During class, we briefly discussed Eisner’s portrayal of women in A Contract with God and Other Tenement Stories, and someone noted how all the women tend to be either a Madonna figure or the whore. Even though I think that the female characters throughout Eisner’s book are a bit more complex than the traditional good girl/ bad girl stereotypes, they are more so only through allusion to complexity rather than expressed complexity, and Rosie, the little seductress in “The Super,” is a great example.
The first time that the super, and the reader for that matter, is introduced to Rosie, she is wet and wrapped in a towel, fresh from a bath. Without any knowledge of her age, the shape of her body and her expression lead the reader to think that she must be at least a teenager; most ten year old girls do not have curves like that. Yet, when she visits the super, Mr. Scuggs, her short, collared dress, Mary Jane shoes, and scrunched socks allude that she is much younger than her first appearance, but her actions suggest that the outfit is a rouse; she offers to let Mr. Scuggs have a peak under her dress, kills his dog, and steals his money. It is only after her confrontation with the super, and his subsequent suicide, that we learn that Rosie is only ten years old; however, when she is sitting on the step, singing and counting the stolen money, she again looks much older than ten years old.
To me, it is very interesting that the only time that Rosie looks her age is when she is using it to con Mr. Scuggs. This suggests that Rosie is a much more complex character, yet we only get to know the super, Mr. Scuggs, in any sort of intimate way. We feel sympathy for him even though he is a very flawed character; he is an anti-Semitic pervert. Yet, we are not led to feel sympathy for Rosie, a ten year old who uses her body to manipulate and steal. It is in that way that Eisner’s story and illustrations allude to Rosie’s character’s complexity. We only see her bad side, but we never know what happened to the good.