The racism of maternalism : Grace King’s feminine white supremacy AND Edna Pontellier’s hidden self : the queer possibilities of The Awakening

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Elizabeth Padgett Robertson (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Scott Romine

Abstract: Most of the scholarship about Grace King focuses on the subversion of patriarchy in her fiction. Thus, many scholars overlook the conservative aspects of King’s work, including her racism and support for the Lost Cause. I locate King within a tradition of southern writers perpetuating the Lost Cause and explore how this goal impacts King’s focus on women’s issues. Through an analysis of King’s short stories, I demonstrate King frequently invokes the Mammy stereotype in her depiction of black women to protest the social dynamics of a post-Emancipation society and reinscribes black women into subservient roles that replicate slavery. AND I advocate using queer theory to analyze The Awakening in addition to feminist theory to emphasize Edna’s non normative desires and the pleasure she experiences when she acts upon these desires. I show Edna repeatedly challenges heteronormativity by having non-normative sexual interactions with men, women, and non-human entities. I use these non-normative sexual interactions to trace Edna’s movement toward autonomous self-expression and her transformation into a queer subject. Lastly, I argue Edna rejects heteronormativity altogether with her suicide.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2022
Grace King, Kate Chopin, Maternalism, Queer Theory, Racial Stereotypes, Sexuality
King, Grace Elizabeth, $d 1851 or 1852-1932
Racism in literature
Chopin, Kate, $d 1850-1904. $t Awakening
Queer theory

Email this document to