AMERICAN SOUTHERN GOTHIC LITERATURE AND FILM SPRING 2018 LEH 352-A16  M. Marsham XXXXXXXXXX
The Southern Gothic Female Lecture Two DBs due 3/11 and 3/18
“A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor and “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner are two short stories that are established works in the pantheon of Southern Gothic literature. One or the other story is usually included in any anthology of classic short stories and of course both are always included in any collection devoted to traditional Southern and/or Southern Gothic writing.
If you are familiar with traditional (non-gothic) stories from and about the South you will notice that the Southern female has an expected part or a typical role to play in the story of the South. Historically, there are key myths of the southern woman -- white and black -- that were developed during the antebellum South and which pop cultural institutions such as television and film and music industries have perpetuated. Some of the stereotypes are: the delicate white Southern belle (think of the unattainable Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby and/or the white females in the movie “The Help”); the concept of the black southern female as either matriarchal (think of the “Mammy” in “Gone With The Wind”) or "temptress” (think of Carmen in Carmen Jones or Bess in Porgy and Bess) or subservient (think of the black females in the movie “The Help”).
The antebellum white female and early post-civil war Southern female stereotype in literature and film is shaped by certain rules of behavior that revolve around class. Either she is of a high class defined by her family’s background and her beauty, or she is of a lower class defined by her poverty and geographical location within the Southern region. There is little depiction of the Southern middle class in the genre (think of Nick in The Great Gatsby as an example of middle class).
Meanwhile, the singular important achievement the actual Southern female was expected to attain was a good man for a husband (a theme you may see upended more than once in our readings). Therefore all of her charm,
eeding, and home schooling was geared to that one goal of ma
iage. But by the beginning of the 20th century the Southern female began to become visible on her own, i.e., without an immediate husband through whom she would be identified. The goal of ma
iage was still paramount in the life of the Southern Belle but in the meantime she could be a school teacher, a clerk or even a domestic worker, therefore becoming an active rather than a passive participant in the ongoing drama of a South emerging from the shadow of slavery in the second 50 years that followed the Emancipation Proclamation.
The authors of Southern Gothic literature appear at about the same time of the newly emerging Southern female and since those very same authors have always been outside of the Southern norm, they readily present in their literature a Southern female who debunks the previous images and myths and imbue their female characters with a life that goes against the expected grain. However, in the tradition of European gothic we still have the “female in distress” in one form of another. Keep that description in mind as you read our literature this Semester.
In “A Good Man is Hard to Find” and “A Rose For Emily” we are presented with two different female protagonists who may or may not be similar. See below for details of related DB Assignments.
Flannery O’Connor’s short story “Good Man” DB due 3/11: Answer ONE of the following questions about Southern family, society and class using text from “A Good Man Is Hard To Find” for exemplification. (You will be writing about this story again this Semester.)
Limit of two students to a question but never repeat textual examples (quotes) used by the classmate who picks your question and posts before you. Also pick on ONE classmate’s post that addresses a different question than yours to comment on. Remember you must post your selected question NUMBER as the subject of your DB thread so your classmates will know what numbers are still available. You can either reserve your number and then go back to the DB to complete the assignment or you can do everything at the same time gambling that no one else will pick the same question and quote the same text before you do.
As you are aware at this point in your academic literary life, characters in 20th century American literature are white by default -- therefore we know when a character is not white because we are told so by the na
1. Are there any black characters or is there reference to any people of color in A Good Man is Hard to Find? What purpose does the appearance of or reference to these black characters serve in the story?
2. Is the family in the story a caricature* of a family, or is the family realistic? Exemplify your answer.
3. Is there any point in the story before the ending at which one of the family members comes across as sympathetic (or likable)? If so, at which point? If not, what makes him or her unsympathetic?
4. Do any of the family members care for each other? How do you know?
5. Is there any evidence that the grandmother really cares about the members of her family, or is she purely self-centered?
6. In what ways does the grandmother herself reflect a particular Southern social class?
7. How does the grandmother's social class play a role in her confrontation with the Misfit?
8. Do any characters besides the grandmother display an awareness of class or social status?
9. Does the story adopt a negative or positive view towards the kind of southern culture the grandmother represents?
10. Is the story neutral in its view of the kind of southern culture the grandmother represents?
11. According to the grandmother Red Sammy is a "good man". What makes him a good man in her opinion? Do you agree?
12. Do we have any clues in the text that tells us what motivates The Misfit’s actions in general or are we as readers supposed to decide?
13. Is there any textual evidence that the Misfit believes in right and wrong?
14. Is there any textual evidence that at some point The Misfit was a good man?
*caricature: make or give a comically or grotesquely exaggerated representation of (someone or something)
William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” DB 3/18: Answer ONE of the following questions about Southern family, society and class using text from “A Rose for Emily” for exemplification. Note Faulkner is a vastly different writer from O’Connor so read closely and make sure you understand the time period of the story from the information you are given within the story. (p.s. You will be writing about this story again this Semester.)
Limit of two students to a question but never repeat textual examples used by the classmate who picks your question and posts before you. Also comment on ONE classmate’s post that addresses a different question than yours to agree or disagree with and include your reason why. Remember you must post your selected question NUMBER as the subject of your DB thread to inform your classmates of numbers available. You can either reserve your number to come back to the same DB to complete the assignment or you can do everything at the same time gambling that no one else will pick the same question and quote the same text before you do.
Suggestion: Answer ALL of the questions in your head first to insure that you understood the story, then pick ONE question to answer.
1. Are there any black characters or reference to black people in “A Rose for Emily”? If so what does the reference or the character represent about the post-Civil War South?
2. Do the results of the Civil War affect the events in the Southern story of “A Rose for Emily” either overtly or subtly?
3. According to the na
ation do the townspeople like Emily or pity her? Quote text.
4. Tobe and Miss Emily seem to be isolated characters as described by the na
ator(s). Which of the two do you think is more isolated?
5. Are we sure a crime has been actually committed?
6. Is there anything in the text that confirms Emily’s guilt or innocence or is that determination left up to the reader (and the townspeople)?
7. Do you as a reader feel compassion for anyone in the story?
8. Does Emily's life fit into the definition of the Southern Belle described in my Lecture? How so or not so?
9. Did Emily love, hate or fear her father?
10. Are there evidences of strength and weaknesses in Emily or only one or the other?
11. Why do you think Tobe never reported any information to the authorities about the goings-on in the house?
12. Are there clear examples of different generational attitudes in “A Rose for Emily”?
13. If this story is a memory, whose memory is it?
14. Is Emily trapped by her past?
15. If Emily is trapped by her past does she try to escape the trap?
16. Who is most responsible for Emily’s isolation: the townspeople, her father or herself?