By Peter Stoneley
Why did the determine of ''the girl'' come to dominate the yankee mind's eye from the center of the 19th century into the 20th? Peter Stoneley appears at how girls have been fictionalized for the lady reader as methods of attaining a robust social and cultural presence. masking a variety of works and writers, this booklet is of curiosity to cultural and literary students.
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Extra resources for Consumerism and American Girls' Literature, 1860-1940
She has no dramatic or otherwise “gothic” impulses, and she manages to by-pass the tumults that afﬂict other girl-characters. Fanny is the adolescent in An Old-Fashioned Girl, and through the Polly–Fanny dichotomy, Alcott seems to imply that the troubled and incoherent phase of growing up was produced by a modern, metropolitan upbringing. Also, although the regionalist dimension is apparent, there is none of the rich ambivalence that we associate with good regionalist ﬁction (and that we will ﬁnd in other girls’ ﬁction).
9 42 Emergence We have, then, what Kelly calls an “institutional matrix” which seeks to preserve gentry values, even though the means of doing so is that of capitalizing on a developing market. This matrix was more uniformly effective in relation to middle-class girls, whose connection to the economic order was more intensely resisted. They were important consumers-in-waiting, who had nevertheless to remain aloof from trade. The ﬁction for and about these girls offers a variety of perspectives on the values and uses of both new and old money, and the concern itself – with spending and becoming a woman – seldom goes away.
The rich young women have come together to make garments for charity, but their skills are so poor that they put sleeves on upside-down, and make jackets inside-out. When the conversation turns to poor seamstresses, a paranoia over fashion and status comes to the fore. ” Another adds: “Servants ought to be made to dress like servants, as they do abroad, then we should have no more trouble” (p. 199). Alcott uses Jenny to extend the social range of her ﬁction, and to alert the reader to the difﬁculties encountered by women in a society that places such severe restrictions on women and work.