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Monday, March 28, 2016

Reader's Diary #1284- Edna Ferber: The Woman who Tried to be Good


We're told in the beginning of Edna Ferber's "The Woman who Tried to be Good," that the titular character, Blanche Devine, had once been a "very bad woman." Just what she had done to acquire such a reputation, we're never told.

Given her name, which sounds like a pseudonym, and that she had lived in the House with the Closed Shutters, I came to the conclusion that she had probably run a brothel.

But as this is never stated, I'm wrestling with whether or not this was a distraction to the story and whether or not the vagueness was due to the time in which this story was written (the 1920s) when perhaps it wouldn't have gotten published in the Saturday Evening Post had Ferber been blatant about it, or it was meant for literary effect: perhaps overly Puritan judgement of the town is echoed in the fact no one can come right out and discuss prostitution,or perhaps Ferber is saying that whatever it was, it's not the point. The point is that although a woman wants a second chance, no one is willing to give it to her.

In that, I wonder how far we've progressed.

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