Carol Franklin


Henry Handel Richardson's satiric story cycle 'Growing Pains: Sketches of Girlhood' ,i traces the emotional and sexual growth of a composite protag­onist, from early childhood in 'The Bathe' to marriageable age in 'Two Hanged Women'. Jeannette Foster's opinion that the stories are integrated and constitute an etiology for a homosexual woman is unarguable. How­ever, Foster's view that they represent a 'trial flight towards a novel centred on a woman' is a less productive insight, and her brief description takes no account of Richardson's satirical purpose, or the fiction's per­spective of value.2 The stories, which dramatise the pressures on girls and women towards heterosexual conformity, parody conventional representa­tions of heterosexual romance, while writing against contemporary sexual theory. Richardson's developmental cycle, published between 1929-1934, Is Innovative in form as well as in the degree to which it values its sex variant protagonists. Female sex variance is viewed not from a biological but from a socially critical perspective very much in advance of other con­temporary literature on the theme in English.



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