‘White Trash’ Resistance, Women’s Interactions and Identity in Dorothy Allison’s Cavedweller. An Intersectional Approach


  • Concepción Parrondo Universidad de Málaga, UMA




white trash, oppression, stigma, women, identity


Considered a pioneer in unveiling the human aspect of ‘white trash,’ Dorothy Allison’s work has been centered on women resisting social oppression for being white poor in a male-dominating environment. Yet, her last novel, Cavedweller, presents women of all classes interacting to fight social stereotyping, and thus initiate a process of identity reconstruction. This article explores women’s resistance against white trash stigmatization at the juncture of class, gender, race and other axles of convergence in Dorothy Allison’s Cavedweller. Adopting Leslie McCall’s intersectional theoretical constructs, an analysis of women’s interactions through the figure of Delia, the mother-protagonist of Allison’s Cavedweller, within both the community and the family unit, serves as a tool to reflect upon social stigmatizing for the benefit of creating new identities.


Download data is not yet available.


Allison, Dorothy. A Bastard Out of Carolina. Penguin Books, 1993

Allison, Dorothy. Cavedweller. Plume, 1999.

Dobbs, Cynthia. “Diasporic Designs of House, Home, and Haven in Toni Morrison’s Paradise.” MELUS: Multi-Ethnic Literature of the U.S, vol. 36, no. 2, Summer 2011, pp. 109-126.

Forret, Jeff. Race Relations at the Margins: Slaves and Poor Whites in the Antebellum Southern Countryside. Louisiana State University, 2006.

Gaffney, Karen. “Excavated from the Inside: White Trash and Dorothy Allison's Cavedweller.” Modern Language Studies, vol. 32, no.1, Spring 2002, pp.43-57.

Gilman, Sander L. “Black Bodies, White Bodies: Toward an Iconography of Female Sexuality in Late Nineteenth-Century Art, Medicine, and Literature.” Critical Inquiry, vol. 12, no.1, Autumn,1985, pp. 204-242.
Guinn, Matthew. After Southern Modernism. Fiction of the Contemporary South. UP of Mississippi, 2000.

Henze, Brent R. “Who Says Who says.” Reclaiming Identity: Realist Theory and the Predicament of Postmodernism, edited by Paula M.L. Moya and Richard R. Hames-García, University of California Press, 2000, pp.229-251.

Isenberg, Nancy. White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America. Atlantic Books, 2016.

LeMahieu, Michael. “An Interview with Dorothy Allison.” Contemporary Literature, vol. 51, no.4, Winter 2010, pp. 651-676.

McCall, Leslie. “The Complexity of Intersectionality.” Signs, vol. 30, no.3, 2005, pp. 1771-1800.

Monteith, Sharon. “Recent and Contemporary Women Writers in the South.” A Companion to The Literature and Culture of The South, edited by Richard Gray and Owen Robinson, Blackwell Publishing, 2007, pp. 536-551.

Tokarczyk, Michelle, ed. Class Definitions. On the Lives and writings of Maxime Hong Kingston, Sandra Cisneros, and Dorothy Allison. Associated University Presses, 2008.

Wray, Matt. Not Quite White. White Trash and the Boundaries of Whiteness. Duke University Press, 2006.




How to Cite

Parrondo, C. “‘White Trash’ Resistance, Women’s Interactions and Identity in Dorothy Allison’s Cavedweller. An Intersectional Approach”. ES Review. Spanish Journal of English Studies, no. 41, Oct. 2020, pp. 35-55, doi:10.24197/ersjes.41.2020.35-55.