One character I find fascinating in Katharine Burdekin’s Swastika Nights is Marta. She is does not have a major role in the story but I think that her interaction with the Knight in Chapter 1 shows that the women in Burdekin’s fictional world are not quite as beaten down as the men think they are. When the Knight accidentally tells the women that they need to want to give birth to daughters, Marta refuses to forget what she has heard . The other women tell themselves and each other that he has really said sons, convinced that they must have misheard since he could not have uttered such a outlandish statement (Burdekin 14-16). Yet it is Marta, who is old and considered useless, who refuses to forget what was said. This suggests to me that Burdekin wants the reader to consider that although the women in this dystopian world are considered animals there are still capable of feeling, thinking, and being rebellious. Although we are told that the women enthusiastically embraced their roles in the Reduction of Women; the mangled body of the woman who opposed von Wied’s idea of womanhood shows violence and coercion played a role in implementing the plan (Burdekin 82-84). So I would think that not all women were happy with their new position in life but were doing what they had to in order to survive. Given Marta’s determination to not forget what the Knight said, I think that there is more to the women than just submission and weakness.
Burdekin, Katharine. Swastika Night. New York: Feminist, 1985. Print.