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She lived in a time where men were the total heads of their families-but I think the men and the women knew that many times it was the women who truly ruled the roost! I think Hank knew that he needed a strong woman like Julie and that is why he wanted to marry her. He had deep insecurities and needed a woman like Julie. Another thing that I found to be particularly full of symbolism was the way the characters in Gap Creek reacted to the whole life-cycle issue of birth and death. I remember my mother-who grew up on a poor farm much like Julie's, talking about the sharecropper family who lived on their farm. They had twin babies who slept at the foot of their bed but were both smothered to death when the man came in and accidentally threw back the covers on top of them. She talked of how they laid the babies out on the table and cleaned them and dressed them and buried them. I remember that although there was a sadness about this story in her voice — she made a point of saying that that night they had to pick cotton because they had not picked that morning while they were burying the babies. It was like Julie and Hank — who after their baby died — had work to do — the work must go on for survival-both physically and emotionally. Who hasn't used work to escape from what is really happening? My mother used to say that when you get sad and blue-scrub your kitchen floor and it will make you feel better. I think Julie knew this too. I really think that Robert Morgan captured the essence of the southern woman of that time and her need for fellowship and her appreciation of the beauty of the countryside-what other beauty was there? He really made us feel for Julie and her love for Hank who in many ways was very tragic. Hank was a victim of his own temper, ignorance and fears, but a man who ultimately wanted to do the right thing. He did stick with Julie-that was one thing that was so true of the time — marriage was forever. They were both committed to each other. Although he could be violent-we saw his true strength when Julie was sick after the birth of the baby and he took over with the baby. I think he had gained strength from Julie and it carried him through. He said that he didn't go to get his mom because he feared the worst and came back — but I think it was because he changed his mind and had grown up during his year with Julie and knew he was now strong enough — he had it in him — to take care of things.

I realize I am rambling — I loved the book — I love great Southern writing — these are the stories that my Grandmother — who had a smoke house and an outhouse used to tell me. Julie was a woman who did what was necessary for survival — it wasn't always easy or pretty but it had to be done. Women have been doing that for generations and are still doing it. Robert Morgan helped me to remember those stories.

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