By Shirley Marchalonis
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Extra resources for College Girls: A Century in Fiction
And that he had made the mistake of his life when he wrote that article on athletics in girls' colleges" (185). Outclassed in every activity, he escapes at last to the city, loudly declaring his regret that an appointment prevents him from demonstrating the techniques of gymnastics, basketball, and pole vaulting. Goodloe wanted to make it clear that college women remain womanly, and therefore acceptable and unthreatening. That she succeeded is indicated by a favorable review: in these "graceful sketches, the American college girl is a most attractive creature," the reviewer writes, but what she insists the book proves is that "life is more important than books" and that, somehow, college life is not life at all.
To Lee's shocked response: "Where can one discuss it then? ' President Madison said so at Convocation," the matron calls her impertinent and dismisses her. Both Lee and the editor of the paper, Helen, are helpless when the president censors Lee's article on college economics and the outrageously low wages of college servants. Both young women were already in trouble because Lee had investigated the reasons for students' choice of Walton College and found an unacceptable answer: they came to Walton because their parents forced them-a point made and emphasized by both Millay and Lapsley.
Show no such feelings and perhaps the reason is that their colleges do not give them very much. Clearly by this time "womanly" behavior is no longer definable; it has been subsumed into the college image and there are no other guidelines or role models. Logically, given the aims of the writers, the happy characters are unpleasant, and the focus is on troubled, dissatisfied young women who want something the college refuses to give them. The magical green world communities of women, once so rich and rewarding in their encouragement of students to discover and value themselves, no longer exist; they have become processors of raw material into something that may or may not have any relationship to individual needs and talents, but fits within socially acceptable boundaries.
College Girls: A Century in Fiction by Shirley Marchalonis