Women Who Raised Me: Episode Four


I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea, I grew up with a wonderful, attentive mother. Super parents, both. Really. But a young girl and developing bibliophile requires a whole host of literary mothers to show her the way. It takes a village.

Episode Four: Charlotte Perkins Gilman

The year is 2005 and I hate my sophomore English teacher. She's teaching the class Charlotte Perkins Gilman's story "The Yellow Wallpaper" and demonstrating the main character's psychosis by crawling around the room on her hands and knees. We are only fifteen, but we can sense that this is not the first time this total whack-job has crawled around on a dirty floor in a crowded room. But I digress.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman was a novelist, poet, editor, lecturer, and political activist. This is a woman who spoke her mind. One of the remarkable things about "The Yellow Wallpaper" is Gilman's candor about her own experience with postpartum depression and her creative working-out of what would have been seen, at the time, as an extreme failure as a woman. It's also a fantastic piece of horror about the betrayals of the mind. Do not read this if you actually have any yellow wallpaper in your house.


Next Time: I find out that women were funny back when people didn't smile in pictures.


Read Episode Three: Ursula Hegi

Read Episode Two: Kate DiCamillo

Read Episode One: Maud Hart Lovelace