Balls

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Each of the fifteen different narrators in BALLS is a woman, and each of them is affected in some way by the obsession with football which is especially virulent in the South. The book is especially interesting since Kincaid herself has been married to two different coaches.

When Dixie Carraway and Mac Gibbs get married, it looks like an ideal match. Dixie has always loved football, and Mac, who was a star quarterback in college, is now a high school coach. However, Dixie’s mother Rose fears that her daughter is too bright to be contented with domesticity, while Mac’s mother Millie worries because Dixie evidently does not understand that a woman’s purpose in life is to wait on men.

By the time Mac moves on to a university, Dixie has discovered that because they are under such pressure to win, coaches have little time for their wives and children. She also knows a lot about unethical recruiting methods and the exploitation of players. Although Mac finally admits his own disillusionment with football, he will not leave it, and it costs him his marriage.

It has been suggested that by using so many different narrators, Kincaid weakened the focus of the book. However, if she meant to show how all sorts of women are victimized by this male obsession, she has succeeded brilliantly. For all its wit and humor, BALLS is a very serious work.