Mount Alvernia High School, Newton, Massachusetts


Vicky Valdez 

A History of Boston Jails

Strong Female Crime Solvers in Megan Abbot’s Work

Throughout Megan Abbott's work there is a sense of having a strong desire to escape the reality in which they live in. Abbott’s crime fiction features women who begin as weak victims but are ultimately able to transform into strong leaders over the course of their investigation. In The End of Everythingfor instance, a young girl, Evie, is raped and robbed of her innocence by her father. She finds an escape with a neighbor, Mr.Shaw, and even voluntarily leaves her home,leaving her sister Dusty as the only witness, and tricking everyone into believing she has been kidnapped. By contrast, Dusty is also raped by Mr.Verver, but following this trauma, she is brainwashed into believing she loves him. Evie’s safe haven turns into what she ultimately has been trying to escape, rape. In the end, Evie decides to return home, where she discoversthat her ultimate escape is actually within herself. Evie is forced to mature by the violent action committed against her.

The desire to escape is a theme that has been acted out in Boston jails. Correctional facilities improved for both the inmates and the public from the nineteenth to the early twenty-first century. City officials made improvements through developing technology and passing laws. Jails became more humaneand the Prison Discipline Society of Boston argued that keeping inmates incarcerated, far from the reality of ordinary daily life, did more harm than good. Throughout prisons in Boston, including the Charlestown State Prison, prisoners remained isolated.Officials allowed few visits. Working was the only wayprisoners escaped from their confinement. Regulations only permitted work in stone building or in maintenance as janitors. Being always confined with the same people built tension, which caused the multiple Cherry Hill riots, ending in January 1955. The unruly rioters had an ultimate goal to shut down the Charlestown State Prison. From the nineteenth to the beginning of the twenty-first century, the experience of prisoners in Boston jails improved due to changed security regulations which recognized the human needs of prisoners.

Major Works Consulted:

Abbott, Megan E. Dare Me: New York: Little, Brown, 2012.
---. The End of Everything: New York: Little, Brown, 2011.
McMaster, Joseph. Charles Street Jail. Charleston: Arcadia, 2015. Print.
O'Neil, Helen. "Where Sacco, Vanzetti and Malcolm X Stayed in Charlestown." Charlestown, MA Patch. 6 Mar. 2012. Web. 03 Feb. 2016.
Photo Credit: Plourde, Sara. "10-Minute Writer's Workshop: Megan Abbott." 10-Minute Writer's Workshop: Megan Abbott. 20 Jan. 2016. Web. 24 Feb. 2016.