Date of Award


Document Type

Union College Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Katherine Lynes

Second Advisor

Claire Bracken




patriarchy, female, characters, short stories


This thesis examines the entrapments of the female characters in the harsh, unyielding Southern patriarchal system represented within the short stories of William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor. The Southern patriarchal system may be analyzed in terms of a Lacanian Symbolic order, comprised of realms of the Imaginary, the Symbolic, and the Real. The stringent nature of the Southern patriarchal symbolic order creates an environment that allows only for the abjection or integration of the female character, forcing each female character to remain trapped within one of the realms, unable to maneuver within or create a different order. While there has been much work done surrounding both Faulkner and O’Connor in terms of the women they present, surrounding the restrictions of women in a patriarchal system, and in terms of Lacanian theory, there is no general consensus regarding the enduring sympathetic nature of the characters. By using Lacan to analyze Faulkner’s “Dry September,” “A Rose for Emily,” and “Elly,” as well as O’Connor’s “Good Country People,” I argue that the entrapment of the female characters renders them all undoubtedly sympathetic. Recognizing this will allow future scholarship to rescue the victim and consider the extraordinary circumstances of these characters.