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Weeding Out the Recessive Gene: Representations of the Evolving Eugenics Movement in Erskine Caldwell's God's Little Acre

Weeding Out the Recessive Gene: Representations of the Evolving Eugenics Movement in Erskine... Weeding Out the Recessive Gene: Representations of the Evolving Eugenics Movement in Erskine Caldwell’s God’s Little Acre by Ashley Craig Lancaster Because of the sense of desperation and the peculiar family an- tics in Erskine Caldwell’s Tobacco Road and God’s Little Acre, these two novels have often been critiqued as versions of the same story. In a 1933 review of God’s Little Acre, Bennett A. Cerf actually criticized Caldwell for the “striking parallels” and “unescapable duplications” between the novels (34). Critics such as Kenneth Burke, John Miller Maclachlan, and Jay Watson have written about the novels as if the characters in each blend together into a stock Caldwellian poor-white characterization. De- spite these critics’ assessments of the novels, however, Caldwell actually creates two separate family studies with the Lesters of Tobacco Road and the Waldens of God’s Little Acre, and each presents a distinctly diff erent representation of poor-white life. Even though both the Lesters and the Waldens exhibit the “uninhibited” behavioral ideology that these critics have associated with poor-whites, the Waldens do not face the economic degradation that the Lesters do (Maclachlan 133). In fact, the Waldens live in a modestly successful economic environment that should rank them http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Southern Literary Journal University of North Carolina Press

Weeding Out the Recessive Gene: Representations of the Evolving Eugenics Movement in Erskine Caldwell's God's Little Acre

The Southern Literary Journal , Volume 39 (2) – Jul 23, 2007

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2007 the Southern Literary Journal and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Department of English.
ISSN
1534-1461

Abstract

Weeding Out the Recessive Gene: Representations of the Evolving Eugenics Movement in Erskine Caldwell’s God’s Little Acre by Ashley Craig Lancaster Because of the sense of desperation and the peculiar family an- tics in Erskine Caldwell’s Tobacco Road and God’s Little Acre, these two novels have often been critiqued as versions of the same story. In a 1933 review of God’s Little Acre, Bennett A. Cerf actually criticized Caldwell for the “striking parallels” and “unescapable duplications” between the novels (34). Critics such as Kenneth Burke, John Miller Maclachlan, and Jay Watson have written about the novels as if the characters in each blend together into a stock Caldwellian poor-white characterization. De- spite these critics’ assessments of the novels, however, Caldwell actually creates two separate family studies with the Lesters of Tobacco Road and the Waldens of God’s Little Acre, and each presents a distinctly diff erent representation of poor-white life. Even though both the Lesters and the Waldens exhibit the “uninhibited” behavioral ideology that these critics have associated with poor-whites, the Waldens do not face the economic degradation that the Lesters do (Maclachlan 133). In fact, the Waldens live in a modestly successful economic environment that should rank them

Journal

The Southern Literary JournalUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Jul 23, 2007

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