Date of Award

Spring 4-29-2022

Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


English and Linguistics

Department Chair or Program Director

Richards, Gary

First Advisor

Dr. Gary Richards

Major or Concentration



This paper explores how the gothic spaces in Dorothy Allison’s novels are connected to her characters class. I analyze specific places in Bastard out of Carolina and Cavedweller and how these spaces are either redeemed or remain gothic throughout the novels, and how this connects to the characters economic status. In Bastard out of Carolina, where the characters begin and remain poor, places are either gothic from the beginning or are safe spaces that transform into gothic places over the course of the novel. Conversely, in Cavedweller, where the characters begin poor but become financially stable by the end of the novel, most buildings and spaces are initially gothic but redeem themselves over time so that they become safe for the characters. In both of her novels, Dorothy Allison underscores and complicates her main characters’ lower-class status and the isolation that comes with poverty by transforming areas often associated with relative safety, such as suburban neighborhoods, storefronts, and churches into gothic spaces of fear and anger.