Jael was Here
Jael has two introductions. Once in part 2, and again in part 8. It’s exactly the same in both places, with two major differences. The first one includes “You’ll meet me later” (19) and lets on she’s not any of the characters we’ve met so far. This serves primarily to foreshadow Jael, who we indeed meet later. However, it does raise the question: why did Russ decide to introduce her there? Is Jael then present in the shadows throughout the whole book?
In part 8, the main difference is that “you’re not all there” is not italicized (157). What is so important about that phrase? One thing to consider is that particular phrase could imply two things. One is that she’s literally not present–a ghost of sorts. Another possibility is that she is crazy; her mind isn’t all there. We are left to interpret this cryptic message.
Another difference is, in the part 8 passage, the phrase “which I’ll go into a little later” (157). That, and “You’ll meet me later,” strongly imply that Jael is well aware of the reader, more clearly than any other character. Not only is she aware of the reader, but she is aware of the book’s structure. This is an important part of her character–she hops timelines as part of her job. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that she knows about the reality we live in as readers. Ergo, Russ’s multiverse includes ours–our universe is one of many that could’ve been accessed in the book.
In fact, this means Jael did visit our reality, long enough to help Russ write her book in some capacity. When “you’re not all there” is presented part 8, it could also be to the readers–we’re not there with her.
Giuliamar. Untitled. n.d. https://pixabay.com/en/face-cat-woman-eye-animal-girl-122690/. Accessed October 2016.
Russ, Joanna. The Female Man. Beacon, 1975