Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Martha E. Cook, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Kathleen T. Flanagan, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Michael Lund, Ph.D.


Black women have had to work very hard to pull themselves up the social ladder. Literature reflects society, and the black female experience in the South is a part of American society which has not been overlooked by its literature. This thesis examines short stories by the similarities and tempered differences to develop a closer understanding of the true black female experience. The examination found that the gender and race of each author of the four short stories does not correspond to the amount of power each one gives to his or her black female character the way the reader might expect. These four stories collectively provide evidence that black women during the 1920’s, 30’s, and 40’s were the members of American society, particularly in the South, with the least amount of power. They were generally defined by their husbands and children. They had little or no control over money. They were not expected to voice their opinions and were in general completely oppressed.



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