Kaye  Gibbons
Symposium 2001
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Mount Alvernia High School, Newton, MA
Danielle Burke
"Kaye Gibbons: The Effects of Love Deprivation and Abuse"
“Southern Women and the Civil War”


“When I was little I would think of ways to kill my daddy.” This quote from Kaye Gibbon’s book Ellen Foster illustrates a negative effect resulting from abuse and love deprivation. Female characters who are symbolic of the positive and negative effects of love deprivation and emotional or physical abuse can be found throughout Kaye Gibbon’s novels. These women are all from the South and have been in destructive relationships, which changed their lives. Some symbolize both the positive and negative effects, while others only symbolize one or the other. However, they are all symbolic of the most significant effect, which is the search for love and the need to be loved and cared for. Kaye Gibbon’s five novels, Ellen Foster, A Virtuous Woman, A Cure for Dreams, On the Occasion of My Last Afternoon, and Charms for the Easy Life all contain symbolic characters exemplifying the effects of abusive, unloving relationships.

Kaye Gibbons wrote about Southern women, and many of her stories take place during the Civil War. Her novels illustrate the effects of the war on women in the South. Southern women made many contributions as well as sacrifices during the Civil War, and also made many gains for themselves. Southern women took on many new roles during the Civil War, and were a great help in the war effort. At the same time, they were furthering their cause for more equality for themselves, as well as gaining more independence. Both white women and African American women played a significant part in the war. They had to make many changes in their lives, and they sacrificed a great deal, but it helped them in the end.

Photo credit: http://www.randomhouse.com/vintage/read/ellen/gibbons.html