Faulkner and Southern Womanhood

Faulkner and Southern Womanhood

by Diane Roberts


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This study examines the vexed and contradictory responses of the South's most celebrated novelist to the traditional representations of women that were bequeathed to him by his culture.

Tracing the ways in which William Faulkner characterized women in his fiction, Diane Roberts posits six familiar representations—the Confederate woman, the mammy, the tragic mulatta, the new belle, the spinster, and the mother—and through close feminist readings shows how the writer reactivated and reimagined them. "As a southerner," Roberts writes, "Faulkner inherited the images, icons, and demons of his culture. They are part of the matter of the region with which he engages, sometimes accepting, sometimes rejecting."

Drawing on extensive research into southern popular culture and the findings and interpretations of historians, Roberts demonstrates how Faulkner's greatest fiction, published during the 1920s and 1930s, grew out of his reactions to the South's extreme and sometimes violent attempts to redefine and solidify its hierarchical conceptions of race, gender, and class. Struggling to understand his region, Roberts says, Faulkner exposed the South's self-conceptions as quite precarious, with women slipping toward masculinity, men slipping toward femininity, and white identity slipping toward black. At their best, according to Roberts, Faulkner's novels reveal the South's failure to reassert the boundaries of race, gender, and class by which it has traditionally sustained itself.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780820317410
Publisher: University of Georgia Press
Publication date: 08/01/1995
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 264
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.77(d)

About the Author

DIANE ROBERTS is an associate professor of English at the University of Alabama. She is the author of Aunt Jemima: Representations of Race and Region.

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Faulkner and Southern Womanhood 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In-depth review of Faulknerian characters. Filled with quotes from original stories as well as other critics. I needed research on women of The Sound and the Fury. Diane Roberts has excellent insight. The only reason not to give this a 5 star is that I haven't read the entire work yet to know. This book was very helpful in ENGL class.