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). Theses and Dissertations. 6079.
Fanny Fern, Ruth Hall, Sara Payson Parton, personae, autobiography theory, domesticity, self, presence, voice, Philippe Lejeune, Susan Harris, Daniel Schmidt