Introduction & Overview of The Difference

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The Difference Summary & Study Guide Description

The Difference Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Bibliography on The Difference by Ellen Glasgow.

Although Ellen Glasgow's literary reputation rests on the strengths and popularity of her numerous novels, it was in her short stories that the author first began to explore one of her important themes—the female consciousness. Her interest in issues such as women's problems carrying on a career or in not marrying—issues that Glasgow faced—has since led many critics to call her an early supporter of women's rights, long before it became a national issue.

In "The Difference," published in 1923 in both Harpers Magazine and the short story collection The Shadowy Third and Other Stories, Glasgow effectively grapples with the role of women in turnof- the-century society. In it she portrays a Victorian woman's discovery of her husband's infidelity and examines the heroine's difficulty in adjusting her romantic ideals to those of the modern world. With this story, Glasgow's story also indirectly points out the restrictive nature of women's role in earlytwentieth- century society. Glasgow, whose writings were largely concerned with chronicling the South's history and changing cultural conditions, shows herself to be equally skillful at depicting the more interior woman's world.

The story, however, generated little attention at the time of its publication. Such disregard is a reflection, not of the story's quality, but of Glasgow's distinguished and productive career as a novelist, which lessened interest in the author's short fiction. Although most reviewers in the early 1920s commented favorably on the story, as do contemporary critics, it remains until present-day as a sidenote in most discussions of Glasgow's writings. Yet, of the relatively few short stories Glasgow published, "The Difference" is generally considered one of her best. In it, Glasgow clearly demonstrates her ability both to produce a wellcrafted story as well as create a realistic and universal heroine.

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