By Danielle Russell

During this learn, Russell explores the ways that Willa Cather and Toni Morrison subvert the textual expectancies of gendered geography and push opposed to the bounds of the authentic canon.  As Russell demonstrates, the original depictions Cather and Morrison create of the yankee panorama problem present assertions approximately American fiction. particularly, Russell argues that the intimate connections among house, gender, race, and identification as they play out within the fiction of Cather and Morrison refutes the parable of a unified American panorama and therefore opens up the territory of yank fiction.

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Additional info for Between the Angle and the Curve: Mapping Gender, Race, Space, and Identity in Willa Cather and Toni Morrison (Literary Criticism and Cultural Theory)

Example text

While the free-soil mentality rejected the extension of slavery into the territories, it also resisted the presence of black farmers. The “image of the yeoman with which the farmers of the Northwest identified themselves was a free-soil symbol” proposes Smith. He concludes, “the classless society of the fee-simple empire had no place for the Negro” (173). The Homestead Act did not address the ramifications of slavery although it did deter its spread. The invitation to the frontier(s) implied egalitarianism, but reinforced racial boundaries along spatial lines.

While the exchange is quite comical, it does raise weighty ontological issues. Questions of knowing and being lurk behind the ever-expanding series of spatial markers. Geographic ambiguity in fact reflects Soaphead’s own tenuous situation; in the previously cited letter he makes a claim to godhead—he has usurped God’s powers by “changing” Pecola Breedlove’s eyes to blue. He is blurring boundaries of creation. The literal landscape incorporated in the text thus affords subtle insights into character; what Soaphead omits reveals a great deal about his uncertain status.

It will not “stay in the past,” but intrudes in the present and threatens the future. Beloved is the most startling of Morrison’s explorations of the past/present link. “Here is no extended Proustian act of remembering a lost world with the help of a madeleine dipped in tea,” wryly observes Eusebio L. Rodrigues (62). The return of the murdered daughter obliterates any notion of separate epochs. Beloved becomes the living past, the lost daughter returned. She also embodies a past that was not personal.

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Between the Angle and the Curve: Mapping Gender, Race, by Danielle Russell
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