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Production of American Religious FreedomThe Production of American Religious Freedom$
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Finbarr Curtis

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781479882113

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479882113.001.0001

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I’m Not Myself To-night. I Owe Money

I’m Not Myself To-night. I Owe Money

Louisa May Alcott and Salvation

Chapter:
(p.27) 2 I’m Not Myself To-night. I Owe Money
Source:
Production of American Religious Freedom
Author(s):

Finbarr Curtis

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9781479882113.003.0003

In Louisa May Alcott’s Work, the independent-minded protagonist Christie Devon learn the limits of her self-sufficiency as a wage laborer in nineteenth-century America and is driven to the brink of suicide by financial and social dislocation. To recover her bodily and spiritual health, Devon moves to the country to work in a greenhouse that buffers her from the alienating and uprooting work in industrializing America. In the country, Devon works to heal herself within an economy of salvation that rejects the system of wage labor that rewards individuals who seek independence by accumulating private property. In Work, people learn to be themselves by producing the right kinds of dependence. Rather than free themselves from social forces, characters like Devon realize that their attempts to achieve freedom from social constraints are misplaced. Faced with harsh realities, they reframe their personal goals in terms of moral responsibility to change an unjust world.

Keywords:   domesticity, horticulture, independence, nature, sentiment, transcendentalism, work

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