Seeing Inside the Mountains: Cynthia Rylant's Appalachian Literature and the "Hillbilly" Stereotype
The Lion and the Unicorn
If Ob, as a West Virginia native, possesses the ability to see The Mysteries where others see only primitivistic whittling or, more pejoratively, tacky wooden trash cluttering the yards of mountain families, then Rylant's Appalachian works likewise depict characters who possess an ability to see beyond external markers and predictable interpretations, and who seek an emotional and spiritual interiority based on family, love, and sense of place. Rylant's words in The Relatives Came, When I Was Young in the Mountains, and Missing May work to restore the integrity of Appalachia as a place of "interior" values, a setting that symbolizes family, personal integrity, emotion, intellectual curiosity, unconditional love, and community, in spite of the long history of the hillbilly stereotype.
Literature and Languages
Roggenkamp. (2008). Seeing inside the mountains: Cynthia Rylant’s Appalachian literature and the “Hillbilly” stereotype. The Lion and the Unicorn (Brooklyn), 32(2), 192–215. https://doi.org/10.1353/uni.0.0008
Appalachian Studies Commons, Children's and Young Adult Literature Commons, Literature in English, North America Commons
Copyright © 2008 Karen Roggenkamp. This article first appeared in The Lion and the Unicorn, Vol. 32 (2): 2008, 192-215. Reprinted with permissions by Johns Hopkins University Press.