Sara Payson Willis Eldredge Farrington Parton, more famously known as the elusive Fanny Fern, employs three autobiographical personae mediated by fiction in her debut novel, Ruth Hall: (1) Ruth Hall, the novel's protagonist; (2) Floy, the fictional Ruth's pseudonym; and (3) Fanny Fern, Parton's real-life pseudonym and the name under which Ruth Hall was published. Together these personae assert a fragmented presence that incorporates various voices and lives, allowing for exploration, growth, and interactivity.Philippe Lejeune's autobiographical contract outlines three specific guidelines for autobiography—that it be a narrative, that it explore personal history, and that it link author and protagonist. Ruth Hall participates in two-thirds of Lejeune's contract, though Parton's conscious fictionalization demands a revisiting of the autobiographical contract, revealing the impossibility of recording truth as well as the impracticality of a unitary self.Through her use of autobiographical personae in Ruth Hall and in her personal life, Parton succeeds in rewriting the narrative of domesticity for the nineteenth-century American woman. Her self-conceptualization embraces multiplicity as she demands to be seen as "more than."
College and Department
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Schneck, Gina Marie, "Embracing Multiplicity: Autobiographical Personae in Ruth Hall" (2016). All Theses and Dissertations. 6079.
Fanny Fern, Ruth Hall, Sara Payson Parton, personae, autobiography theory, domesticity, self, presence, voice, Philippe Lejeune, Susan Harris, Daniel Schmidt