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The Wanderer Contained

Issues of 'Inside' and 'Outside' in Relation to Harold Gray's Little Orphan Annie and Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping

Joanne Hall

This article examines two texts which contain representations of the female hobo: Harold Gray's comic strip Little Orphan Annie (1924–1964) and Marilynne Robinson's novel Housekeeping (1980). This article will focus on a section of Orphan Annie from 1926 and 1927. The many differences between the texts – which include their genre and their temporal setting and production – are acknowledged. However, I am primarily concerned with the figure that unites these disparate texts: the female hobo. This article makes use of two key concepts: the category and the frame. There are several categories within these texts: wife, mother, orphan, daughter, and that of wanderer. This article is also concerned with the collapse of categories. Marjorie Garber argues that the presence of a passing figure reveals a 'category crisis'. In Garber's argument this is 'a failure of definitional distinction, a borderline that becomes permeable, that permits of border crossings from one (apparently distinct) category to another' (1993:16). The texts examined in this paper both contain passing figures: Orphan Annie features Annie as a crossed dressed female hobo and Housekeeping a hobo attempting to become a small town mother.

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Susana Araújo, Bronagh Clarke, Rayna Denison, Paul Edwards, Lincoln Geraghty, Joanne Hall, George Lipsitz, and James Walters

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