The Multiply Framed Narratives of Ellen Douglas's Can't Quit You, Baby by Matthew Luter It is accurate but perhaps a bit reductive to begin discussing Can't Quit You, Baby (1988), the accomplished novel by Ellen Douglas (pen name of Josephine Haxton), by pointing out that at its center is the unusual bond between Cornelia, a white middle-class woman in Mississippi in the 1960s and 1970s, and Julia, her African-American working-class housekeeper, nicknamed Tweet. The inescapable inequality in their friendship makes their relationship a tumultuous one. Over the course of the novel, Cornelia deals with the untimely death of her husband and eventually becomes a caretaker for Tweet following the latter's stroke. The novel is structured largely in flashback, as a self-aware narrator recounts Cornelia's past directly to the reader and Tweet recounts her own past to Cornelia. This description is true enough, but it also elides much of the intricacy of the novel's form as well as Douglas's nuanced presentation of the difficulties, spoken and unspoken, of cross-racial interaction. Douglas's use of a highly intrusive narrator who sometimes calls the factuality of her own narration into doubt -- and whom Douglas takes pains to indicate is not Douglas
The Southern Literary Journal – University of North Carolina Press
Published: Feb 13, 2013
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