Date of Award
Dr. Elizabeth Steeby
Dr. David Rutledge
Dr. Rhiannon Goad
Utilizing a girls’ studies perspective and materialist feminist lens, this paper seeks to put Carson McCullers’ The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1940) in conversation with Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1943). Besides being published in the early 1940s, both works feature young girls navigating class struggles, exploring their identities, and struggling against dominant ideologies specific to their time and place. McCullers’ and Smith’s novels depict how a patriarchal, capitalist society imposes upon young women a narrow, misogynistic view of themselves and the women around them—facilitating the social reproduction of oppression and alienation. In depicting these realities of girlhood during the early twentieth-century, these authors established their work as inherently feminist. However, the conversations surrounding these novels must continue to evolve and include topics like unwaged labor, slut-shaming, purity culture, and internalized misogyny, among others.
Dolese, Lauren C., "Girlhood and Engendered Alienation in The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" (2022). University of New Orleans Theses and Dissertations. 3043.