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Jennifer Furner ACF Abstract FY13

"Cold War Containment in Shirley Jackson's "Flower Garden"

Society for the Study of American Women Writers (SSAWW) Conference 2012: Citizenship and Belonging

The societal restrictions white Americans placed on themselves in the Cold War era were psychologically damaging for many citizens, and Shirley Jackson underscored the absurdities of containment and the social ills it caused in much of her fiction. People find her most anthologized work The Lottery shocking, but her short story Flower Garden, a less-appreciated but much more subtle depiction of the times, dramatizes the idea of Cold War containment. Flower Garden and The Lottery both depict small towns that turn their backs on one of their own because they fear change. While neither Mrs. MacLane nor Tess Hutchinson, respectfully, may have been actual threats, their communities sacrificed them in order to uphold their perceived sense of security against exposure to nuclear war, communism, and segregation. My paper will show how the fiction of Shirley Jackson aptly faces the fears of Cold War America, reveals the truth about suburbia living, and explains the painstaking efforts one makes in order to be a good citizen.