Date of Award

4-2013

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

English (M.A.)

Department

English

Abstract

This thesis is an examination of Shirley Jackson's short story "Flower Garden" and the white middle-class housewives of Cold War America. Through the policy of domestic containment, a practice to shield one's home and community from outside threats, traditional gender roles are strictly adhered to in order to achieve the greatest security. However, because of the housewife's confinement to the home, she often feels trapped, unable to express herself. This thesis argues that these women have no concept of home in Cold War America. Where home should be a nurturing, supportive environment, it is cold and harsh and oppressive, leaving these women and Cold War Americans in general with a feeling of homelessness. By exploring the woman's capacity for home - her community, her own family unit, and her own self-worth - through the works of Shirley Jackson, namely her story "Flower Garden," this thesis argues that women can never feel completely at home; often, in order to feel one aspect of home, another must be forfeited, leaving these characters always searching for something out of reach. Jackson raises an interesting discussion of women's priorities, expectations, and desires that still remains just as relevant today as it did in the time she was writing. In this third wave of feminism, women are still asking the same questions that Jackson had the courage to confront.

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