Date of Award
I read the majority of Smith's novels on a mountain in Mentone, Alabama last summer at a eamp for girls. Though Lookout Mountain is a baby, a foothill of Smith's Appalachia, my environment helped me imagine Ivy Rowe's setting. Fair ami Temier Ladies struck me with its sense of loss. This key word of loss drove my preliminary research. It wasn't until reading later novels that I discovered the hope Smith brought to the discussion. I chose Ivy. Florida Grace, and Molly because they build upon one another's characters well. Their stories wander and return to their changed homes as changed people. Since last summer I began listening to musicians like Caroline Herring who expressed the combined son'ow and hope similar to Smith's books. I heard Herring perform live on this same mountain. I wanted to pepper my thesis with other fomis of creativity. The novel form expresses truth despite its fictional content, like music expresses toned sentiment. I suppose fiction expresses the same. I have discovered a lifetime in this process: a) Smith's settings direct her characters in their wanderings, b) the physical elements of earth, water, and fire influence Smith's tones and writing style for the three respective novels at hand, c) Smith places the maintaining of the setting in the hands of her female protagonists who in turn become their mothers and by doing so. revitalize these women, d) at the end of the journey. Smith disintegrates her setting, her character's lives fade away, and only the words remain which reinforces the value of the widtten word. My life lately has been very similar to what I am claiming about Smith's books. I have been traveling along this journey of research and writing constantly reflecting on what I have learned and for what I am still searching. I have centered my attentions and my studies on tiying to figure out what it is about Smith's characters and their respective homes that brings them back to the place they began. It seems to me that I. like Smith's protagonists, am back to where I was. I have learned much. I have changed in my initial thoughts about the text and I doubt that with these words my contemplating ends. However, what I thought I could not accomplish I now hold in my hands. I have these pages of words to show for my research. Like Smith's characters, my journey here submits itself in written form.
Haadsma, Emily Louise, "Not All Those Who Wander are Lost: The Long Way Home in the Works of Lee Smith" (2010). Honors Theses. 2339.