48 pages 1 hour read

Sue Grafton

A Is For Alibi

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1982

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Marriage and Gender Roles

The theme of marriage and gender roles explores the societal expectations and personal experiences of the female characters in the story. It also explores how established norms surrounding marriage and gender influence both the male and female characters’ actions.

The portrayal of Nikki Fife offers insight into the experiences of women navigating 1980s society, which harbors rigid expectations of them, particularly within the institution of marriage. Nikki, who has been imprisoned for the murder of her husband, Laurence, presents a complex figure caught in the labyrinthine constructs of societal expectations and personal desires. Her journey through the narrative, from being accused and imprisoned to seeking the truth behind her husband’s death, exposes the intricacies and complications of marriages steeped in deception and unmet expectations.

On the other hand, Millhone symbolizes a departure from the traditional representations of women during the time. Millhone’s decision to remain unmarried and child-free cast her as a modern, independent woman, providing a counternarrative to the traditional roles often ascribed to women. Her relationship with Charlie underscores the difficulty of her position: By foregoing traditional attachments, every romantic encounter entails entering unknown territory. Charlie’s secretive and “smoldering” (206) nature evokes an ironic tension; amid the elegance, there is an undercurrent of uncertainty, a hint that his polished demeanor might be a facade masking dubious intentions.