Complicating sex in Southern society: Bridging old Southern values with the new Southern belle
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Hade, Eden T.
Type of WorkText
DepartmentSalisbury University, Dept. of English
Citation of Original PublicationHade, E. T. (2011). Complicating sex in Southern society: bridging old Southern values with the new Southern belle (Master's thesis). Salisbury University, Salisbury, MD.
Gender in literature
This graduate thesis unearths the complications that arose as a reaction to the generational gap between the Old South's illusion of the Southern belle and the modem New Woman who emerged following the Civil War. As a reaction against the prior restrictions placed on women, namely the idealistic facade one was to upkeep concerning family, sexuality, and societal expectations of etiquette, the New Woman survived by fragmenting her identity in order to please a suffocating patriarchal society. By utilizing a chronological sequence of literature- Chopin's The Awakening, Welty's Delta Wedding, O'Connor's "Everything That Rises Must Converge," and McCullers's The Member of the Wedding and The Heart is a Lonely Hunter - this thesis explores gender bias, society's manipulation of a female's sense of self, the burden of motherhood, and the anxiety of oppression throughout a succession of women's lives. Here, the thesis argues that Dixie's women have had to submit to the illusion of perfection while simultaneously finding points of escape within the limited space given. Consequently, as the women break through the barriers imposed upon them by patriarchal society and the cult of true womanhood, the South's 20th century woman are in the progress of redefining the domestic space and the roles of womanhood.
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