American Literature

   Reading Journals for Fern  

Pick the question that you feel that you can answer the most completely.
There is no one question that is "better" than the other one

  1. Explain, as best as you can, what the early part of this novel tells you about women's lives in the early part of the 19th century. What have you learned that you didn't realize or didn't quite "get" before?   answer this journal 
  2. Women's rights and the abolition of slavery were often supported by the same people. Using Fern's depiction of Ruth's life, explain why they would be seen as connected ideas. Be sure to explain whether or not, and why, you think it is an appropriate connection.   answer this journal

  3. Many people at the time condemned Fanny Fern for writing a novel that so clearly showed disloyalty and anger towards her family. Explain your feelings on this matter. Was Fern justified in airing personal family arguments in public? Explain as fully as you can, and try to remember that she was writing in a time when gentlemen and ladies had certain codes of conduct they were to follow.   answer this journal

  4. Explain how Fern uses Ruth's experiences (and those of the women she meets) to try to show as many different types of women's lives as she could in one work of fiction. answer this journal

  5. Even though writing is how Ruth is able to “save” herself and her daughters, she tells Nettie at one point that Nettie shouldn’t want to be a writer, for no happy woman writes. Based on this novel, clearly based on Fern’s own experiences, can this idea be believed? Would Fern really deny her readers the sort of outlet that she herself used, or is there something else being said here under the surface?   answer this journal

  6. Even though this is a novel using a standard, sentimental style of story, Fern is actually using her novel to very radical means, sometimes subtle, sometimes not. Explain the radicalism that you see, as well as how significant and influential you think it was to her audience.   answer this journal