; "A Good Girl Like Nancy": Willa Cather's Sapphira and the Slave Girl
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"A Good Girl Like Nancy": Willa Cather's Sapphira and the Slave Girl


13 It is certainly possible that Cather, like other Southerners of her generation, may be trying to be loyal to and critical of the South at the same time; unable to fully indict her slave-owning ancestors for slavery's turbulent legacy, she produced instead a troubled version of reconciliation and forgiveness of the South and North, as recent critics have argued.14 Yet too much emphasis on the novel's autobiographical origins can also elide its social analysis in favor of a more palatable psychosocial critique, so that critics consistently reiterate the significance of its many mother-daughter pairs, which include Sapphira, her daughter Rachel, and her granddaughters as well as Jezebel, her granddaughter Till and great-granddaughter Nancy.\n Far from being helpless or an object of contempt, as Fetterly insists, Nancy may instead be resourceful for a girl who previously trusted others and was petted like a child in return.59 The homesickness and dread she displays during the final moments of her departure is a reminder of the high price she is paying for her sexual freedom, and this final act of selfdefense, leaving her home and family, is not only the ultimate sacrifice for her sexual autonomy but also leads to its fitting completion, for in Canada she marries a man of her own choosing, making Sapphira and Rachel her sexual role models, not her mother and great-grandmother (237).

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