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Copyright 1976 
Edna Louise Satfy 

To G'^iadij EoJiZ Jokn-bon, Juyvion. 
[lla n.a.{^lk haycutl makabatzyi abadiyah] 


I wish 10 acknov;ledge those individuals who con- 
tributed to the accoTTiplish'rient of this document. 

Without Dr. Ronald Carpenter, a scholar, a gentle- 
parson, and T.)' iTcentcr, this dissertation would neither have 
come into existence, nor have reached coT.pietion. He 
gave not only of his wisdom but also of his faith. In a 
house divided, only by his example was the profession 

The dissertation itself serves as an acknowledge- 
ment to another, that "Canadian Serpent" v/ho both sus- 
tained and nurtured me, for without Grady Earl Johnson, 
Jr., there v.ould have been nothing. 

The work of this volume reflects the composition 
cf av corrjaitteo and to each of the mem.bers T am grateful : 
to Dr. Lcland Zimmerman for. his introduction tc the gradu- 
ate st'jdy of speech; to Pr. Donald KLiliams for liis knowi- 
ed{;e; to Dr. Patricia Schmidt for her direction; to Dx . 
Vincent McCuire ^os h Li p!?r.Tpe',.t i\ e . 

T would like tc acknowledge the others In rhe 
Speech Defarcinent of t'i-3 Jniversity of i'Lorida, witliout 
who.s':? aid t'l^s •■voi'k ^hs i'.';<. cmpi. :' s.'.^d . 

Since a dissertation is never wi-itten alone, there 
are so many o::hers to tnank; Dr. Laura Monti, who guided 
ir.e through the freasures of the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings 
Collection; Dr. Harry Sisler^ Dean of the Graduate School, 
viho gave me his friendship; Dr. Cal VanderWerf, Bean of 
the College of Arts and Sciences, and Dr. Ruth McOuov/n, 
Assistant Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, who 
both gave me their support. 

And rhere are iiiore to v,hoTn I am grateful; to 
a group called Bloomsbury; to a small friend V'jb,ose name 
belied her value; and finally to the person with whOiTi it 
all began— my mother, Sadie Daumit Saffy. 







Universal Thenic of T he Yearling -. . . 5 

Regionalism as a Symbolic Ba~sTJ of 

Universality 6 

Regionalisn as a Rhetorical Response 

to a Crisis 11 

The Study of Regional Literature as 

Rhetorical Discourse 20 

Methodology 24 

Utilization of the Mariorie Kinnan 

Rav/liags Collection 5C 

Conclusion 31 



Biographical Sketch 36 

Awareness of Audience 39 

Communication of Beauty Through Reality .. 42 

Definitiou of Beauty 13 

Responses to Beauty i~ 

Sources of Beauty Particular L)' in 

Th e Yearling 19 

Theory of Comnositicn Necessary to Achieve 
Effect of Beauty Through Creation 

of Reality 5 5 

Through the Process of Character i ration . 3^> 

True -to -11 re character! :ar ion 5? 

Universality in characterization tf.' 

L'l'titv In ch'i rac t'.'. r i." •! t J.o;"i 63 

Through Ust of Facts and Details 66 

Methods of Expression 6 9 

Ghi£c-:ivit--' 71 

Uic-l-v::: 72 

Si'HDlicity 74 

Conclusion 79 


Readership Response to Effect of Beauty ... 84 
Response Based Jpon Perception of 
Reality as Produced b/ Mariorie 

Kinnan Rawlings 86 

Response to individual Elements of 
Marjorie Kinnan P.awlmgs' Theory 

of Composition 90 

Response to the process of 

characterization 90 

Response to facts and details 97 

Response to obiectivity 99 

Cone lus ion '. '. 10 ^ 


Professional Readership Response to 

Effect of Beauty •. 107 

Response Based Upon Perception of 

Reality Ill 

Response to Individual Elements of 

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' Composition . 114 
Response to the process of 

characterization 115 

Response to facts and details 123 

Response to objectivity 126 

Response to dialect , 128 

Response to simplicity 131 

Conclusion 135 


Sumna ry 157 

Perspective 151 



Abstract of Disserra-ion Preserited. to the Graduate Council 

ot the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillnient cf the 

Requirerie:its for the Degree of Doctor of Phiio:sophy 



Edna Louise Saffy 

March 197 6 

Chairperson: Ronald C. Carpenter 
Major DepartT.ent: Speech 

In 19.39 Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings was awarded the 
Pulitzer Prize in Letters for her novel, T he Yearling , and 
elected to the Academy of <^.Tts ?.nd Letters. Marjorie 
Kinnan Ra^'lings wrote with a preset concept of effective- 
ness. Her theory of composition as evinced by her personal 
papers, lecture notes, scrapbooks, newspaper articles, 
and correspondence ?Loai.ed in the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings 
Collection at the. University cf Florida Library, was based 
upon the creation of a sense oF reality, which she believed 
neces'-ary in orde:- to conxiuiii cuce beauty. H er ^ h e o r y _ A' ',:L- 
corporated the proces-i cf characterization, true-to-lice 
depiction, universa 1 it/\ unity, the use on facts .i">' .iv^r.iil-^ 
objectivity, simplicity, and dialect. 

Regionalism was the iitera'-y vehicle Marjorie Kinnan 
Rawl i.njjs chose for her novel, and in so doinj?, she responded 

rhetorically to an exigence, in accordance v;ith the ccii- 
straints of her personal theorv- of coinposition . Region- 
alisn, at that point in history, served as a response to 
a crisis; that is, the untenable situation of a population 
in the iriidst of society's ills during the Depression. Her 
writing had as its purpose the communication of the beauty 
which Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings found in the Big Scrub 
country and its people, and by extension, of humanity in 
harmony wiih the environment. That Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' 
purpose was effectively achieved has been borne out by 
thorough investigation of the responses of both her gen- 
eral readership and her professional critics. 

This investigation places the effectiveness of 
Marjorie f^innan Rav-zlings' no'vol into the broader context 
of modern rhetorical critic Ismi and attempts to illume the 
rhetorical interaction of sender, message, and receiver 
in ^vhich the author o+' a novel determ^ines a method or 
theory of composition predicated upon the effect she wishes 
to acliieve. 


The Yearling was first publisb.ed in 19 5S. For 
it, Majorie Kinnan Rav/lingi v/as awarded the Pulitzer 
Prize in Letters for a Novel in 1939 and elected to the 
Academy of Arts and Letters. Receiving universal acclaim, 
The Yearling was subsequently translated into thirteen 
lang'jages and cited as the most ''distinguished novel 
published during the year by an American author dealing 
with American lirJe."" Reissued v-ith a special ''Study 
Guide" geared to secondary schools, the novel has been a 
part of the curriculum tiiroughout the country; and the 
book has been designated "a classic" and "a literary 
masterpiece"" on a regional, national, as well as an 
international level. Chosen as a Pook-ot - tho-Month Club 
selection at publication, accolades wore heaped upon it 

R. R. Bovvker, i. itfr av y Pi izes and Th eir '>vinners 
(.Mew York: R, R, cowker' Company , li'b7j, pTTS.' 


■"M. K. Rawlings, The Yearling, Study Guide by Mary 
Louise Fap>' and F-dith' Ccvles rNVuTcTrk: Charii?.'? Scribner's 
Sons, 19C2J. 

not cniy fron the coirirrierciai i^arketp.Iace but also fron 
profess .1 n a 1 s i o >^ r n a I s . In 19 :> 8 , The >iorth Aniei'i c an Rev i^e;> 
a prestigious prof essioua'; iouriial, considered the work 
"flawless,"' and the aatho- an ''intelligenc and meticulous 
craf t.' . . . [who] v/ith The Yea rling rightfully takes 
her place among our most accomplished '/riters of fiction." 

The ccncepc the public had of this "intelligent 
and meticulous" craftsperson was often distorted not only 
b>' the artistic milieu of the 1950's, but also by comrrer- 
cial publications. For example, a Satur day Eve ning Fcs t 
article, "Marjorie Rawlings Hunts Her Supper: Menu: 
Alligator, Turtle, and Sxvamp Cabbage," contributed to 
the public image of the author as Great V/hite Huntress. 
This public facade was based upon a contemporary tradition 
of author -as-hero that her peers deliberately perpetuated: 
Fitzgerald, the international playperson; Hemingway, the 
great outdoors person; Faulkner, the country gentleperson. 
However, behind this appearance v;as a Phi Beta Kappa 
gra-iuate of the University of Wisconsin, an experienced 
journalist, and a creative artist who had as h er goal in 
V r i^ti r.g The Yearling the acc ompl ish.Tient of a predetermin ed, 
effsct achieved by adherence to her p e r s o n a 1 a u d i e n c e - ■ 
oriented ti.eory of composition. In so doing she performs 

,lovd Morris. "A New Classicist," The ><o_rth 
'V- ■ 246 CSe7;tember, 193S;, ir^-lSi: 

what Bryant hs.s called the rhetorical functioa of "adjust- 
ing ideas to people and o£ people to ideas," and illustrates 
likewise Bitzer's concept or rlietoric as a response to an 
exigence subject to the constraints of the author's per- 
sonal theory of composition. In examining Marjorie Kinnan 
Rawlings' personal theory of coTiposition , as well as reader 
response to it, this study v/ill explore the rhetorical 
role of the novelist's language manipulations as they con- 
tribute to suasory (Effectiveness. 

Uni ve rsal Ine rae or The Ye arl ing 

As a basis for underscc'-nding this novel as rhetori- 
cal discourse, recail tnat the Yearling evoked the environ- 
ment of the Florida "Cracker" and yet, at the sane time, 
transcended and ui'.ive'-'r.aiizcd this environment. The inter- 
national popular ity achieved attested to tne universal 
appeal of the novel, V/hicli concerned the relationship of 
an individual to thi'. O'lvi -onment . The Baxter's pine 
islond in The Y e arlin g defined the microcosm or "small 
v;orld" that iiivplied its corollary, the macrocosm, or 

Donald C. Bryant, "Rhetoric: Its Function and 
Scope," in The f'rovince_of Rhetoric, edited by Joseph 
Schwartz anci jolm Tryl:eri2.'a"~T:''*ev' YoFT Ronald Press Company 
1.565) , r- 34. 

Lloyd Bitter, "The Situation," in 
Ccnte;r,j[;o£ary_Thsori»i;j of Rhetor_£c: Sel ected R-jadings^, 
e3T r ed 1: y ' TQcRa rd^'To'fHj n ns"en 717ew 'To rTi ffar p e r"ancl"'Row . 
1971), r.p. 381-3^3. 

"great world." In the close reL'.iiticnship that existed 
between the small world and the jreat world, the micro- 
CGsm fancticned as a clo^'ed, corripiete sysr.eiTi. maintaining 
its OvvTi individuality and integrity. The nine island of 
Th e Y earling reflected the macrocosm: yez . simultaneously, 
it was a self-contained unit that illustrated equilibrium 
between the individual and the environm.ent achieved through 
balance and harmony with nature. Within this context, the 
pine island functioned as a symbolic garden of the middle 
landscape as defined by Leo Marx in his book, Th e M achine 
in tlie Gar den, for the island garden became a symbol for 
fruitfulness and blessed labor, placed xvithin a landscape 
that had neither the corruption of civilization nor the 
savagery of the jungle.^ 

The indi -iduai D^'teracting within an environment 
reflected total hum;''nity interacting with the uniArerse, 
for each individual contained tho unity and the variety 
of the universe; thus. Fenny Baxter functioned as Every 
Person. Universality was in part achieved through chrjrac- 
terization, for according to a definitive text in literary 
terminology, "of all qualities which make for universality 
in literature, successful oortraval cf human character is 

Leo Marx, The Ma chine i n the Gard en ■^New York; 
(D X f o r d U n 1 v e r s 1 1 y p r e s ?"i IVETT'. 

Gordon '6. Bigelow frontier Ederi [Gjrinesvilie : 
tin i V e r s i t v of F 1 o r i d ..i Press. ~rT^ir4ir 

the .Ti03t i.TLportant . '■ ' In. nhe classic traditica, Penny 

Baxter in The Yearling \-as a person, bruised by civiii-a- 

tion and society, xvho returns to the land of the raiddle 

landscape in an attempt to survive. Marjorie Kinnan 

Ravvlings expressed this philosophy most directly in The^ 

Yearl ing: 

He had perhaps been bruised too of- 
ten. The peace of the vast aloof scrub 
had drauTi him with beneficence of its 
silence. Something in him was raw and 
tender. The touch of men v/as hurtful 
upon it, but the touch of the pines was 
healing. Making a living came harder 
there, distances were troublesome in tne 
buying of supplies and the marketing of 
crops. But the clearing was peculiarly 
his own. The wild animal seemed less 
predatory to him than people he had known. 
The forays of bear and wolf and v/ildcat 
and panther on stock were understandable, 
which was more than he could say of human 
cruelties . '' 

In paraphrasing Rav/lings' philosophy, Bigelov believed 

that a person ''can be happy only in the degree to v.hich 

he is able to adjust harmonious 1)' to his surroundings. 

The more natural tliese surroundings, the more completely 

he is in harmon>^ v;ii:h -.lieiii, the creator will be his 


^■'V'Uliam F. Thrall, A.ddison llibbard, and Hugh 
Holman, A Handbo o k to Literature (New York: The Odvssey 
Press, 15^ , p. 'SW: 

M. u. Raw! lags, The Yearl ir.g (New York: Charic 
Scril^ner's .^ons , '.97.2), p". ITT 

na.pp:.r.sss . ;.iving ir. nc.r^'.^^Tw witl; ana cxoseness to 
Nature creates a type of N'-jble Savage. Marjorie Kinnan 
Ra'vviings' "account [of The Yearling] ren-inds one of the 
eighteenth century theorists like Rousseau or Ciiai;ea\'briand 

who claimed that virtue would most abound in men \^ho lived 

. . - ,-9 
m a state ot nature. 

The personal region of Penny Baxter was hounded 

by the environs of his daily life; yet, in the generic 

sense, these personal regions of the individual expandec 

to tlie persond.1 regions of all, and the environs of Penny 

Baxter's daily life expanded to the environs of each and 

every other person. Thus, Penny Baxter and the pir.e island 

were able to function syri^ibolically as a universal metaphor 

for the hu;nan condition. 

Regionalism a s a Symbolic Bas is 
of Universality 

Universality was achieved through ihe vehicle of 
regionalism; for m tiie genre of literary regionalism, 
the locale functions as a medium for understanding t'le 
universal by seeking out in tlie geographic region the 

'Gordon E. Sigelow, "Mariorie Kinnan Rawlmgs' 
iv i 1 d e !■ n e s s , ' ' T 1 • e S e '.v :\ ; i e e ki- v i :- v .- , 7 ..' , Ap r i 1 - J iine , 1 9 6 5 \ 
299-310. ■"■■ 

Ibid . , p . 3i' I 

particular aspects "of the huT'^sri character and of the 
human dilerina ccmrion to ail iTien in nil ages and places.'' 
A region may ha geographically, politically, socially, or 
econonically defined as a territory within which there 
are greater mutual dependency and homogeneity than exist 
outside its boundaries. Regionalism in a literary pro- 
duction usually concerns itself with a specific culture 
and its cus:oir:S, speech p-it tera:-, , physical landscape, 
legends, traditions, ai-d ideological or social point cf 
view. The .^e^ulcan: interacLior of the human individual 
with the immediate env^ircnment through the peculiarities 
of language, landscape, culture, race, and tradition are 
the domain of regionalism. 

Usually infused in this process is a sentimental 
roinanticism for an historical period by which the past 
becomes a vehicle for the study of the present and the 
future. The artists often fashioned their fiction from 
•vanishing aspects of the region. "What historical liter- 
ature reflects in terms of time and age, regional litera- 
ture reflects in terms of space and locality,"* By makin: 
"human drama from neighboring scrub and hammock country," 

^'^Thrali, Hibbard, and Hclman , pp. 406-407. 

Heinnch Staumann, Amerj.c -tn Li t e r ature in _ the 
Twentieth Ccnlurv (N'ow York: ""HaTper ana~Row, 'i965j , " 

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings attenptcd to preserve that which 

was lost and dying, the traditions of the past, and for 

1 '' 
this she has bee:\ acclaii-ed a great Southern Regional is t. 

Through the time warp of Cross Creek, the American past, 
the frontier, the tradition of nature, and the purity of 
the individual .ail could be brought into focus. As a 
result, according to one i^Iarjorie Kinnan Rawlings scholar, 
her vvritings reflect sone of th.e most deeply imbedded 
attitudes of the- American people, and belong to a main 
current of American culture fiov^?ing from Crevecoeur and 
Bartram in the eighteenth centurv, through Cooper, the cran- 
scendentalists , and vvhi'man in the nineteenth century, to 
Faulkner in modern times." "' 

Yet, Marjorie KLnnan Rawlings cared little for 
the mantle of Southern Regioxial ist . She described herself 
"as a writer who often suffers under the epithet of re- 
gional," for in the late 1950 's, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings 
considered regionalism limited. ' She denigrated her 
title thus: 

"John M. Bradbury, Renaissance in the South: A 
Crit ical History of t he Literatu re ,~rg"2 0'nrJoO" (Chapel"~Hri 1 
university of North"'Carolina Press, 19c5j . p, 20. 

"Sigelov/, "Wilderness," p. 300. 

"^M. K. Rawlings, "Regional Literature of the 
South." College English. I (February, 1940). 581-389. 

RegionalisiT! written on purpose is 
perhaps as spurious a form of literary 
expression as ever reaches print. It is 
not even a decent bastard, for back of 
illegitiinacy is usually a simple, if ill- 
tiir.ed, honesty. ^^ 

Ker concern at being neatly classified as a regicnalist 
is understandable. During the 195C's she was v/orking in 
the literary milieu of Hemingv/ay , V;olfe, and Fitzgerald, 
who vvere the outstanding literary figures of her time, 
and the apparently popular modes were realism, naturalism 
or social consciousness. The title of Southern Regionali; 
was praise, hov/ever, for as stated by Bradbury, the liter- 
ary historian: 

. . . by no means all of the impor- 
tant novelists of the first generation 
(of what was referred to as the Southern 
Renaissance, 1930-1940) can be neatly 
catalogued under the label of symbolic 
naturalism . . . regional colorists like 
Edwin Cranberry and Marjorie Kinnan Rawl- 
ings write substantially outside the 
developing new tradition. ^^ 

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings proffered a second ap- 
proach to her definition of regional writing which she 
found more am.enable and valid. 

It is the approach of the sincere 
creative writer who has something to 
say c.ii who uses a sp-?cialized locale — 
a region — as a logical or fitting back- 
ground for tho particular tlioughts or 

1 c 

i.raJbii-y , ]i . 16 


emotions that cry out for articulation. 
This approach results in writing:; that is 
only incidentally, sonatiiaes even acci- 

Though her "second approach" broadened the concept of 
regionalism and though tvo of her contemporaries basked in 
the term — Robert Frost and William Faulkner — Mariorie 
Kinnan Rawlings still chafed under her oxvn regional defi- 
nition and opinion of the teria. V'et in the 1930 's, Robert 
Frost's New England, William Faulkner's Yoknapatav;pha 
County, Steinbeck's Dustbovvl, and Mariorie Kinnan Rawlings 
Big Scrub each furnished a portrait or regional unit com- 
plete and self-contained. From the multiplicity of these 
parts the totality of the whole may be comprehended. In 
explicating the basic conceptions underlying the works 
of outstanding American writers, Heinrich Staumann states 
that the literary "stress on regionalism is just another 
powerful symptom, of that quest for a national tradition 
based on a profound love for the variety of its ethno- 
graphical aspects."" Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings achieved 
such thematic unive r'^al i ty in her novel, T he Yearling , 
and It therefore is as one of the great Southern Region- 
alists that she is remembered. 

Rawiir.g.-, , "] 
"itaumann, p 


R egiona l is :- a£. a Rhe t cric;il Res p onse 
to a Crisis 

In the 1930's, regionalism was often discourse in 
response to a crisis; as ?, re: pons e to the social 
and cultural changf^ o '? the 1930's, T he Yearling may 
be treated r.ox tt.1/ as a iiter^r/ novel, but also as a 
rhetorical document. It fits the rhetorical paradigm 
of a response to a situation, for Bitzer regards a rhe- 
torical situation as 

. . . a natural context of persons, 
events, objects, relations, and an exi- 
gence which strongly invites utterance 
. . . Rhetorical discourse comes into 
existence as a response to a situation 
in the same sense that an answer comes ^ g 
into existence in response to a question." 

Following the collapse of the economic and industrial 
structure in 1929, the literary world argued for an 
agrarian as opposed to industrial culture. As Bigelow, 
in his study of Mar j one Kinnan Rawlings' career, de- 
scribed that movement: 

. . . economic catastrophe and 
social unrest produced a widespread 
renewal of interest in the regions, 
so that life in the village [the 
agrarian culture] began to receive new 
scrutiny as a source of those virtues 
which could heal che ills brought oa 
by too much city and too much big busi- 
ness [industrial culture].-'"^ 

^'"^Bitier. pp. 385-536. 


** Bii;elow, frontier, pp. 70-71 


October 28, 1929, stands as the augur of the 
crisis. National income plummeCed fro.ui a high cf SI 
billion in 192:) to 68 billion in 15."iO, and finally to 
41 billion in 1932, Salaries dropped off -iO per cent 
from 1929-]_932; \^g:is were dov/n cO per cent and dividends 
36,6 per cent- Unemployment ultimately peaked at 17 
million, half the uor'k force of the country. When 
22,821,857 cltizei:3 >^oted foi ^''ranklin Delano Roosevelt 
in the presidential election of 1932, "the clash between 
the industrial and agrarian minds [becanej apparent in 
the conflicting personal! r.ies of Herbert Hoover and 
Franklin Delano Roosevelt . ""^ Herbert Hoover's political 
philosophy in support of financial institutions and big 
business as opposed to Roosevelt's "distrust of big busi- 
ness and his concept of individual rather than corporate 
well-being as the cornerstone of our welfare brought back 
into our national thinking an agrarian point of view that 
had been moribund since the of Northern capital 


in 1365.""- 

The literary revival of the agrarian point of 
view was reflected in the voluminous outpourings of 


■"Rod W. Horton and Herbert 1^'. Edwards, Backgrounds 

of Am eri can Literary Thought (New \jrk; Applet on Century 
Crofts, 1952) , p. "37S. 

Did . . p . J) 7 b 

regional literature repcrted by Howard Gdan a:vi Harry 
Moore in their 1938 comprehensive study. Using the list- 
ings in T he Publishe r s Weekly as the source, and restrict- 
ing titles to fiction, Howard Odum catalogued more than 
two thousand regional titles that appeared in the two 
decades from 1916 to 1936. As part of a pattern that 
peaked first after the Civil iVar and then more signifi- 
cantly after V/orld War I in the late 1920 's and 1950 's, 
the ten years preceding the publication of The Yearling 
showed the Southeast to be strong both in numbers and m 
literary quality. 

The Northeast leads with 449 titles 
followed strongly enough by the North- 
west with its 'westerns' with 344, the 
Southeast with 281, the Middle States 
with 183, the Southwest with 138, and 
the Far West 15 7 . . . Strangely enough 
the Southeast has the largest number of 
Pulitzer Prize winners and best sellers 
and has tended to give the best regional 
portraiture. -^ 

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings was already classified among 

"the best" foi- het nuvei, South Moon Under . Two years 

later, she was to prcvp a.jain, with the publication of 

The Ye arling and su^;G^u.*r,t wiiining of the Pulitzer Prize, 

her worthiness to be cJa.-ced with tie other great regional 

writers. These ranks included WilliaT. Faulkner, Erskine 


■■ Moward vv . Odum and Harry h. Moore, America n 
'^^^-ip^'l^^Vhl ^ CuJL^fjr^]. • Historical Approach t o "Nati onal 
1 n t'e"^ "f a 1 1 bn""T^ c w"V o ri. : If.' TTol t"anT''Cofnp".9ny","~l'gT5T7'"p'"T66 , 

Caldwell, Ellen Glasgov/, Zora Neale liurston, Margaret 

Mitchell, Farreil, Sinclair Lewis. Louis Bromfield, 

Edna Ferber, John Dos Passes, and John Steinbeck. 

The ly.ajor impetus for the Southern literary 

renaissance of regionalism was a 1930 vciume of far 

reaching impact, I'll Take My Stand , compiled by twelve 

distinguished Southerners; John Crowe Ransom, Donald 

Davidson, Frank Owsley, John Gould Fletcher, Lyle Lanier, 

Allen Tate, Herman Clarence f^Iixon, Andrew Nelson Lytle, 

Robert Penn Warren, John David V/ade, Henry Blue Kline, 

and Stark Young. The main thesis of this volume was 

stated in the preface of the 1930 edition. 

All of the contributors tend to 
support a Southern way of life against 
what m.ay be called the American or pre- 
vailing way; and all as much as agree 
that the best terms in which to repre- 
sent the distinction are contained in 
the phrase Agrarian versus Industrial . '^'^ 

The influence of and reaction to this volume was vast and 

immediate, as well as of long duration. The author of 

a compilation of Southern litera"cure addressed the impact 

of the volume: ''The statement of principles, together 

with accom.panying essays, precipitated a more widespread 

controversy, perhaps then has attended any other Southern 

Tivelve Southern Authors, I'll Take ^!y Stand: 
The South a nd t he Agr ar x ^t n_ j j; a d i r i o n [N"c^7~'i""ol."Y. Harper 
and' Brothers, l"9o0), p." -.x. 


cook ever printed. Copies of editorials, nevvspaper ar- 
ticles, and letr.ers of protest f-^cm every part of the - 
country virtually deluged the a'lthcrs."" William 
Knickerbocker, edito?- of T he Sewanee Review , tenned it 
"the n:ost av.dTcious book ever v;r_^tten by Southerners 
. . . the most challenging book published since Henry 
George's Progress and Poverty." H. L. Mencken responded 
in both the American Merc ury and Virgin i a Quarterly Reviev . 
Henry Hazlitt assailed i r. in The Natio n on the grounds 
that the Agrarians would be obstructionists in attempting 
to stem the tide of progress. The volume was attacked 
in Haiper's by Gerald W. Johnson and disparaged in Dallas 
before a large audience by Howard Mumford Jones. The 
contributors were called Fugitives, Escapists, sufferers 
from nostalgic vapors, romanticists unwilling to face the 
realities of modern life." 

However, the twelve authors proudly bore the name 
"Fugitives," for their volume was an alert, a reaction, 
a respovise, and a reply for the prevailing economic, 
political and social conditions. Their volume was a call 
to a return Co the way of Life of the "middle landscape." 
Th-D upsurge and responses of literary regionalism attempted 

"Thomas D. Young, Flo/d C. Watkins, and Richard 
C. Uealty, Thj; L iteratur e of the South CAt lant.-i: Scott 
F o r e s m a n a n'u Co'npany , VjZc.) , p . 606} 

'^^Ibid.. ;:. 606. See for total idf.M. 


to bulkhead the er.crc-,^ching ciisc-.5ter, for 3? faumford 
stated in 1954, "regionalism is in parr a blind react Lcn 
against outward circu:.-i,rcance3 ^nd disruptions, an atteapt 
to find refuge within an old shell against the turbulent 
invasions of the outside world.'"' 

Thirty vea-^s after the book was first published, 
Louis Rubin, Jr., in the int-oduction to the 1962 edition 
°f I' ll Take My Stand , ixaborated on the continued in- 
fluence of the volune and the philosophy that addressed 
the question of people separated from the well being of 
the natural land who are brutalized by the machinery of 

It is about something far more generally 
important and essential than the eco- 
nomic and social well-being of any one 
region. Man \/as losing contact with 
the natural world, v/ith aesthetic and 
religious reality; his machines were 
brutalizing and coarsening him, his 
quest for gain blinding him to all that 
made life worth living. The tenuous 
and frail spiritual insights of western 
civilization, achieved so arduously over 
the coarse of many centuries were being 
sacrificed. The result, if unchecked, 
coVild only be dehumani.zat ion and chaos. -^^ 

As thie Paris expatriates cf the Lost Generation of the 

1920' s represented relection of the prevailing literary 

York: Harccurt, Brace and Korld, I'^'SH , ']:. . 15^2." 

'■""Twelve Southern Authors, '' ' 1 1 Take > t y S t a n d : 
Thr South ?.n d th e Agrarian Tradi tion (Xew v-crk: Harpe: 
and Row, 1562) . 


and social attitudes, so then in the 1950 's did the fu'ji- 

tive authors of I'll Tske >'y Stand represent rejection of 

prevailing literary and social attitudes. In fo doing, 

they "initiated the current regional movement."" And, 

as C. Hugh Holman states, "the movement was a response 

to social and cultural change.""^ 

The Yea rling was an integral part or this movement 

Manorie Kinnan Rawlings' retreat in 1928 frori a career 

as syndicated feature v/riter for two Northern papers tc 

the precarious ov/nership of an orange grove in middle 

Florida can be viewed, in part, as subscription to the 

Agrarian philosophy. This poem, found among her papers 

in the Collection, may provide additional perspective. 

Now, having left cities behind me, turned 
Away forever from the strange gregarious 
Huddling of men by stoueb, I find various 
Great towns I knew fused into one, burned 
Together in the fire of my despairing. 
And I recall of them only those thing? 
Irrelevant to cities-, murmurings 
Of ram and wind: moons setting and rising. 

There was a church spire on i.- distant hill 
Clamorous with birdj by day and stars by night, 
Devout and singing. I have forgot its site-- 
Bost'^r . c-^ Rochest.-jr. cr Louisville 


Paul R. Beath, "Regionalism.: Pro and Con, Foin 

Fallacits of Rsgi cnalisni," S aturday Rgvicv^ / of Li teratur e, 

15 (November, 1936), 4-14. 

C. Hugh Holman, "Literature :5nd Culture: The 
Fugitive-Agrarians," Socia l Forces , 37 fCctover, 195S) , 

Of a certain zity ail I can reme;Tiher 


Is wild ducks flying southv/ard in November 
At the Cross Creek grove, as she later related to the 
iNatiojial Council of Teachers of English, "she found her- 
self, for the first time since leaving her father's farm 

to go to college, in full spiritual harmony with her 

5 "^ 
environment." " She knew almost immediately that these 

Cracker people of inland Florida had not been dehumanized 

by industrialization and for that reason, as she told 

Stephen Vincent Benet, she began again to write. 

I had met only 2 or 3 of tlie neigh- 
boring crackers v/hen I realized that iso- 
lation had done something to these people. 
Rather, perhaps civilization remained too 
remiOte, physically and spiritually, to 
take fiom them something vital. -'^^ 

In one of her earliest autobiographical writings found 

within the Collection, she addressed the isolation from 

civilization of the Cracker country and predicted thai 

the "inland core of this state is part of America's vanish 

ing frontier . . . [and] it will be the last to vanisn,""'' 

Mar j one Kmnan Rav\ lines, "Having Left Cities 
Behind Me." Unpublished poem in Mar j one .Kinnan Ra;«-iings 

"'"Marjorie Kinnan Rav'.'lings, "Regional Literature 
of the South," Co llege Engli sh, 1 (February, 1940), 3S5. 

"^ .N'ew York Herald Tribune , February 9, 1941. In 
Mariorie Kinnan Rawlmgs Collection. 

^^Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, "Cracker Florida." 
Early Autobiographic:\l i-ritmgs. In Marjcrie Kinnan Raw; 
ings Collection. 


Other of her writings offered further evidence of 

her reaction against mdas ci ializar ioii . 

'*e ?ieed abov? al:. , I th.Lnk, a cer- 
tain remoteness from urban confusion, 
and while this c^n be found in other 
places. Cross Creek offers it v/ith such 
beauty and grace that, once entangled 
with it, no otrier place seems possible 
to us . . ,3j 

Finally, in another of her personal vvritings, she addressed 
civilization as a contributing agent to negative aspects 
of human behavior, for "man's savagery and personal self- 
ishness and greed, his materialism which seems to increase 
in direct ratio to the technical advance cf so-called 
civilization, are the stumbling block, the impasse. Plain 
people seem to be aiiead of the leaders.""^ Thus, not only 
her life, but also her writings, indicated a reaction 
against a national threat. 

Bigelow quite often referred to Marjorie Kinnan 
Rawlings' reaction against the cities, for he found her 
to be a "regiorialist ," "inextricably enmeshed with agrar- 
ian attitudes," drawn to a people "full of grace and dig- 
nity bhe has i\ever found in city life." Previously, 

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Cross Cree k (New York: 
Ci^'irles Scribrer's Sons, 19^2"), p. 3. 

■'Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, "Autobiographical 
Sketch." In Marjorie Kinnan Rawling.s Collection. 

'Bioelow, fronti er Hden , \> . 70. 
Bigelow, "Wildernviss ," TiOj. 310. 


reviewers in 1938 b.-^H addressed Mariorie Kinnan 
as a regional ist author, yet, as one whovvrote ''unlike 
the average regional novelist,' for The Yearling as 
another stated, "represents :.he best of the so-called 
regionalism school.""^ 

Thus, during, the 1930 's there was a regional 
reaction to a national threat, and based not only upon 
the personal writings of Mar i one Kinnan Rawlings, but 
also from the writings of literary historians and 
scholars as well as from reviewers of her book. The 
Yearling was an integral part of this movement. 

The Study of Regional Literatu re 
as RJietorical Discourse 

Functioning as a response to a change in the 
social and cultural situation is but one aspect of the 
rhetorical nature of The Yearling . In 197 2, addressing 
the direction of rhetorical criticism, Barnet Baskerville 
noted that ''we now enthusiastically advocate the rhetori- 
cai criticism of literature." ■ Baskerville maA' have 

Dur ham Nort h Carolina Mornin^^ He--aid, April 
3, 19 58. 

Chjj^ago Illinoi s >fe u5 , April 6, 19 3S. 


Barnot Baskerville, "Rhetorical Criticism, 
1971: Rhetrospect, Prospect, Introsr-ect . " Southern Spe; 
CommanijC_at_i_on_Jou_rn,al , 2 7 (Wintei , 19 71), 115. 


revived an anachxonis cic debate c one erring the relatively 
obscure distinction betv/een rhstoric and poetics. Not 
only have time and proximity, as well as usage, tended 
to blur the distinctions betv/een these two areas, but 
also the various attempts to discriminate betueen these 
two modes have proven unsatisfactory. The interface 
between rhetoric and poetics is even more obscured by 
Kenneth Burke, who, according to Baskerville, "seems not 
to acknowledge alleged distinctions," for in Burke's 
philosophy "effective literature could be nothing else 
but rhetoric." Then the obvious conclusion must be 
Bryant's, for though thecrists and critics have sporadic- 
ally attempted to keep apart rhetoric and poetic and to 
deal with the;i as separate entities, "the two rationales 
have had an irresistabie tendency to come together." 

Continuing the fccuy on the rhetorical qualities 
of literi'.tuve , other t'u;jri?ts have articulated their 
op ir ions, Wayne Booth argues "that the author cannot 
choose to avoid rhetci ic ; he can choose only the kind of 
rhetoric he will cnploy. He cannot choose whetlier or not 
to affect his readers' evaluation by his choice of 

'^" ibid . , p. 115. 

Kenneth Burke, Count er-St a tement (New York 
Harcourt, Braco, igil), p. Zb^f. 

"^^Hryant, p. 34. 

narrative matter; he can o:\ly choose whether ro do it 
■well or poorly."'" Black, in his tiro vocative article, 
"The Second Persona," provided further evidence concern- 
ing the rhetorical aspects of literature, foi', as he 
wrote, everL the person "who aspires to be nothing more 
than a simple chronicler stili must maKC decisions about 
perspective.""^ Thus, not only the historian, but the 
literary author as well, meets Bitter's concept of 
rhetoric as 

. . . ? mode of alter in j reality, 
not by ;he dlrec!: applica L icr of energy 
to objects, but by the creation of dis- 
course which cha.iges reality through 
the mediation o '^ thought and action. 
The rhetor alters reality bv oringing 
into existence a disccurse of such a 
character that the audience, in thought 
and action, is so engaged that it be- 
comes mediator of change. In this, 
rhetoric is always pcrsuasiv 


Again, the Black article amplifies Bitzer's concept of 

rhetoric as a m.ode of altering reality, for Black vievfs 

discourse as having 

enticements not sii.ipiy to believe 
something;, but to be something. We 

4 ' 
^ Wayne Booth, T?ie R hetoric of Fict ion '^ Chic ago 

University of Chicago Press", 1961) , p. 149. 

^"^Edwin Black, "The Second Persona," Q uarte rly 
Jou rnal _oj.__ Speech , 56 ( Ap r J. 1 , 1970), 109. 

^"^Bitzer, p. 384. 


are solicited b/ the disccurse to fai- 

fiil its_blar.di ^h~?- 1 s ^-ich our very 
selves , ■^'■ 

So then did these v,Titers add^ress the rlietorical qualities 
of literature. 

To Bifev a rhf^toiic^l ivf rk roi?es into being "as 
a response to [a] si'-uition . , . the natural context of 
persons, events, objects, relations and an exigence wiiich 
strongly invites utterance."" Regionalism as a response 
to the conditions of tlie 1930 's was likewise a rhetorical 
response, persuading the audience of the value of an in- 
dividual struggle with nature and self in an environment 
removed from a dehumanized and mechanical society. Citing 
the relationship of literature to the culture and simul- 
taneously defining rhetorical discourse, C. Hugh Plolman 
expressed the point that in the Regional Agrarian move- 
ment of the 1930's, the artists "were making a literary 
use of economics and politics. They have taught us that 
artists respond to the pressures of their culture, not 
by making political gestures or by accurate reporting, 
but by imprisoning through their talents its themes and 
its subjects." Thus, as an artist responding to the 


lack, p. 119. 



B i 1 2 o r , p . 3 o ' 

Holm.-jn, "Literature jid Culture," p. 19 

cultural pressures v/ithin ■'-'■e context of the 1930'5, 
Maiori-e Kinnan Rawlings created rhet-oricil disccurse ■ 
which addressed the universal struggle of nature and 
self played out in the world of the middle landscape — 
the land between the jungle and civilization. 


Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings atterr.pted to evoke a 
predetermined response through her manipulation of 
language in The Yearling . in this study, her readership 
will be debriefed in order to ascertain achievement of 
the specific effects upon which the author had predicated 
her personal theory of composition. Debriefing was a 

term used by Munro in a paper read at the 1969 CSSA Con- 

4 8 
vention. Later, the term was elaborated upon by Tompkins 

in "The Rhetorical Criticism of Non-Oratorical Works." 

Both critics defined the term in the militaristic sense 
cf questioning or interrogating or seeking to obtain knowl- 
edge or inforniation from an audience; for unless critics 

"'"Hugh P. Munro, "The the Wall, Enthymeme!" Pacer 
read at tlie 1969 CSSA Convent iorx, St. Louis. 

Non - r a 1 r 1 c a 1 >■/ ,■.. r k s / ' OK^r t: ^ : ly J^j m al o f S peec h , S 5 
(December J 19 69), 431- 1^9. " 


have access Lo the audience, as To:rpkins pointed out, they 

are in a pC'Or position to explain the effect of language 

nanipalat ion or other rhetorical strategies. The focus 

of this investigation shall not be into the discourse 
itself, but into the intention of the author and the 
resultant reaction of the readers to the discourse. In- 
tent lonality is clearly an integral part of the rhetorical 
function, for as Bryant has stated in his now- familiar 
definition: "the rheccrical function is the function of 
adjusting to people aad of people to ideas. "'^ 

Cha^-tsr Two will focus upon the delineation of 
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' theory of composition and 
articulation of the rhetorical impact she sought. These 
shalL be de^-ived. from the autobiographical writing of 
Marjorie Kinnar Rawlings, froi.i her speeches, lecture 
notes, articles, and from various secondary sources. 
Her concept of the creati\/e act was predicated upon het 
personal theory of language usage necessary to achieve a 
result or create an effect. Investigation of her in- 
tent ioriali ty is consonant with Kenneth Burke, the icono- 
clast, who defines rhetoric as "the use oi language in 

•'^^'ibid. , p. 435 
^^ Bryant, p. 19 


sucli a way as to produce a desired impression (ipon the 
hearer or reader." 

Frovn her lecture notes as a visiting professor 
at the University of Florida teaching creative writing, 
and from various articles she has authored, Marjorie 
Kinnan Rawlings delineated those constraints under which 
an author must operate so as to achieve, through her per- 
sonal theory of composition, a predetermined effect upon 
her readership. 'Jcilizing Bltzer's concept of a rhetori- 
cal situation, constraints are one of the three constitu- 
ents of a rhetorical situation, the other two being 
exigence and audience. 

Standard sources of constraints 
include bexiefs, attitudes, documents, 
facts, traditions, images, interests, 
motives, and tlie like; and when the 
orator enters the situation, his dis- 
closure not only harnesses constraints 
given by situation but provides ad- 
ditional important constraints — for 
example, his personal character ,_ his 
logical proofs, and his style. ^- 

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' theory of composition was a 
constraint that regulated or United her writing. Wayne 
Booth has stated that the author's '"attitudes towards 
the three variables, subject miatter, structure, and tech- 
nique, depend finally on notions of purpose or function 

Lirice, p. 26 S 

■^Sitzer, p. oSS 


cr effect"; and thus Chapter Two vvill be addressed to 
articulat ioji of Marjorie Kinnan Ravv'lings' "notions of 
effect" or theory of composition. 

The focus of Chapter Three will be upon debriefing 
her readership through utilizing of the correspondence 
in the substantial ifarjorie Kinnan Rawlings Collection 
housed at the University of Florida. The methodological 
approach for this impact study is similar to the debrief- 
ing of a readership for their situationally bound reac- 
tions as employed by Carpenter in his study, "Alfred 
Thayer Mahan ' s Style on Sea Power: A Paramessage Conducing 
to Ethos." As in the Carpenter study, the extent of 
effectiveness will be based upon the reactions of her 
general readership to her language usages. For as Car- 
penter stated, achievement of effectiveness is "most 
accurately discernible in the responses of people for whom 
the discourse was intended"; and therefore, the methodo- 
logical focus of this investigation is not on the dis- 
course itself, but rather on debriefing the readership.^ 

t^ootn, p. 57. 

^^Ronaid Carpenter, "Alfred Thayer Mahan 's Style 
on Sea Power: A Paraceosage Conducing to Ethos," Speech 
Monographs. 42 (August. 1975), 191 -20:. 


p. 19.. 

Since The Yearling is currently in publication., 
all correspondence in the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Col- 
lection from her general readership relating to the novel 
was examined. The bulk of the Collection, however, 
covers the period from the original publication of The 
Yearling in 1938 to her death in 1953. Only those re- 
sponses dealing specifically with areas of composition 
or v'hich indicate relationship to language usage shall 
be utilized in order to focus in on the achievement of 
the specific effect. Comments by the readership dealing 
with the process of her language manipulation in The 
Yearl ing were catalogued and analyzed to indicate recurring 
patterns. Through analysis of these responses, an attempt 
will be made to establish the causal relaricnship between 
technique and effect in Chapter Three. 

Chapter Four will focus on the responses of her 
professional readership, such as critics in newspapers, 
magazines, and periodicals. Six large scrapbooks con- 
taining the reactions of these critics are a part of the 
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Collection. Phillip Tompkins 
refers zo these critics and revic',vcrs as "a sizable im- 
portant body of receivers v-ho 'debrief themselves volun- 
tarily."' The methodology for cataloguing and analyzing 

^^ompVM^s, V. a; 

the reactions of this professional readership shall pro- 
ceed in the sair.e manner as follov/ed with her general 
readership. This professioaal readership, according to 
Tompkins, brings to the novel a fainil iarity \vith the 
genre and a psi -cepc ioi-. more soon Is ticated than the average 
reader which "makes them even m^ore useful in rhetorical 
analysis; [for] they do, aft*)?- all.- reveal their percep- 
tions and valae judgments of the art form under analysis."^ 
Several rhetorical critics have found the approach of 
debriefing critics most useful. William Jordan in re- 
views of the novel, T o Kill a .Mockingbird , Phillip Tomp- 
kins in reviews of In Cold Blood , Patricia Weygandt in 
the reviews of Sgt. Pepper's Lone ly Hearts Club Band .*^ 
The results of this study should indicate that 
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings accomplished her rhetorical 
function as intended or not as intended, or that her 
rhetorical function was not accomplished. The metho- 
dolog/ employed is similar to proffered by Carpenter, 
for the focus of this study is upon establishing a metho- 
dology whereby documents as responses to discourse may be 

'''^Ibid. , p. 4 36. 

"William Jordan, "A Study of Rhetorical Criticism 
in the Modern Novel," Debut Paper, SAA Convention, 1967. 

Fhillit.) Tompkins, "In Cold Fact." Es quire , 6S 
iJi:nc, 19661, 12*5. 

Patricia Ueycjandt. , "A RheLoricaL Criticisju oi 
St. Pepper'-. Lonely Hearts Club Band." Unpublished paper, 
1969, Kent State L'uivor .sity . 

analyi'ed in ordex- to asceri:airi whether a predetermined 
effect has been achieved by that rhetorical effort. 

Ut i 1 iz ation of tlie 
Ma r 3 o r i e K ihvi a a R a w 1 i n g s Collection 

In order to ac::orplish this studv, the Marjorie 
Kinnan Rawlings Collection in tne Universitv of Florida 
Manuscript Collection vvill be fully utilized. The Rawlings 
Collection is composed of extensive correspondence, from 
famous people as well as from he-^ readers; also manu- 
scrips of books, short scories, and unpublished poems. 
Her personal scrapbooks, as well as two previously kept 
by relatives and one forwarded from another library, 
photographs, newspaper clippings, early drafts cf speeches 
and lecture notes, as well as personal memorabilia are 
likewise included in this large collection, which co\-er5 
m.ainly the period from 1950 to 1953. 

Although there has been some published scholarly 
vvork on Marjorie Kinnan Ra'-/lings, m.ost of the tneses and 
articles that have been written tend to investigate her 
work in a purely literary or biographical sense. Indeed, 
even the Collection itself has been only slightly employed 
for these purposes. The first, and only, extensive study 
of her v;ork v/as publislied by Gordon Sigclow in 1966. 
Tills volume. Frontier Hde n, "though scholarlv in the sense 
I [Sigelov/I tried to gather ail the facts I rBlgelov:] 


could find," is considered more a riography t'nan a research 
or scholarly docunent since it lacks documentation through 
either fcctnotes cr bibliography. I-Iowever, the Eigelow 
book was not just the first extensive study of both her 
work and life but also the only study. The Bigelow book 
employed the Collection, yet the recent minor study of 
v/orks by Sanuel Bellman did not. Through the Twayne 
Authors Series, Samuel Bellman published in 1974 a bock 
entitled, Ma r i or i e K innan Ra wl ing s , which dealt mainly 
with her writings. Bellman described her motivation for 
creativity as "bliglited motherhood ... a basically un- 
fulfilled . . . deep need ... of having and nurturing 
a young male child." Bellman in no way utilized the 
Collection and acknowledges his one visit with Marjorie 
Kinnan Rawlings' three paternal aunts as, in his own 
v/ords, his "major source of inspiration." 

Other research studies on Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings 
are housed within the University of Florida Libraries. 
The doctoral dissertation of Ambolena Robillard, Nla^v e 1 1_ 
Evarts Perkins: The Author's Editor, contains original 

Bigelow, Hjontier, p. xiv. 

^ ^Samuel Bell.nan, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlinj^s (New 
York: Twayn*:' Publisheri., I'v-^' . '''^''-r), pp. .:)o, > . 

^"tbid. , Preface. 

correspondence between Marjorie Kinnai'. Rav/lings and Max- 

iv'ell Perkins, her editor, and i.s catalogued in the Rare 

'5 5 _ 
Book Room. ihe other four manuscript studies were 

written as partial fulfillment of graduate degrees in 

the Engli5-h Departm.ent of the University of Florida. 

The earliest stud/ was the Master's thesis by William J. 

Mc G u i r e , A Study of Flo rida Cracker Diale ct Based Chiefly 

on the P r ose V v ork s of Ma rjori e Kinnan Rawlings , which was 

published m 1939.^'' During the 19S0's, two Master's 

theses from the English Department were published: 

Joseph Peck, The F iction- V/iltirg A rt of Marjorie Kinnan 

Rawli ngs , 1954; Mary Louise Slagel, The Artistic U se of 

rr- 6 5 

.Nat Lire i 

n the Fiction of Mariorie Kinnan Rawlings, 1953 

The most current manuscript study seems to be the Master 
thesis of Car] Purlcv.', Folklore Elements in the Florida 

^'Ambclena H. Rob il lard, Maxwell Evarts Perkins : 
Authors' Editor, Doctoral Dissertation, University of 
FlorTda '(Gainesville, 1954). 

^'William J. McGuire, A Study of Florida Cracker 
Dialect Based Chieflv on the Prose IVorks of Mariorie 

Kinnan Rawl in g s .. " Mas t e r ' s"""TTi."e s i s", ■Jniversity ot Floiida 
(Gainesville," 19 39) . 

^ ^Joseph R. Peck, The Fiction V;ri ting Art of 
Ma r i o r i e K innan Raw 1 ing s , Master ' s TTie'sis , University of 
Florldxi (Gainesville, 1954). 

Mary Louise Slagel, The Artistic Use o f Nature 
i n the Fictio n of i^la rjorie Ki n nan Raw! mgs , Master ''s 
Thesis, University of Florida "(Gainesville, 1953). 


Writings of Marjorie Kin nar. R;;w]. ings , 19 6 3. . A i t h o ;j g h 
these investigators dealt raaiiily with such aspects as 
the listings of flora and fauna, the main focus of their 
studies was the literary element of writings. Beyond 
these, only a few other prof c^'s lonal articles have been 
written that were piiiriariry concerned with her. Margaret 
Figh's article in the 19^'7 Sout her.;. Quarterly and Lloyd 
.Morris' article in the 1953 North /merican Review were 
the main and only liteiary studies until Bigelow's article 
on "Marjorie Kinnan Rav/lings' Wildern^s.," in 1965 in 
the Sewanee Review and Bellman's article in 1970 in the 
Kansas Quarterly . Thus, scholarly investigation into 
intentional symbol manipulation for predetermined effect- 
or investigation even tangentially related— has not been 

Carl Furlow, Folkl ore Elements in the Flo rida 
Writin gs of_M a rjorie Kinnan~Rawlings , Mast e r 's Thes is, " 
University oF Florida (Gainesville, 1965). 


Margaret Gill is Figh, "Folklore and Folk Speech 

in the Works of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings," Southe rn F olk- 
lore Quarterl y, 11 (September, 1947), 201-2^T, ' 

Lloyd Morris, "A .New Classicist," Th e Nor th 
American Review , 246 (September, 1938), 179-1X4"! 

R igeiow, "Wi Idcrncss . " 

Samuel I. BelJman, "Marjoi'ie Kinnan Rawlin.^.?: 
A Solitary Sojourner in the Florida Backwoods," Kansas 
QiiarT.fcrly , .: ( 1 9 7 'i , 7 8 - ;^ 7 . 

Con clusion 

All published works have been concerned either in 
a biographical sense with ?Marjcrie Kinnan Rawlings or with 
her works in a purely literary sense. Moreover, some of 
these autliors. such as Bigelov/ and Bellman, have dealt 
with the themes o£ The Year l ing as well as their sources. 
None have focused upon the rhetorical function of language 
manipulation to achieve her predeterinined effect. Conse- 
quently, this investigation shall be into effects of 
language manipulation and not into tnci.ies and sources of 
the novel itself. 

Because Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings was a writer in 
response to a need or exigence. Chapter Two will investi- 
gate the limits or constraints under which she operated. 
Chapters Three an':^ Four will investigate the two segments 
of her audience and the ways in which they responded. 
These chapters will establish the causal relationship, 
if any, between technique and effect. Finally, Chapter 
Five will illustrate the various language techniques in 
her novel, summarising their effect upon readers and 
suggesting further perspectives on the novelist as rhetor. 
By investigation of The Ye ar ling and 'varjorie Kinnan 
Rawlings m tliis way, we cone to a fuller understanding 
of the suasory fvinction of language in her novel as well 
as the particular coi:ipositional m.eans by which she achievec iritended goal. 


^ ^ The Rhetcric ox_ Fj. ct.ion , '.V a >• n e Booth stated 
that "the author cannot choose to avoid rhetoric . . . 
cannot choose -.diether or not to affect hi.? readers . . . 
can onl)' choose whether to do it well or poorly."^ In 
so doing, Booth •./as arguing that the achiev-enent of effect 
is, in part, determined by the author's ai/areness of the 
necessity for audience adaptation. Since Marjorie Kinnan 
Rawlings' effect-oriented theory of composition ha? as 
an integral element awareness of the reader, her 
theory would be congruent likewise with the Henry Janijs' 
quotation upon which the Booth book is based: "The author 
makes his readers, just as he makes his characters." 
Booth elaborates upon this quotation, adding that "every 
stroke [of the author's pen] will help moid tlic reader 
into the kind of per<;on 'auited to ai)preciate .such a 
character and the book he is .vriting." Drawing upon tl\e 

Kayne- bootii, _i_^f kt m .■)r .'>. o i i- i.c^i : -.u! i^' 
The University of Chichi gc~"Pre.ssr"T96TT, p. Hr9. 

'■^IbKl., p. S3. 



lecture notes cf I'larjorit! Kini^.r/n Ra;v'l iri'js , her aucobio- 
graphical arcicle-, Uer correspondence, her speeches, 
and reported mterviex'.'s . her personal theory of ccinposi- 
rion V'.'ill be articulated and frciri it ivill be derived a 
theory of audience adaptation by vrhich the novelist at- 
tained her rhetorical objectives. 

^i ' ^ gra ph ica l Ske tch 

As 3.n added insipht into the author and her 
theory, it is perhaps appropriate at this point to consider 
briefly the background from which the novelist e^ierged. 
In 1928, Marjorie Kinuan Railings found her Yoknapa tawphaw 
County, her unturned stone, on 72 acres betiveen two lakes 
in central Florida, in a small, isolated, Florida- style 
clapboard house in an orange grove at Cross Creek, Florida. 
Here, after thirty- tv/o years of northern cities, journa- 
listic professionals, and abortive literary attempts, 
she found the source from v/hich her creativity was to 
flow and through which she was to receive international 

Before her v.iove to Florida, Ms. Rawlings had sold 
stories and i-ad published types of material; in 
fact, at eleven, she wlmi a tViO dollar prize for a story 
thai: was published in the IV a s h i n g t o n Post. At the uni- 
versity of ■v'isconGin, sne served on the editorial staff 

of both the yearboolc and the Lit [literary) F.agazin.e. 
Her playwright credits inciuded the conposition of a panto- 
mime fantasy, '■'Into Nowhere," that was perforriCd by her 
classnates. After graduation iron th.e University in 191S, 
she soiight ''tlie best of everything" in York City. She 
relates the episode wherein all her money and valuables 
were stolen, but ironically, the thief left her manuscripts 
intact. In New York City, she worked as an editor of the 
National Board of the YWCA until in 19ir she married 
Charles A. Fiawlings, her college sweetheart, and moved to 
his home in Rochester, Net/ York. 

During the next decade, she v/rote for both the 
Louisville Courier an d J ou rnal and the Rocheste r Journal 
American . Her daily syndicated feature, "Songs of a 
Housewife," promoted such joys as: 

Baby Sue's Bath 

I vow, Sue no more needs a bath 
Ihan any sweet Killarney rose! 

But rub the foamy lather on 

From golden head to sea-shell toes 

She stretches out her dimpled hands 
To catch the bubbles as the/ rise. 

Each ripple is a miracle, 

Bach soap splash a gay surprise. 

Yes, let Aunt Annie watch the run 
Before we tuck Sue up in bed. 

See how the sunlight blues her eyes 
And gilds her water- towsled l\eadl 

Now wrap her snugly for her nap, 

In her all. lovelaness erinieshed. 
Her bath does me ir.ore good than Sue 

It always leaves me so refreshed! 

June 18, 19 26 
Roc h_e s ter Times Un i o n 

Even though she attempted to publisli short fiction 
she vvas unable to break into the literary market. At this 
poinc in 1928, she and Charles purchased the 72-acre prop- 
erty at Cross Creek, Florida, and here the literary chron- 
icle of Marioric Kinnan Rawlings begins. 

Less than tv;o brief years after her move to Cross 
Creek, Scr ibner's Magazin e purchased "Cracker Chidlings" 
and "Jacob's Ladder." Maxwell Perkins, the great editor 
of Scribner's and the editor of the great — Hemingway, 
Fitzgerald, Vv'olfe — begari a correspondence with Marjorie 
Kinnan Rawlings that admitted her to the small circle of 
creative literary giants of the 1950 's v/hom Perkins nur- 
tured. In 1933, she won first prize in the 0. Henry 
Memorial Awards for "Ga] Young Un," and her first novel. 
Sout h Mo on Under, was published as a Book-of - the-Montri 
Club selection. She v.'c^s to have other novels chosen as 
Book-of -the-Month Club and Literary Guild selections, 
she was to win the 0. Henry Award again ("Black Secret," 
1945), and she was to publish three other- novels before 
her death from a cerebral hemorrhage in 1933; however, 
1953 through 1939 were hex years of greatest literary 
achievement, for with the puolication ot The Yearling came 
zhc recognition and success she had sought for 42 vears. 


wareness oi 

Critical to the formulation of her theory of com- 
position v/as M'ariorie Kinnan Rav/lings' awareness of and 
concern with the reader and the process of audience 
adaptation. From a thorough reading of her personal doc- 
uments, which are housed in tlie Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings 
Collection of the University of Florida Library, it became 
evident that her theory was predicated upon basic assump- 
tions pertaining to the reader as a vital part of the 
creative process; as she wrote, "The honest author writes 
to meet his own preferably severe standards, true, but lie 
must have an audience if he is to communicate.""^ Marjorie 
Kinnan Rawlings attempted to adjust and modify her writing 
not only to her own standard, but to t'nose of her audience 
as well. The importance she placed upon the audience was 
paramount: "Let dilletantes prate as they will of the 
'ivory tower' of writing for himself, a book is not a 
book until it is read, just as there is not sound v.'ithout 
an ear to hea r it." 

•^Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, "Autobiographical 
Sketch." (flereafter, unless otherwise stipulated, all 
references (cited with the initials M. K. R.) are from 
documents in the Marjorie Xinnan Rawlings Collection, 
University of Florida Library.) 



Another cf the several quota r ions found in her 
papers indicating av/areness cf the reader as audience was 
the following: "Just as music is only music when it is 
heard, so characters ia a book only come to life xvhen the 
reader takes them to his heart " Ker a;vareness of the 
effect-oriented nature of composition was consonant with 
that of Francois ^lauriac, upon v;hom. Vvayne Booth also 
relies in The Rhetoric of Fiction : "An author who assures 
you that he writes for himself alone, and tiiat he does not 
care whether he is heard or not, is a boaster and is de- 
ceiving either himself or you." 

A major element of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' 
literary focus was involvemiont with the readers and ai'/are- 
ness of the rhetorical process of "adjusting ideas to 
people and people to ideas," as defined by Bryant [see 
Chapter One). For example, she felt that specific revision; 
should be based upon reader reaction (prepublication) at 
Scribner's. When Max\;ell Perkins, her editor, suggested 
eliminating some of the hunting scenes in The Yearling, 
she replied, "Their inclusion or elimination should be 
determiiaed solely by the answer to the question: 'Does 
the reader recognize the beginning of another hunting 

I. X. R. , "Lecture Notes on Characterization, 

^Sooth, p. 88 


episode v/ith pleasurable anticipa t ion, or is \\e bored at 
the thought of another and impacient to be en with the 
narrative?'" Vvriting, re'.;riring, and editing were all 
dependent upon their effect en the reader, for neither the 
book, nor the writer, nor the reader exist in isolation; 
each CiTi.ents and- completes the other. 

As Majorie Kinnan Rawlings wrote to Maxwell Per- 
kins, in May of 1958, "Readers thei-iselves , I think, con- 
tribute to a book. They add their own imaginations and 
it is as though the writer only gave them something to 
work on and they did the rest." This mutually advantageous 
association of reader and author was dependent upon both's 
fulfilling an obligation, for the reader's duty was "to 
open his mind to what the author was trying to say, if it 
was plain that the author's intention was sincere and 


earnest." In a 1938 letter to Nornan Berg, an Atlanta 
editor, she expanded on this audience concept: "By that 
[reader's duty] I mean the obligation of the reader to 
give hLmself, mind and soul, to the honest writer so that 
he should be open to receive everything offered." Though 
referred to her as "reader's duty," she also called it 


To Maxwell Evai t Perkins iron M. K , R., Deceniber 
29, 19.^7. 


M. v.. K. , "Lecture Notes on Characterization." 


"tlie reader's delight to give hiiiiself to a book, to exer- 
cise his own iTnaginaticn on the unliving material." 

Her concern '.vith the reader's imaginative partici- 
pation xvas a critical element of her effect-oriented theory 
of composition, since achievement of effect was, in a large 
part, dependent upon' the awareness of the audience. In 
The Rhetoric of Fiction , Booth quotes the author and critic 
Ford Maddox Ford, as saying, "You must have your eyes for- 
ever on your Reader. That alone constitutes Technique." ^ 

Comm.unication of Beauty Through Realit y 

As a thorough investigation of her papers revealed, 
beauty was the effect Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings attempted 
to comiffiLinicate to her audience. However, in writing of her 
ov/n personal concept of beauty, she v,'as aware that her con- 
cept might differ from that of her readers; consequently, 
she was concerned about tlie difficulty in transmitting her 
concept of beauty to her readers. Her lecture notes on 
"Tiie Relativity of Beauty" address this concern: "I do 
not know whac is beautiful o-'- what is ugly, I only know 
what seems beautiful to m.e . As a writer I can only try 



to 3:ocus ia.'' Nev'erti.eJ.esi , sh-'i knew she had the ability 
to "focus in," to make visible the invisible, to irake 
others see the natural Florida with the "inner eye," for 
she stated in her lecture, "I seen to have the gift for 
i?,aking others see. ..." 

Marjorie Kinnan Rau'lings may have called her ability 
to share what she perceived as beautiful v.'ith others a 
gift, but it was not by so amorphous a trait as a gift 
that she w.-s able to convey beauty to her audience. 
Within her definition of the artist lay the means whereby 
she achieved the results: "No one is immune to beauty. 
The artist is one -v/ho tries to share, by giving it con- 
crete expression, the particular form of beauty that has 

, ■ • ,,12 
stirred mm." 

In order for tJie reader to be stirred as she had 
been stirred, in order for the reader to see beauty as she 
had seen it, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings felt she must formu- 
late a reality for those forms of beauty wliich have 
stirred her and through tlii.s reality share that beauty with 
tho I'eader. Reality was no simple fidelity to actuality, 
however, for Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings attempted to create 
for the reader a sense of reality into which the reader 
might: oring the imagination to play. This, then, is not 

M. K. R. , "Notes for Lecture on Creature Writing." 

^^M. K. R., "Le.-r.,r.^ v,.rM< ,.., i^.l,rivMv Ml- K,^;M,fv." 


mere factuaiitv, but ver is irp Llit.-de . As she defined it, 
"the sense is only the imaginative awareness of actuality," 
which is both vivid and natural. Here, then, was total 
reader participation, for the reader brought into play 
the imagination which finalized and actualized the reality 
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings had attempted to formulate. 
Through this perceived sense of reality she was able to 
transmit to the reader the beauty evoked in her by the 
Florida Crscker. 

Without this vividness, the communication of beauty 
can be difficult to achieve. Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings ad- 
dressed this point: "Perhaps that is the secret of fic- 
tion. When people written about miove in reality before 
our eyes, touch us, then anything they do becomes vivid 
and important." "^ In her lecture, "Facts, Verses, in 
Fiction," she also stated, "it is difficult to be stirred 
by something w^e have never seen or that is not recreated 
for us with great vividness." ^ So then does she attempt 
to share her concept of beauty with the reader through 
the creation of a vivid sense of reality. 

M. K. R., "Facts, Verses, in Fiction." 

"'''To Maxwell Evart Perkins from H. K. R., undated^ 
Lpproxim.ately January, 1937. 


M. K. R. , "Facts, Verses, in Fiction." 


Def init ioT! o f . B e a u ty 

The predetei-ir.ined effect Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings 
sought in her writing was the communication of beauty to 
her readers. In this study, beauty is defined through 
the perception of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. To her, the 
designation of the title "artist" was predicated upon the 
ability to communicate the effect of beauty; for the artist 
was one who shared with the audience as the writer was 
one who shared with the reader. Since, for the writer, 
beauty was always in terms of reader or audience percep- 
tion, then the definition of the artist v.'as consonant with 
her earlier assumptions that the creative product did not 
exist until it was received. To her, all people were 
susceptible to beauty; however, the true artistic impulse 
was in the sharing. To illustrate this sliaring, this 
communication of beauty, she related to her lecture class 
the following incident. 

I took some negio boys into my 
orange grove to pick up the dropped 
fruit. One ragged dirty little darky 
found an orange- tree snail, no bigger 
than a pea. He brought it to me and 
said, 'Lady this here is purt)-. Do 
you want it? ' ^^ 

Upon recitation of this anecdote, she stated, "Incidentally, 

that is probably an example of the true artistic impulse. 

"•^M. K. R., "Relativity of Tieautv, 


The artist is one who tries to share ..." for the crea- 
tive iinpulss does not exist in isclatlon, but in conjunc- 
tion v/ith an audience."'' 

The beauty u-hich she, as an artist, atterapted to 
ccmnunicate to the reader was more important to her tJian 
truth, for truth may- not be validated aesthetically. When 
beauty has been commiinicated , the result can be authenti- 
cated, for as she stated, "beauty is more valid, more 
important, more trustworthy than truth, because whJ.le we 
cannot be sure of truth, we know w^ith our own minds and 
senses when we are aesthetically or spiritually stirred 
and by what."'^ In a 1935 speech delivered at Florida 
Southern College, she expressed her feelings of inadequacy 
as an artist ivhenever she was unable to communicate the 
sense of beauty to her readers: "I always feel that I've 

failed completely as an artist when I've left anyone with 

a sense or ugimess. 

Although .''!arjorie Kinnan Rawlings' goal as an 

artist was to share with the reader that in which she 

found beauty, she asked the folloviu'- question in a 

18 p „, 

i-i. K. R. , "':^reative isriciag. • 


M- K. R. , "Flor j c' ian.: Tbe Invisible i-'lorid3 

Tyr-ed scrint of- soeech. 1955. 


lecture: "n'hat hope :.? there :--;r ?n;- writer to pass on 
the particular beauty that happens to stir him?" In reply 
to her own query, she stater., 'It is in his fierce de- 
termination to make inrangible beauty tangible"; there- 
fore, comsriunication to the reader of the sense of beauty 
lies for Mariorie Kinnan Rav\rlings In the adherence to her 
personal theory of composition." 

In dealing v/ith the concept of beauty, usually 
the aesthetic and not the rhetorical dimension has been 
inv'olved; however, Marjorie Kinnan Ravvlings' concern was 
with the communication of beauty, and it is therefore her 
concept and her definition of the term that this study 
uses. As the author herself stated, "I do not know what 
is beautiful or what is ugly, I only know what seems 
beautiful to me. As a writer I can only try to focus in."" 
And it was through the formulation and utilization of her 
effect -oriented and personal theory of composition that 
sfie attempted to "focus in," and communicate to her read- 
ing audience that sense of beauty she felt was essential 
to art. 

Respc)nse.s to Beauty 

The existence of beauty for Marjorie Kinnan 
Rawlings was defined not only by her own reaction, but 

M. K. R., "Relativity of Beauty." 




also by the reaction of her readers. Since Marjorie 

Kinnan Raivlings i-ecognized ''the obligation of the reader 

to open his mind to what the author was trying to say," 

then reader reaction was in part dependent on the artist's 

intention, which at that point was the communication of 


Marjorie Kinnan Raw! ings perceived beauty in the 

interaction of tlie Florida Cracker with the natural environ- 

p.ent; however, in order to share this beauty, she had to 

communicate it to the reader. Since to her beauty existed 

not in isolation but in reaction, it was by this reaction 

that Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings defined it. 

Beauty is anything that stirs an 
emotional reaction to an extent that we 
are conscious of a spiritual excitement 
over and above the sensory perception . 22 

Stressing once more the resultant effect, she views beauty 

as that which "stirs the imagination of the beholder."'"^ 

In her 1935 speech delivered at Florida Southern College, 

she again addressed the resultant "spiritual excitement" 

to beauty that occurs in those to wliom the invisible is 

raade visible, for "beauty must be seen with spiritual 

as well as physical eye. It is invisible to those 

unfortunate folks who ... do not have the inner eve with 


""M. K. R. , "Creative IVriting." 


which to see." By these emotions, then, shall beauty be 
known to have been efcected. Mien the reader has experi- 
enced or has expressed the experience so then shall the 
reader have seen with "the inner eye." 

Basically, though, this effect is ach.ieved through 
techniques that are a part of her personal theory of coinpo- 
sitiw.i. Thus, when a reader has experienced beauty, tlie 
resultant effect will manifest itself through a stirring 
of the iraagination as well as an emotional and spiritual 
excitation. And what are the sources of beauty which the 
author communicates? To Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings the 
interaction of a small group of people In a specific 
locale provided a wealth of such beauty. 

S ources of B eaut y Particularly in The Ye arling 

Although her avowed objective was the achievement 

of the effect of beauty on the reader, Marjorie Kinnan 

Rawlings realized that beauty was a relative quality. 

for her personally, the beauty ihe sought to share was 

explicit within the Florida Scrub. 

I find them [the people of the 
Florida backwoods] beautiful because 
they are an integral part of their 
background, buautiful in cheir repose, 
their dignity, their self-respect . . . 
They joke about hunger and death. But 
they are distinctly conscious of their 
harmony with their .surroundings. Many 

,of then are deifiniteiy conscious of 
the nat;j7-a.l beauty ai'Qund them and of 
t. h e ]\ a r m o n y of L h e i r 11 v e s . - 4 

Hov/ever, her concept of beauty might be dissinilar to that 

of hei' readers. She v;rote in her notes on Creative Writing 

"It means that beauty is not absolute, but is distinctly . 

relative, and, that what fails to stir rr.o , may constitute 

beauty for you."" She v/as , ho\v-ever^ quick to point out 

some particular benefits to the relativity of beauty as 

far as her personal focus ivas concerned. 

Peihaps it's just as well that 
everyone doesn't see beauty as we do, 
for it" everyone was stirred deeply as 
some of us by the hammocks and the 
rivers and the marshes , the state 
would be overpopulated. -'6 

Although recognizing the possibility of differing perspec- 
tives between the reader and the writer, Marjorie. Kinnan 
Rawlings had three main parameters within which she, her- 
self, found beauty; and as revealed in her papers, these 
areas may be designated to the following categories: (a) 
the simplicity of the Cracker people, (b) the natural 
Florida setting, and (c) the harmonv of the people v;ith 
this setting or background. 

K. R. , "Relativity of Beautv 

'^M. K. R., "Creative Writing." 



The < ircplicitv cf the Florida Cracker was one of 
the main foci o£ beauty as perceived by Marjorie Kinn^'^n 
Rav/lings. When asked, in a radio interviev; in 19-il, her 
reasons for remaining in Florida, she praised "the natural 
beauties and a certain sirriplici t>- of life m the rural 
sections.""' Con-^inualiy sac both v.'rote and spoke about 
the beauty of these people: "I see the simplicity and 
courage and natural fight behind these people. Other 
writers see ot}\er things.""'' Vvhen as;:ed why she wrote of 
these people, she answered, "They were a part of something 
that I found entirely beautiful; I '.vrote of the people 
and the background I found stirring and admirable."" 

For all her interest in the simplicity of the 

Florida Cracker, she had been chastised by the Florida 

Commerce Department which apparently failed to see this 


When I began to write of the 
simpler people more and their simpler 
life, I was condemned for emphasizing 
a side of life tiiat was not believed 
to be helpful to the state's develop- 
ment. 30 

^^M. K. R., "Radio Interview." Typed Script, li'41 

2 8 

M. K, R. , "Lecture Notes on Charac uci' izar i on . " 

29,, ., ., ,,,,■■ r 

M. K. .'! . , "u;)'.::o ' i:r r rv i (V; . ' 



It riar.tered little tc Marjorie Kinnan Ra'ivlings. She knev: 
siie liad fv'^'and. beaury when she saw the people, and decided 
"I n\ust v.Tite o£ this land and these people as I saw them, 
stirred by ny nevv love."'"' According to a personal inter- 
viev. by Harry Evans, "'The things Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings 
wanted to write about were so simple she doubted her ability 
to make them, interesting.""'"'" That this fear was ill-founded 
is evident in the interest -holding qualities of the fol- 
lowing speech, in which, she described the sense of beauty 
she found in the simplicity oc the people. 

You must have seen some v\'ithered 
old woman in a gray and white percale 
dress standing in the doorv/ay of an 
unpainted pine shack under a live oak 
or a magnolia, and felt that she was 
a strong and lovely part of a sturdv_ 
and admirable and a difficult life.^-^ 

It was of this beauty that she attempted to write and to 

preserve before it vanished into time. 

The true Florida Crackers are al- 
most gone and I regret it, because they 
are an integral part of their background, 
and beautiful in their repose, their dig- 
nity, their self respect. -"'4 

l\. K. R., "Autobiographical Sketch." 

"Harry tvans , "^uariorie Kinnan Rawlings," Th; 
j3mn.lj^_Circ_:L_e , 1 (May 14, 1943), unnumbered scrapbooK 
:opy . 

"■f!. K. R., "The f-'loridian." 



Thus, it was in the vanishing Florida backwoods people she 
fourxd a major element of lier concept of beauty. 

The beauty Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings sav«; v;as also 
within the natural setting of the Florida Scrub, for as 
she stated in one of her speeches, "To those of us who 
find the natural Florida so lovely, everything about it is 
beautiful, its v;ild life and even its few remaining back- 
woods inhabitants." Enveloped by the beauty of the land, 
the fJora and the fauna of her environment pervaded her 
literary approachi. As a personal interviewer remarked, 
■'Siie wanted to write about flowers, ferns, frogs, and the 
people who lived close to them..""^" 

As cited previously, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings v/as 
aware that there were some wlio could not see the beauty 
she saw: "those unfortunate folks who are blind or blunted 
to many forms of beauty because they do not have the inner 
eye with which to see."' It is ciitirely possible that 
her work in T he Yearling reflects an attempt to make what 
■■may have been invisible beauty to some, visible to others. 

To Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, beauty also existed 
in the harmony of the Fiorida Cracker v/ith the Florida 


" Evans, "!Iarjorie Kinnan Raivlings, F amily Circ le 

•^''m. K. n. . "The rioridim." 

Scrub She stated ^his ijhilosonhv m a 1941 radio ir,tov 

1 have a tiieory that t!;ere is an 
affinity betv/een people and places. 
Each of us is entitled to live in a 
place aeamst a pnvsical background 
tliat is h.arrionious v;itl: our own nature. -^"^ 

This Iiarmcny of people and environment, this balance and 

affinity, vas the beauty she saw and of v;hich she v/rote. 

I was struck at once b}- a harmony 
between the people and their backaround. 
The poorest Cracker? had a sense of one- 
ness with the country itself, the scrub, 
the piney woods, the haniriocks, the prair- 
ies. TJK'y '.vere a part of _^somet hi ng I 
fouTid entirely beaut if ul . -^9 

What she saw in the people and their background she believed 

was shared by the people theraselves, for she felt they 

were aware both of this beauty and of their harmony with 

It. To her, one aspect of beauty was this very awareness, 

"the feeling of those people for a natural and liarmonious 


background . " ' " 

Ker rendering of the closed svsten of The Yearling 

-s discussed previously in Chapter One, elaborated on her 
oncept of beauty of the individual interacting with 
he environ;:ien :. ft is this harmony of the Flo'-ida Cracker 

'^l- k. R. , "Radio Interview 

Ibid . 

To Norma 7: S. '^''.'vo from id. 1 

v/ith the Florida Scrub whijh Mariorie Kinnan Rawlings sougi-it 
to share and nhich is the beauty that personally "stirs 

an er.otional reaction [and brings about] a spiritual ex- 

citement over and above the sensory perception.'' 




Compos it ■ 

ion > 









,' ini 


i Lre. 


1 01 

: Real It V 

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' theory of composition 
was the raeans whereby she, as an artist, was able to 
create a sense of actuality by which beauty was comn-iuni- 
cated to the reader. The salient facets of that theory cf 
composition are the process of characterization, the use 
of facts and details, and the use of objectivity, simplicity, 
and dialect. To Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings these elements 
of language manipulation helped achieve rhetorical effec- 
tiveness by creating a reality for the reader whicli conveved 
her concept of beauty. 

Through the Pro c o s s o f Characte rizati on 

Concerned witii a ''sense of actuality," specific- 
ally reality in characterization, Mariorie Kinnan Rawlings 
adhered to the definition of characterization proffered 
by Kclman that characterization i.3 "the creation of images 

'^^U. K. H., "Creative V/riting." 


by imaginary persons 5o credible that: they exist for the 
reader as real within the linits of the fiction. The 
ability to characterize the people of his imagination 

successfully is one of the primary attributes of a good 

. ■ ^ ,,42 
novelist . " 

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings attempted to achieve 
reality through the process of characterization. She 
viewed this element as of primary importance: "In the 
novel of people, of life and living, nothing is m.ore im- 
portant than charactorizar.ion. ''"^^ Her approach to the 
novel mirrored this statement. Elsewhere, she compared 
the characters in her novel to piano keys, for tlie charac- 
ters ivere the instruments by ivhich the story vvas brought 
forward. ' Ultimately, "the success of the novel of ideas 
depends on whether the characters are sufficiently alive 

.1 c 

to carry tnose ideas . . . ho\; real,' 

Characters, to Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, "are 
like people in a long friendship or in a m.arriage; if 
the author's job is well done, they become a part of you, 
so that you never forget them." Various lectures of 

"'.villiam F. Thrall, Addison Hubbard, and Hugh' 
Holnan, A Handbook to L i iieratur e (New York: The Odvssey 
Press, 19o0j , p. / 9 ., 

4 3 
' M. K. R. , "Characterization." 

4 4. T 1 - 1 

hers and letters were addressed to the process of charac- 
ter i2:ation. It was of major concern, since by this 
process, she attempted to achieve the sense of reality 
fron; which caiTie the effect of beauty. Investigation of 
primarily four of her lectures ("Characterization," "Facts 
Verses, in. Fiction, "■ "The Mechanics of V/riting," and 
"Creative Writing") , as well as several pieces of her 
correspondence, yielded tliree broad principles of charac- 
terization to which she adhered: 

(1) The characters are "true- to- life" : 
although the characters may have so:r:e 
basis in reality, it is by the infusion 
of the author's artistic imagination 
that the character achieves "a sense 

of actuality." 

(2) The major characters function not 
only as particular but also as the 
universal, acting in ways identifi- 
able as Every Person. 

(3) The characters are used as cohesive 
units encompassing v\-ithin their per- 
sonalities the individual limits of 
their thoughts and actions. 

T rue- t o- 1 ife c haracteri tat ion 

Characters may have some basis in rrutli, but it 
is through the infusion of the artist's creative imagina- 
tion that the characters begin to "move in reality." 
Except for the doctor, the characters in T he Yearl ing are 
all fictitious, more fictitious than any she had used 
previously, ■•ihc to\d ar, i :, r r r\ i tnvor ; iio.vcver, Jody did 


have some basis in truth, lor he embodied the memory of 
two old men, one of whom had told Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings 
about his youth arid of the destruction of his pet deer 
which threatened the family's meager crop of corn; and as 
she stated: "I ciystalliied their tales into the story of 

a boy who m.ight have. lived that uncomplicated life in the 

4 7 
scrub." This was the basis of her story. The situation 

involved in the creation of characters for The Yearlin g 

was the subject of one of her lectures. 

Sometimes an idea or an emotion or 
a situation or a set of dramatic incidents 
cries out to be written about. In that 
case, the writer creates the characters 
to express the idea, the emotion, the 
situation or the set of dramatic inci- 
dents . ^^ 

Through the addition of artistic details by the author, 

through the infusion of the creative imagination of the 

author, these characters take on a reality. The reality 

stems, not from, a j ourna 1 istic- like reportage, but from 

an artistic rendering. Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings stated, 

there is "more activity required in making truth artistic 

4 9 
than starting f^-om scratch."' She would begin with 


Aut.tior unknown, "Author Tells of Hot Trip 

from Bimini," undated scrapbook copy. 

Author unknown, "Today's Woman/' Chris tian 
Science Mon itor , September 4, 1940. " 


M. K. R., "Facts, Verses, in Fiction." 

^"'m. K. R. , "The Mechanics of Writing." 


an idea or perhaps with the seiublance of a character from 
reality and then create the personage her narrative required 
Addressing rhis matter, she stated in a lecture: "V/hat 
often happens is tiiat he [the artist] adds his own thoughts, 
for his own purposes, to characters he has knovvn." 

Out of her own imagination she then "fertilizes by 
the creative germ" the character she has created. The 
artist hopes "then in actual writing to transfuse your vvork 
v/ith your own personality ... a process of osmosis, to 
filter vshat you have to say through your characters."' 
The resulting character, then, is mainly fictitious — the 
creation of the artist, who "may begin with an actual 
living person, but his imagination takes him further to 
adapt the character to his own creative needs so that 
the final character, even though dozens of people claim 
to recognize him or her, is fiction." " 

Though she has often denied it, many have assumed 
to recognize characters as being copied from life, but, 
in fact, none of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' characters is 
a "life copy," nor does she feel that otlier authors have 
copied characters. "i think no writer has ever com[)letcly 

■"m. K. R., "Facts, Verses, in Fiction 
" .M. K. (I., "Creative Writing." 
■^ fi. K. R. , "Autobio.p.i-.'.iphical Sketch." 


copied a true character- . . . Many of ny own characters 
are based on people I knov;, but not a single one is a life 
copy." "^ Ihe created character has been supplemented by 
the author's point of view, infused by the creative imagina 
tion, and placed in "an abode in tine and space." Like- 
wise, charactei'S are. changed and adapted for coherence 
to the author's intention. 

Univers ality in c har a cteriz a t ion 

Another general principle of Marjorie Kinnan 
Rawlings was the portrayal of the major characters as 
representative of a fusion wlierein the individual func- 
tions both as the particular and the universal, or as the 
literary term states, the concrete universal. Her defini- 
tion of the role of the ivriter embodies the concept of 
universality of characterization to which she adhered. 

For the producer of literature is 
not a reporter but a creator. His con- 
cern is not with presenting superficial 
and external aspects, however engaging, 
of an actual people; it is ivith the inner 
revelation of mankind, thinking and moving 
against a backdrnp of life itself v/ith as 
much dramatic or pointed effect as the 
artistry of the writer can command. 55 


"M. K. R., "Characterization." 

Maricrie Kinnan R.awlings, "Regional Literature of 
.h," College English, 1 (February, 1940), 3S1-389. 


The individual J iiiteracting v/ith the environment, 
reflects the macrocosm of total humanity ^ interacting v/ith 
the ur. iversi.. The closed S'/stem of the novel. The Yearlins^ 

detailed in Chapter One, existed as an attempt to order 

the Ciiacs of life. As she stated in her address to the 

National Council of Teachers of English, 

The creative v;riter filters men and 
women real and fancied through his imagina- 
tion as through a catnlytic agent to re- 
solve the confusion of life into an ordered 
pattern, the coordinated meaningful design 
colored with the creator's personality, 
keyed to his own philosophy that we call 
art. "56 

Characters may function on several levels either 

as the specific individual or as the universal. In an 

early lecture, Marjorie Kinnan Ra\\/lings states, 

Character can be strictly an indi- 
vidual or as a character can typify 
kind in various situations of defeat or 
success, tragedy or joy, love or hate, 
or any aspect of human conflict within 
itself or in relation to other people or 
to life. 5^ 

The major characters in The Yearling function on the uni 

versal level, whereas the minor characters function more 

on the specific factual level. In a 19 1? interview she 

stated specifically the universal function within t)\e 

closed system of The Yenrlinq: 


^^M. K. R , " ion." 


. . . life (is represented by his 
pet, the deer), love (the real signifi- 
cance of i'.is father's love and his o\\m 
love of the deer], death of Iiis father, 
and loneliness . 5o 

Expressed througn Jody is the universal premonition of 

maturity that Marjorie Kinnan Rav,lings first experienced 

on her father's farm. long years before. The youth and 

adolescence of Jody function to reflect the remembered 

common emotion. 

At the beginning Jody is twelve years 
old. In the year covered by the book he 
experienced the thing I remembered exper- 
iencing that April day back in Brookland 
. . . that definite premonition of matur- 
ity ... I referred to it a while ago as 
ecstacy tinged with sadness. 59 

Her youth and her father were, as she stated, the basis 

of her feeling of universality, for "from, him I learned my 

love of nature . . . and a sense of kinship with men and 

women everywhere who live close to the soil."' Thus, 

through the generalization of the particular, Marjorie 

Kinnan Rawlings attempted to achieve in The Year ling the 

universal, typifyiag those human emotions common to all 

people in all ages witliin a chosen character. 

Evans, "Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings," Family Circ le. 
"M. K. R. , "Autobiographical Sketch.'' 


Up. i ty in characteri :.a tion 

The third aspect of characterization to which 
Marjorie Kinnan Ravlings adiiered was the functioning of 
the characters as cohesive units. The concept of unity 
of characterization in a novel is the organizing principle 
that the characters are integrated and liave, as stated 
by Holrian, "a necessary relationship to each other and an 
essential relationship to the whole of which they are 
parts." The totality of character is achieved by the 
cohesiveness of action and plausibility of motivation. 
Credibility is resultant from coherence; in other words, 
the characters do nothing in contradiction of their 
roles, thereby achieving a reality of harmony and unity. 

The Yearling was told tlirough the perspective of 
a tv/elve-year-old boy, and in order to achieve unity, 
Marjorie Kinnan Raw] ings is constantly cautious of using 
too mature a vocabulary or too complex a perspective for 
a twelve-year-old. She felt her previous work. Golde n 
Apples , had failed because of a disharmony and a lack of 
unity, for as she wrote Maxwell Perkins on July 11, 1956, 
"1 am sure you are wrong about the reason for G olden 
Apples not doinjj better. People recognized unconsciously 
in it d i sharinony — and every one is hungry for harmony and 

^Mhr.-il], Hibbard, and Holman, p. 54 S 


unity." She worked to nake sure this v/ould not be the 
case with The Yea rling. On July 3, 1956, when she wrote 
Maxwell Perkins of her plans for her nevv' book, she stated: 
"It will be absolutely all told through the boy's eyes. 
I want it through his eyes before the age of puberty 
brings in any other factors to confuse the simplicity 
of viewpoint." Although she later considered changing 
her approach, she realized the possible disharmony and 
loss of unity that could result. "But I dare not sv/itch 
the interest that way; that is, begin from the father's 
point of \'iew, then take it up from the boy's; for the 
father continues throughout the narrative, but it m.ust 
be as the boy's father, not as the chief protagonist. 
. . . " "^ A change could be inconsistent with the reality 
of the novel. 

For Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings harmony and unity 
result from adequate reinforcement of character with de- 
tails, since as she expressed it, in a novel, "character 
doesn't stand alone; character mast be backed up." 
Though she had the background, and basically the idea for 
The Yearling, she had to work hard to achieve unity. In 
1935, she was aware of the hard work that would be involved 


f-i. fv . K. , '^naracter.i zaticn 


Its success v/ill dep«".d, I should say, 
almost altogethei" or how real, how vivjd, 
I am able to niake individuals whose lives 
move along . . . [.-^nd it involves] treraen- 
dously hard work in delineating anything 
like a reality. 61 

Two years later, she felt the characters were not adequately 

created and she had not achieved unity of characterization, 

so she rewrote much of the novel. 

I had to discard everything of The 
Yearlin g ... to give it cohesion. My 
first thoughts had been to plunge into 
more or less exciting events. Then I 
realized that they were not exciting un- 
less the boy and his father and his 
surroundings were so real, so familiar 
that the things that happened to him took 
on color because it ail came closer home 
in its very f amiliarit/. *^^ 

One of the basic precepts of Marjorie Kinnan 
Rawlings' writing was the value of characterization: "In 
a novel you can't get away from the importance of charac- 
terization." The careful delineation of character to 
achieve unity was a major factor in characterization, 
and to accomplisii it, often, "infinitely apparently snnall 
details require rewriting to give a final harmony of char- 
acterization." The character functions as an integral 


To Maxwell Perkins from M. K. R. , undated, approx 

imately December, 19.35 

■^To Maxwull Perkins from M, K. R.. undated, approx- 

imatelv January, 1947. 

.M. K. R., "Characterization." 
M. K. R. , ".^utobio^jraphical Sketch." 


and cohesive unit, supplementing and complementing the 
total novel. In an autobiographical sketch, she stated, 
"None of my novels has satisfied me, [however] The Yearling 
is probably the most coordinated of my books." 

Through Use of Facts and Details 

The use of facts and details to achieve a sense of 
reality by which the effect of beauty is accomplished was 
another major element of her theory of composition. The 
place of fact or scientific details in fiction was manifest 
throughout her papers; for example, the title of one of 
her lectures was "Facts, Verses, in Fiction," which, as 
indicated on the folder in the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings 
Collection, she had filed originally under 'Facts vs. 
Fiction.' To Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings all the facts that 
surround the writer are source material; but those facts 
may be "fertilized by the creative germ" and "transfused 
with your own [author's] personality." "Even the still- 

life painting is transformed with the personality of the 
painter." These facts were a part of the adjustments 
made to actuality so that, as stated by Marjorie Kinnan 

68,, . , 
Ibi d. 


M. K. R. , "Facts, Verses, in Fiction." 

M. K. R. , "Creative IVriting." 

Rawlirxgs, ''it better fitted the quality of mind I wanted 

catch . . . yet that quality of mind is true. . . ." 

Writers are like great teachers, who have transfused facts 

with their own creative personality and "have found beauty 

in ideas, in what pass for facts."'" 

The botanical details of the Florida Scrub, the 

agricultural information pertinent to farming, the data 

important to day-to-day existence, and the folklore that 

pervaded the lives of the Florida Cracker were, to the 

surprise of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, that which greatly 

interested her readers. Her surprise was in part due to 

the pleasure she also received from this type of factual 

information . 

It is only since Golden Apples that 
I realize what it is about my writing 
that people like. I don't m.ean that I 
am writing for anyone, but now I feel 
free to luxuriate in the simple details 
that interest me and that I have been so 
amazed to find interest other people. ^3 

These botanical, agricultural, and social details were 

those she fully utilized to infuse her writing with a 

sense of reality. 

M. K. R., "Facts, Verses, in Fiction." 
^^M. K. R., "Relativity of Beauty." 
^•^To Maxwell Perkins from M. K. R. , July 51, 1936. 


Her concern vvith the problems of accuracy in the 
details and facts continued to pervade many of her per- 
sonal papers. Once when questioned on the authenticity 
of a dance ot whooping cranes she had written about in 
The Yearling , she defended herself to an interviewer by 
stating, "she could not prove the story, but believed it 

because it was told her by a man whose memory she found to 

be unfailingly clear and accurate." In her continuing 

desire for authenticity, she drew a geological map of the 

region used in Th e Yearling and a "month-by-month chart 

of events for the year that is covered in the book."'' 

Much of her energies had been spent in gathering factual 

data; for example, living with different families for 

weeks in the Florida Scrub, keeping journals on folklore 

and pharmacopoeia and botany, informally interviexv'ing 

people at the Creek. All this was part of her concern 

with factual information, which was most apparent in her 

letter to Maxwell Perkins one month after the publication 

of The Yearling . 

My secret fear about The Yearling 
has just been allayed. I was so afraid 
that the old-guard hunters and woodsmen 
would find flaws. I know you think I 
put too much emphasis on the importance 

'Author unknown, "Author Tells of Hot Trip . . ." 
To Maxwell Perkins from M. K, R. , March 26, 193' 


of fact in fiction, but it seems to me 
that this type of work is net valid if 
the nature lore behind it is not scien- 
tifically true in every detail. 76 

And finally, in one of her lectures, she replies to her 

O'.vm rhetorical question, "U'hat makes characters real?" 

by stating simply, "Details. 
Methods of Expression 


Marjorie Kinnan Railings' attempt to achieve a 
verisimilitude which could bring the reader's imagination 
into play encompassed the use not only of facts and de- 
tails, but also of various methods of expression in her 
audience-oriented style. For Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, 
style was the adaptation of her language in order to 
achieve mutual understanding between the author and the 
reader. No effect, especially the effect of beauty, 
would be possible if the style were inappropriate. In a 
1940 paper written for the National Council of Teachers 
of English, she discussed style as it related to a volume 
by Margaret Mitchell. 

Yet we ask of style principally 
that it be an effective medium of ex- 
pression for the material itself, and 
it seems to me that no narrative, no 
set of characters, could carry the 


To Maxwell Perkins from M. K. R., May 14, 1937 


M. K. R., "Charjcter ization, 


excitement and the living conviction of 
this book_unless the style were at least 
adequate . "^ 

Marjorie Kinnan Rav/lings' style was a combination of both 
the idei to be expressed and the individual language 
manipulation necessary to achieve a close transmission of 
the idea. Beauty vvas the idea to be expressed, and certain 
personal methods were necessary in order to create a vivid 
and natural reality from which to obtain the effect of 
beauty in the reader. What the reader receives from the 
language manipulations of the author may not only be what 
explicitly was stated, but also what subtlely was connoted. 

Evidence within her papers indicated specific 
facets of her concept of style to achieve a predetermined 
effect. These included evincing a quality of objectivity, 
as well as utilizing simplicity of construction, and dia- 
lect. Fully realizing that the goal of all narrative is 
understanding, she stressed the advantage she had received 
from her earlier career as a iournalist: "In newspaper 

work, one has to write so that one is understood clearly. 

Only a great genius is privileged not to be understood." 

In her lecture to a class in Creative Writing at the Uni- 
versity of Florida, she succinctly summed up the goals of 

7 R 

M. K. R., "Regional Literature." 


M. K. R., "Writing as a Career," Boc k of Knowledg e 

Annual. 194S, Typed Scriut. 


style as follows: '"The desire to write is the desire to 

say something, to say that something well, to make that 

something understood." 

Obi ect ivit y 

Objectivity is a major quality used to create a 
sense of actuality with v;hich to communicate beauty to the 
reader. Objectivity may be defined as that effect evinced 
by a literary work when that v/riting is understood by the 
readers as being independent from the emotional or personal 
sentiments of the author. Personal detachment was for 
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings an important technique that she 

described in her lectures as tJie ability of "being able 

8 1 
to view it all from the outside." This type of objec- 
tivity, once more, was gleaned from her newspaper work, 

for in journalism, "one learns human nature in the raw. 

8 2 
One learns to see human beings objectively." 

As she wrote in a letter to Maxwell Perkins, 

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings aspired to sharing this aesthetic 

distancing with another literary figure of her day, F. 

Scott Fitzgerald, for she hoped to emulate his ability to 


M. K. R. , "Mechanics of Writing." 

^^M. K. R., "Creating Writing." 

'^^M. K. R., "Writing as a Career." 

"visualize people not m their immediate setting from the point of view — but in tine and space — almost you 
might say vrith divine detachment,"'" Her aesthetic dis- 
tancing was in no way accidental. In a letter to Maxwell 
Perkins in 1936, three years before The Yea rling's com- 
pletion, she explicitly stated her goal of objectivity: 
". . . it ma> sound sentimental or too symbolic to make 
a good story ... I have no fear of it at all, and I 
shall be careful never to sentimentalize." 


Another m.ethod Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings employed 
was that of dialect. By stressing dialectical differences 
in vocabulary, grammatical habits, and pronunciation, the 
isolation and separation of the Florida Cracker by both 
natural and social barriers ;vere ever made evident. The 
resultant dialect used in The Yearling to convey the realis- 
tic elem.ent of the Florida Cracker emerged over a period of 
time, after her first attempts at dialect proved inadequate, 
In a letter to Norman Berg she stated her awareness that 

q c 

"dialect is a dangerous business. ..." Marjorie Kinnan 

■^To Maxwell Perkins from M. K. R., February 11, 


To Maxwell Pericins from M. K. R. , undated, approx 
imately October, 1936. 

q C 

'"To Norman S. Berg from M. K. R. , November 27, 194: 

Rawlings also indicated her avvareness of the effect of 
incorrectly written dialect when, in her correspondence, 
she criticizes another author for giving not only the 
dialogue but also the narrative in dialect: "The Llewellyn 
book . . . was indeed sorry stuff . . . what invalidated 
it was the use of dialect to convey thoughts as well as 
speech." Likewise, in a talk to the National Council 
of Teachers of English, slie stated that too deep an 
involvement with dialect moves the work into a technical 
or National Geographic type of study: "Elizabeth Madox 
Roberts evinces such a scholarly preoccupation with dia- 
lect speech as to force her work into the class of tech- 

8 7 
nical or erudite writings. ..." 

Her use of Cracker speech functions not only as 

part of her attempted creation of actuality, but also as 

a symbol. As she stated, "Cracker speech is a certain 

sign of the isolation of the Florida interiors. . . ." 

The importance of the use of dialect to create the real- 
istic sense of the Florida land and the isolation of the 
frontier is evinced in her statement: "The Cracker speech 
of long isolation is in my opinion one of the assurances 

86,. . , 
Ibid . 


M. K. 11., "Regional Literature." 

8 P 

M. K. R., "Cracker Florida." Early Autobioj^raphi - 

cai Writin.'is. 


of the entrenchn'ent of this frontier. Your true frontier 

is resistant." " Within this isolation, both the Cracker 

people and Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings find beauty. 

Dialect, even though "a dangerous business," seemed 

to be a necessity to Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings if she Vv-ere 

to create a sense of ■ actual ity, but she was aware that 

dialect must be used carefully: "I have suffered over my 

own necessary (or so I thought) use of it [dialect] for 

dialogue. A writer can JUST get by on using it for dia- 

logue . . . but to carry it further is fatal." In The 

Yearling , dialect was used only for dialogue. 

Simpl icity 

With her audience-centered theory of composition, 
simplicity of style was of major importance to Marjorie 
Kinnan Rawlings. To complicate the text with superfluous 
elements would result in a mockery of reality, and not the 
sense of actuality she wished to achieve. Syntax was 
determined by the goal of reality. For example, as she 
stated in one of her lectures, it is necessary to use 

"short, almost blunt sentences j.f I am not to lose real- 

ity." Hov;ever, she also stated that her natural tendency 

89., - , 

90to Norman S. Berg from M. K. R. , November 27, 

-^M. K. R., "Creative Writing." 


seemed to be toward' a cluttering of the text and oniy 
through self -discipline was she able to accomplish the 
simplicity of style she desired. In a 1939 article about 
her winning the Pulitzer Prize, she xs quoted as address- 
ing the concern of simplicity in a letter vvritten several 
years previously. 

Now I think I have discovered my 
weakness ... It is a tendency to 
clutter the text with gaudy colors that 
somehow mock reality, like a Maxfield 
Parrish print. I must work under my 
own mental thumb screws, hold myself in 
check when I want to gallop. 92 

The various tricks of style were anathema to her simplis- 
tic approach, for she felt, "tricks of technique annoy 

rather than please." Her admonition was against the 

artificial and for personal integrity and honesty in 

writing. Use "integrity in fiction ... be yourself," 

she warned. 

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings stressed neither the use 

of new words singly or in new combinations, nor the use 

of old words in old combinations. She admonished against 

the latter, saying, "The most hopeless sign in beginning 

9 5 
writers is the use of trite phrases." " However, she did 

Author Unknown, "Pulitzer Winner, '= Independent 
Woman , January, 1939, in scrapbook. 

^■^M. K. R., "Mechanics of Writing." 


advocate the use of old simple words m nev; combinations. 

The words themselves do not seem 
stale to us and we do not tire of them 
anymore than we do of water to drink; 
[however], certain often-used combina- 
tions of words are stale. 9*^ 

Subsumed under the heading "Choosing a Style" in her lec- 
ture on the "Mechanics of Writing," she labels saying the 
obvious as "burbling." Even symbols and metaphors are 
to be simplistic, but not obvious: "In my stories, not 
the red of Chinese lacquer but the red [of a cardinal]." 

Underplaying vv'as another aspect of this simplistic 
approach. Once again, she cites the contribution her 
early journalistic career made to her literary style, 
for the style she learned as a journalist is the style 
she advocates as a creative artist: "There was no place 

for the purple prose to which all young writers are so 

jj- . J ,,98 

In the type of uncluttered, simple writing to 

which she often referred, "the story must be told v\fith 

no waste of words and the superfluous adjectives and ad- 

verbs dropped by the wayside." Understatement forces 




M. K. R., "Autobiographical Sketch." 

Ibid . 

the reader to bring into play the imagination, whereas 
overstatement leads to surfeit. Since to Marjorie Kinnan 
Rawlings effective writing was often dependent upon this 
interplay of reader's imagination with artistic creatioD, 
then to her "most bad writing is overwriting; understate- 
ment in the hands of anyone who is basically a writer is 
always more effective than overstatement." Her pref- 
erence for understatement is just another facet of her con- 
tinued awareness of the reader and the writer's effect 
upon the reader. As she told her class, the writer uses 
understatement "for the simple reason that you have to 
leave some play for the reader's own imagination. The 
reader himself fills the gap." 

The expressive technique Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings 
utilized to achieve a sense of reality was basically 
direct and simple. The process of narrative that best 
created a sense of reality was that which she had learned 
through experience, for she felt tliat the complex narra- 
tive used earlier had diminished tl^e effect and so was 
responsible for "the fatally divided interest that we got 
in Golden Apples ." '" Fo'- The Yearling :-he did not make 
that mistake. 

^°°M. K. R., "Creative Writing 


^°"To Maxwell Perkins from M. K. R. , October 10 



With a predilection for wanting to bring the 
audience's imagination into play, her natural tendency, 
as far as narrative was concerned, was toward generaliza- 
tion and implicitness, leading at times to a type of 
vagueness; however, from Maxwell Perkins she learned that 
reality is gained otherwise. 

I had to learn what I learned from 
Maxwell Perkins, the book editor at 
Scribner's, is the value, no, the neces- 
sity, of direct narrative, direct, not 
implicit, not generalized. It is much 
better to make one direct incident of 
such intensity and let the one incident 
speak for ail. 103 

So, then, does she attempt not to generalize in her narra- 
tion in order that once mere the reader can bring into 
play the imagination. Thus, the reader through imagination 
extends the explicit incident to a larger content. 

Another pitfall to this type of direct, simple 
narrative was the episodic narrative. She wrote Maxwell 
Perkins of this concern on May 10, 1937: "The principal 
difficulty at present is in keeping a steady flow of 
narrative rather than falling into the disjointed abyss 
of mere episodes." However, the narrative method of events 
in their time sequence seem^ed to fit with the total harm.ony 
and simplicity of the novel and evolved naturally to create 
a sense of reality. "Once I have decided on the people 


M. K. R. , "Creative Writing 


who will be in the book, I think the narrative will flow 
naturally of its own accord," she wrote in 1956. ' 

In order to create a sense of reality from which 
to obtain the effect of beauty she sought expression that 
utilized dialect for appropriate purposes and was basically 
simple and objective. These stylistic and narrative goals 
were set long before she began writing The Yearling, for 
she wrote in an October, 1936, letter to Maxwell Perkins: 
"The style [for The Ye arling] will be very simple and 
direct." For the next two years she sought to accomplish 
that goal. 


The objective of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' personal 
theory of composition was to communicate beauty to her 
readers. Since, to her, the artist was "one who shares 
. . , the particular form of beauty that has stirred him," 
she therefore attempted to communicate to her readers that 
form of beauty which had stirred her and to wliich she had 
responded— the Florida Cracker interacting with the Florida 

Marjorie Kinnan Rjwlings had defined beauty as a 
soaring of the imagination as well as an emotional and 

1 04 

To Maxwell Perkins from M. K. R., July 31, 193 6 

spii'itual excitation, and this defined also her reaction 
to the Florida Cracker. Her personal definition of 
beauty placed the emphasi? on the resultant effect on 
the reader and by this effect was beauty known to have 
been achieved. Yet, for the reader to experience beauty 
as she had experienced it, a sense of actuality must be 
formulated for that form v/hich had stirred her. Her 
theory of composition was the means by which she created 
a sense of actuality for the reader, first through the 
process of characterisation, specifically focusing on the 
use of true-to-life characters, universality, and unity. 
Secondly, she attempted to achieve reality through the 
use of scientifically accurate facts and details. And 
finally, she used objectivity, dialect and simplicity. 
As it functioned within these three broad principles, 
The Yearling evinced an audience adaptation to attain 
specific rhetorical goals, working through the reader's 
imagination to communicate the beauty Marjorie Kinnan 
Raw] ings recognized around her. 


Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' audience-oriented theory 
of ccmposition had as its goal the accomplishnient of a 
predetermined effect. In the preceding chapter, her 
personal theory of composition was articulated to isolate 
those characteristic language usages by which she sought 
CO communicate the effect of beauty. In order to determine 
the extent of that possible effectiveness, the responses 
of her readers must be studied, operating from the per- 
spective advanced by Tompkins, in liis work, "The Rhetorical 
Criticism of Non-Oratorical Works," as well as the model 
provided by Carpenter in "Alfred Thayer Mahan's Style in 
Sea Power: A Paramessage Conducing to Ethos," who stated 
that effectiveness is "most accurately discernible in the 
responses of people for whom the discourse was intended."^ 
Thus the methodological focus of this chapter is not on 
her discourse itself but rather on debriefing the readership, 

'Phillip lompkins, "The Rhetoricil Criticism of 
Non-Oratorical Works," Quar terly Journal of Spe ech , 55 
(December, 1969), AZl-'i1>T. 

Ronald Carpenter, "Alfred Thayer Mahan's Stvle 
on Sea Power: A Paranessage Conducing to Ethos," Speech 
Monoj^raL)hi_s , 4 2 (August, 197 5), li) 2. 


Hoased in the L'niversity of Florida Library, the 
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings CoJ.lection contains within the 
substantial correspondence from her general readership 
comprehensive documentation of effects. The Marjorie 
Kinnan Rawlings Collection also is complemented by the 
papers of Phillip May, her lawyer, in which there are 
additional letters she had forv/arded to him. In both 
collections, all correspondence specifically related to 
The Yearling was examined since the novel was currently 
in publication; however, the main body of correspondence 
utilized covered the period from 1938 until Marjorie 
Kinnan Rawlings' death in 1953. Reactions of her general 
readership to the novel were the basic area of investiga- 
tion for this chapter. 

The Collection yielded substantial responses; 
though, in som.e respects, it may have been culled. For 
example, after Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' death and prior 
to some of the m.emorabilia being transported from tlie Cross 
Creek house to the University of F],orida Library, one box 
of papers, now a valuable part of the Collection, had to 
be rescued from a garbage pile. Also, coiimenting on the 
relative paucity of negative comments among the response 
to her work, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings in the 1940 's provided 
reason that the proportion of unfavorable letters from her 
general readership v/as : 

In inf irit?s imal portion, and the 
reascii is that the person who troubles 
to sit down and write a letter to an 
author is almost invariably a kindly 
person. I mean that is simple human 
narure; people go out of their way to 
do a kindly thing, and verv few go out 
of their way tc be unkind . - 

However, since the thrust of tliis study was focused upon 
responses that suggested effectiveness and the crucial 
point Av'as that for some people these techniques did work, 
the letters in tlie Collection from her general readership 
proved adequate. 

All letters from the general readership were read; 
however, only those comments dealing specifically with 
areas of composition or which indicated or implied relation- 
ship to language manipulation were utilized. These letters 
were then cataloged to indicate recurring patterns. Let- 
ters with vague, general or nonspecific comments were not 
included in this investigation; such as letters that stated 
the novel was "enjoyable" or "entertaining" or "interest- 
ing" but in no way suggested the reason. Nonspecific 
evaluations with comments of this ilk were a type of 
general reaction common to any novel. Thus, through 
analysis of tliose responses applicalile to audience reaction, 
both this and the subsequent chapter attempt to establish 
the causal relationship between technique and effect. 

"Proceedings of Second Trial of Cason v ersus 
Bas k in , Alachua County Florida , 1946, inTTiTTl ip~TTa/ 
CoTlectior., University of Florida Library, Volume III, 
p. 357. 


Reade rshi p Response to Effec t of Beauty 

Study or the responses from Mariorie Kinnan Rav;l- 

ings' general readership revealed their focus on the effect 

of beauty. Perhaps one of the most explicit was from 

Betty Odgers who indicated her awareness of the com.muni- 

cated effect: "In some strange way the shared loveliness 

of your book was an important bond in the adjustment of 

my life.""^ To several of her readers the effect of beauty 

was intense yet inexpressible. Hamilton Holt ivrote on 

July 29, 1947, "it is impossible to express in words," 

and Bea H. also wrote in her April 2S, 1939 letter to 

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, "I haven't words to describe 

the way I feel about your beautiful appealing book." 

Though a wounded young English flyer repeated the inability 

to express his appreciation of the beauty, he did elaborate 

on the effect. 

Of The Yearling I can say nothing 
except thank you. To try and tell you 
of its beauty would be useless ... I 
read it while being bombed. It brought 
a light to that siielter that made a 
warm glovi for us all, for ^ read it 
aloud. One little cockney bey said,, 
'I wish I was him, oh I wish I was. ' 

The EnglisJ-i flyer expressed appreciation of the effect of 

To "lariorie Kinnan Rawlings (hereafter cited as 
M. K. R.) from Betty Odgers, August 3C, 1945. 

■^Tc M. K. R. from Perry Potter, undated. 

8 5 

beauty as did man\ ether respondents, so many in fact that 
the letters became a type of "thank-yoii" note for beauty 
received. One typical of these comments cane from a Uni- 
versity of Wisconsin classmate of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings 
who gratefully wrote, "I finished The Yearling in a flood 
of tears . . . You've done a perfectly beautiful job . . . 
ny thanks for so much pleasure." 

Publication of foreign editions brought similar 
response to the effect of beauty from distant lands. 
Sigrid Undset from Norway wrote January 19, 1942, that 
Marjorie Kinnan Rav.'lings' book "makes us Europeans marvel 
that America is so rich in natural beauties . . . the 
loveliness of America . . . and beautiful wilderness. . . ." 
From Australia in 1943 came another note of appreciation 
for the beauty of the book. 

I have just read your magnificent 
book T he Yearli ng and feel compelled to 
write and tell you the joy it gave me 
from beginning to end ... so very un- 
usual it is, and so beautiful in theme 
and language. 6 

Thus, not only America, but also other countries, responded 

to the effect of beauty in her book. 

One reader did, in fact, offer to share the beauty 

in a section of land that he possessed in return for the 

To M. K. R. from Esther Forbes Hoskins, July 14 

^To M. ^'. P. from Laura Dix, May 17, 1945. 


beauty Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings had given to him through 
her book, for as he stated: '"We too know the beauty, the 
birds, the orange trees, the ducks." 

Perhaps the letter written to her on August 29, 
1938 by Marjorie Douglas can serve as a summation of those 
letters received that so intensely had felt the effect of 
beauty: ". . . add my voice to the chorus. It is so 
lovely, so finely felt. ..." Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings 
had defined the artist as one who shares beauty and as 
such so was she defined, as indicated in a copy of a letter 
Lafarge had written about her and that had been forwarded 
to her: "This book is an exquisitely beautiful thing; it 
seems to me a flawless v/ork of art . . . She is a great 


artist." In 1945, Neil Phillips \\'as to write Marjorie 

Kinnan Rawlings and once again define her as an artist. 

Obviously from these responses, the effect of beauty had 

been communicated to her readers. 

Response Based Upon Perception of Reality as 
Produced by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings 

Beauty was felt because the audience perceived the 
reality Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings had produced. As addressed 

'To M. K. R. from Henry Dozier, M.D., June 19, 1942, 

To Rudolf 'veaver from Grant Lefarge, May 24, 1938, 
forwarded to M. K. R. and in Rav/lings Collection. 

^To M. K. R. from Neil Phillips, April 29, 1945. 

earlier in Chapter II, in order for the reader to see 
beauty as Marjorie Kinnan Rav/lings had seen it, she must 
formulate a reality for those forms of beauty which had 
stirred her and through this reality share that beauty 
with her reader. From rhis created sense of reality, she 
was then able to effect in the reader the sense of beauty. 
The response indicative of having perceived this creative 
reality was ample. 

Reality was so pervasive to some of her readers 
that they literally sought the specific geographic loca- 
tion of episodes depicted in The Yearling . The President 
of a Florida hunting club wrote of one such attempt. 

We have tried to locate the exact 
spot you had in mind that 'Old Slew 
Foot' crossed Juniper, also the point • 
that you had in mind where he crossed 
Salt Spring Run. 10 

The tendency to seek a geographic reality on the part of 

her readers took on such force that the Cross Creek Big 

Scrub became known as Yearling Country, Cracker Country, 

etc. One reader v/rote requesting exact directions: 

"Would you be kind enough to tell me liow, by train, I 

would get to the enchanting Cracker Country?" Another 

reader located the Cross Creek area not by the characters 

in The Yearling, but by the animals: "To Mrs. Rawlings a 


^°To M. K. R. from H. L. Nevin, May 26, I9.?8. 
To M. K. R. fro.Ti Robert Corlis, Scplembov 50 


welcome to the land of Slewfoct which The Yearling has 

inimortalized in our hearts." " One service person wrote 

in 1944: 

I have enjoy [sic] oh so very much 
your book on the Yearling Country. Most 
of us boys away from home feel the same. 
Give us more, we do appreciate them, its 
like a peek at the real thing. ^^ 

The reality perceived was sustained in part by 
the readers' ability to locate literally the geographic 
parameters. Anne Brennon in a June 14, 1941 letter com- 
mented on this geographic reality: "The story took us 
to Florida ... it made us feel that we were right there 
with Flag and Jody and Penny Baxter." Other readers ex- 
tended this reality and commented upon Marjorie Kinnan 
Rawlings' ability "to immortalize the Florida Country."" 
These, then, were a sampling of the responses from her 
readers indicative of their having perceived the reality 
which Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings had created. 

Other readers expressed an awareness that they 
had not only shared the reality as Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings 
had perceived it, but also that her perception was correct 

"To M. K. R. from C. L. Alder son, January 3, 1939 

■'•■^To M. K. R. from Errol Hunt, October 12, 1.944. 

''To M. K. R. from Eugenia Pilkington, July 13, 
1942, in Phillip May Collection, file number 175. 

To M. K. R. from C. L. Alderson, January 3, 1939 

8 9 

acccrdiTig to their evaluation. A letter to Marjorie Kinnan 
Rawlings from Betty Odgers tended to confirrn this sharing 
even to the point that there was confusion on Ms. Odgers' 
part over the author and the omniscient narrator of The 
Yearl ing : "I love your right v;ay of living. Your atten- 
tion to the real and important things."'^ This letter 
did not indicate Ms. Odgers had knowledge of Marjorie 
Kinnan Rawlings' habits beyond having read The Yearlin g. 
Joseph Grace assumed also that his perception of reality 
was correct and that Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings concurred 
with him; however, he assumed also her ability must have 
been attained through "some girlish great sorrow in [her] 
young life in order [for her] to be able to see at a 
glance how other folks live both internally and exter- 
nally." Finally, another reader in a 1946 letter praised 
the author's "talent for making reality translucent." 

These, then, were several of the letters from her 
readers that indicated Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings had indeed 
formulated a reality through which beauty had been communi- 


194 b 

^ To M. K. R. from Betty Odgers, August 50; 

^''Tg M. K. R. from Joseph Grace, May 21, 1944. 
To M. K. R. from Mrs. Eugene Meyers, July 14, 


Response lo I ndividual Elements of Marjorie Kinuaii Rawlin; 
Theory of Co ni pasTti^ 

Although the audience appeared to be responding to 
the created reality, it was in actuality responding to trie 
elements which constituted that reality. Reality v;as the 
result of the individual elements of Marjorie Kinnan Rawl- 
ings ' theory of composition, and each elem.ent contributed 
to the total reality through which beauty was achieved. 
Marjorie Kinnan Ra^^/lings' theory of composition has been 
defined in Chapter II as the means whereby the artist was 
able to create a sense of actuality by which to communicate 
beauty to the reader. Investigation of her papers revealed 
a pattern of responses to the various elements of her 
theory of composition. 

Response to the process of characterization 

The process of characterization was one element 
of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' theory of composition by 
which she attempted to create a reality for the reader 
through which to convey her concept of beauty. Her readers 
tended to respond as though the characters were real, 
true -to -life people. For example, H. L. Nevin, a native 
of the area, attempted to display his powers of observa- 
tion Dy identifying those individuals whom Marjorie Kinnan 
Ra'wlings had supposedly copied: 


Penny Baxter can only be one person 
. . , , that person happens to be Mel Lans 
who has hunted with us these many years. l8 

Not only are the humans identified by her readers, but 

also the animals: 

The dog Julia, in our minds, must be 
'Old Bess' who had her side torn somewhere 
on Juniper Creek and a patch of skin the 
size of one's hand was hanc^ing loose when 
Mel carried her into camp.^- 

Written in the m.argin of this letter was a brief denial 
by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. 

Several other readers responded to the realistic 
portrayal of Jody, both expressing an awareness of the 
difficulty in recreating a real boy and citing amazement 
at a woman's ability to do so. In a copy of a letter that 
had been forwarded to her by the recipient was the follow- 
ing reaction: 

It is one of the most difficult tasks 
that she sets herself [Marjorie Kinnan 
Rawlings] to take you inside the very heart 
of that perfectly real little boy . . .-^ 

Another reader in the same vein added, "How any woman could 

depict a boy's mind and emotions as perfectly as you do is 


beyond me."~ A January 28, 1940, letter mirrored tlie 
response of both: 

^^To M. K. R. from H. L. Nevin, May 26, 1938. 

■^To Rudolf Weaver from Grant Lafarge, May 24, 
1933, foi^wavded to M. K. R. and in Rawlini^s Collection. 

^^To M. K. R. from Ihubcrt Clark, October 21, 1958 


Anyone can write about a child; few 
can do it with such depth and strength; 
few can capture the evanescent moment 
that you chose. ^^ 

If some readers did not try to explicitly name 
the person who had been copied for portrayal in The 
Yearling , they then felt Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings had 
created a recognizable type of flesh and blood person, 
for as Laura Dix wrote to Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings on 
May 17, 1945, "I feel I know each of those wonderfully 
drawn characters, especially the lovable splendid Penny 
and his equally lovable son." Other correspondents 
praised Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' "understanding of young 
people" and her ability to "live their lives with them.""" 

Several of her readers reacted to the emotion 

which, as Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings wrote in "Facts, Verses 

in Fiction," "the ivriter creates the characters to express 

Several viewed Ma Baxter in this light. Neil Phillips 


^^ The Yearling in a few unrestrained 
strokes you give one of literature's great 
examples of pathetic frustration— the mother 
groping to share the intim.acy of the father 
and the boy and telling the pointless tale 
about refusing a dog because 'a hound dog 
sure will suck eggs. '24 

'To M. K. R. from Donald Peattie ,■ January 2S, 1950 


o M. K. R. from Lorretta Ryhill, March 26, 1956 
To M. K. R. from Joseph Grace, May 21, 1944. 

^To M. K. R. from Neil Phillips, April 29, 194S. 


Another reader also responded to the emotion Ma Baxter 
represen.ted : ''Somehow so many of us are 'Ma Baxters,' 
Vie'd like to be in on the big brave things, but actually 
the black calico warms us just as much."" 

And finally to some of her readers the characters 
were so real, so true- to-life that they reacted to them as 
though they were living human beings. Some w-ept over the 

T 6 

death of Fodderwing and later the killing of Flag." 
Others felt so strongly about the father and son that they 
wrote, "I can't decide whether I love Penny or Jody more," 
or "it was impossible to decide whether I liked father or 
son best. . . ." 

A second pattern within the process of charac- 
terization that emerged was the tendency on the part of 
the readers to respond to the function of the characters 
both as the particular and as the universal. For Felix 
Schelling, the parameters of The Yearling were extended 
because of this universality, ". . . for it is so much 
more than a story in its insight into common human nature." 

imately 1945 

To M. K. R. from Perry Potter, undated, approx- 

To M. K. R. from Laura Dix, May 17, 1945. 

"^To M. K. R. from Bea H. , April 28, 1939. 

To M. K. R. from Ralph Prouty, August 9. 19 11. 

^^To M. K. R. from Felix Schelling, May 27, ig-iS. 


A letter from N. C. IVyeth suggested that the basis of The 
L~JLlliM!A ^'i^s appeal was the functioning of the charac- 
ters as not only the individual but also the universal. 

It is happy augury, I think, that we 
have all as a family enjoyed vour sto-^-y 
deeply and mostly I think because the 
larger contours of romance so imnressively 
transcend locality and become superblv 
universal in appeal. 29 

Others reacted as did Wyeth, for The Y8arling_ through its 

universality had appealed to all ages. Donald Peattie 

wrote of the reaction of his two sons as he had read the 
novel to them: 

Congratulations! I was interested 
in the way the younger one was able to 
endure the death of Flag and the v^av the 
elder listened to Penny's last words to 
Jody. Your success was complete with 
all three of us. 30 

Esther Forbes commented also on the universal element in 

her August 13, 195S, letter: "I think one of the reasons 

it is so beloved is that it is one of the few recent books 

that appeals to the entire family." 

Another respondent referred to The Yearling as 

"truly great literature ... a minor American classic. "^^ 

Agnes Hclmquest categorized the novel as ". . .in the 


To M. K. R. from N. C. Wyeth, January 13, 1939. 

...,.,, '° '■^- ^- ^- f-'''-'^^ Donald C. Peattie, January ^8 

-""To M. K. R. from Ralph Prouty, August 9, 1944. 


characters the most famous in literature. 

I keep my own sacred 'hall of fame' 
of my favorite literary characters. I 
include Jean Valjean, Huck Finn, etc. 
Among my favorites are your ^ two charac- 
ters Penny and Jody Baxter. ^^ 

Tiie ability to transcend time limitations, to affect and 

appeal to people in a later time, was the focus of a 1943 


It must make you happy to realize 
that all over the world, perhaps for 
centuries of time, you may be affecting 
people's lives. 34 

So, then, did readers react to Marjorie Kinnan 
Rawlings' attempt to achieve the universal through general- 
ization of the particular by typifying those human emotions 
common to all people in all ages within a chosen character. 
A final letter from a thirteen-year-old boy who related 
directly to the story was indicative of Marjorie Kinnan 
Rawlings' degree of success. 

I always thought that Daddy liked 
the girls better than I. I suppose I 
didn't pay as much attention to Dad as 
the girls. When I began to read this 
book The Yearling of deep love between 
Penny and' Jody, father and son [sic]. 

■^"To .M. K. R. from Agnes Ilolmquest, July 22, 1958, 
^■^To M. K. R. from Ralph Prouty, August 9, 1944. 
■^''to M. K. R. from Letty Odgcrs, Auv.ust 30, 1943. 


He worked with his father and made over 
him. I think this book will start a^_ 
better love betv/een my father and I.^^ 

A third pattern of responses within the process 
of characterization tliat emerged was reaction to the 
characters functioning as cohesive units. As explained 
in Chapter II, the totality of character is achieved by 
the cohesiveness of action and plausibility of motivation; 
in other words, the characters do nothing in contradiction 
of their roles. 

Several letters addressed the unity of the novel 
by stressing the "perfection" they found ^^fithin it. Two 
readers responded to the author's ability in depicting 
"the mind and emotions as perfectly" as Marjorie Kinnan 
Rawlings had accomplished and also to her ability in taking 
"you inside the very heart of that perfectly real little 
boy." Another addressed the total harmony, for she wrote, 
"The whole thing seems quite perfect and I think you must 
be happy about it yourself.""^' Perhaps, though, the letter 

To }[. K. R. from Frank Kelly, January 29, 1939. 

To M. K. R. from Hubert Clark, October 21, 1938. 

To Rudolf iveaver from Grant Lafarge, May 24, 
1938, forwarded to M. K. R. and in Rawlings Collection. 

To M. K. R. from Esther Forbes Hoskins, July 14, 


^^To M. K. R. frovTi Bea H., April 28, 1939 


from ilariorie Douglas more succinctly expressed the unity 

she found within the novel: "It is ... so beautifully 

unified and sustained . "■^'" This harmony and unity resulted 

from adequate delineation of and reinforcement of character 

and it was to these that Hamilton Holt addressed his letter 

of 1958. 

. . . moved me so . . . I have never 
read such art in character delineation. 
You have made the characters speak for 
themselves and have never acted the part 
of the Greek Chorus in explaining them. 
How you entered into the heart of those 
people whose exteriors must be alien to 
you is . . . evidence of your genius. -^^ 

Perhaps the unity and the totality of the whole 

was best expressed by Robert Herrick, for he perceived 

The Yearlin g as "all of a piece — people, background, 

animals, woods, flowers, everything" all functioning as 

a cohesive unit. Thus did her readers respond not only 

to universality and true-to-life depiction, but also to 

unity within the process of characterization. 

Response to facts and details 

A second element of Marjorie Kinnan Fvawlings' 
theory of composition to which her readers responded was 


To M. K. R. from Marjorie Douglas, August 29, 

•^^To M. K. R. from Hamilton Holt, May 14, 1938. 

"^'Ho M. ;(. R. from Robert Herrick, May 14, 193S 


the use of facrs and details to achieve a sense of reality 
by which the effect of beauty was accomplished. A letter 
from the president of a local hunt club was attested to 
her accuracy of detail: "I congratulate you on your 
splendid descriptions of not only the Juniper County but 
your marvelous descriptive power of bear and deer hunt- 
ing." Her pleasure in receiving this letter ^^fas mani- 
fest in her reply: 

I trembled in my boots for fear the 
old guard hunters would find too many flaws. 
I'd rather please the people who kno^v that 
life and section than all NY Cities rolled 
together. 42 

Not only did the old guard respond to this accuracy, but 

also a zoologist from the Museum of Comparative Zoology in 

Cam>bridge, Massachusetts, as well as a nationally known 

naturalist. Hubert Clark, the zoologist, wrote: 

As a former boy and as a zoologist 
I take off my hat to you ... I am amazed 
at the accuracy of your natural history 
. . . Not once in reading The Yearling 
have I detected a careless or inaccurate 
statem.ent. Yet your descriptions of 
scenery, vegetation, animal life and a 
boy's reactions to them are simply de- 
lightful. 43 

"^■"■To M. K. R. from H. L. Nevin, May 26, 193S. 

"To H. L. Nevin from M, K. R., May 30, 1958, 
copy in Rawlings Collection. 

'^^To M. K. R. from Hubert Clark, October 21, 


The naturalist too added his ccngratLilations for accuracy 

of fact and detail: 

I might add, since it is in my line 
. . . few can stand up to Nature as you do. 
Fevv can look at it as it is. People play 
with its prettiness; they paint its colors, 
they read in it something that is not writ- 
ten there. You are a minute observer of 
Nature. . . . '• "^ 

Several other readers com.mented on the pleasure received 

from, "such a wealth of intimate detail" and the knowledge 

gained, for as one reader wrote, "I never had an idea what 

flowering Dogwood or Hemlock pines were like until reading 

The Yearling ." 

Thus did readers respond to the botanical details 
of the Florida Scrub, the agricultural information perti- 
nent to farming, the data important to the day-to-day 
existence, and the folklore that pervaded the lives of 
Florida Crackers; in other words, those facts and details 
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings utilized to infuse her writing 
with a sense of reality. 

Response to objec tivity;; 

A third element of Marjoris Kinnan Rawlings' 
theory of composition t:> which her readers responded was 

To M. K. R. from Donald Per.ttie, January 2S, 

^^To Rufolf Weaver from Grant Lafarge, May 24, 
l9^'/i, forwarded to .M, K. R. and in Rawlings Collection. 

To M. K. R. from Sigrid Undset, Jinuary 19, 1942 


the techniqii? of objectivity. Earliex", objectivity was 
defined as that quality within a literary work that may 
be understood as being independent from the emotional 
or personal sentiments of the author. Perhaps the letter 
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings received in 1938 most parallels 

the reader reaction with the definition when it praised 

the author for never becoming '"sappy." 

However, in a wore literary fashion, Hamilton 
Holt, the President of Rollins College in Florida, com.pli- 
mented Marjorie Kinnan Raivlings for "the art of creating 
subjective characters by objective descriptions."'^'' One 
reader wrote of her as "a conscientious reporter, under- 
standing, wise, and brave" i\[hom, another reader, found, 
gave a wealth of essentials but was never "obstrusive . " ^ 
So then did readers respond to Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' 
attempt to achieve objectivity in order to create a sense 
of actuality with which to communicate beauty to the 



^^To ^[. K. R. from Esther Forbes Hoskins, July 14 

'" To M. K. R. from Hamilton Holt, July 1, 1938 


To M. K. R. from Donald Peattie, January 28, 

To Rudolf Weaver from Grant Lafarge, May 24, 
1938, forwarded to M. K. R. and in Rawlings^Collect ion 


Response to simplicity 

A fourth eleiTient of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' 

theory of composition to which her readers reacted was 

simplicity, for she attempted an uncluttered, simple, 

writing style \v'hich v\ras determined by her goal of reality. 

To this simple style her readers responded, some in an 

explicit manner, others more subtlely. A service person 

in a Quebec hospital sometime during World Ivar II addressed 

the simplicity of language directly in his undated letter. 

People like you who write so simply, 
so close to the little people mean a great 
deal to people like us who live so close 
to the edge — we never know just what's 
over the edge. 49 

However, others were less explicit and a pattern of lan- 
guage emerged in which a number of letters referred to 
the simple people, the simple life, the simple background. 
This letter from Ralph Prouty exemplified the response: 

The grand thing is they are not spec- 
tacular persons who flash across the pages 
of literature like a comet, but plain, 
simple people. Simple they may be, but 
they are undoubtedly great. 50 

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings advocated use of short, 

almost blunt sentences if she were not to lose reality. 

On reader remarked that her language in The Yearling had 

'^^To M. K. R. from Perry Potter, undated. 

^^To M. K. R. from Ralph Prouty, August 9, 194. 


the attributes of a prov'erb — that is, a short pithy saying 
express irjg a truth or fact — for, as he wrote, "many words 
and sentences have become proverbial in our daily conver- 
sations." Such was typical of the response of her reader- 
ship to the simplicity that Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings had 
utilized in her attempt to communicate reality. 


Thus, the response of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' 
readers focused on the effect of beauty. However, beauty 
was communicated to the audience because they had perceived 
the reality Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings had produced, and it 
;vas from this created sense of reality that she was then 
able to effect in the reader the sense of beauty. The 
audience reaction to the created reality was reaction to 
the individual elements of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' theory 
of composition. Therefore, the response of her general 
readership to these individual elements of characterization, 
facts and details, and methodology, each contributed to 
the total response of the audience to the composition, 
that is, a response of beauty as perceived through these 
elements . 


Another source of information about reader response 

was Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' professional readership. 

Just as the letters of individuals served as an index of 

effectiveness, so likewise did the reviews by professional 

critics, who, through their experience with the craft and 

their knowledge of the genre, functioned as a valuable 

body of receivers. Tompkins, who also found this segment 

of the audience vital to rhetorical analysis, argued that 

though this "sizable important body of receivers who 

debrief themselves voluntarily" are 

. . . atypical of the average man 
audience . . . , on the basis of the two- 
step flow of communication and influence, 
their very eminence, their atypicality, 
makes them even more useful in rhetorical 

some ei 

is . . . They do, after all, have 
ffect on other receivers.^ 

Carpenter, in his study on the effectiveness of style, 

utilized fully the file o[' newspaper and periodical reaction 

Phillip Tompkins, "The Rhetorical Criticism of 
Non-Oratorical Works," Quarterly Journal of Si)eech , 5S 
(December, 1969), 438. 



in the Alfred Thayer Mahan Collection in the Library o£ 


Congress as a part of his investigation." In "The Rhetor- 
ical Criticism of Non-Oratorical Works ," Tompkins cited 
several other investigations of non-oratorical art forms 
in which the approach of debriefing critics was both valid 
and fruitful . "^ 

The Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Collection contains 
a substantial number of clippings housed in six large 
scrapbooks. These newspaper and periodical clippings \vere 
acquired from three sources: (1) the estate of Marjorie 
Kinnan Rawlings, (2) a compilation of clippings by Grace 
I. Kinnan and V/ilmer Kinnan, and (3) a compilation of 
reviews by Pat Smith, Director of Public Information at 
the University of Mississippi [although the Marjorie 
Kinnan Rawlings Collection provided no reason for this 
compilation or for tPie forwarding of these reviews by 

"Ronald Carpenter, "Alfred Thayer Mahan 's Style on 
Sea Power: A Paramessage Conducing to Ethos," Speech 

Monographs , 4 2 (August, 197 5), 192. 

William Jordan, "A Study of Rhetorical Criticism 
in the Modern Novel," Debut Paper, SAA Convention, 1967. 

Phillip Tomokins, "In Cold Fact," Esquire , 65 
(June, 1966), 125-127, 166-171. 

Patricia Weygandt, "A Rhetorical Criticism of 
of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." 'Jnpublished 
paper, 1969, Kent State University. 

Pat Sir.ith). The reviev;s and clippings from the Marjorie 
Kinnan FlaKlJags estate arc, in themselves, quite compre- 
hensive, for Sci ibner ' 5 had forwarded to her from its 
clipping services reviews pertaining to the publication of 
The Yearling . A survey of other periodicals of the period 
revealed that the Collection contained most of the reviews 
which the book provoked. 

All reviews and critical articles in the Collection 
related to The Yearling were examined; but the primary area 
of investigation covered the year of publication, 1938. 
Since few reviews extended beyond the fev\r months following 
publication, and successive reviews were often merely re- 
issues of previous ones, this period was considered most 
crucial. The newspaper and periodical files proved to be 
a generous sample of that important body of receivers who 
[according to Tompkins] "reveal their perceptions and value 
judgments of the art form under analysis." In the main 
these responses were positive, and although Marjorie Kinnan 
Rawlings had provided an explanation of the paucity of 

Scrapbooks; two leatherbound volumes compiled by 
Grace I. Kinnan and Wilmer Kinnan in the Marjorie Kinnan 
Rawlings Collection, University of F-'lorida Library. 

Scrapbooks; four volumes compiled by Pat Smith, 
Director of Public Information at University of Mississippi 
Rawlinys Collection, University of Florida Library. 

Clippings and newspaper materials, Rawlings Col- 
lection, University of Florida Library. 

Tompl'.ins. "The Rhetorical Criticism," p. •l.'S8. 


negative response on the part of her general readership, 
no such explanation v,as either offered or suggested for 
the dearth of negative criticism from her professional 
readers. Perhaps the prepublication announcement of a 
volume having been chosen the Book -of -the -Month Club 
selection was, in the late 1930' s, a type of literary 
intimidation. Nevertheless, the extensiveness of the 
newspaper and clipping file including not only the col- 
lection of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, her publisher and 
relatives, but also a voluminous compilation by the 
information officer at the University of Mississippi 
argued against the possibility of the deletion of negative 

Using the same criteria previously applied to the 
letters of the general readership, only those articles 
dealing specifically with areas of composition, or which 
indicated or implied relationship to language manipula- 
tion were utilized. Articles meeting these criteria were 
then catalogued to indicate recurring patterns. Thus, by 
analysis of the response of her professional readership 
through their reviev/s of The Yearlin g, as by the analysis 
of the response of her general readership in the preceding 
chapter, this chapter will attempt to establish other 
dimensions of the causal relationship between technique 
and effect. 


Professional Readership R esponse to 
Effect of Beautv 

In the summer of 193S, a reviewer wrote this of 
The Yearling : "The greatness of the book lies in its 
striking evocation of beauty." A thorough investigation 
of Marjorie Kinnan Rav.-lings' papers (as accomplished in 
Chapter Two) had revealed that her concept of beauty was 
the effect she attempted to comiaunicate to her audience. 
This review vvras just one of a number of professional 
articles that acknowledged that effect, thereby cor- 
roborating the responses of the general readership. 
Though the quality of beauty is both nebulous and subjec- 
tive, the utilization of the term by this and other pro- 
fessional readers seemed consistent. One professional 
reviewer was most articulate in expressing the resultant 
effect of beauty. In a newspaper article entitled, "Novel 
is Characterized by Beauty and Reality," Carl Roberts 
elaborated : 

One other thing incessantly forced 
its way into our minds — beauty. The word 
as applied to this story is not a static 
or une.xplainable thing, for you will find 
it wherever you go with Penny and Jody. 
It is alive ... It shows itself in 
tranquility in Jody's favorite haunts and 

Halfcrd Luccock, "Through the Novelist's Window," 
Yale Divinity School, Christendom, Summer, 193S, in scrap- 
books, Marjorie Kinnan"Rawlings Collection, University of 
Florida Librarv. 


the ver>- life of Jody ' s little friend . . . 
There is quiet beauty in Penny's philosophy, 
spiritual beauty ... in Penny's prayers 
. . . beautiful things. 7 

This was among the first reviews, for it was written only 

a few days after the novel's publication date of April 

1, 1938. This reviewer's involvement with the beauty 

communicated through Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' novel was 

by no m.eans unique, however, for other reviewers also 

immediately focused on this effect. 

Richard Daniel used a vocabulary similar so that 

by which Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings had defined beauty. 

It is Mrs. Rawlings' spiritual 
mystic insight into the unseen life in 
the forests and streams that lifts her 
book to new heights . . . She has found 
beauty in our backwoods and has preserved 
it for future generations to enjoy. ^ 

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings had included the spiritual 

heightening as a response to beauty, "an emotional reaction 

to an extent that we are conscious of a spiritual excite- 

ment." Also focusing heavily on the spiritual quality of 

beauty, another reviewer in Vermont reacted to The Yearling 

as capturing a "spiritual quality," for. 

' Dayton Ohio News , April 3, 1938. (Hereafter, 
unless otherwise stipulated, all references are from newspaper 
clippings from unnumbered scrapbooks in the Marjorie Kinnan 
Rawlings Collection, University of Florida Library.] 

Jac ksonville Florida Times Union , April 3, 1938. 

-'M. K. P., ''Lecture Notes on Creative Writing," 
Rawlings Collection, University of Florida Library. 


above and beyond the breathless beauty 
of its physical background and the stir- 
ring scenes m which the tale abounds, 
there is a spiritual meaning which gives 
the v\:hole narrative a special quality » 
and makes reading it a unique experience. 

So although they may have been using terminology with con- 
siderable potential for ambiguity, several reviewers even 
used some of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' own adjectives. 

Eleanor Follin praised both the spiritual and 
dramatic qualities in her 1958 newspaper article: "In 
The Year] ing one finds a spiritual quality which can never 
be forgotten, drama, conflict, tragedy, humor, and beauty."'^''" 
Follin was not the only critic to react to the dramatic 
aspect of beauty. Paul Oehser granted the novel "great 
beauty and dramatic process"; and Govan repeated the re- 
action of several of the general readership, stating that 
it was "a picture so dramatic, so utterly beautiful and 
sympathetic as to move one to tears." Continuing to 
address the dramatic quality of beauty, Wagner envisioned 
the book "mounting to its height of tragic beauty"; how- 
ever, Hoult best expressed the dramatic quality of beauty 
in the April 1, 1938 review. 

Eurlin g ton Vermont Xews , April 9 , 1 9 5 S . 

Winston Salem North Carolina Journal and Sentinel 

April 10, 1TI5T 

•Was hi 
Source unknown, April 10, 1958. 

^^Washing ton, D .C. Post, April 17, 1938 


But she has done more; she has taken 
us into a Floi'ida swamp, created human 
beings, made the struggle of the Baxters 
for a bare living as dramatic as good 
theater and invested the whole drama with 
a sense of true values and beauty which 
is rare for drama to give. 13 

Thus did several critics react to the dramatic quality of 
beauty within her novel. 

While citing beauty as the major effect, other pro- 
fessional readers liberally utilized the term throughout 
their reviev/s. Groverman Blake found the story "movingly 
[sic] v/ith freshness and beauty"; whereas another found The 
Yearling "recaptures the beauty which marked her first 
story"; while others reviewed the novel as "filled ^'/ith the 
wonder and beauty of nature." Additional examples of 
this reaction were Gladys Solomon who wrote of the novel 
as "tender and beautiful" or the A tlanta Journal^ reviewer 
xvho claimed Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings had "discovered 
beauty" or as several wrote quite simply, the novel was 
"beautiful." From these responses and reactions of her 

-'••^New York Mirror, April 3, 1938. 

New Y ork Sun , approxim.ately April 1, 1938. 


Cincinnati Ohio Times Star , April 6, 1938. 

S tar tVashington, D.C. , April 3, 1938. 
IVinston-Salem North Carolina Journal and Sentinel 

April 10, 1933 


xNew Haven Connecticut Register , April 10, 1958, 
A tlanta Geo rgia J ourna l, April 10, 1938. 
Source vsnknown, April 10, 1933. 
Yale Divinity School, Christendom, Summer, 193i 


professional readership, as well as those from her general 
readership as documented in Chapter Three, it is obvious 
that beauty had been corp.niunicated to these readers, for 
beauty, though an omnibus term, had been discussed by 
both sets of readers in a manner consonant with Marjorie 
Kinnan Rowlings' formulated goal. 

Responses Based Upon Per ception of Reality 

As a reviewer in the Chicago Journal Commerce 
wrote, "There is a beauty of absolute truth in this fine 
story . . . This idyll of the wilderness is completely 
beautiful and real." In so writing this critic had 
addressed that which was expressed earlier in Chapter 
Two, for in order that the reader see beauty as Marjorie 
Kinnan Rawlings had seen it, the author must formulate 
a reality for those forms of beauty which had stirred 
her and through this reality share that beauty with her 
reader. Through this created reality, she was then able 
to transmit to the reader a sense of beauty; i.e., beauty 
is the communicated effect and perception of reality a 
moans to express it. This reality was not simple fidelity 
to actuality as in newspaper reporting, but verisimilitude, 
or as she defined it, "the sense is the imaginative 

Chicago Journal Commerc e, ^prii 9, 195 'J 


av/areness of actu;.l ir^. "^ ' Like those previously noted 
from the general readership, the response from critics 
and reviewers indicative of their having perceived this 
created reality was ample. 

Critics reacted immediately to the "quality of 
verisimilitude," that is, the sense, of actuality. In 
reviewing The Yearling as "a real piece of life,""^^ a 
Washington, B.C. critic's response was quite similar to 
the reviewer who wrote, "the problems they face are real 
. . . [for] The Yearling emerges as an impressively true 
picture of a life that is hard."^^ Others wrote with an 
indication of their awareness of the use of verisimili- 
tude; Carl Robers wrote that the novel 

takes the reader to the 'Hammock' 
country of inland Florida. And that 
expression is not an idle one . . . 
you will actually live with them in the 
year of their lives which the story 
describes . ^0 

Butcher addressed also the sense of reality for she wrote 

^'- K. R. , "Facts, Verses, in Fiction." Notes 
-n Rawlmgs Collection, University of Florida Library. 


N ew York Sun , April 1, 19 53. 

19e. ,. , - 

b.- ar 'vasnmgton, D j^^ , April 3 , 1938. 

Ne^-vv Orleans Times Picayune , April 10, 1958. 
Djrv-t on Ohio News, April 5, 1958. 

] 13 

"one rarely meets people as simple and real as those on 

the primitive pine island vvhere its cliaracters live their 

lives."" These critics, as did the general readership, 

indicated by their response an awareness of the sense of 

reality that Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings was trying to 

create . 

Another group of critics, in a manner similar to 
that of the general readership, addressed not only the 
reality, but also the truth or honesty of her novel as 
a part of that reality, thereby seeming to equate and 
define the two conditions as one, Marjorie Kinnan Ravv'lings 
was defined as an "honest writer," for she "invested the 
whole drama with a sense of true values. "-" To others, 
the reality was heightened because the volume had "veracity' 
and "rings true at every point. """^ 

Two other critics viewed the created reality as 
a realistic study, perhaps perceiving Marjorie Kinnan 
Rawlings' writings almost as anthropological, like Margaret 

"^C hicago Tribune , April 9, 1938. 

^^ New York Post , Juno 10, 1938. 
New York Sun , April 1, 1958. 

^•^Ncw York World Telegram , April 1, 1938. 

Horschel Brickell, "Books on Our Tabic, Marjorie 
mnan Rawlinjis' Fine Novel," source unknown, undated. 


Mead's works on Samoa. Gladys Solomon cited the volume 
as "an excellent study of those people"; likewise, another 
critic conimented that "what results is a superbly realis- 
tic study . . ."" Though these professional reviewers 
did not seek the literal geographic location of the novel 
as had several of the general readership, both groups 
were parallel in their reactions. Such opinion on the 
part of her reviewers that the novel was in part nonfic- 
tion attested further to her success in achieving her 
goal, for they had indeed responded to the reality she 
had created. Altogether, these responses and reactions 
from both the critics and the general readership indicated 
that Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings had formulated a reality 
through which beauty had been communicated. 

Response to Individual Elements of Marjorie Kinnan Rawling: 
Compos ition 

Although these professional readers appeared to 
be responding to the created reality, they were reacting 
as well to the elements of composition by which it was 
achieved. A thorough investigation of professional reader 
ship responses within the Collection revealed a pattern of 
reactions to the various elements of Marjorie Kinnan 
Rawlings' theory of composition. 


N ew Haven Connectic ut Register , April 10, 1938. 

Toledo Ohio Blade , April 14, 1938. 

Response to the process of characte v iza t i o n 

The process of characterization was one element 
of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' theory of composition by 
which she attempted to create a reality for the reader by 
;vhich beauty might be conveyed. A principle of character- 
ization to which Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings adhered was that 
the characters were "true- to- life . " Although the characters 
in the novel may have som.e basis in observed reality, she 
felt that only by the infusion of the author's imagination 
could the characters achieve a sense of actuality, or 
verisimilitude, for the reader. 

Just as her general readership had attempted to 
identify those whom Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings had sup- 
posedly copied, some of her professional readers similarly 
decided the resultant "true- to-1 ife" characters were 

"neighbors and friends she had studied with care and 

^ 5 
affection."" Several critics labeled the character por- 
trayals "valid," "convincing," "accurate," or "true"; 
and Charles Poor's column in the New York Times best 
summarized the "true- to- 1 ife" effect of the characteriza- 
tions : 

All the people come vigorously to 
life. Her sensitively written accounts 
of his inner life, his private forays in 

^Record Philadelphia, April 2, 1938 


the country, his feelings of despondency 
or elation when things go right or wrong 
are beautifully done . . . All her char- 
acters are true. 26 

Poor's final statement was reflected in a substantial 

number of professional responses; two of these expressed 

the idea that "the people are real," and especially that 

1 7 
"his father and mother are real people."" 

Another pattern of professional response indicated 

that portrayals of "true- to-life" characters stemmed from 

the author's insight into human nature. Marjorie Kinnan 

Rawlings was reported as an author "who sees deeply into 

human hearts," thereby writing "a story everyone will 

2 8 
enjoy for its people are human. ..." In a review en- 
titled, "Graphic Characterization of People," another 
critic also addressed the ability of Marjorie Kinnan 
Rawlings to describe characters with accuracy and insight: 

1958 . 

Madison Wisconsin Journal , April 17, 1938. 
San Diego Sun , April 17, 1958. 
Tol edo Ohio Blade , April 14, 1958. 

'■) n 

'' ' New Orleans Times Picayune , April 10, 1958. 
Co_ld S prings New York News Re corder, April 14 


^ >'ew York Post, June 10, 1958. 

Fairfield California Republican , April 7, 1958 


Mrs. Rav;l ings has described them 
with the art of a great writer. She has 
sworn vvhen they swore, cried vs'hen they 
cried, laughed and talked only as these 
people could. ^^9 

Where her general readership had reacted on a inore personal 
level (identifying a local person, Mel Lang, as the charac- 
ter from whom she had copied Pa Baxter) and had established 
a more emotional relationship with the characters (being 
unable to decide whether they loved Penny or Jody more as 
well as weeping over the death of both Fodderwing and Flag) 
her professional readership had to a degree maintained a 
m.ore objective response to the characters. But to both 
these groups of readers, the characters in The Yearling 
were true- to-life . 

Another principle of characterization to which 
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings adhered was the portrayal of the 
major characters as representative of a fusion whereby the 
individual could function both as the particular and as 
the universal. A substantial number of her critics re- 
sponded to the universality of the characters. Though 
all re\;iewers were quite explicit in their reactions, 
Ruth Carter was most articulate: 

When a writer succeeds in making 
a sectional novel so universal that the 
people become man and women and young 
folks of all time, anywhere in the world 


San D i ego Sun , April 17, 1958. 


yet retain the flavoi- of their country, 
she has indeed transmuted words into 
art. This is what Marjorie Kinnan 
Rawlings has accomplished in The Yearling , 
a novel of the backwoods FloriHa region. oO 

Samuel Tupper found "almost every page sounds quite another 
note of universal recognition as Mrs. Rawlings touches the 
depths that lie below ordinary things." 

Extension of the time dimension as an element of 
universality was the focus of several critics. As men- 
tioned in Chapter One, iMarjorie Kinnan Rawlings saw herself 
as more than a regionalist writer. Halford Luccock de- 
scribed her novel as a "regional story . . . yet almost 
tim.eless and universal"; and affirming this critic, 
llerschel Brickell cited that "every line . . . lifts it out 
of the limitations of time and space into the higher 
realm of universal experience." " With reaction to the 
extension of the time param.eters, "t imelessness" became 
a common word in the reviews of The Yearling . The Toledo 
Blade called the novel "as timeless as the forests and 

At lanta Georgia Georgian , April 10, 1938. 

•^^Atlant a Geor g ia Journal , April 10, 1938. 


Yale Divinity School, Ch ristendom , Summer, 1938 

Brickell, "Books on Our Table." 


swamps it describes," whereas the Nevv York Herald Tribune 
called it simply, "the old timeless story . """'■^ 

To many of the professional critics as to many of 
the general readership, Jody was the generative source of 
universality, "for he is Everyboy and so touches in Every- 
man those lost portals of recall through which reality 

lingers but a moment and is gone forever." Several cited 

the novel as "a delicate picture of youth finding itself," 
"typical of all boys . . . [in] a universal springtime"; 
however, not just a joyous story, but also "the old time- 
less and oftimes tragic story of youth grown to m^aturity." 
That this was found to be the story of youth, personified 
through the character of Jody, vvas evidenced not only in 
the response of the general readers, but also in revieivs 
such as the following, which advised the public to "add 
Jody Baxter to your gallery of immortals, for he belongs 
with Huck Finn and all other real bovs." Another critic. 

•^•^ Tolcdo Ohio Blade , April 14, 1938. 

Ne w York Herald Tribune , April 5, 1938. 

•^^ New York Mirro r. April 3, 1938. 

Source unknown, April 10, 1938. 

Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal , April 10, 19 38. 

Cincinnati Times Star , April 0, 1938. 

New Ha ven Co n necticut Register , April 10, 1938 


Eleanor Foilin, also invested Jody with the universal 
qualities usually associated with other literary immor- 
tals, writing that he would "live forever in the hearts 
of all, as did Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.""^ A 
Connecticut critic added, "We are reminded at once of the 
Mark Twain boys, though the treatment is quieter and 
subtler at once."-^'^ The term, "classic," linking The 
Yearling with Kim, Green Mansions , Huckl eberry Finn, and 
Tom Sawyer , uas a continuous thread throughout the reviews. 
Lois Bennett Davis' review in the Macon Georgia Telegrap h 
summarized the reaction of the critics to the principle 
of universality for Jody functioned in the novel not only 
as a twelve-year-old Cracker boy, but also as a symbol 
of youth undergoing the rites of passage. 

The author has plumbed the depth 
of human misery and human need, but 
just as a Greek play leaves no place 
for wishful imagining so does this 
novel affirm the truth that life is 

Wi nston-Salem North C arolina Journal and Regis- 
ter, April 10, 1958. " — 


New Haven Connecticut Journal Couri e r , April 7 , 

Provide nce Rhode Island Journal , April 3, 1958 
New Y ork Wo r ld Telegram , April 1, 1958. 
Ch icago Daily Tribune , December 3, 1938. 
New- York Herald Tribune Books , April 3, 1958. 
Book- of- the -Mont h Club News, March, 1938. 


irrefutable, inexorable. Far more tha n 
a picture of life in inland Florida, ~ 
Jody's story touches the universal. 4o 

Thus, the reactions of the general readers and professional 
readers confirmed that the characters in The Year ling func- 
tioned on both the particular and universal levels. 

The final principles of characterization to vvhich 
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings adhered was unity as achieved by 
the cohesiveness of action, integration of characters, 
relationship to background, and plausibility of motivation. 
Thus, the characters functioned in no v^/ay contradictory to 
their roles. Various critics addressed the cohesiveness 
of the total novel and suggested several reasons that the 
novel had been as one stated, "given unity." For ex- 
ample, Samuel Tupper suggested that although "one waits 
intensely for the destroying false note, this note is 
never sounded ..." for there is "no artificiality, 
nor self-conscious folklore." " Several critics affirmed 
that which her general readership had stated; for these 
cited unity as a function of the cohesive interaction of 
character with the environment, since Marjorie Kinnan 
Rawlings "created characters who wero . . . living men and 


Macon Gcorsia Telegrap h , Ai:» r i 1 1 , 1 9 3 S . 


Charlotte North Carolina News , April 17, 1P3S 


A tlanta Georgia Journa l, April 10, 1938. 


women whose relationship to their particular environment 

was credible and natural." "^ The Tampa Morn ing Tribune 

called this harmony "a vivid perfect picture of the people 

and the pine xvoods." 

Frarces IVcodward mirrored the response of the 

general readers in this review which addresses the total 

unity depicted in the character of Jody through cohesive- 

ness of action and plausibility of motivation. 

Her Jody Baxter lives, a person 
within the boundaries of his own years 
and his oivn world . . . Even a Thoreau 
cannot report on the world outdoors as 
a child might. The naturalist sees only 
those things which concern his informed 
eye. To a child the barn and the wood- 
shed are as much a part of the natural 
workable landscape as the lizard under 
the log. Mrs. Rawlings has done a small 
miracle in that she knows this . . . she 
never once steps out of Jody's person- 
ality . . . She has captured a child's 
time sense in which everything lasts 
forever and the change of season takes 
him always unaware. "^^ 

Another reviewer confirmed Vvoodward's review of the total 

unity and harmony in characterization, for to this critic 

the people, the problems they face and the background 

"all are naturally intertwined . . ., the denouement is 

^•^Star V; ashington, D.C. , April 3, 1938 
'Tampa Morning Tribune, May 20, 1938. 

The Atlantic, undated, 


fitting, his return is as natuial as his running a'-vay. 
There is nothing iir.plausible about the whole bock." 
By these patterns of response, the professional readership 
reflected agreement with the general readership that Mar- 
jorie Kinnan Rawlings had communicated not only true-to- 
life depiction and universality, but also unity within 
the process of characterization. 

Response to facts and details 

A second element of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' 
theory of composition was her use of facts and details 
within the novel to communicate a sense of reality. Like 
her general readership, Rawlings' professional readers 
also responded favorably and commented on the accuracy 
of her descriptive powers. To her critics, the wealth 
of facts and detail, though substantial, never bogged 
down the novel but instead was an aspect of sustaining 
it. As one critic put it, "Mrs. Rawlings has written a 
fine poignant story . . . grounded on uncncyclopediac 
[sic] yet never merely academic knowledge of their way 
of life." Similarly emphasizing how Marjorie Kinnan 
Rawlings' details maintain the story, another critic wrote 

New Orleans umes ticayunc , April 10, 195S. 
New Haven Connecticut Journal Courier, April 7 



that, "It gets effects without [the details seeming to 

become mere] documentation"; for as still another critic 

explained : 

. . , detail is piled upon detail 
and incident upon incident with such 
cumulative purpose, that the reader 
knows the feel and sound of the country 
and identifies his experience with that 
of the Baxters. . . .^^ 

In his article entitled, " The Yearling is Refreshingly 

Pungent and Detailed," Charles Niles summarized several 

critics' perceptions concerning the heightened qualities 

accomplished by use of details: 

Nothing has escaped the author in 
her endlessly detailed picture, whether 
it be the whirring of frightened birds 
or the picturesque fluttermill. The 
same detail might seem wearisome reading 
at first, like tramping down tall grass 
to find clover, but The Yearling grows 
on one and the pungency . . . creates an 
impression that will not soon be erased 
from the memory. ^^^ 

To the majority of her critics, then, Marjorie Kinnan 

Rawlings' facts and details were not merely a parade of 

inf orm.ation , but a vital aspect of the novel. 

The range of both the professional and general 

readers' reaction to Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' use of 

facts and details was similar. Like one segment of her 

'' 8 

The _ A_ t If |Jilic__ _g o okshelf , undated. 

Macon Georgia Telegram , April 1, 19 38. 
^^Hartford Connecticut Times, Auril 9, 1958 


general readership, several critics seenied almost surprised 
by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' ability to use facts and de- 
tails. For example, "Mrs. Rawlings seems to knov; the 
country with amazing thoroughness," and she has "a rare 
gift for picturing animal life." One critic referred 
to Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' ability as "a natural gift," 
adding that she had knowledge of "the intimate affairs 
of Florida wildlife."^" Just as within the general 
readership wherein both a zoologist and a naturalist re- 
acted to Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings as a skilled, scientific 
professional observer of her environment, so too did a 
segment of her professional readership. That which had 
been referred to by some as "feeling" was to others "skill,' 
and that which had to some seemed "a gift" was seen by 
those critics as "result of keen observations . "~''' Within 
this scientific framework the novel was praised for the 
"obvious accuracy of its detail" from an author who 
"observes meticulously" and therefore, "the background is 

^^New York Times, April 1, 1938. 

Yale Divinity School, Christendom , Summer, 195S. 

Source unknown, April 10, 1938. 

Chicago Journal Commerce , April 9, 19 38. 
Cincinnati Enqu irer, April 7, 1938. 


faithfully recreated." '^ Much of the focus on this metiiod 
of observation v.'as concerned with Marjorie Kinnan Rav/lings' 
emphasis on precise detail. One critic referred to the 
"close observation" or "candid camera" focus on "detail"; 

this critic also noted the "intimate description of Pa 

Baxter's snakebite."" 

Response to objectivity 

A third element of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' 
theory of composition to which her professional readers 
responded was the technique of objectivity. In Chapter 
Two, objectivity had been defined as that effect evinced 
by a literary work when the writing is understood as 
being independent from the emotional or personal senti- 
ments of the author. A large segment of her professional 
readers responded to Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' objectivity. 
That her novel "never slips into sentimentality" ^<as 
echoed in tlie comments of critic after critic, one of whom 
stressed that "no sentimental bathos tarnishes" the novel, 
or as another stated, she was neither "pretentious nor 

•^ Record Philadelphia Pennsylvania , April 2, 1938 
New York Post , June 10, 1938. 

N ew Orleans Times Picayune , April 10, 1938. 
See also Herschel Brickell. 

'^Bocks and Bookmen, undated. 


sentimental . . . the story she tells clutches at your 
heart witl;out ever playing with banal seatinentalities . " 
Several other critics extended to include tliat "Mrs. 
Rawlings brought to it . . . her sympathetic understanding 
and as one critic described, "unhysterical judgment." 
These critics reacted to the author's "unflinching sincer- 
ity" and "fine sense of detachment" for Marjorie Kinnan 
Rawlings was an author who, as one critic commented, 
"never moralizes in the footnotes," or, as another wrote, 
"never stops to interpret." 

Both her professional and general readership re- 
acted similarly to Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' use of ob- 
jectivity; there was, however, a discrepancy in the per- 
centage of reaction. A substantial number of the profes- 
sional readers responded to her use of objectivity; 

"Brickell, "Books on Our Table." 
Cincinnati Times Star , April 6, 193S. 
Toledo Ohio Blade , April 14, 1938. 
Los Angeles Times , April 3, 1938. 

^^Source unknown, April 10, 1938. 
The Atlantic Bookshelf , undated. 

Atlanta Georgia Journal , April 10, 1938. 
Ne w York Herald Tribune books , April 5, 19 38 
New York Post , June 10, 1938. 
The Atlantic Bookshelf, undated. 


whereas the response from the general readership was less 
marked. Obviously, the professional readership, in their 
concern with the art form and their involvement in quali- 
tative evaluation, would be more likely to examine such a 
technique as objectivity. However, based upon both sets 
of responses, to these readers, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' 
use of objectivity xvas noticeably effective. 

Response to dialect 

A fourth element of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' 
theory of composition to ivhich her professional readers 
responded was the use of dialect to create a sense of 
actuality. Critics point out the novel was "couched in 
the rhythmic, homey accents of these woodland people," 

or quite simply stated without explanation or qualifica- 

tion that tlie novel was in dialect. Some critics, how- 
ever, carefully explained that the novel was "told in the 
racy idiom of the Florida Scrub," in, as Henry Canby 
added, "a racy dialeci; not overstressed and easy to 

follow," or according to Fanny Butcher, "written in dialect 

a racy, uncouth speech, full of vividness." Though some 



New Haven Connecticut Journal Courier , Ap r i 1 7 , 

Star Vv'ashingtpn, D.C. , April 5, 19 58. 

Yale Divinity School, Christendom , Summer, 1958 

Ch icago Illinois News , April 6, 1958. 
Book-of- the -Month Club News, March, 1958. 


critics, as noted, pi-ovided a simple description of the 
characters' dialect, others \vaxed poetical, for to another 
critic, "there is far more than convincing dialect to the 
things they say. The dialect of the soul is there." 

The colloquial speech of the people of the Florida 
Scrub was thus an effective means for Marjorie Kinnan 
Rawlings to create a vehicle of realism. More specific 
were critics like Hansen, who observed that "Its people 
speak arriusing dialect, but Mrs. Rawlings stops short of 
caricature." Another critic added, "The dialect does 
not degenerate into 'local color' language." "" Such state- 
ments may be seen as evidence that Marjorie Kinnan Rawl- 
ings' desire to avoid caricature in the use of dialect 
was accomplished. 

Providing reasons for their approval of Marjorie 
Kinnan Rawlings' use of dialect, several commented on the 
facility with which they were able to read it, for pre- 
viously, to many, literary dialect had been burdensome. 
For example, to the Chicago Journal Commerce critic, "even 
the dialect which is often so difficult to follow in 
ijovels made up entirely of dialect is so simple, here it 
becomes the only natural means of expression." "^ The 

M ilwaukee Wisconsin Journal , April 10, 1938, 
^^ New York World Telegr am, April 1, 197.8. 

Atlanta Georgia Georgian , April 10, 191^8. 
^^Ncw York Times, Anril 1, 1958. 


New York Tines critic was in agreement and also used the 

term "natural" to describe the dialect. 

Although ^v^e dislike dialect novels, 
the dialect in The Y earling is easy to 
understand and has its function. It is 
not hurled at the reader, rather it 
creeps over him so that he takes it in 
as naturally as he does the air of the 
Florida swamp. 65 

Mary Sheridan affirmed that the "dialect [was] easy to 
follow and . . . colorful and piquant as well." Edith 
Walton decided Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings had "a marvelous 
ear for the flavor of some cracker dialect [for it] m.akes 
one see and smell the lonely arid scrub." Charles Poore 
agreed, for as he observed, "the talk is well done. It 
begins by sounding like the stage's hillbilly dialect. 
And yet page after page or two it is natural." ' Perhaps 
these reactions to Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' use of dia- 
lect were best summarized by Pauline Corley who wrote, 
"The dialect is absolutely right." 

Though the professional readership responded to 
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' use of dialect, investigation of 


Cold Springs New York News Recorder , April 14 

M adison iVisconsin Journal , April 17, 1938. 
Nev; York H eral d Tribune , Ap r i 1 3 , 1 9 3 S . 
^'"^Miami Herald, April 24, 1938. 


rhe general readership in the prev"ious chapter found no 
response to this facet of her concept of style. Hovv-ever, 
the reviews from the professional readership may provide 
insight into the lack of response from the other segment 
of readers, for the very "naturalness," "simplicity," 
"facility," and "readability" upon which these critics 
commented and to which they reacted would offer explana- 
tion for the dearth of comment from the general readership 
Apparently the dialect blended and melded so well into the 
perceived reality of the novel that it passed unnoticed. 
Although one can only speculate upon the reason for the 
omission of direct reaction to dialect on the part of the 
general readership, the reviews from the professional 
readership indicated that to them reality had been created 
in part by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings through the use of 

Response to simplicity 

The fourth element of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' 
theory of composition to which her professional readers 
responded was her use of simplicit)-, for according to an 
interview, she felt that to complicate tlie text with 
superfluous elements would result in a mockery of reality. 
Several of the critics addressed the general simplicity 
of the novel. Por example, the Tampa Tribune stated, 
"the novel is simply great and greatly simple," or as the 


Wisconsin State Journal put it, The Y e arling is "presented 

without artificiality." 

Other critics were quite explicit in their comments. 

Addressing specifically the simplicity of content in The 

Yearlin g, some critics focused on the background. Norah 

Hoult indicated the effect of the novel stemmed from the 

simplicity of the background for the quality and beauty 

of the novel came "out of the simplest and most fundamental 

material." Similarly, Groverman Blake wrote in the 

Cincinnati Ohio Times that the quality of the novel was 

evoked from "her use of simple homey things": 

the hoeing of cow peas, the excitement of 
the hunt, the feel of spring in the air, 
a sudden never to be forgotten glimpse 
of cranes dancing in the forest. . . .^^ 

In a review that attempted to explain the characters in 

the novel, Henry Canby called The Yearling "a simple story 

of simple, but by no means incomplex people." " Continuing 

in the area of simplicity of context. The New York News 

Recorder ' s critic reacted to "the narrative with no involved 

plot" which the reviewer in the Ohio Blade cited as a major 

reason for the simplicity of the novel, for "no formal 


Tampa Morning Tribune , May 2 0, 1938. 

Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal , April 10, 19 38 

N ev/ Yor k Sun, April 1, 1938. 

7 1 

Cinc innati Times Star , April 6, 193 8. 

'^"Bock-of-the-Month Club News, March, 1933. 


plot disturbs the magnificent simplicity of this novel." "^ 
One reviewer stated flatly and briefly, "The plot is very 
simple."' A Chicago Journal Commerce critic responded 
to the simplicity of dialect (an aspect of her theory of 
composition addressed earlier in this chapter): "the 
dialect is so simple here, it becomes the only natural 
means of expression." TJius a substantial number of her 
professional critics responded to the element of simplicity 

In contrast to the perceived simplicity of the 
plot and content, another group of professional readers 
focused on Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' simplicity of vv'riting 
technique. One critic in 1938 perceived the inherent 
restraint of style (of vv^hich Mariorie Kinnan Rawlings was 
later to speak to her class in her 1940 lecture), stating, 
"no trite cliche mars her perfect prose ... no garish 
touches spoil her flawless sense of color." Another 
reviev/ which seemed to parallel Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' 
intent was that of Ernest Meyer, who wrote that she was 
"a writer who observes meticulously, yet never weights 


Cold Springs New York News Recorder , April 14 
T oledo Ohio Blade , April 14, 19 38. 
^ Book-of-the-Month Club News , March, 1938. 
Chicago Journa] Commerce , April 9 , 19 5 8. 
Cincinnati Ohio Times Sta r, April 6, 1938. 


the text with wooden details."' Another critic wrote 
"The effect [of The Yearling ] is achieved not so much by 

the plot of the book as by the author's simple but beauti- 

ful prose. . . ." While Lois Bennett Davis complimented 

the simplicity of comiposition in that "the narrative un- 
folds so quietly and easily," other critics narrowed the 
narrative effect to "the utmost simplicity of style and 

structure" or to "the grace and clarit)' of the style and 

the simplicity of the story." Specifically, in this 

area of technique, one reviewer responded to the sentences 

in a manner affirming Marjorie Kinnan Rav;lings' previously 

stated intent; for the critic observed, "It is written 

in deMaupassant sentences — short, simple, clear, many 

less than a line long." As indicated in Chapter Two, 

Marjorie Kinnan Raivlings had stated in a lecture, "it is 

necessary to use short, alm.ost blunt sentences if I am 

8 1 
not to lose reality." Margaret Mitchell forwarded to 

^^ New York Post , June 10, 1938. 

7 8 

Source unkncv;n, April 3, 1938. 


Macon Georgia Telegraph , April 1, 1938, 

Author unknown, "Pulitzer Prize Novel to be Pre- 
sented in Post , " New York Post , June 1, 1938. 

Cincinnat i En c aiir e r , Ap r i 1 7 , 193 8. 


Jacksonvil l e Flor i da Time s Union , April 3, 1938. 

M. K. R., "Creative Writing." In Rawlings Col- 
lection, University of Florida Library. 

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings an undated reviev; by Virginia 
Pohil Purvis, and though the origin of this newspaper 
clipping is not known, perhaps it best summarizes the 
reactions of many of the professional critics: "I think 
I never read a book tl^at seemed more simple and yet indi- 
cated so much." 

The reactions of her professional readership thus 
were in harmony with the response of her general readership 
for according to the reactions of both, Marjorie Kinnan 
Rav/lings had created a reality, using simplicity as one 
aspect of her concept of style, in order to communicate 
to her audience that sense of beauty she felt v\:as the hall- 
mark of an artistic work. 


Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' professional readership 
reacted to the individual elements of her theory of compo- 
sition, with fevv- exceptions, in a manner quite in accord 
with her general readersliip. Similarities between both 
sets of readers were found. In dealing with the elements 
of characterization— inc luding true-to-lifc depiction, 
unity, and universality — as well as with the element of 
facts and details, her general readership tended to re- 
spond in a more personalized or subjective manner, as 
opposed to the more objective manner of her professional 
readers. With elements involved in her concept of style— 


simplicity, objectivity, and dialect — the reactions of 
the professional readers indicated a greater involvement 
with the genre and the techniques of the craft, especially 
in the area of dialect, than her general readership. 

Thus the response of the professional receivers 
to the elements Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings used to create a 
reality, as v;ell as their positive response to the communi- 
cated beauty for which that reality was the literary 
vehicle, are both indicative of her success in achieving 
her predetermined goal. T?ie ambiguity of such a concept 
as beauty notwithstanding, the debriefing of the profes- 
sional readership reveals that this audience — as did the 
general readership— perceived the created reality in a 
manner colinear vvith the author's intent and their response: 
revealed that beauty corresponding to that definition set 
forth in Chapter One was the communicated effect. 


S ummary 

In summary, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings wrote The 
Yearling with a preset concept of effectiveness. As 
evinced by. her personal papers, a theory of effectiveness 
vi^as basic to her attempt to communicate the effect of 
beauty to her readers. This theory of composition, based 
upon the creation of a sense of reality which she believed 
necessary in order to communicate beauty, incorporated the 
process of characterization which included true-to-life 
depiction, universality, and unity; use of facts and de- 
tails; and the use of objectivity, simplicity, and dialect 

Her general readership vv-as apparently influenced. 
As they addressed the individual elements of her theory 
of composition, their letters indicated many responded 
as Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings had intended. For example, 
in seeking the geographic reality of the novel, readers 
wrote not only asking specific directions to the land now 
identified as "The Yearling Country," but also locating 
points within it, like, "the exact spot . . . that 'Die 



Slew Foot' crossed Jur.iper." The specific passage to 

which this reader referred described the attempt of th' 

besr to escape Jody and Penny. 

The bear moved '.vith incredible speed. 
He crashed through thickets that slowed 
the dogs. He was like a steamboat on the 
river, and the dense tangle of briers and 
thorny vines and fallen logs was no more 
than a fluid- current under him. Penny 
and Jody were sweating. Julia gave tongue 
vvith a new note of desperation. She could 
not gain. The swamp became so wet and so 
dense that they sank in muck to their boot- 
tops and must pull out inch by inch, with 
no more support perhaps than a bull-brier 
vine. Cypress grew here, and the sharp 
knees v/ere slippery and treacherous. Jody 
bogged down to his hips. Penny turned back 
to give him a hand. Flag had made a circle 
to the left, seeking higher ground. Penny 
stopped to get his wind. He was breathing 

He panted, "He's like to give us the 

When his breath came more easily, he 
set out again. Jody dropped behind, but 
across a patch of low hammock found better 
going and was abie to catch up. The growth 
was of bay and ash and palmetto. Hummocks 
of land could be used for stepping stones. 
The water between was clear and brown. 
Ahead, Jjlia bayed on a high long note. 

"Hold him, gal! Hold him!" 

The growth dissolved ahead into grasses. 
Through the opening old Slewfoot loomed 
into sight. He was going like a black 
'whirlwind. Julia flashed into sight, a 
yard behind him. The bright swift waters 

To M. K. R. froia H. L. Nevin, March 26, 19 j8, 
.awlines Collection, Universitv of Florida Library, 


of Salt Springs Run shone beyond. The bear 
splashed into the current and struck out 
for the far bank. Penny lifted his gun and 
shot twice. Julia slid to a stop. She sat 
on her haunches and lifted her nose high in 
the air. She wailed dismally, in misery 
.and frustration. Slevvfoot was clambering 
out on the opposite shore. Penny and Jody 
broke through to the lovv' wet bank. The 
black rounded rump was all that was visible. 
Penny seized Jody's muzzle-loader and fired 
after it. The bear gave a leap. 

Penny shouted, "I teched him!" 

From this passage, one reader was motivated to seek the 

specific geographic location. 

Responding to true-to-life depiction, some of her 

readers wept over the characters as though they were 

human beings. One reader who cried over the death of 

Fodderwing was perhaps reacting to this segment from the 

novel : 

Fodder-wing lay with closed eyes, small 
and lost in the center of the great bed. 
He was smaller than when he had lain sleep- 
ing on his pallet. He was covered with a 
sheet, turned back beneath his chin. His 
arms were outside the sheet, folded across 
his chest, the palms of the hands falling 
outward, twisted and clumsy, as in life. 
Jody was frightened. Ma Forrester sat by 
the side of the bed. She held her apron 
over her head and rocked herself back and 
forth. She flung down the apron. 

She said, "I've lost my boy. My pore 
crookedy boy." 

Charles Sc 

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, The Yearl ing (New York: 
cribner's Sons, 195«) , p. TTCT 


She co\'ered herself again and swayed 
froifi side ro side. 

She moaned, "Tlie Lord's hard. Oh, the 
Lord ' s hard ." 

Jody wanted to run away. The bony face 

on the pillow terrified him. It was Fodder- 
wing and it was not Fodder -wing. Buck drew 
him to the edge of the bed. 

"He'll not hear, but speak to him." 

Jody's throat worked. No words came. 
Fodder-wing seemed made of tallow, like a 
candle. Suddenly he v.'as familiar. 

Jody whispered, "Hey." 

The paralysis broke, having spoken. 
His throat tightened as though a rope 
choked it'. Fodder-wing's silence was in- 
tolerable. Now he understood. Tliis was 
death. 2 

Other readers were aware of the universality, for they 
wrote that the novel was "so much more than a story for 
its insight into common human nature." The third aspect 
in the process of characterization by which they were in- 
fluenced was that of unity, and several comm.ents of the 
general readers were to the perfection and harmony of The 
Y earling for the novel was "all of a piece — people, back- 
ground, animals, woods, flowers, everything." 

^Ibid. , p. 2 03. 

■''to M. K. R. from Felix Schnelling, May 27, 193; 
in Rawlings Collection, University of Florida Library. 

^To M. K. R. from Robert Herrick, May 14, 1938, 
in Rawlings Collection, University of Florida Library. 


The letter citing ?!a.r; orie Kinn:in Rawlings as a 
"minute observer of Nature" but one sample of how her 
readers perceived her use of facts and details. Those 
responses provided no indication, however, that the general 
readership was influenced by the element of dialect so 
basic to her theory of composition. One possible explana- 
tion for the silence on the part of the general readers 
was found in the continual reference by the professional 
readers to the "naturalness" of the dialect or to the 
facility with which it was read. Thus, in not reacting, 
the general readership may have overlooked this element of 
her theory of composition because another element was 
functioning even stronger; and this second element, sim- 
plicity, perhaps negated the recognition of dialect for 
some of her readers. 

Her use of objectivity as an element of composi- 
tion to create a specific effect seemed to be successful, 
for as one reader wrote, she vv-as "never obtrusive." 
And finally, dealing with her use of simplicity, this let- 
ter from a service person in a Quebec hospital was an 
example of her success: "People like you wlio write so 
simply, so close to the little people mean a great deal 

^To M. K. R. from Donald Peattie, January 2S, llUO, 
in Rawlings Collection, University of Florida Library. 

^To Rudolf Weaver from Grant Lafarge, May 24, 1938, 
forwarded to M. K. R. and in Rawlings Collection, University 
of Florida Library. 



to people like us who live so close to the edge." Thus, 

the respon.'ses from her general readership tended to con- 
firm that for these readers, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings 
accoraplished her predetermined goal. 

Her professional readership also was influenced 
positively, for their reviews also responded to the vari- 
ous elements of Marjorie Kinnan Rav;lings' theory of compo- 
sition as she had intended. Though the range and degree 
of reaction to these elements was similar to the general 
readership's, the professional readership was, in general, 
more explicit, articulate, and judgmental, perhaps reflect- 
ing their greater experience with and deeper perception of 
the art form under analysis. One reviewer indicated a 
sensitivity not only to the general effect of beauty but 
also to the perception of reality which Marjorie Kinnan 
Rawlings had utilized as a means of attaining tliat effect: 
"There is a beauty of absolute truth in this fine story 

. . . This idyll of the wilderness is com.pletely beauti- 

ful and real."' Another, addressing true-to-life depic- 
tion in the process of charac cerization , complimented 
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings as a great writer for "She has 
sworn v/hen they swore, cried Vv,rhen they cried, laughed and 

To M. K. R. from Perry Potter, undated, in Rawlings 
Collection, University of Florida Library. 

Chicago Journal Commerce , April 9, 1938, m 
Railings Collection. 

talked only as these people could.""'" Reacting to the 
second aspect of characterization, universality, many 
critics responded as one did, labeling the novel "time- 
less"; or as another pointed out, more poetically, "every 
line . . . lifts it out of the limitations of time and 
space into the higher realms of universal experience." 
Indicative of the professional leadership's awareness of 
unity within the novel was the reviewer who noted that 
the people, the world they inhabit, the problems they 
face, "all are naturally interti^ined . . . there is nothing 
implausible about the whole book." "■ Another cited Jody's 
decision to return home as an element of unity. 

A memory stirred him. He had come here 
a year ago, on a bland and tender day. He 
had splashed in the creek water and lain, 
as now, among the ferns and grasses. Some- 
thing had been fine and lovely. He had 
built himself a flutter-mill. He rose and 
moved with a quickening of his pulse to 
the location. It seemed to liim that if he 
found it, he would discover with it all 
the other things that had vanished. The 
flutter-mill was gone. The flood had 
washed it away, and all its merry turning. 

San Diego Sun , April 17, 1938, in Rawlings 
Col lect Lon'. 

Yale Divinity School, Christendom , Summer, 1938, 
in Rawlings Collection, University of Florida Library. 

Herschel Brickell, "Books on Our Table, Marjorie 
Kinnan Rawlings' Fine Novel," source unknown, undated, in 
Rawlings Collection, University of Florida Library. 

New Orleans Tiine^ Picayune, April 10, 1938, 
in Rawl ing"s Col l o '■•"< 'T ' " ,''^i * v": "f- ^-' '> v of Florida Library. 


He thou;jht stubbornly, "I'll build me 
another. " 

He cut t\/igs for the supports, and the 
roller tc turn across them, from the wild 
cherry tree. He whittled feverishly. He 
cut strips from a palmetto frond and made 
his paddles. He sunk the up-rights in the 
stream bed and set the paddles turning. 
Up, ov-er, dovm. The flutter-mill was turn- 
ing. The silver v/ater dripped. But it 
was only palmetto strips brushing the water. 
There was no magic in the motion. The 
flutter-mill had lost its comfort. 

He said, "Play-dolly " 

He kicked it apart with one foot. The 
broken bits floated down the creek. He 
threw liimself on the ground and sobbed 
bitterly. There vr^as no comfort anyxvhere. 

There was Penny. A wave of homesickness 
washed over him so that it was suddenly in- 
tolerable not to see him. The sound of his 
father's voice was a necessity. He longed 
for the sight of his stooped shoulders as 
he had never, in the sharpest of his 
hunger, longed for food. He clambered to 
his feet and up the bank and began to run 
down the road to the clearing, crying as he 
ran. His father might not be there. He 
might be dead. With the crops ruined, and 
his son gone, he might have packed up in 
despair and moved away and he would never 
find him. 

He sobbed, "Pa— Wait for me." 

The comments of this reviewer concerning unity were, in 

part, based upon the above passage. 

Another compositional element by v;hich Marjorie 

Kinnan Raw! ings influenced her readership was that of facts 

"^Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, The Yearlin; 


and details; for as one critic noted, "Nothing has escaped 

the author in her endlessly detailed picture. . . ." 

One re\^ie'.%'er wrote how he was influenced by the use of 

facts and details in the narration of Penny's snakebite. 

Penny stopped short. There was a stir- 
ring ahead. A doe-deer leaped to her feet. 
Penny drevsr a deep breath, as though breath- 
ing were for some reason easier. He lifted 
his shotgun and leveled it at the head. It 
flashed over Jody's mind that his father 
had gone mad. This was no moment to stop 
for game. Penny fired. The doe turned 
a somersault and dropped to the sand and 
kicked a little and lay still. Penny ran 
to the body and drew his knife from its 
scabbard. Now Jody knew his father was 
insane. Penny did not cut the throat, but 
flashed into the belly. He laid the car- 
cass wide open. The pulse still throbbed 
in the heart. Penny slashed out the liver. 
Kneeling, he changed his knife to his left 
hand. He turned his right arm and stared 
against the twin punctures. They v/ere now 
closed. The forearm was thick-swollen and 
blackening. The sweat stood out on his 
forehead. He cut quickly across the wound. 
A dark blood gushed and he pressed the warm 
liver against the incision. 

He said in a hushed voice, "I kin feel 
it draw " 

He pressed harder. He took the meat away 
and looked at it. It was a venomous green. 
He turned it and applied the fresh side. 

He said, "Cut mc out a piece o' the 
heart . " 

Jody jumped from his paralysis. He fum- 
bled with the knife. He hacked away a por- 
t ion. 


Hartf ord Con necticut T imes , April 9, 1938, 

in Rawliagi~ir6TIectxon, Trrriversity of Florida Library 


Pennv said, "Another." 

He changed the application again and 

He said, "Hand me the knife." 

He cut a higher gash in his arm where 
the dark swelling rose the thickest. Jody 
cried out. 

"Pa! You'll bleed to death!" 

"I'd ruther bleed to death than swell. 
I seed a man die " 

• The sweat poured down his cheeks. 

"Do it hurt bad, Pa?" 

"Like a hot knife was buried to the 
shoulder . "15 

It was the above-cited passage to which the reviewer re- 
ferred when complimenting and reacting to Marjorie Kinnan 
Rawlings' use of facts and details. 

As previously explained, perhaps the concern of 
the critics with facets of style was a function of their 
professional involvement with the craft, for they responded 
incisively to her use of objectivity, dialect, and sim- 
plicity. V/hile working on The Yearling , in 1956, Marjorie 
Kinnan Rawlings had v/ritten to her editor at Scribner's, 
Maxwell Evart Perkins, that though the story of the novel 
"may sound sentimental ... I shall be careful never to 

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, The Yearling , pp. 146- 


sentimentalize." In a later letter to Maxwell Perkins, 
continuing to refine her concept of objectivity, she added 

that she hoped to "visualir.e people . . . almost you might 

1 7 
say v^ith divine detachment." The reaction of her critics 

to this objectivity attested to her achievement of this 
goal, for they addressed not only "iier fine sense of de- 
tachment," but also the fact that she "never slips into 

1 8 

As an example of the reaction to Marjorie Kinnan 
Rawlings' use of dialect, one critic wrote "the dialect 
. . . is so simple here it becomes the only natural means 
of expression." Simplicity, the third facet of her con- 
cept of style and last element of her theory of composi- 
tion, proved successful, for as one critic wrote, the 
quality and beauty of the novel come "out of the simplest 

To Maxwell Evart Perkins from M. K. R., undated, 
approximately October, 1936, in Rawlings Collection, Uni- 
versity of Florida Library. 

^ To Maxwell Evart Perkins from M. K. R. , Febru- 
ary 11, 1934, in Rawlings Collection, University of Florida 
Library , 

^^Xew York Herald Tribune Bo oks, April 3, 193S, 
in Rawl ings CoTTection,~lJnivers ity of Florida Library. 

Herschel Brickell, "Books on Our Table, Marjorie 
Kinnan Rawlings' Fine Novel," source unknown, undated, in 
Rawlings Collection, University of Florida Library. 

1 9 

Chic ago Jou rnal Co mmerce , April 9, 1938, in 

Rawlings Collection, UnTverslty ot Florida Library. 


and most fundamental material,'' or as another explicitly 
stated, "the hoeing of cow pea5, the excitement of the 
hunt, the feel of spring in the air."" Similarly, several 
reactions emphasized "the utmost simplicity of style and 
structure," for as one critic observed , "The effect is 

achieved not so much by the plot of the book as by the 

author's simple but beautiful prose. . . ." Thus did 

these professional critics substantiate the success of 
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' implementation of her theory 
of composition. 

Precisely v\'hich passages in The Yearling did the 
professional and general readers have in mind when respond- 
ing to the various elements of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' 
theory of composition? Perhaps a passage which had been 
referred to by some readers can be illustrative of several 
of these elements, especially the modes of expression: 
objectivity, simplicity, and dialect. In the following 
selection from a closing chapter of the novel, a year has 
passed since the boy, Jody, built his flutter-mill at the 

Ne w York Sun , approximately April 1, 1938, in 
Ra\vlings Collection, University of Florida Library. 

C incinnati Ohio Times Star , April 6, 19 38, in 
Rav;lings Collection, University of Florida Library. 

New York Post, June 1, 1938, in Rawlings Col- 
lection, University ot "Florida Library. 

Untitled nev;spaper article. April 3, 1938, in 
Rawlings Collection, Universitv of Florida Library. 


sprirxg. His pet deer, Flag, has grown to be a yearling 

and has, no matter what desperate measures Jody has taken 

to the contrary, partially destroyed the Baxters' young 

crop. To save the family from the threat of starvation, 

Ma Baxter has been forced to shoot the deer; but she has 

only wounded it and Jody now must complete the task. 

He turned on his father. 

"You went back on me. You told her to 
do it." 

He screeched so that his throat felt 

"I hate you. I hope you die. I hope 
I never see you again." 

He ran after Flag, whimpering as he 

Penny called, "He'p me, Ory. I cain't 
git up " 

Flag ran on three legs in pain and ter- 
ror. Twice he fell and Jody caught up 
to him. 

He shrieked, "Hit's me! Hit's me! 

Flag thrashed to his feet and was off 
again. Blood flowed in a steady stream. 
The yearling made the edge of the sink- 
hole. He wavered an instant and toppled. 
He rolled down the side. Jody ran after 
him. Flag lay beside the pool. Fie opened 
great liquid eyes and turned them on the 
boy with a glazed look of wonder. Jody 
pressed the muzzle of the gun barrel at 
the back of the smootli neck and pulled 
the trigger. Flag quivered a moment and 
then lay still. 

Jody threw the gun aside and dropped 
flat on his stomach. He retched and vom- 
ited and retched again. He clawed into 


the earth with his f ir.ger-nails . He beat 
it with his fists. The sinkhole rocked 
around him. A far rcr.ring became a thin 
humming. He sank into blackness as into 
a dark pool . 22 

This was one excerpt froi.i The Ye arling , typical of the work 
to v;hich the readers responded. Thus, according to those 
responses investigated, both her general and professional 
readers corroborated that Marjorie Rinnan Rawlings accom- 
plished her purpose as intended. 

Regionalism v;as the literary vehicle Marjorie 
Kinnan Rawlings chose for her novel, and in so doing, she 
responded rhetorically to what Bitzer would call an 
exigence, in accordance with the constraints of her per- 
sonal theory of communication. Regionalism, at that point 
in history, served as a response to a crisis; that is, the 
untenable situation of a population in the midst of 
society's ills during the Depression-— with the city as a 
symbol of those ills. Her writing had as its purpose the 
com.munication of the beauty which Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings 
found in the Big Scrub country and its people, and by 
extension, of humanity in harmony with the environment. 
That Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' purpose v.-as effectively 
achieved has been borne out in this and previous chapters; 
that this purpose vvas rhetorical in nature is evidenced 

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, The Yearling , p. 410 


by the successful accomplis'nment of the author's predeter 
nined goal. 


In achieving such effectiveness with language, 
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings seems to fulfill Kenneth Burke's 
concept of the rhetor as one \\?ho "used language in such 
a way," based upon her preset concept of effectiveness, 

"as to produce a desired impression," that being the 

effect of beauty, "upon the hearer or reader."" For as 

Wayne Booth argued in The Rhetoric of Fiction , a novelist, 
whether realizing it or not, and therefore with suasory 
intent or not, performs a rhetorical function." Another 
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings scholar addressed the merging of 
these two great modes of discourse, for to Bigelow, all 
attempts to discriminate between the literary and the 
rhetorical have been unsatisfactory. So, too, has Barnet 
Baskerville, speaking to the direction of rhetorical criti- 
cism, noted that: 

2 ^ 
'Kenneth Burke, C un t e r - S t a t em e n t (New York: 

Harcourt, Brace, 1931), p~.~2 6 5 . 

^"^iv'ayne Booth, The Rhetoric o F F iction (Chicago: 
University of Chicago Press, 19G1J , p. 14y . 

Gordon Bigelow, "Distinguishing Rhetoric from 
.f'oetic Discourse," in Contemporary Rhe to ric , cd . Douglas 
.f-hninger (G)envicv/, 111 inois : Scott, Fb'resman and Co., 
1972) , pp. 87-88. 


This blurring o£ old distinctions, 
this extension of the terms 'rhetoric' and 
'rhetorical,' has obvious iinplications for 
criticism. Where Wichelns once protested 
against the literary criticism of oratory, 
we now enthusiastically advocate the rhe- 
torical criticism of literature . 26 

The present study into the rhetorical effectiveness of a 

novel, operating from the perspective advanced by Tompkins, 

pursued the functional as opposed to the structural approach, 

for it has been asking the functional question, "How do 

sender, message, and receiver interact in concrete, veri- 


fiable ways?"" With few exceptions, according to Tomp- 
kins, rhetorical studies have tended to deal with the 

structural school of criticism, being interested mainly 

7 8 
in the text or message variables." However, this study, 

though concerned with the structure, x-zent beyond it and 

sought, "in addition, the im.pact of that structure upon 

receivers." Only by accomplishing this can "we explicate 

a specific attempt to adjust ideas to people and people to 

Barnet Baskerville, "Rhetorical Criticism 1971: 
Retrospect, Prospect, Introspect," Quarterly Journal of 
Speech , 37 (Winter, 1971), 115. 


Phillip Tompkins, "The Rhetorical Criticism of 

Non-Oratorical Works," Quarterly Journal of Speech , 55 

(December, 1969), 438, tW. '' 

"^Ibid. , p. 438. 


-■'Ibid. , p. 439. 


ideas. ""^' The very title of the Tonpkins article, "The 
Rhetorical Criticism of Non-Oratorical U'orks," was sug- 
gestive of the emerging body of research that advocated 
a rhetorical approach to literature. As Baskerville noted, 
this emerging rhetorical approach places "an emphasis upon 
the persuasive element in poetry [and other types of liter- 
ature] and upon the part played by the 'audience.'"'^ 

Earlier discussion elaborated upon the discourse 
of literary authors fitting the rhetorical paradigm of 
"a mode of altering reality," since literature often func- 
tions either as a reflection of or a reaction to a situa- 
tion, thereby providing the audience with the means to 
escape from or modify the exigence which generated the 
discourse, or to accept the influence of the exigence. " 
Ernest Bormann, in "Fantasy and Rhetoric Vision: The 
Rhetorical Criticism of Social Reality," provides insight 
into such rhetorical effectiveness of a novel. Though 
for the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' novel studied, the 
ultimate effect the author intended to communicate to 

^"^Ibid. , p. 439 


Baskerville, p. 115, 

^^Lloyd Bitzer, "The Rhetorical Situation," in 
Contemporary Theories of Rhetoric: Selected Readings , 
edited by Richard Johanncsen (Tiow YorF: Harper and Row , 
1971) , pp. 385-386. 

33Ernest Bormann, "Fantasy and Rhetorical Vision 
The Rhetorical Criticism of Social Reality," Quarterly 
Journal of Speech (December, 1972), 396-407. 


the audience was beauty, her "cheor;/ of composition dictated 
that only by creation of a reality perceivable to the 
audience could this effect be attained. In speculating 
about this type of created reality, Bormann provided an 
account of how dramatizing communication or fantasy chains 
created social reality for groups of people. These fantasy 
chains consisted of characters-real or fictitious -play- 
ing out a dramatic situation in time and space, a situa- 
tion analogous to the characters in Th e Yearling . So, then, 
according to Bormann, through the novel or fantasy "one 
has entered a new realm of reality-a world of heroes, 
villains, saints, and enemies-a drama, a work of art."^^ 
Whether as individual reactions to works of art, small 
group reaction, or larger group reaction, these dramati- 
zations "serve to sustain the members' sense of community, 
to impel them strongly into action ... and to provide 
them with heroes, villains, emotions, and attitudes . "^^ 
As had been suggested, the novel to a degree provided its 
own reality for its audience and in so doing, a mode of 
altering reality, for as Bormann added, fantasy themes and 
rhetorical visions "help people transcend the everyday and 
provide meaning for an audience. "^^ 

Ibid . , p . 598 

3 c 

" Ibid . , p. 3 98, 

^^Ibid., p. 402, 


Unfortunately, the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Collec- 
tion was not a place in which to find extensive evidence 
of the extent to which people did alter their realit>-. 
To be sure, the Collection offers some indices of how the 
readers projected the themes of The Yearling to their own 
lives. In an August 1943 letter to Marjorie Kinnan 
Rawlings, Betty Odgers related how "the shared loveli- 
ness of your book was an important bond in the adjustment 
of my life." Ms. Odgers added this was in part due to 
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' having written of the "right 
way of living [and of her] attention to the real and im- 
portant things." Another letter, undated, from one of 
her readers. Perry Potter, told of a young boy who, upon 
having the book read to him and yearning to exchange his 
world for that of Jody, said, "I wish I was him, oh I 
wish I was." Among readers who responded with emotion 
to Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' work, Laura Dix wrote on 
May 17, 1945, "I wept over the passing of Jody's little 
Fodderwing and later Flag," One of those who found the 
simple way of life purported by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' 
novel admirable or worthy of emulation was Ralph Prouty 
who wrote August 9, 1944. His praise of her "plain 
simple people" included the comment, "simple they may 
be, but they are undoubtedly great." These examples sug- 
gest how the novel well may have provided "heroes, emotions 
and attitudes [which] help people transcend the everyday 


and provide meaning for an audience."" But the Marjorie 
Kinnan Rawlings Collection could not be the most appropri- 
ate place to explicate Bormann's concept of the altering 
of reality, for that examination would have to investigate 
"how people who participated in this rhetorical vision 
related to one another," and correspondence in the Col- 
lection gave very little indication of such possible inter- 

3 8 
action. Moreover, for the reviewers, the solitary nature 

of their craft and the time element of their having written 

almost immediately preceding or following the publication 

of the book limited the interaction between them. However, 

Gordon Bigelov;, her biographer, did directly address the 

novel's effectiveness in altering reality and positing an 

alternate world view to the existing Depression. 

In a time of great social and economic 
stress, of moral confusion and uncertainty, 
her stories quietly reasserted a familiar 
American ethic . . . The pastoral vision in 
her books is of a world of natural beauty 
free from the stench and ugliness of modern 
cities. . . . -^^ 

On December 3, 1938, an article in the Chicago Daily 

Tribune stated that The Yearling as well as several other 

^' Ibid . , pp. 398, 402. 

Ibid . , p. 401. 

Gordon E. Bige 

University of Florida Press, 1964) , pp. 156, 157. 

"Gordon E. Bigelo^v, Frontier Eden (Gainesville 


novels from 1938, " 

. . . have a certain staunch reality 
about them and at the same time 'have been 
escape literature in the sense they have 
lifted the reader out of his own life into 
scenes so exigent that they make him for- 
get his surroundings and their demands. 

Anotlier suggested that Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings presented 

a more simple ivorld, a world that we had lost, for, 

. . . by choosing this locale, the 
author is abie to awaken the reader to 
the realization that American boys lost 
something charming and real when movies, 
cars, radios, and electricity replaced 
the crude pleasure giving contrivances 
of the pioneers. ^0 

These were some of the responses that did offer some indi- 
cation of how readers accepted the world vieiNT of The 
Yearling as an alternate to the reality of their own 
existence . 

Thus, the characters in The Yearling did seem to 
have an impact for readers. Indeed, Marjorie Kinnan 
Rawlings may well have typified the Flenry James quotation 
upon which the Wayne Booth book. The Rhetoric of Fiction , 
was based: "The author makes his readers just as he 
makes his characters." Moreover, she illustrates the 
rhetorical function of what Edwin Black has called a 
"Second Persona"; for in the auditor or respondent implied 

'^^ Portland Maine Express , April 2, 1938 


by a discourse such as TPie Yearling , there is "a model of 
what the rhetor would have his real auditor become.""^ 
Just as the author makes her readers, so too, according 
to Black, can the language of an ideology imply an auditor 
who might share that ideology; for "actual auditors look 
to the discourse they are attempting for cues that tell 
them hovv' they are to view the world, even beyond the ex- 
pressed concerns, the overt propositional sense of the 

4 "* 
discourse." " So, then, may a discourse not only alter 

both the reader's perception and manner of apprehending 
the world, it may also provide, through implication, an 
image or character to be im.itated. This would be espe- 
cially valid for a discourse with a structure determined 
by a preset concept of effectiveness. Thus, we have seen 
how this investigation into the rhetorical effectiveness 
of a novel fits into the context of a broader scheme of 
rhetorical perspective that people such as Booth, Black, 
Bormann, and others are speculating about today. 

This study has attempted to illumine the rhetorical 
interaction of sender, message, and receiver, in which the 
author of a novel determined a method or theory of 


Ed'.vin Black, "The Second Persona," Quarterly 

J ournal of Spe ech , 56 (April, 1S7C), 113. '~ 

'^"Ibid. , p. 113. 


composition predicated upon the effect she v.'ished to 
achieve. For purposes of this study, investigation was 
made into the individual theory and approach that v;as 
particular not only to this one author, but also this one 
work. The approach selected here will, therefore, not 
be universally applicable to all authors wishing to com- 
municate beauty. But, as indicated by this study, an 
author can and does formulate a theory of language effec- 
tiveness dependent not upon arbitrary choice but instead 
designated by the particular reaction desired. Marjorie 
Kinnan Rawlings is the epitome of such a user of language. 

On February 21, ]958, after Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings 
had submitted the final manuscript of The Yearling to 
Scribner's, one month before publication date, she wrote 
to her friend and editor. Maxwell Evart Perkins. 

The things all of you write me about 
The Yearl ing and the Book of the Month 
Club choice, make me very happy and very 
humble. The only reason I can accept it 
as even remotely deserved, is that I all 
but sweated blood in doing it. I do not 
see how any writer could work in greater 
agony and effort than I did on it and 
this is strange to me, for no writer 
could ever have a clearer conception than 
I did of Vrhat I wanted to do and where I 
was going. 

In rJ.'59 she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Letters for 

a Novel and elected to the Academy of Arts and Letters. 


Prinarv Sources 

The voluminous Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Collection 
housed in the University of Florida Library, Gainesville, 
has been the principal source on ivliich this study was based 
Therefore a description of the Collection indicating the 
nature and type of material may be useful. The Collection 
was established by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings at the Univer- 
sity where she had lectured and had received an honorary 
degree. The form of the Collection is in part transcripts 
(typewritten) , photo copies (positive) , and microfilm 
(negative) . Additional material has been received since 
her death in 1955 from her estate, friends, and relatives; 
however, the bulk of the Collection covers the period from 

Housed in twelve archival boxes are manuscripts of 
her books, short stories and unpublished poems, as well 
as newspaper articles she authored. Her personal, unpub- 
lished papers include journal entries of her first impres- 
sions of Florida, notes concerning local customs, informa- 
tion for her books, lecture notes, speech manuscripts and 
short stories. 

Her vast correspondence is stored in nine file 
drav;ers. These letters include a large number of responses 
from readers as well as a personal correspondence with 
friends and relatives. Among the letters addressed to her 
are forty-eight from James Branch Cabell, twenty- five from 
A. J. Cronin, thir-ty- three from Sigfrid Undset, and letters 
from Maxwell Perkins, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Robert Herrick, 
Edith Pope, Eleanor Roosevelt, John Steinbeck, Zora Neale 
Hurston, James Still, Hudson Stroke, Carl Van Vechton, Mrs. 
Ernest Hemingway, Thornton Wilder, and many others equally 
important. Microfilm copies of her letters to her editor, 
Maxv;ell Perkins, supplement the correspondence. Additional 
correspondence, records, and transcripts are to be found 
in the papers of her lawyer, Phillip May, also housed in 



the University Library. Several other file drawers con- 
tain information Mariorie Kinnan Rawlings gathered for the 
purpose of writing a biography of Ellen Glasgow. 

Five large scrapbooks from several sources are a 
part of this Collection. Though four of these scrapbooks 
contain mainly newspaper and periodical clippings about the 
author and her work, one scrapbook contains mainly family 
photographs and information. There are, of course, included 
in this large, approximately three thousand piece collection, 
various memorabilia as well as one large box of artifacts. 

Secondary Sources 

Baskerville, Barnet. "Rhetorical Criticism, 1971: 

Rhetrospect, Prospect, Introspect," Southern 
Speech Communication Journal , 27 (Winter, 1971), 

Beath, Paul R. "Regionalism: Pro and Con, Four Fallacies 
of Regionalism," Saturday Review of Literature , 
15 (November 28, 1936) , 4-14. 

Bellman, Samuel. "Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings: A Solitary 
Sojourner in the Florida Backwoods," Kansas 
Quarterly , 2 (1970), 78-87. 

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (New York: Twayne 

Pub 1 i shers, Inc. , 1974) . 

igelow, Gordon E. "Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' Wilderness," 
The Sewanee Review , 72 (April-June, 1965), 299- 

. Fr ontier F.den (Gainesville: University of 

FToriar Press, 196'6) . 

_. "Distinguishing Rhetoric from Poetic Discourse 
Tn Contemporary Rhetoric , Douglas Ehninger, ed. 

1 tzer 

(Glenview, Illinois: Scott, Foresman and Co., 1972). 

Lloyd. "The Rhetorical Situation," in Contemporary 
T heories o f Rhetor ic: Selected Readings , Richard 
Johannesen ~~eT. ("New York: Harper and Row , 1971). 

Black, Edwin. "The Second Persona," Quarterly Journal of 
Speech , 56 (April, 1970), 113. 


Booth, Wayne. The - Rhet or; Lc of F iction (Chicago: Uni- 
I'ersity of Chicago Press', 1961). 

Bormann, Ernest. "Fan.tasv' and Rhetorical Vision: The 

Rhetorical Criticism of Social Reality," Quarterly 
Jourjial of Speec h (Decenber, 1972), 396-40T^^ '~ 

Bowker, R. R. Literary Prizes and Their Winners (New 
York: R. R. Bowker Company, 1967). 

Bradbury, John M. Renaissance in the South: A Critical 

History of the Literature, 1920-1960 (Chapel Hill: 
University of North Carolina Press, 1963) . 

Bryant, Donald C. "Rhetoric: Its Function and Scope," 
in The Province of Rhetoric , Joseph Schwartz and 
John Rycenza, ed. (New York: Ronald Press Com- 
pany, 1965) . 

Burke, Kenneth. Counter -Statement (New York: Harcourt, 
Brace, 19'51) . 

Carpenter, Ronald. "Alfred Thayer Mahan ' s Style on Sea 
Po^ver: A Paramessage Conducing to Ethos," 
Speech Monographs , 42 (August, 1975), 192. 

Figh, Margaret Gillis. "Folklore and Folk Speech in the 

Works of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings," Southern Folk - 
lore Quarterly , 2 (September, 1947), 201-209. 

Holman, C. Hugh. "Literature and Culture: The Fugitive- 
Agrarians," Social Forces , 57 (October, 195S), 19. 

Horton, Rod W. and Edwards, Herbert W. Backgrounds of 
American Literary Thought (Nev\/ York: Appleton 
Century Crofts, 1952) ." 

Jordan, William. "A Study of Rhetorical Criticism in the 
Modern Novel," Debut Paper, SiVA Convention, 1967. 

Marx, Leo. The Machine in the Garden (New York: Oxford 
University Press, 1964) . 

McGuirs, William J. A Study of Florida Cracker Dialect 
Based Chiefly on the Prose Works of Marjorie 
Kinnan Rawling s, Master's Thesis, University of 
Florida (Gainesville, 1939). 

Morris, Lloyd. "A New Classicist," T he North American 
Review, 246 (Septem.ber, 1938J, 179-184. 


Mumford, Lewis. Te chnics and Civilizarion (New York: 
KarcoufL, 3race an'3~World^ 1954) . 

Munroe, Hiigh P. ''To the Wall Enthymeme I " Paper read at 
the 1969 CSSA Convention, St Louis. 

Odum, Howard W. and Mocre, Harry E. American Regionalism: 
A Cultural-Historical Approach to National In - 
t egration (New York: H. Holt and Company, 195 S ) . 

Peck, Joseph R. The- Fiction Writing Art of Marl or ie Kinnan 
Rawlings , Master's Thesis, University of Florida 
(Gainesville, 1954} . 

Rav>?lings, Marjorie Kinnan. The Yearling (New York: Charles 
Scribner's Sons, 1938). 

"Regional Literature of the South," Colleg e 

English, 1 (February, 1940) 
. The Yearling, Study Guide by Mary Louise Fagy 

and Edith Cowles, (New York: Charles Scribner's 
Sons, 1962). 

Robillard, Ambolena H. Max^vell Evarts Perki ns: Authors' 

Editor , Doctoral Dissertation, University ot Florida 
(Gainesville, 1964). 

Slagel, Mary Louise. The Artistic Use of Nature in the 

Fiction of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings , Master's Thesis, 
University of Florida (Gainesville , 1963) . 

Staumann, Heinrich. American Literature in the Twentieth 
Century (New York: Harper and Row, 1965) . 

Tompkins, Phillip. "In Cold Fact," Esquire , 65 (June, 
1965), 125. 

"The Rhetorical Criticism of Non-Oratorical 

Works," Quarterly J our nal of Speech , 5 5 (December, 
1969) , 431-439. 

Thrall, William F., Hubbard, Addison, and Hugh Holman. 

A Handbook to Literature (Mew York: The Odyssey 
Press, 1960). 

Twelve Southern Authors, I'll Take M v Stand: Th e Sou th 

and the Agr a rian TradTtTon [^Tew York: FTarpcr and 
Ff others, lT50) . 


Twelve Soutriern Authors. I'll Take My Stand: The South 
and th e Agrarian Tradition , (New York: Harper and 
Row , 196 2). 

Weygandt , Patricia. "A Rhetorical Criticism of Sgt. Pepper's 
, Lonely Hearts Club Band," Unpublished Paper, 1969, 
Kent State University. 

Young, Thomas D., Watkins, Floyd C, and Beatty, Richard C. 
The Literature of the Sout h, (Atlanta: Scott, 
Foresman and- Co., 1968). 


Edna Louise Saffy was born March 8, 1935 in 
Jacksonville, Florida, She attended West Riverside 
Grammar School, John Gorrie Junior High, and Robert E. 
Lee Senior High. She attended the University of Florida 
and received her Bachelor's degree in 1967 and her Master's 
degree in 1968. She is married to Grady Earl Johnson, 
Junior, of Virden, Manitoba , Canada. 

While at the University of Florida, Ms. Saffy was 
a member of the President's Committee on the Status of 
Women, the Student Senate, Savant Leadership Organization, 
and Alpha Chi Onega Sorority. 

Ms. Saffy is an officer of the South Atlantic 
Modern Language Association and a founder of its Women's 
Studies Section, She is a member of the Speech Communica- 
tion Association, the Southern Speech Communication .Associ- 
ation, and the College English Association. 

Ms. Saffy's political affiliations include the 
Presidency of both the Gainesville and Jacksonville 
chapters of the National Organization for Women, State 
of Florida Strategist for the Equal Rights Amendment, 
and membership in the Women's Political Caucus. 



Among the honors she has received are membership 
in Lambda Iota Tau, Who's Who in American Colleges and 
Universities, and the University of Florida Hall of Fame, 

I certify that I have read tnis study and tha 
my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of sch 
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and qual 
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philoso 


t in 

Ronald H. Carpenter, Chairpe 
Associate Professor of Speec 


I certify that I have read this study and that in 
my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly 
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, 
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. 

V'incent McGuire 
Professor of Education 

I certify that I have read this study and that in 
my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly 
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, 
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. 

/^^-Z^-C-C^w /- . ■St-t^A^^Z.-f^-C 

Patricia L. Schmidt 
Assistant Professor of Speech and 
Behavioral Studies 

I certify that I have read this study and that in 
my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly 
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality 
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosot 



Donald E. Williams 
Professor of Soeech 

I certify that I have read this studv and that in 
my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly 
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality 
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy' 

Professor of Theater 

This dissertation was submitted to the Graduate Faculty of 
the Department of Speech in the College of Arts and Sciences 
and to the Graduate Council, and was accented as partial 
fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor 

of Philosophy. 
March, 1976 

Gr A c]/^]iool 

B^ B.