The Death of the Angel in the House and the Rise of the Tomboy in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women and Carson McCullers’ The Member of the Wedding

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Oakley, Cherise M.
Through an examination of Beth March in Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women” and John Henry West in Carson McCullers’s “The Member of the Wedding,” each as representatives of the angel in the house, this paper considers the idea of the “suffering child” and the need to kill the angel in the house in sentimental literature in order to affect social commentary and potentially social change—the need to kill Beth and John Henry makes a statement on the death of the queer in favor of the rise of the more socially maneuverable tomboy, lesbianesque characters and their ability to evolve, or perhaps disguise their lesbian potential in order to assimilate. Only with the death of Beth and John Henry, and the negative attachments they represent, can Jo March and Frankie Addams learn how to successfully navigate the societies in which they have been born.