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So I've been trying to line up an interview with Robert Harling, but haven't succeeded yet. But these interviews cover a lot of the ground I would.

One thing that fascinates me about the story is the strength of Southern women living in the patriarchy. One source of that strength is social cohesion among women. The women in the movie have their own subculture separate from the men in their lives, a matriarchy that exists withing a formal patriarchy. At one point, the mystified husband of Truvy Jones (Dolly Parton) asks her what the wax in the beauty shop part of their house is for. "It's to make women pretty," she says. And that's as far as he gets into the mysterious world of women. Formally, the wax is there in service of the patriarchy to make women more pleasing to their men. What patriarch could object to that? But the curtain is firmly drawn across the details of these rituals and ceremonies. And within group of women, it's the patriarchy itself which somehow seems epiphenomenal. Harling says that men aren't in the play at all, and in the movie, they are lumped in with children and dogs as somewhat unruly forces that must be managed by the women. Even Shelby's ultimately fatal pregnancy seems to be more her idea than her husband's.

 

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