Come on Barbie, Let’s Go Rebel: Sexual Maturity and Rebellion in Julianna Baggott’s Pure (Catherine C. and Jasveen S.)

Pure by Julianna Baggott undoubtedly represents docile bodies in regards to the wretches who have been physically manipulated by the Detonations which caused items to be fused to them against their will. Pressia feels that her feminine potential in terms of her desirability is limited due to the physical object imprinted on her body.  As stated by Sara Day, the body can be considered the space between childhood and womanhood and innocence and experience (75).  In Julianna Baggott’s Pure, the protagonist Pressia has difficulty defining her sexual maturity as a result of her doll headed hand.  It is a constant reminder of her childhood innocence, despite the fact that she tries to disassociate herself from being labelled as such.  Only once a man is able to validate her beauty is Pressia able to focus on the underlying issues present in the dystopian society that she is apart of and see herself as a sexually desirable young woman who is capable of creating change. 

Pressia feels ugly when she looks at the doll headed hand despite the fact that “[t]he ugliness is what makes the beautiful things beautiful” (Baggott 210).  Like the protagonist in Marissa Meyer’s Cinder, Pressia dislikes a part of her body that cannot be manipulated and like Cinder’s robotic parts, the doll essentially defines who she is.  The way the author describes the doll in the novel is not the typical Barbie doll description the reader would expect: “[i]ts blinky eyes that click when she moves, the sharp black plastic row of eyelashes, the hole in its plastic lips where the plastic bottle is supposed to fit, the rubber head in place of her fist” (9).  The doll is a part of Pressia which makes her feel that she mirrors the plastic toy as she is just as scary and ugly as it.  She even attempts to cover the doll’s head with a sock.  The description of the doll showcases femininity in a negative way, as if it is something ugly and something to be feared.  As stated by Day, “[t]he adolescent women body is frequently understood as a challenge to both social and personal control” (78).  Pressia feels that she lacks control in regards to her body and it’s physical appearance and only begins to feel in control once she has a man to tell her she is beautiful.

Although initially Pressia has difficulty viewing herself as a sexually mature and desirable young woman rather than a young girl, her friendship turned blooming romance with Bradwell helps her realize her sexual potential.  As a result of her doll-headed hand Pressia “finds herself marked as a child despite the fact that she is now a teen with a more mature body,” (Day 82).  Pressia was repulsed by her doll-headed hand even though she lives in a world full of people that are mutated, fused with objects or scarred in some way.  It is only when she meets Bradwell and starts to develop a relationship with him that she is finally able to embrace her body and actively rebel against her deceitful society.   Pressia’s doll head is a source of shame that “she always covers … when she goes out” (Baggott 10).  She disliked it so much that she attempted to cut it off and this resulted in a scar which Bradwell told her “is beautiful …[and] a sign of survival” (319).  Bradwell does not view her as a child because of her doll headed hand, rather he recognizes her for the mature and beautiful young woman she is, and this causes “Pressia to reconsider the doll head as a sign of beauty rather than isolation or pain,” (Day 82).  It is through Pressia’s relationship with Bradwell that she is able to embrace her fusing and learn to accept her body.  Rather than feeling isolated by the constant reminder of her childhood that makes it difficult for her to grow up, Pressia comes to accept it and move on and this results in a realization of her potential as an agent in the struggle to uncover the truth about the Detonations.  Pressia “reframes[s] [her body] as valuable and strong rather than ugly and broken” (83) and this then causes her to “embark[] upon a romantic relationship and rebel[],” (83).  When Pressia meets Bradwell she learns to view herself as sexually desirable.  In turn, Pressia becomes more aware of the dystopia she is living in.  She begins to question the accuracy of stories the citizens have been told about the reason behind the Detonations.  She learns that there is more to this story then what they have been told and this serves as a catalyst to Pressia’s agency throughout the novel.

Pressia was ashamed of her doll-headed hand as it served as a link to her childhood innocence.  As a result of this Pressia could never be seen as an active citizen or possible rebel against the corrupt deceitful world in which she dwelled.  However, when Pressia met Bradwell she learned to accept her weaknesses and embrace her strengths and use them in turn to be an effective advocate rebelling against the corruption of the Dome.  Her new-found sexuality is linked to her becoming critical and rebelling against the corruption of her society.  Bradwell serves as Pressia’s catalyst to rebellion as he dissociates her from the image of a weak innocent child and teaches her to accept and embrace her power and potential.  

Discussion Questions:

  1. In this blog we argue Bradwell catalyzes Pressia’s rebellion, what other factors can be attributed to Pressia’s desire for change throughout the novel?
  2. Pressia can be compared to the character Cinder because both women feel that their bodies fail to conform to societies standards of beauty. Can you draw any other similarities between Pressia and a female protagonists from a different novel that we have read and discussed in class?

Works Cited

Baggott, Julianna. Pure. Grand Central Publishing, 2013.

Day, Sara. “Docile Bodies, Dangerous Bodies: Sexual Awakening and Social Resistance in Young Adult Dystopian Novels” Female Rebellion in Young Adult Dystopian Fiction, edited by Sara K. Day, Miranda A. Green-Barteet and Amy L. Montz, Ashgate, 2014, 75-92.

Meyer, Marissa. Cinder. Rampion Books, 2012.


17 thoughts on “Come on Barbie, Let’s Go Rebel: Sexual Maturity and Rebellion in Julianna Baggott’s Pure (Catherine C. and Jasveen S.)

  1. First off, I want to say that I loved your title. Very clever. I agree with your argument that it was Bradwell who brings Pressia into the rebellion. He reassures that she is indeed beautiful, and her fusing makes her strong; a survivor. After this Pressia is able to view her body as valuable. Once again this is problematic because, like Delirium, the female protagonist is validated through the opinions of her male love-interest. Without a males reassurance, Pressia & Lena fail in seeing themselves as beautiful, important or able to rebel.

    In regards to your first question, I think that the biggest factor that triggers Pressia desire for change is her visit to Ingership’s. Throughout the duration of this visit Pressia discovers a small piece of the truth about the OSR and the Dome. She discovers that people can in fact travel between the Dome and the outside. This little visit also ends with Pressia being poisoned and her body being tampered with. I believe it is this moment that Pressia realizes that things are very corrupt, and ignites her desire for change. However, I also think that at this point she still does not believe in herself, or the fact that she can bring about this change. As you guys so nicely argued, it’s not until she reunites with Bradwell and he reassures her of her importance and power that Pressia is able to see that she is capable of rebellion. After she realizes her value through Bradwell, Pressia is able to act on those desires and start to create the change (through rebellion) that she wants to see.

    That being said, there is also a number of things that happen at the end of the novel that cause Pressia to rebel and seek change. Firstly, the death of her grandfather. This was meant as a threat towards Pressia to keep her in line, but I think that it will only fuel Pressia’s desire for rebellion. Her grandfather was the only person who knew Pressia and loved her. His unfair death could easily be a factor that causes Pressia to seek justice and change. Also, the death of her mother in front of her own eyes let Pressia see how violent, corrupt and unforgivable the leaders of the Dome are. I think that it is safe to say that the death of these two important people act as catalysts for Pressia that will cause her to rebel (specifically in the later books). Unfortunately, I’m not sure she would have got to that point without the validation from her male love-interest that causes her to finally realize her value, which leads her to see herself (and her body) as beautiful, mature and powerful.

    All in all, I believe there are a lot of factors that contribute to Pressia’s desire for change. Some of them happen prior to Pressia becoming an active agent, while others come after. But regardless, Pressia would not have acted on these desires had Bradwell not made her see the value in her body and realize “her potential as an agent”.


  2. I completely agree that Pressia feels validated by Bradwell when he complements her. She doesn’t feel as though she has anything to offer the world in terms of her looks, but when she is told that she is beautiful and that her hand is not something that changes that, she is encouraged to view herself in that way as well. I don’t believe this has to do with it being said by Bradwell at all. I think that the reason that she finally views her doll hand as something other than a hinderance is because someone has finally acknowledged it and reassured her that it doesn’t make her any less of a person like she seems to believe. I think if anyone had complemented her in this way, and reassured her that being different is not something to be frowned upon, especially in their world where everyone has some kind of physical hinderance, it doesn’t change her into someone else. I think that in their world these fusings are so natural that no one seems to talk about them, but Pressia needs some confirmation that not speaking about her fusing doesn’t mean that it is frowned upon.
    For your question, I heavily identified Pressia with Lena from Delirium, mainly because she is an ordinary girl that comes into rebellion by accident. Pressia knocks on the door of the wrong house that night, and this leads her into the world of Bradwell and the rebellion against the Dome. Lena falls into rebellion when she meets Alex, and finds out that he is an Invalid. Both Bradwell and Alex are in their societies illegally. If they were following the rules, Bradwell would have been sent to the OSR many years ago, and Alex would never be allowed past the fence that traps Lena in her city. Pressia’s insecurity is something else that reminds me of Lena. She only views herself as beautiful with her fusing when Bradwell tells her that she is. Similarly, Lena thinks of herself as ordinary until Alex reassures her that she is beautiful. Both girls are brought into rebellion when they meet a boy that changed their view on life and on themselves.


    1. It is very interesting to hear that you think that it is not directly Bradwell that changes Pressia’s feelings about her doll hand but rather it could have been acknowledgment from anyone that altered her mind set about the doll. I completely understand your point and I think that because the fusing is considered taboo in their society, the fact that someone finally spoke about the positives regarding the situation made Pressia feel more comfortable with it. However, I feel that the fact that Pressia was finally able to claim her sexual desires because of Bradwell helped her to discover her feelings of empowerment. Pressia has never previously experienced the feeling of sexual attraction that she found with Bradwell and this specifically plays a big part in her growing confidence throughout the novel.

      At first, Pressia is a docile body because of the control that the government has over herself and her fellow wretches. However, we can also argue that once Pressia rebels, although she is no longer considered a docile body to the government she becomes a docile body in terms of her sexuality and her devotion to Bradwell. As mentioned in Sarah Day’s article about docile bodies, the body is often presented as “the location of others’ desires more than a young woman’s own desires” (78). Pressia now feels a strong connection to Bradwell that she has never experience with someone else, and in turn is willing to follow his direction and instructions, which essentially makes her a docile body. Like Katniss and many of the other protagonists in the novels we have read, the females are essentially willing to potentially risk and give up everything for a boy that they have fallen in love with.


    2. This is in response to the original comment. You have some interesting points here. I actually identified Bradwell and Alex as the two most closely linked characters out of all the novels we have read. For the obvious reasons such as their ability to induce rebellion in their female love interests and develop their characters by acknowledging their beauty. They are also outsiders to their societies, and represent the ‘bad boy’ image we have discussed in lecture. Neither of them belong to the communities they are in. Aside from the basic reasons these two characters connect, there are also small details about the two that add to their relation. Both characters- at one point in their novels- are presented as religious figures. When I got to the description of Bradwell’s birds in the novel, my internal reaction was, “oh no, not again,” as I immediately saw the fact that he has wings on his back as a reference to his likeness of an angel. Alex is similarly portrayed as a sacrificial Christ-like figure at the end of Delirium, as Lena notes, “The guards are coming too, reaching for him from both sides as though they are going to tear him apart,” and, “His hair is a crown of leaves, of thorns, of flames” (Oliver 440). The image this gave me of a man whose arms would be spread out on both sides with a crown of thorns represented Christ on the cross. The interesting thing about the connection between Bradwell and Alex here is that I would be very interested to hear how relatable their characters were to young boys. It is interesting how these YA novels are so concerned with realistically representing girlhood as insecurity and self-growth but for the boys in the novel the realistic aspect of them is minimal in comparison. The fact that both Bradwell and Alex impart knowledge of the rebellion to the female protagonists is what connects them, the fact that they do not represent boyhood is what complicates them.


  3. I think Pressia is much like Lena as their rebellions are both triggered by the male. Both girls have never thought about rebellion because they are brought up to be “girls”, which means to be docile to the society and obey the rules. Both need boys to tell them they are pretty because even in a future dystopia beauty still matters a lot to build a girl’s self-confidence, but it is reasonable considering Lena would have been paired by the government to get married and have baby and Pressia is kind of nostalgic to the past world when fusing wasn’t normalized. Lena grows a lot from an ordinary girl and Pressia gradually accepts her doll-fused hand, which is full of coming-of-age meaning.


    1. Hi there,

      I agree. I think that Pressia has a lot of similarities to Lena especially in the way that they both preach about essentially ‘security’ as their saving grace before they both have some insight to rebel. Lena literally doesn’t want to step on the governments toes and so she is afraid to do anything that deviates from the norm. Pressia , in order to hide from the OSR sleeps in a cupboard and only does things that will help her grandfather and her stay alive – she doesn’t do anything too devious. However, I don’t think Pressia considers her girlhood a factor as she lives in the wretches. Since everyone outside of the dome is characterized as either being fused or deformed, they are all outsiders in the same position. I think the docility and questions of her girlhood come into play after she has been associated to Bradwell. She realizes her sexual agency in her relationship with Bradwell. Prior to meeting him, all we know is that she is ashamed of her doll hand and hides it – it takes us a while to find out that it’s because she feels tied to her innocence.


  4. Thank you for your insightful blog post! With regards to your second discussion question, I think we can draw a clear similarity between the female protagonists in Pure and in Delirium. Like Pressia, in the beginning of the novel, Lena is a typical docile body that conforms to the society in which she lives in and does not question what she has been told is history and true. In both novels, the female protagonists begin to question the societal structures in which they live and what the authoritative figures have told them is true only once they meet a male character that is already actively involved in rebellious activities. As you mentioned in your essay, Pressia’s emerging sexuality becomes the catalyst for her rebellion against her society. Similarly, Lena only becomes an active agent and rebels against the structures of her society when she meets Alex and begins to have a sexual relationship with him. In other words, the potential positive aspect of these novels, in describing sexuality and desire within young adult women, is undermined by the fact that they become active agents in their life and are critical of their surroundings only when they have a man in their life that encourages them to do so and gives them a confidence boost by telling them they are attractive. In both these novels, the female protagonists are not rebellious on their own accord or due to their own realizations that their society may be corrupt, but instead are only motivated to do so when they get a little push from their male counterparts.


  5. There is also something interesting to note about Pressia’s reoccurring, vivid memories from her childhood, specifically the ones she starts to remember about her mother that alter Pressia’s thinking. After Bradwell gives her the picture from the magazine ad she starts to think about her life before the detonations and it’s like this picture has given her an insight into her life that she never had prior. She starts to miss her life so much that she describes her memories as literally ‘consuming’ her. The more she rebels, the more she then starts to remember things about her past. Even on page 302, Pressia is talking about how she can ‘only think of all the things that may no longer be true’. Though these past thoughts may it seem as if Pressia is going backwards in term of her growth as a character, her ability to reflect back on her past urges her to move forward and find the answers and the missing pieces that don’t make sense in the way that she’s relaying the events.

    I also agree with the above comments where it may have been possible for Pressia to achieve the same kind of confidence in her dollhand if it wasn’t for Bradwell. Throughout the novel, Pressia grows increasingly frustrated with the way that Bradwell presents himself. When Patridge and Bradwell first meet and they go on the journey to Bradwell’s old neighbourhood, Pressia is constantly trying to regulate how Bradwell acts because she is more concerned with how Patridge is treated. In this case, I think that it’s possible, if the validation had come from anyone else, say Patridge, Pressia would have experienced the same kind of awakening.


    1. I like how you connected her flashbacks to her character growth. That is a connection worth thinking about and giving credit to as you are correct, she uses these “vivid memories” to help her solve a lot of problems they face when attempting to figure out what is happening and her connection to all of it. Indeed there are many factors that caused Pressia’s rebellion and growth even though in this specific post we argued the main one is Bradwell. However, even in her character growth through the use of these vivid memories, the person who once again who causes these memories to become much more persistent and vivid is Bradwell. As you stated, Bradwell is the one that gives her the poster from “the Before” and it is this poster that Pressia uses as a baseline to draw conclusions of what life might have been like before the Detonations. So if arguing the memories are a major factor in what drives Pressia forward into rebellion via looking at the past, this must once again be attributed to Bradwell.
      Moreover, although you make an interesting case that Pressia just needed someone, anyone really, to catalyze her awakening, I still believe Bradwell is the one who had to push her into rebellion. He caused her frustration and this made her pay more attention to him and made her want to prove him wrong, he referred to her as a “type” when they first met and this angered Pressia and made her want to prove that she was not what he expected. I think this fact is also something to take into consideration, if it had been someone that Pressia did not care for or was not as strong willed in their rebellion as Bradwell they would not have affected Pressia to the same extent. If it had been Patridge Pressia probably would have helped him for her own benefit, or maybe not at all, and left not feeling as much of a need to get involved and to discover the truth. Furthermore, the romantic element that was presented by Bradwell also pushed her a little more, it is unfortunate but also true that most girls will go out of their way to do something if they feel it will make the boy like them. Albeit, Pressia was not certain of her feelings from the beginning, there was still an underlying element there that played a role unto why she cared so much about what Bradwell thought and why he was the main character that pushed her into rebellion.


  6. Hi both,

    I love the title of the post–very creative. To answer your second question, like others I think that we can compare Pressia to Lena in that they both rebel after meeting a strong male figure who is able to guide them in their rebellion. In terms of appearance, Lena is also quite critical of herself and her looks; she feels she is not ugly nor pretty, but somewhere in between. Further, Lena consistently describes herself as short and petite in comparison to Hana. Like Pressia, Lena’s appearance places her within the liminal space between childhood and adulthood.
    However, I think that if we consider this liminal space a defining characteristic of Pressia, we may also link her to Lauren, particularly in the first half of “Parable of the Sower.” Lauren in the novel is, as we know, a revolutionary (i.e. creating her own religion) but at the same time is still childlike in her obedience to her parents’ wishes–she gets baptized in the beginning of the novel only because it is important to her father, not because she personally believes in that religion. Further, when her father tells her that she must stop talking about Earthseed publicly, she complies; it is only after her life is destroyed that Lauren begins to take on a leadership role. In the latter part of the novel, Lauren emerges as a full-fledged adult, but in the beginning parts she still operates in the liminal space between powerful and revolutionary, and obedient to the rules around her. Pressia, like Lauren, can be understood as occupying a “space in between” childhood and adulthood–for Pressia, as you point out in your post, this liminal space is a literal connection to childhood because of her fusing, whereas for Lauren the connection to childhood comes from a semblance of normal parent-child relations.


  7. The title of this article is amazing. I’m going to respond to your second question, Pressia can be compared to the character Cinder because both women feel that their bodies fail to conform to societies standards of beauty. Can you draw any other similarities between Pressia and a female protagonists from a different novel that we have read and discussed in class?
    I personally drew the most immediate similarity to Katniss as both are females in a dystopian world where their respective families rely on them for survival. Before learning that Partridge is Pressia’s brother, I also found this story to be similar in that I was expecting a love triangle (or square if you include Lyda), but side: I loved that it ended up not being a love triangle!!. I also drew this comparison in their strength of characters. Although Pressia is insecure about her doll-hand, she is not scared of the OSR which I believe parallels Katniss’s determination in The Hunger Games.


  8. Beyond the way their physical alterations make them feel in terms of beauty and desirability, both Cinder and Pressia also have an alteration that they are unaware of for the first part of the novel and which severely impacts how freely they are able to live. Pressia learns that she has been bugged and that at any moment a bomb within her brain could be detonated killing herself, and those around. This affects the decisions she must make and the way she must act in order to ensure that this does not happen. Something that has been planted without her knowledge or consent is limiting her freedom to be herself and commit to her growing participation in rebellion. As such she is not able to embrace her developing self. Likewise, Cinder learns that she had a device inserted into her spinal cord at the base of her next which prevented her from using her Lunar “magic” and in fact, discovering her Lunar background at all. Because of this device, Cinder’s understanding of her true self was limited, and the decisions and actions she may have chosen to make had she known about her ability were taken from her. These situations are not exactly the same but I do think it is worth noting that both protagonists have their freedom to embrace their identity and make important decisions, due to a neurological device being inserted without their knowledge. Likewise, a connection along these lines can also be made to Lena and the procedure each member of her society undergoes in order to be cured of deliria. This procedure alters the way that people feel, act, and live the rest of their lives. The freedom that they would naturally have, is severely impeded by the result of the procedure. Of course, in the instance of Lena the majority of people submit willing, unlike Cinder and Pressia who did not consent to their alterations. However, in the case of Lena’s mother, as one example, the procedure was administered more than once without her consent. If it had worked, which was obviously the goal, Lena’s mother’s circumstance would be quite similar to that of Pressia and Cinder, though unlike them, her’s would be a physical and irreversible change.

    In each of these instances, the alteration affects the characters’ ability to act freely, and ultimately prevents them in one way or another from rebelling or acting non-normative in any way.


  9. I love your post it really got me thinking about all the books we read and the rebellions of the characters. I realised that it’s pretty shocking that a lot of these female authors decided to rely on romance/male to encourage their female protagonist to be rebellious. I would say that Cinder and Lauren are the only ones who decided to rebel not because of a man or someone else, but because they themselves realised that they were in a horrible situation and needed to get out. I’m going to focus on Lauren because out of all the books, the love story in her narrative was the least impactful to the plot. Lauren decided to go against the structure of her life out of her own accords, she did not need anyone to make her realise that she needs to take control of her situation to survive. She was able to deduce that for herself, and instead of being apathetic about her situation like Pressia, she put value into her own life and decided that she would live for herself before anyone else. The fact that Lauren’s strength draws from herself is inspiring and also made me recognise that real lives rebellions start by someone realising that they are tired of the crap that is their life.

    The parallels that Butler kept on making to slavery made me think about how even in slave narratives, what caused them to rebel was rarely only their feelings for others (unless it’s their child) it was always about how they hated the injustice they were living through. This is something that a lot of these authors failed to capitalise on. What causes a rebellion is a person having a breaking point, the weight of their horrible lives becomes too much for them to accept. If they don’t rebel the way they were living would kill them. For Baggot’s case, Pressia lives in what seems like a hopeless world, where she has a death sentence hovering over her head because of the OSR. Instead of making Pressia come into her own rebellion by herself, she made Bradwell the centre of Pressia’s rebellion. Although it is true that one draws strength from others, it’s a shame that a lot of female writers make a man be the reason that their female protagonist starts rebelling, which makes it seem as if they are rebelling just to be with a man. As already mentioned, rebellions come about after refusing to accept injustice as being normal. Butler portrayed this with Lauren maybe because her ancestors were slaves and she knows that had it not been for their strength, African Americans would not be where they are today. If only more authors would make their characters draw on their own strength to rebel maybe we would have more unique rebellions, instead of having a strong female protagonist be attach to her male counterpart.


  10. Hey Catherine and Jasveen,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts! To answer your second question, in addition to Cinder, I think Pressia is similar to Lena from Delirium. In the same way that you argue Bradwell catalyzes Pressia’s rebellion, we can say that Alex does the same for Lena. First, Pressia’s fusing to the doll face is a source of shame and embarrassment for her. Bradwell is the one to tell her that her scars are beautiful and therefore, she is beautiful, which gives her the confidence boost to rise to rebellion. For Lena, she only ever sees herself as ordinary until Alex comes and makes her feel beautiful. Her romance with Alex is an act of defiance and is what catapults her into rebellion. Both female protagonists in Pure and Delirium rely on their male love interests to shape them into active citizens and rebels in their respective societies.

    Moreover, there can also be similarities drawn between Pressia and Katniss from the Hunger Games. Both girls are thrown into the role of a provider pre-maturely due to circumstance. Since Pressia loses both her parents in the Detonations, she is left to care for her ailing grandfather, taking over market transactions and creating toys to use for trade in order to keep them both fed. This is similar to how Katniss must rise and take on the responsibility of a provider for her family when her father dies in a mining explosion and her mother goes into depression. She learns how to hunt and banter at the Hob in order to keep Prim, herself, and her mother fed. Both female protagonists in Pure and The Hunger Games grow up before “normal” girls their age do in order to face societal realities and provide for their families.


  11. In response to your first question, other than Bradwell, the deceitful nature of the society and the boost in her self-esteem played a key role in her rebellion. Pressia felt although she lived in a world full of people who are scarred, fused with objects and even others mutated, she was a spectacle with her doll headed hand. When Pressia sees her doll headed hand as a sign of beauty, she gets confident enough to rebel the deceitful society. She begins questioning the legibility and logic of every story told. She gets more curious about the world she is living in and gets aware of its misconceptions. She finally learns that a lot has been hidden and the stories told were only half-truths, this gives her a drive to rebel more throughout the novel.


  12. I was thinking about the second question, and I believe Pressia has similarities to Lena in Delirium. There is this idea that these young girls can be cute but not too pretty, especially in the way they view themselves. We see this through Lena believing she is mediocre looking and not as pretty and gorgeous as Hana, and Pressia not valuing her looks because of the doll fused onto her hand. While in my opinion Pressia’s reasoning’s are more justifiable, but it is a continuing theme in YA dystopian fiction to have a female protagonist believe she is nothing special, but then a cute boy will say they are pretty and they will eventually start to believe they are beautiful. In Delirium, it was not until Alex said she was pretty and spent time with her, she validated her looks and started to actually believe she was beautiful. In Pure we see this after Pressia hears Bradwell continuously talk about how he is proud of his wings and how they look. Although she begins disliking her doll and Bardwell’s confidence and perception pushes Pressia to begin to see the beauty in herself.


  13. I enjoyed reading your post and I especially like your title! I agree with your argument that Pressia was only able to see herself as a sexually desirable young woman capable of creating change after a man validated her beauty. I also found Pressia to be very similar characters because they both did not have consent over the changed their bodies experiences. Pressia with the doll head fused to her hand during the detonation and Cinder with her cybernetic hand and foot after a plane crash. I also found Pressia’s acceptance of her body, only after Bradwell spoke of her beauty, to be problematic. Such a narrative reinforces the common trope within YA novels about girlhood, that women should not think of themselves as beautiful, or accept themselves fully unless their beauty is confirmed by male characters.
    To answer your second question, I can easily see similarities between Pressia and Lena from Delirium. Like Lena, Pressia had no intentions of rebellion against authority figures until a male character’s rebellion sparked her interest. Both Alex and Bradwell were very persistent in stating the importance of rebelling against authority, leading Lena and Pressia to rebel against authority themselves. Also, like Lena, Pressia was only able to accept her body and view herself as sexually desirable, after Bradwell told her that he found her scar “beautiful” and “a sign of bravery”, did Pressia start to believe his words. Because of such a heavy reliance on the male love interest, Pressia and Lena were not able to be empowered, nor have agency over their rebellion, by themselves. Both female protagonists relied on their heterosexual love interests to realize their potential abilities to rebel against authority figures, and progress from their roles as weak and passive, once they were told by a man that they could have power if they cared enough to make a change in their society.


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