A Whistling Woman Summary
by Louise Shivers

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A Whistling Woman

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

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Georgeanna Weeks is an anomaly in the second half of the nineteenth century: a whistling woman who refuses to give in to the events which would bury a weaker female. Much of her strength comes from her mother; Chaney Weeks carries an ugly secret, revealing it to her daughter only shortly before she dies.

Near the end of the Civil War, left to raise two children alone, Chaney finds a secure job and home for herself and her eight-year-old daughter with Worth Fleeting, a kind and gentle landowner who has suffered a mild stroke. His wife is dead, and his son John lives at a distance, though he will return to build a home nearby when Georgy is fourteen.

John Fleeting finds the gawky girl easy prey. When her mother realized the girl is pregnant, she stuffs the belly of her own dress and pretends the baby boy is hers, though it costs her dearly.

A few years later, Georgy’s older brother Luffton finds them. With his partner Willy, Luffton plans to open a business in the area. Georgy and Willy fall in love and soon marry; children come with predictable regularity. Yet Georgy never quite rids herself of the dark stranger within her who has dreams and memories that haunt her. Only when her mother tells Georgy the secret she has been keeping nearly forty years does Georgy understand not only the source of the darkness but also the source of her strength.

This final honesty between the two women seals the relationship that has developed over the past lifetimes and colors Georgy’s understanding of herself and her life.