“A Wound So Deep and Ragged:” The Vulnerable Body of Appalachia in Ron Rash’s Short Stories

UNCA Author/Contributor (non-UNCA co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Chelsea Walker (Creator)
University of North Carolina Asheville (UNCA )
Web Site: http://library.unca.edu/
Erica Abrams-Locklear

Abstract: To read the work of Ron Rash is to run one’s hands across the scars, wounds, and callouses of the Appalachian region, and to become immersed in a collection of authentic, traumatic, and complex narratives that settle themselves along the ridges and foothills of the Appalachian mountains. This paper places Rash’s short stories within the context of this vulnerable, yet resilient Appalachian landscape and culture he is writing within: one traumatized by extractive industry, cultural exploitation, economic disadvantage, and widespread public misperception. Focusing specifically on Rash’s use of traumatized characters, this thesis analyzes the ways in which Rash humanizes the plight of Appalachia and its people by embodying its trauma within the vulnerable bodies, minds, and lives of such characters. By establishing the lens of Rash’s Appalachia as another kind of traumatized body, this project examines the social impact of Rash’s stories, interrogating how and why readers come to feel empathy for his vulnerable bodies, and whether this empathy provides a pathway towards healing for the Appalachian region. This paper contends that, through shifting perceptions surrounding Appalachia and providing an authentically human Appalachian narrative, Rash promotes a more intimate understanding of the Appalachian experience, combating the sentimentalization and oversimplification of the region’s trauma and history.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2017
Appalachia, Ron Rash, stereotype, short stories

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