I'm agoin ' to hev one kiss anyway afore I go . " She felt herself melting into his arms as he kissed her on the mouth long and passionately . The next moment he was gone . Her hands trembled as she took hold of the dasher again .
Author: Edith Summers Kelley
Publisher: Feminist Press at CUNY
First published in 1923, Weeds is a classic of American naturalism with a profoundly feminist turn-pioneer in a tradition of rural, working-class women's writing that includes such works as Harriet Arnow's The Dollmaker, Tillie Olsen's Yonnondio, and Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres. Set amidst the harsh life of rural Kentucky tenant farmers, Weeds is the moving story of a hard-working, spirited young woman who must painfully submit to the limitations imposed by her time, her class, and her gender. Coming of age in Scott County, Kentucky, Judith Pippinger is intelligent, sensitive, and full of untamed energy. She falls in love first with the natural world around her, and then with a decent and loving man, Jerry Blackford. Judith and Jerry marry and work side-by-side in the tobacco fields; they are poor share croppers, but they hope each year will bring them a richer harvest. But Judith soon finds herself in a deep, soul-destroying stuggle against the imprisoning duties of motherhood and of managing an impoverished household. As crops fail and her marriage falters, Judith yields at last. She resolves to bring up her children without hope that her life might be different; but as one of her daughters lies near death, she summons her last vestiges of strength and wills the child to survive. In the tragic world of this powerful novel, both Judy and Jerry become victims of circumstance. The impossible economic conditions, the gruelling toil of tenant farming, the disease and isolation-all take a crippling toll on their spirits. They survive, but they are changed-Judith even more than Jerry. Kelley's deeply nuanced portrait is particularly remarkable in depicting a woman who suffers not from a lack of love-from her husband, her children, or her community-but from an unrequited longing for self-expression and freedom. When Weeds was first published in 1923, the editors cut from the novel a chapter describing the birth of Judith's first child, deeming it too graphic for readers. This chapter has been restored to the Feminist Press edition.