Form and Content
A consummate artist, Caroline Gordon was one of several Southern women writers born around the turn of the twentieth century who created brilliant portraits of Southern life. More than a local colorist, however, Gordon maintained a philosophy deeply influenced by her Southern upbringing that carried over into all of her works. Although she seemed as comfortable creating male characters as female ones, those stories that do focus on women explore areas of female sensibility often overlooked in depictions of the South.
The Collected Stories of Caroline Gordon consists of twenty-three stories grouped into four parts. Except for one story, part 1 confines itself to the early twentieth century and the south-central Kentucky region in which Gordon was born. Six of the stories—“The Burning Eyes,” “Old Red,” “One More Time,” “To Thy Chamber Window, Sweet,” “The Last Day in the Field,” and “The Presence”—concern Aleck Maury, classics professor and sportsman, who persistently resists the tug of social obligations to pursue a life as hunter and fisherman. Two stories, “The Petrified Woman” and “One Against Thebes,” are told from the vantage point of Maury’s child, Sally, who struggles to discover her feminine role in a world of adults. “The Enemies” and “The Long Day” concern infidelity between black men and women and the resulting violence. A final story in this section, “Tom Rivers,” shifts the scene to...
(The entire section is 580 words.)