Moving On: The Heroines of Shirley Ann Grau, Anne Tyler, and Gail Godwin

Synopsis

Focusing on the works of Shirley Ann Grau, Anne Tyler, and Gail Godwin as representative of changes taking place today, Kissel shows how white southern women are "moving on" in their fiction, with heroines not only continuing to renounce southern patriarchal tradition but moving beyond to establish independent lives and caring communities in American society. They are beginning to close the gap that has existed between themselves and black southern women writers, whose protagonists have long shown that the strength and independence of female maturity must be synonymous with complete character development. A background synthesis freshly discussing the work of Chopin, McCullers, O'Connor, Mitchell, and Welty leads to extended treatment of the novels of Shirley Ann Grau, whose protagonists, "keepers of the house", remain their fathers' daughters; of Anne Tyler, whose characters are "fatherless" and "homeless at home"; and Gail Godwin, whose daughter-heroines learn the necessity of autonomy. Further development,is shown in a subsequent generation of writers, discussed as paralleling either Grau ("haunted by the past"), Tyler ("making adult choices") or Godwin ("creating new communities") and pointing to a continuing progression.