PCA: Fauset’s Plum Bun

Once Upon a Time a Woman Told a New Tale: Fairy Tale Restructuring in Jessie Redmon Fauset’s Plum Bun
Ki Russell, University of Louisiana Lafayette –in PhD program, just began ABD

This is a live blogging of the session.

Fairy Tale, Cinderella:
a lovely girl who did everything she was expected to
perfect woman, beautiful and worked hard to become the working wife of a guy

well-written tale has strength, different aspects are emphasized

Little Red Riding Hood- chastity – > obedience to parents – > feminist telling

orate the old tales with feminist revision.

Harlem Renaissance author Jessie Redmon Fauset Plum Bun 1929
“to market, to market to buy a plum bun; home again, home again, market is done”

Ingersoll- tales rhymes article? book?

Fauset identifies the different sections of the novel with quotes from the children’s rhyme

plum bun = heroine can survive hard conflicts, not easily resolved, once her goals are met, “market is done”

fairy tale elements shape the story
“in one of these houses dwelt a father, a mother, and two daughters”

“Language and Gender in the Fairy Tale Tradition” book? article?

fairy tales create social norms and support those
fantastic is discomforting (Zipes, fairy tales as subversion)

Fauset “subtly and meaningfully used”

fairy tale motif is said to disappear in the last two chapters, however, she is writing a new fairy tale… tale has been redefined…. woman must rescue herself, shedding social norms

traditional format does not fit

Fauset must define the field for herself

novel still contains all the essentials of the fairy tale

hero called, herald, hero survives, protective figures, hero returns home

Little Red Riding Home Uncloaked (book or article?)

hero, warned of danger, breaks a taboo, meets villain, is complicit (knowing or unknowing), some sort of rescue OR hero dies
-Fauset goes through all these stages

multiple books/articles that would be interesting/useful to read

Angela dabbles in white society with her mother. Enveloped in white society in New York. Trials of city life. Endures humiliation. Learns to support herself. Ongoing deceptiveness about her race. Social rule is broken. This is the hero’s transgression. Various figures appear as companions and protectors.

Racial Passing Ohio State Law Journal

laws were brought forward. Blacks and whites denounced passing.
Passing encouraged white supremacy.

Miss Powell is too dark to pass, talented audience, does not have the support system that Angela has been given.

Roger is a wealthy cad. Angela embodies both heroine and villain. Truth and loyalty are lost in the white world.

Angela refuses to marry Roger. She avoids Angelay’s villainess.

Boys go on quests and are rewarded with riches. Girls are encouraged to wait for a marriage.

Fauset subverts the girl as rescued. Makes her a whole person.

Angelay is the ideal passive princess.

Must compromise her integrity.

Ideal princess is recast as the evil villain.

Textual subversion, traditional princess becomes bad guy. “Beauty pageant, youth, humiliating trials to prepare her for marriage”

Angela is like the hero. Expected to go on quest and be rewarded with riches.
Angela’s journey in NY does help her to establish her identity.
Leaves US to go to Europe. So she leaves her US identity to become European.
“false” identity = Angela can’t be white? Isn’t she white?

Are you saying that a single drop of black = white?

So expat = better than American?

Question on that is a problem.

She must find her own way to fight through the woods.

radical in its time, girl as hero is not new

20% of Grimm’s stories = passive heroines
American role model of passive heroine. Snow White in 1937 (Disney)
non-passive woman = evil, cruel
first made into movies show how popular and pervasive in the US texts
(Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty)

women are free to define their lives.

Link to Perspectives in American Literature page on Fauset.

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