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Dr. Laura L. Runge
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LIT 4930: Florida Lit and Culture


Class 15:The Yearling


    The Yearling Read chapters 1-9
    Recommended: "Sweet Home" by Lucy Lippard, chapter one,pp. 22-31 (Canvas)

    DUE: Post 8 - group A, response group B

Class Objectives:

    Introduce Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and her novel, The Yearling
    Analyze the opening chapters of the novel
    Map the fictional place


Notes and Discussion Questions:

    As with Bartram, so with Rawlings' The Yearling, I would like for each of you to map the significant works in this class. As you read, mark the place names and highlight these on your Google my map.
    What do you learn from this exercise? Doing this may give us a different appreciation for place.

    Place Names and History: Consider the idea of Fodderwing seeing a Spaniard walking in his environment. Why does this intrigue Jody? Why does he look for the Spaniard? What does this represent?
    Research the group of Minorcans that Jody and Penny actually see on their fishing trip. How did they arrive in Florida? Why are they poor now?

    Nature Writing: Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings offers us some of the finest nature writing on central Florida available. Note as you read the specificity of place, plants, animals, and the author's connection to nature. How would you characterize her craft as a nature writer? How does this compare with Bartram? With Bellville, Cerulean, Ray or others from Wild Heart of Florida? What are the implications of this writing for a construction of place? What are the implications for the creation of literature? Are these similar or different?

    Historical context: The Yearling is set in the years after the Civil War, which we know because Penny served in the confederate army, and occasionally we meet a character affected by the war. What does this historical context mean for the story?
    Note the gap between the time of writing (published 1938) and the context for the story. What makes this story important for the early 20th century? (Note, also, it won the Pullitzer Prize in 1939.)

    Concepts of Home: Lucy Lippard and Doreen Massey (from Cresswell) identify the homespace with gendered norms, the site of woman's unpaid and undervalued labor as well as a site of identity location. Lucy Lippard writes about home or "domesticity" as potentially confining, and homeplace as experienced differently for women than for men. How might these reflections on home help you understand some of the gendered dynamics in The Yearling? While we will be reading more about race in a later class, postulate how race might also affect these spaces.

    Chapter 1

    The novel begins with a description of the natural environment and the characters’ relationships to it. Use specific examples from the novel to describe how each character—Jody, Penny, and Ma Baxter—interact with Florida’s environment. What insights might we glean from these interactions?

    Chapter 2

    We learn about Penny’s childhood in chapter 2: Jody’s “mind moved back down the years, touching them, as a man touches fence-posts in his passing” (24). Discuss how the land both meets and fails to meet his needs as a child and how Penny continues to struggle with this relationship as an adult. How do memories influence his perspectives on land stewardship?

    Chapters 3-4

    In chapters 3-4, Penny and Jody track “Old Slewfoot.” How do observations of nature become clues toward locating “Old Slewfoot” in the scrub? Why are natural “clues,” or signs, important to those who live in the Florida scrub?

    Chapters 5-7

    In chapters 5-7 we meet the Forresters. Compare and contrast the Forresters to the Baxters. What do we learn about the relations between neighboring families in the scrub? To what extend do these relationships relate (or not relate) to the relationships between humans and the environment in the novel?

    Chapter 7

    Why is Jody enamored with Fodder-Wing?

    Chapter 8

    On page 85, Jody observes how his father constructs “a tale.” How does Penny construct a tale and what does this tale’s construction reveal about the telling and listening to stories in the novel?

    Chapter 9

    Chapter nine describes the Baxter family’s relationship with water. Describe the benefits and limitations of this relationship.


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