Dorothy Allison: Revising the “White Trash” Narrative

Emily Langhorne

in Rough South, Rural South

Published by University Press of Mississippi

Published in print February 2016 | ISBN: 9781496802330
Published online May 2017 | e-ISBN: 9781496804990 | DOI:
Dorothy Allison: Revising the “White Trash” Narrative

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  • Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)


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This chapter discusses the life and work of Dorothy Allison, who knows about growing up “white trash.” Born on April 11, 1949, in Greenville, South Carolina, Allison was “the bastard daughter of a white woman from a desperately poor family.” Poverty forced Allison's family to leave South Carolina for central Florida in search of a better life. In 1983, Allison published a collection of poetry, The Women Who Hate Me, followed by a short story collection, Trash, in 1988. In 1992, Allison published Bastard out of Carolina, a largely autobiographical novel about growing up in the Rough South. Allison's other works include chapters and a memoir, Two or Three Things I Know for Sure (1995). The term “white trash” and its prevalence demonstrate society's tolerance of stereotyping poor whites. Such stereotypes not only portray to outsiders a false image of the working class, but are reinforced within the working class itself. Allison writes to combat this myth and these prejudices.

Keywords: working class; Dorothy Allison; white trash; poverty; Bastard out of Carolina; Rough South; poor whites; stereotypes; Trash

Chapter.  4920 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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