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The Plantation in the Postslavery Imagination$
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Elizabeth Christine Russ

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195377156

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195377156.001.0001

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Race and Romance in the Americas

Race and Romance in the Americas

Iphigenia and The Sheltered Life

Chapter:
(p.36) 2 Race and Romance in the Americas
Source:
The Plantation in the Postslavery Imagination
Author(s):

Elizabeth Christine Russ (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195377156.003.0002

Chapter Two, which investigates Ifigenia (Iphigenia, 1924), by Teresa de la Parra, and The Sheltered Life (1932), by Ellen Glasgow, focuses on the role that family histories and notions of genealogical “purity” play in the lives of women. More specifically, these novels link the romantic desires of the daughters of the landowning plantocracy to a past, which, although seemingly remote from the urban spaces inhabited by these heroines, reveals itself in a constant pressure to conform to romantic ideals shaped by the socioeconomic dynamics of the plantation or, in the case of Venezuela, the hacienda. Even though they are primarily concerned with the plights of their light-skinned protagonists, both novels also suggest through important subplots the ways in which black and mixed race women, too, are trapped by these dynamics. While shown in a sympathetic light, the novels’ non-white characters are nonetheless constrained by pressures exerted through the plot and through language itself, which are shaped to a surprising degree by the different concepts of race that prevailed in Glasgow’s Virginia and Parra’s Venezuela.

Keywords:   genealogy, plantocracy, mixed race, urban, hacienda

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