By Deborah Clarke
Over the years, vehicles have helped to outline the stories and self-perceptions of ladies in complicated and occasionally unforeseen methods. while ladies take the wheel, kin constitution and public area are reconfigured and re-gendered, making a context for a literary culture during which the automobile has served as an alternative for, an get away from, and an extension of the house, in addition to a surrogate mom, a monetary protect, and a method of self-expression.
Driving ladies examines the intersection of yankee fiction -- essentially yet no longer completely through girls -- and motor vehicle tradition. Deborah Clarke argues that matters serious to twentieth-century American society -- expertise, mobility, domesticity, and service provider -- are many times articulated via women's relationships with vehicles. girls writers took unusually excessive curiosity in vehicle tradition and its import for contemporary lifestyles, because the automobile, replete with fabric and symbolic which means, recast literal and literary woman energy within the automobile age.
Clarke attracts on a variety of literary works, either canonical and well known, to rfile women's fascination with autos from many views: old, mental, monetary, ethnic. Authors mentioned comprise Wharton, Stein, Faulkner, O'Connor, Morrison, Erdrich, Mason, Kingsolver, Lopez, Kadohata, Smiley, Senna, Viramontes, Allison, and Silko. via investigating how automobiles can functionality as girl house, mirror lady id, and reshape girl organisation, this enticing learn opens up new angles from which to method fiction via and approximately ladies and strains new instructions within the intersection of literature, expertise, and gender.
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Extra info for Driving Women: Fiction and Automobile Culture in Twentieth-Century America
James’s remarks stemmed from ﬁnancial envy, not anti-automotive sentiment. He often accompanied Wharton on her motoring tours, thoroughly enjoying the sport. In a 1905 letter to Wharton praising her novel The House of Mirth, he wrote, “I wish we could talk of it in a motorcar” (Powers 53). Clearly, by this point the machine had entered not only the garden but also the literary salon. Its move into literary discourse opened up a wider range for teasing out the implications of car culture. Unlike the girls’ books’ authors, Wharton conveyed much more fully the symbolic complexity of the car, recognizing its curious tie to both past and future and its problematic relation to female identity and the female body.
Ford joins the child in a conspiracy against the mother; the boy “probably” knows already all about Fords and will go on to surpass his mother in his future “man’s” car. These ads illustrate the promise and anxiety associated with automobility and its implications for transforming gender roles. Clearly, concern over family, technology, and a rapidly changing social order lurks behind the barely concealed hostility to 22 Driving Women Fig. 2. Ford advertisement: “Her habit of measuring time . ” (1924).
At the end of The House of Mirth (1905) Lily Bart realizes, “I was just a screw or cog in the great machine I called life, and when I dropped out of it I found I was of no use anywhere else” (319–20). Her inability to adapt to a rapidly changing and increasingly technological world dooms her. Lily’s greatest triumph is in the tableaux vivants scene, in which she seems to have “stepped . . into Reynolds’ canvas,” becoming momentarily frozen in “that eternal harmony of which her beauty was a part” (141, 142).