"David Barnes" was a pseudonym Pearl Buck used when she submitted her master's thesis to Cornell University. Pearl never wrote expressly why she did it, but she was particularly feminist and probably intended to send a subversive message. Many years later, David Barnes appears in Pearl's novel This Proud Heart to give important advice to her feminist character Susan Gaylord. Many critics consider Susan Gaylord to be an allegory not only for Pearl Buck herself, but also for many struggling female writers in the 1930s. Pearl also published some of her most feminist novels under the pseudonym "John Sedges."