Queenie Peavy Critical Essays

Robert Burch


(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Growing from adolescence into adulthood involves many hard lessons. Queenie Peavy, although considered an example of regional fiction, is an excellent novel for young people reaching adolescence. Through Queenie’s actions, readers are introduced to conflicts, both internal and external, often encountered in life: person against person, person against society, and person against self.

Queenie’s internal conflict involving person against person develops as she struggles with her beliefs about her father. She imagines him to be a loving, caring, and warm human being. It is this imagined father to whom she pledges her fierce loyalty, no matter what personal price she has to pay. When her father comes home, Queenie treats him as if he were a king. She chops firewood, rushes home after school, and tip-toes quietly through the house as she does the chores that she has assumed for her father while he was away in prison. The irony of this relationship is that while Mr. Peavy is the one person who hurts Queenie the most, he is also the person who helps her the most. It is when she realizes that he is not the father she wanted him to be, nor the imagined father that she created in her mind, that Queenie begins to change. Had he not come home, Queenie may never have realized how much she was hurting only herself, or at least not in time to prevent her life from being one of delinquency and reform schools, always “in the shadow of the jail.”

Burch’s inclusion of the African American Corry family as the Peavys’ closest neighbors serves a dual purpose. Queenie’s relationship...

(The entire section is 657 words.)