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Leaving the SouthBorder Crossing Narratives and the Remaking of Southern Identity$
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Mary Weaks-Baxter

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781496819598

Published to University Press of Mississippi: September 2019

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781496819598.001.0001

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Southern Womanhood and “The High Cost of Living and Dying in Dixie”

Southern Womanhood and “The High Cost of Living and Dying in Dixie”

(p.104) Chapter 4 Southern Womanhood and “The High Cost of Living and Dying in Dixie”
Leaving the South

Mary Weaks-Baxter

University Press of Mississippi

This chapter looks at the border as a gendered site within the context of Southern womanhood. If, as Kristeva says of woman, “the biological fate that causes us to be the site of the species chains us to space,” then the South not only lays claim to women’s bodies but also contains them. Reflecting on ways gender impacts border narratives by women, the chapter focuses on autobiographical writings by Arnow, Abbott, Hurston, Scott, and Welty to examine ways Southern women look to the horizon to claim it, struggle with firmly engrained models of Southern womanhood, and attempt to break free from these patterns. Considering texts within the historical context of the representation of woman as symbolic border guard of nations and communities, and as who needs “saving” when outside aggressors threaten, the chapter reflects on the implications of crossing borders when women’s bodies are literally used to define the line.

Keywords:   Gendered site, Southern womanhood, Women’s bodies, Border guard, Autobiographical writings, Harriette Arnow, Shirley Abbott, Zora Neale Hurston, Evelyn Scott, Eudora Welty

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