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Femme Fatale

By ethiopian321 Nov 18, 2009 856 Words
Darian Hooker
English 4

“The Femme fatale, defined simply, is an irresistibly attractive woman, especially one who leads men into danger. In hard-boiled fiction, she is usually the protagonist’ romantic interest…The protagonist involvement with her my range from mild flirtation to passionate sex, but in the denouement he must reject or leave her, for the revealed plot shows her to be one of the causes of the crime.”

Williams Marling, Professor of English
Case Western University

Female Fatale

In the book Jonathan Lethem’s “Motherless Brooklyn” both Kimmery and Julia can both, arguably be considered “Femme Fatale”. Julia Minna, Frank Minna’s wife, was an attractive women (to the Minna men at least), and had a slight sexual attraction to Lionel. While Kimmery, although not very attractive to most men, attracted Lionel and had a sexual encounter with him also. However, neither of them really lead Lionel into danger, nor did either of them have to be rejected by Lionel in order for the murder of Frank Minna to be solved. Also, neither Kimmery nor Julia was found to be one of the causes of the crime. So an argument could be made on both sides about Julia and Kimmery. Julia Minna is the wife of Frank Minna. She fits into the femme fatale category in more ways than one. One sub- category she fits into is the sexual tension category. The day after Frank Minna died, Lionel (protagonist) went over to Julia Minna’s house so that he could break the news of her husband’s death to her. When he arrived the entire house was dark with the exception of the bedroom. He followed her into it and held a conversation with her. It started with the news about Frank Minna and then eventually led to him holding her breast in her hands. Because of this encounter I feel like she had some sexual tension with Lionel. Also towards the end of the book she had some sexual tension towards Lionel, however, she would never have sex with him because he was a freak. She said “I’ve wanted you a little bit myself….” A Femme Fatale is supposed to have a sexual attraction to the protagonist which could be shown thru flirtation or a broader range of sexual activities. He also had some sexual tension towards her to because when she moved his hands to her breast “sexual excitement stills {my} Tourette’s brain…..If {he} could have just spent a week or so with my hands on Julia’s breast, then {he} could think straight!” (103-104) However, outside of sexual tension, Julia cannot really be categorized as a femme fatale. Lionel was not yearning for her love and neither was she yearning for his. It is also hard to justify that she led the protagonist into any danger. Lionel led himself into all this danger because he went on a search to look for his friend’s killer, and to figure out the reason Frank Minna was killed. If he simply accepted his Frank Minna’s death then he would not have been involved in any of these situations. It wasn’t Julia’s fault. Some can argue that Julia was in a three way love triangle with Frank and Gerad Minna which led to the death of Frank. This would qualify her as a Femme Fatale. However, her sexual relationship with the brothers did not lead them to their death. Their greed for money leads Frank Minna to his death. It was his to make the decision to steal from Matricardi and Rockaforte which lead to his death. Now Kimmery, like Julia, also fits into the sexual tension part of being a femme fatale. Kimmery had just broken up with her boyfriend and was a little desperate for love, which is the reason she had sex with Lionel. She later on in the book told Lionel that she was going to move back in with her boyfriend and that “that thing that happened with us, it was just, you know- a thing.” (309) Therefore she is cutting Lionel loose. Not vice versa. In the definition of femme fatale, the femme fatale is supposed to be cut loose by the protagonist. Although, Kimery’s encounter with Lionel was a lot more sexual then Julia’s, it was still a sexual encounter that led to nothing emotionally between her and Lionel. Julia simply placed his hands on her breast and told him that she had a sexual attraction to him. Kimmery had sex with Lionel. So there was a sexual attraction and because of this you could say that in that way they fit into the Femme Fatale category. But the Femme Fatale definition according to William Marling states that the women also lead the men into danger, and that in order for the protagonist to solve the crime he must cut her love lose. And she will later on be linked to the crime. And in this book neither Kimmery nor Julia led Lionel to danger, and neither of the two ladies were a part of the crime.

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