Date of Award

12-2010

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Departmental Honors

Department

English

First Advisor

Joyce Kinkead

Abstract

Edith Wharton’s Summer and Judy Blume’s Forever, although written more than fifty years apart, are strikingly similar in that both feature young, female characters who come of age during the novel. Both girls have important experiences as they mature, including their initiation into sex. As the two characters come of age, their experiences with sexuality and the consequences that follow shape them and the rest of their lives. It is also significant to look at how the authors portray the different awakenings, Wharton only implicitly hinting at what Blume quite clearly spells out. Ultimately, each girl’s sexual awakening and the consequences that follow are more than a scandalous plot point; the awakenings are an illustration of the girls’ respective societies and the level of freedom they experience within the constructed boundaries. Both are a reflection of the rights and options afforded to women--Wharton describing 1917 and Blume 1975. Wharton’s young character happily tries to fight against a patriarchal society, but untimely fails. Decades later, Blume’s novel would show the increased number of options for girls as well as the new problems that teen females might face.