The character of Jenna and why she is so great
I have always loved Balto. It was one of my favorite movies when I was a kid, as I was an avid lover of dogs and animated movies. I kind of forgot about it for a while, but now it has once again found its way into my heart. And besides the beautiful animation, engaging story, and breathtaking music, there is one thing in particular I find myself loving this movie for now: Jenna.
I consider myself a feminist, and as such, it always brings me great joy to see such an excellent female character in a movie like this. As a kid, I never really saw how good of a character Jenna was, and though of course her main role is that of the love interest, I realize now that she is so much more than that.
Jenna is a love interest, yes, but she in no way is dependent on the male characters in the movie. She sees right through Steele's charming facade, viewing him only as the arrogant jerk that he is. She is interested in Balto, but their relationship seems to be more of a side note to her. Her real devotion lies with her owner, Rosie, another female character. She shows great compassion and loyalty in trying to care for Rosie, constantly being by her side to comfort her and worrying about the medicine getting to Nome. Though she cares about Balto and hopes for his safe return, her true concern is that the medicine get to Rosie so she can be cured.
Jenna may have these typical female traits of compassion and concern for others, though by no means are those bad characteristics, but it definitely does not make her weak. She is incredibly smart, coming up with and executing her plan to push Steele up against the furnace so she and Balto can make their escape from the boiler room. She is not fooled for long when Steele returns from the wilderness claiming that Balto has died and that the medicine is lost. She knows how manipulative he can be and is not willing to lose hope on his account. She also uses the light-and-broken-bottles trick that she learned from Balto to give the team a beacon to guide them home.
Jenna's ultimate shining moment in my opinion, though, is when Balto, Boris, Muk, and Luk are being attacked by the bear. Not only was Jenna able to track them to their exact location, she also makes no hesitation in fighting the bear when Balto is in trouble. She seemingly does a much better job of it than Balto, as well, getting in many more quality hits than he did. This shows incredible bravery and strength, not just in the emotional sense like most female characters have, but physically, as well. As Balto eloquently put it, "I'm beginning to see there isn't anything you can't do." Though she does have to go back after this point, she was the one who volunteered to return because she knew she would only be a burden if she continued. And certainly not because of any weakness or incompetence, only because she hurt her leg from fighting a bear.
Jenna is not just some typical love interest for the male protagonist to impress. She is compassionate and loving, but also courageous and active, doing all she can to save Rosie. She is not some passive damsel who lets the male characters do all the work. She has quickly become one of my favorite female characters in an animated movie, adding a great deal of heart and excitement to an already beautiful film.
Updated by a moderator on 9/24/16