The Collected Stories of Jean Stafford Themes

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Self-Discovery

Self-discovery is a predominant theme amidst the turmoil and angst of persecution in Jean Stafford's collection. Persecution is derived from failure in meeting perceived expectations: societal, familial, and spiritual. There is self-discovery amongst the women and children who represent the main characters. The women have been shunned by polite society for divorce, widowhood, and having less than society deems acceptable. Less can mean money, intelligence, or traceable genealogy. The children are required to ascribe to similar judgment. Jean Stafford depicts children who have been orphaned and children who less, due to circumstances beyond their control. In the case of Emily Vanderpool in Bad Characters, it is the child's own willfulness that has cost her and her family acceptance from the local pastor.

These women and children are pushed from a comfort zone created by the snobbery of polite society. In the scandal of their situations, they discover hidden...

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This section contains 1,400 words
(approx. 4 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Collected Stories of Jean Stafford Study Guide
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