war leader, such as the queens Fredegund and Isabel of Castile, and Joan of Arc, who actually represents all these categories, making her “a particularly appealing model for female heroism, memorable even when all other military women are forgotten” (96).