Students enrolled in English 1102 classes taught by VSU Instructor Diane W. Howard during spring 2004 semester, read “Going Through the Change,” Janice Daugharty’s first collection of short stories. After reading the collection, the students explored topics in the stories, relating them to their hometowns or communities. Simply put, the students related the ideas in a literary piece to their own lives, finding points or areas of similarity as well as areas of disagreement. Once they identified points—in agreement or in contrast—the students researched and wrote a mini-documented essay on the subject “Regional Identity.”
by Corie Thomas
writing in the 1994 publication of Going Through
the Change, a collection of short fictional stories that “deal with
the often turbulent lives of the people who inhabit rural
It has been my experience that in Southern communities, family involvement is a practicing tradition. Whether it was a football game, church supper, or daily stroll around the block, families are encouraged to participate as a family not as individuals but as a whole. Daugharty writes about this Southern tradition in the short story “Amazing Grace.” She talks about a Southern community that is all about daily family oriented events. She portrays them as very relaxed and sitting in green rockers with Afghans folded across their laps on their front porches. This story tells readers all about what Southern life is like when involved in the church and community in this case and how important these events are to the residents of this small town. Daugharty tells about the character Aunt Hilda blazing away in the kitchen to make three dishes to the “Wednesday-nigh-preacher-feed at the revival” as well as many other preparations for the church revival. In the South, there is not a church or community that is just a bunch of families who get together as a group for entertainment or other various events it is a continuous whole group that associate themselves a one entity, one family during the duration of that event or longer.
The Georgia Encyclopedia calls this sense of
community and gained knowledge and customs that a community shares “folklife”
(“Folklife”). Particularly they speak
On the other end of the family and community spectrum, Daugharty talks about families that have hectic daily routines that are not usually family oriented activities throughout many of her short stories. In the short story “Looking to Miss Sara,” Daugharty tells of a sitter named Miss Sara who watches children out of her house while their parents are at work. One of the children that she watches is not picked up that day and is abandoned to say the least at Miss Sara’s for two whole days with only a phone call from the parents. Daugharty also talks about this lack of family values in other stories just not as boldly as in “Looking to Miss Sara.”
In Daugharty’s “Shorn Glory” the parents leave their
three daughters alone at home while they are off to
In the short story “Tippy and the Preacher,” Daugharty depicts a poor Southern family that is struggling to make the ends meet and as a result does not seem to think about their family values and ties. The father, Bo, is very hostile with his sons and degrades them constantly throughout the story and Daugharty tells us that he ran off his oldest son in the past. At the end of the story the youngest too finally runs away to find a better home. This is a very troubling factor for some Southerners in the period that Daugharty depicts and today, especially for those who live in rural poor communities who struggle to find jobs and pay bills. Although neglect can also definitely occur in more developed communities as we read in Daugharty’s “Looking to Miss Sara” because the work is there and families tend to focus mainly on jobs and money. During the 50’s and 60’s women were asked to work for striking husbands and “in these positions often found satisfaction in working outside the home and remained in the workforce after the strike had ended” (Beck).
Communities are very important to
Southerners. Daugharty depicts a perfect
picture of how Southerners during that period participate as a community within
church and other events. Most if not all
of these rituals are still practiced today in original or altered forms in the
Southern regions of the
Becker, John. “Family and Gender”. Southern Culture. 1998. Vance-Granville
Community College Southern Culture.
Through the Change.
“Folklife.” Georgia Encyclopedia.com. The New Georgia Encyclopedia.
“Going Through the Change”. Bamm.com. 1996-2004. Books a Million. 04
April 2004. <http://www.booksamillion.com>