Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Published in Great Plains Quarterly [GPQ 8 (Winter 1988): 29-371. Copyright 1988 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska—Lincoln.


"Man's culture was a hoax. Was there a woman who didn't feel it? Perhaps a decade, no more, was available to women to save themselves, as well as the planet. Women's previous triumphs had been by default. Men had simply walked away from the scene of the struggle, leaving them with the children, the chores, the culture, and a high incidence of madness." The lines are from Wright Morris's Plains Song: for Female Voices; they represent a "brief resume" of the "forthcoming lecture" by Alexandra Selkirk, a feminist who has just arrived in Grand Island, Nebraska, to rally the daughters of the Plains to their incipient liberation. I Although the speech is assigned to a fictional leader of the women's movement, the sentiments about the default of man and the corresponding ascent of woman are those of the novelist.