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Exemplar: Fall 2020

The Exemplar publishes and showcases exemplary student writing completed in humanities courses at Dalton State

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Editor's Note

Editor's Note

This year, The Exemplar continued to recognize essays written by Dalton State students in humanities classes. Despite the pandemic, the depth of scholarship indicates the strength of the Dalton State student spirit. The first section, "Gender and Rhetoric," highlights works by Taylor Penley, Kayla Hibberts, and Kristina Almazan. These essays consider the relationship between how gender and the words used to describe this social and physical concept shape perspectives of life, literature, and the self. The second section, "Work and Fulfillment” showcases essays from Rachel Pinson, Rayna Wilson, Cassidy Lawrence, and Cynthia Coronel, displaying how the power of words can create self-efficacy and self-ideation.

Fall 2020 Awards

Best Upper Division Paper: "From Candlewicking to Chenille: The Story of the Rise of the Tufted Textile Industry in Dalton, Georgia" by Rachel Pinson

Runner-up for Best Upper Division Paper: “Rhetorical Reagan: The 'Great Communicator's' Art of Persuasion" by Taylor Penley

Best 2000-Level Paper: "Stereotyping and Offending Races in 'The Quadroons' " by Rayna Wilson

Best 1000-Level Paper: “Mary Oliver Redefines 'Nature Poetry' " by Kayla Hibberts



Table of Contents


Gender and Rhetoric

“Rhetorical Reagan: The 'Great Communicator's' Art of Persuasion" by Taylor Penley

(Runner- up for Best Upper Division Paper)

“Mary Oliver Redefines 'Nature Poetry' by Kayla Hibberts

(Best 1000-level paper)

“The Feminine Rhetoric of Michelle Obama" by Kristina Almazan

"Sex and the Southern Belle: Deconstructing Power Dynamics of Southern Sensuality" by Taylor Penley



Work and Fulfillment

“Candlewicking to Chenille: The Story of the Rise of the Tufted Textile Industry in Dalton, Georgia" by Rachel Pinson

(Best Upper Division paper)

“Stereotyping and Offending Races in 'The Quadroons' " by Rayna Wilson

(Best 2000-level paper)

"The Epic of Gilgamesh: Finding One's Life Purpose" by Cassidy Lawrence

"The Benefits of Kind Actions on Health and Well-being" by Cynthia Coronel





Gender and Rhetoric

"Rhetorical Reagan: The 'Great Communicator's' Art of Persuasion"

by Taylor Penley

Runner up for best Upper Division Paper

When President Reagan stepped toward his podium on a gray June day in 1987, the burdens of the world required he consider what stood at stake. On the more cordial side of the Iron Curtain, West Berliners gathered to hear a message from the third American president to visit their city since John F. Kennedy, but, at this president’s back, the Eastern half of the Iron Curtain’s divide received a message of unity foreign to human subjects of Pravda and strident red visual propaganda. Reagan stood at the base of Germany’s Brandenburg Gate, looking out over the Western side of a great European divide, the divide between two international powers and their clashing ideologies. With that divide serving as a backdrop and solidifying image of garish messages he would soon deliver to his crowd, America’s fortieth president assumed his place at the epicenter of worldwide conflict and spoke aloud into the trio of microphones before his face. This began the speech that would spark controversy on either side of the curtain; this became the rhetoric that would change the world.

            Delving into the rhetorical nature of Reagan’s “Tear Down This Wall” speech by tonal analysis helps solidify the fortieth president as a key figure in fostering peace in Eastern Europe. Some Reagan critics and Cold War scholars, such as TIME magazine editor-at-large and award-winning journalist Romesh Ratnesar, cite Reagan as a “supporting role” in fighting against Soviet expansion while crediting the Eastern empire’s true downfall to Premier Mikhail Gorbachev’s internal influences (189). To Ratnesar, speechwriter Peter Robinson’s words, spoken through Reagan, were “as much an invitation… as a challenge,” but whether exclamatory language and imperative demands equal invitation remains subject for debate. (Ratnesar quoted in Yoshitani 357). The moment most restated and televised from President Reagan’s speech, the part quoted in Ratnesar’s work, resembles an invitation none. It is, instead, an imperative statement, a command that change be brought to a divided Europe. “General Secretary Gorbachev,” Reagan spoke with sternness, “if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” These now-familiar words, prophetic of an impending age without the East-West divide that still existed that day in Berlin, reiterated the vigorous message Reagan sought to convey to an international audience while challenging an opposing leader before the world.

In Reagan’s timeless challenge, repetition solidifies Mikhail Gorbachev as the West’s chief adversary. Repetition’s role as a rhetorical device proves solid, with Nathan Atkinson, David Kaufer, and Suguru Ishizaki describing its employment as “the simplest way” of “increas[ing] an element’s amplitude” within an argument (360). In Reagan’s address, affirming his tenacious challenge to Gorbachev means reminding the Soviet leader of his sole ability to facilitate Moscow’s calls for “reform and openness” referenced earlier in his address. The redundancy of “Mr. Gorbachev” serves to, as Kaufer, Atkinson, and Ishizaki state, increase the “quantity of the element [within an argument]” by “increas[ing] its presence relative to elements” (360). This increase in quantity means that frequently mentioning “Mr. Gorbachev” not only repeats an adversary’s name, but also introduces this adversary at length, making him the center focus and best possible proponent of reunification between East and West.

Reagan works to strengthen his own assertions with ethos by employing the word “if” to simultaneously cast doubt on assertions made by the Soviet Union. The conditional conjunction surfaces three times in the most iconic lines of Reagan’s address as he makes direct address to Gorbachev. If Gorbachev “seek[s] peace” or “seek[s] prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe,” or “seek[s] liberalization,” he will fulfill Reagan’s request to reunify Eastern Europe and bring an end to the Cold War. This conditionality indicates that if the Soviet leader values his own credibility in the eyes of the world, he will adhere to Reagan’s admonitions and act upon his previously expressed desires for peace and prosperity. American tendency to characterize communist leadership as deceitful and insincere, as exemplified by Reagan’s calls for the USSR to act upon its messages of unity and cooperation with the West, becomes rooted in a logical example that, in Aristotelian terminology, utilizes a two-fold logos that further vindicates trust in American disdain for Soviet leaders while illustrating their inconsistencies with a concrete example. Soviet leadership preaches peace and claims to work in the best interest of its citizenry, but Reagan questions such assertions with boldness and selective setting as he stands before a symbol among the most iconic characterizations of the Eastern European divide and Soviet isolationism: The Berlin Wall.

As the Brandenburg Gate Address unfolds further, Reagan attempts to facilitate civil discourse between two world powers while not abandoning undertones of his Reaganesque defense policy coined as “peace through strength.” His rhetorical approach shifts from calling out world leaders and demanding they act upon their claims to a more inviting, appeasing language Ratnesar cited as characterizing the entire speech. The statement “…I invite Mr. Gorbachev: Let us work together to bring the Eastern and Western parts of the city closer together, so that all the inhabitants of all Berlin can enjoy the benefits that come with life in one of the greatest cities in the world” indicates Reagan’s previous demands, though harsh, exemplify his willingness to favor peaceful collaboration over violent confrontation. If, as Gabriele Bechtel indicates in a Rhetoric Society Quarterly article on persuasion and politics, the purpose of rhetoric through persuasion is to “[bring] users to identify themselves with the speaker’s interests,” Reagan accomplishes this by calling for a diplomatic approach to US-Soviet relations instead of each entity enforcing its ideals through conflict which would inevitably lead to mutually assured destruction (226-227). For years, Americans feared a strong approach to international affairs with the Soviet Union because they believed this approach would be more provocative. Reagan seeks to dispel these fears with his language, demonstrating his willingness to work with Premier Gorbachev to bring together Eastern and Western nations, but he also seeks to reiterate an ultimatum which urges the USSR to take action and foster the change it claims to encourage. Reagan exercises his knowledge of the Soviet Union’s ego, touting their position on the world stage as being conditional on how its leadership responds to his unifying message. “Calling out” irresponsible Soviet leadership that claims to aspire for peace and unity with the West indicates the USSR’s willingness to speak without action and this willingness inadvertently depicts their leadership as paper tigers. 

In addressing both Eastern and Western factions, Reagan finds himself addressing two audiences with two different receptions at once, employing double discourse to sustain his rhetoric. Reagan’s rhetoric is situational, injecting fragments of the German language into its content to address audiences on either side of the Berlin Wall while employing his generic American English to speak to a significant percentage of the Western world. This use of double discourse or double voicing not only expresses his personal opinion, but also calls his listeners to take these opinions into account. Daniel A. Grano of Rhetoric Society Quarterly indicates the tendency of double-voicedness to focus on “interior and exterior” affairs (2). By this definition, Reagan appeals to a Western audience more likely to agree with his premises while simultaneously addressing Soviet leaders and sympathizers. His use of German brings his assertions directly to the physical audience before him and to the audience on the opposing side of the Berlin Wall at his back, indicating he wishes to instill these “interior” American ideals in an “exterior” location such as Germany or the Soviet Union.

Reagan, well-versed in Soviet power structure and Gorbachev’s personal tendencies, understood how to appeal to these enigmas while invoking the human condition using pathos and supplemental ethos. Emotionally, he brings forth an alarming image of this communist power structure, citing “failure, technological backwardness, declining standards of health, even… too little food” as results of systemic flaw within the Soviet economy. This dismal image of failure contrasts with the “level of prosperity and well-being” Reagan credits to Western achievement. These images, in turn, add credibility to Reagan’s assertions regarding capitalist supremacy, providing an effective example of Aristotelian ethos. “Freedom leads to prosperity,” he says, “Freedom replaces the ancient hatreds among nations with comity and peace. Freedom is the victor.” The United States, the nation Reagan leads through the tail of the Cold War, becomes synonymous with freedom in this regard, indicating the American value of equity supersedes the Soviet ideal of equality. By citing America’s successes and the USSR’s failures, Reagan seeks to validate his message that favors Western p and shuns the Eastern standard. As the leader of a nation experiencing such success, President Reagan then functions as a strong voice for positive change abroad.

Standing before the Brandenburg Gate and delivering his address was one of many instances, which allowed President Ronald Reagan to assert his role as “the American hero” and to “energize his foreign policy” (Rowland and Jones 23). However, the speech’s rhetorical vigor proves lasting, with many media outlets, historians, and political analysts citing it as one of the most influential speeches of the 20th century. Reagan, also known by his coined title of the “Great Communicator,” relayed his “peace through strength” foreign policy with each carefully crafted sentence his “Tear Down This Wall” speech involves. Ironically, this most resonant speech of Reagan’s presidency underwent continuous admonishment during its drafting phases. “Some within the NSC and the State Department,” Rowland and Jones write, “endeavored to tone down the most confrontational lines in the speech drafts” (24). In fact, the speech’s most recognizable line, “tear down this wall,” had been excluded or rephrased by speechwriters and cabinet members in seven drafts of the speech, each rewrite or exclusion serving to “soften” the language’s blow (Rowland, Jones 26). This most resonant line, once diminished to a less poignant “after twenty-six years, it is time for the wall to come down,” resurfaced in the speech only with Reagan’s final decision. Bold, straightforward, and demanding language, similar to the “tear down this wall” line, helped characterize President Reagan’s foreign policy and the American image it shaped during the 1980s. However, Reagan’s bold and relentless rhetoric does not neglect elements of humanism and morality, two elements often credited to more liberal minds.

Reagan begins his moral appeal with a physical depiction of the German divide as somber and isolating. “From the Baltic, south,” he says, “…barriers cut across Germany in a gash of barbed wire, concrete, dog runs, and guard towers.” With the following line, he continues, stating that “further south, there may be no visible, no obvious wall. But there remain armed guards and checkpoints all the same--still a restriction on the right to travel, still an instrument to impose upon ordinary men and women the will of a totalitarian state.” Reagan’s primary appeals to pathos surface in his garish depictions of life behind the Iron Curtain, life which is nothing more than a game piece of the state. He sets this life in direct contrast to the Western lifestyle equated with freedom and economic success, providing post-World War II Japan, Italy, France, and Belgium as examples of nations who credit their economic rebirth to the free world.

While journalists and critics, such as Romesh Ratnesar, question the role of Ronald Reagan’s rhetoric and policies in the Soviet Union’s collapse, other esteemed sources, including now-deceased journalist Charles Krauthammer, Democratic Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, and journalist Tom Brokaw, assume a different position (Rowland, Jones 23). Krauthammer asserts that Reagan’s “policies of unrelenting toughness” were the primary factor in the USSR’s exponential demise during the late 1980s and the early 1990s and Brokaw, while speaking on Reagan’s Brandenburg Gate Address, described Reagan’s influence on this demise as something “[no one] can diminish” (Rowland, Jones 23). The extent to which Reagan contributed to the reunification of Eastern Europe, however, generates more debate than discussion of whether or not he had any involvement at all. Speaking at the Brandenburg Gate gave direct address to West German civilians in attendance and a less direct, but deliberate address, to East Germans listening from the other side. Thirty-three years after the speech’s delivery, its impact extends to Americans as time and history have solidified its plot in a transformative time, a time in which uncertain futures and animosity transitioned into hopeful futures and a reunified world.

Understanding the Reagan Administration’s fundamental peace through strength defense policies is best achieved by analyzing its consistent assaulting rhetoric against eastern communism. The President’s anti-Soviet discourse surfaced at every turn, with justification for his policies stemming from a sense of urgency for strengthened missile defenses as emphasized by the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). However, Reagan’s “Tear Down This Wall” speech served to reinvigorate a sense of strength his administration had debatably lost through negotiations with the USSR. Scott Monje, in his work entitled Defining Documents of the Cold War, asserts that “Margaret Thatcher was upset by the proposal [Reagan] made to Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev in Reykjavik, Iceland, in October 1986” which diminished U.S.-Russia supplies of intercontinental ballistic missiles (471). Thatcher, being one of Reagan’s closest friends and allies throughout his presidency, supported his notions of peace through strength, but that support diminished as Reagan offered a more diplomatic approach to the East-West imbalance in missile defenses. Reagan then knew his speech at the Brandenburg Gate had to accomplish two things: to reinvigorate his peace through strength message and to reinforce his authoritative, demanding presence on the global stage.

Reagan’s negotiations with Gorbachev had offered a window into the Soviet condition, a condition which illustrated need for economic and political reform. From this window, Reagan saw the necessity of calling out Soviet leadership, namely Gorbachev, before the entire world by using his own negotiative rhetoric against him. In his Brandenburg Gate Address, Reagan mentions these negotiations, stating that “because [the United States] remains strong, the Soviet Union came back to the table” and, in light of this, Reagan attempts to convince his Western audience skeptics that strength can be assumed through strong negotiative measures instead of threat. “Because we remained strong,” Reagan states, “we have within reach the possibility, not merely of limiting the growth of arms, but of eliminating, for the first time, an entire class of nuclear weapons from the face of the earth.” Diminishing the quantity of ballistic missiles inspired fear in many conservatives in Reagan’s corner, conservatives whose support for Reagan depended on strong national defense as an issue of electability. Reagan’s address is clear in tone, demanding that the Soviet premier exercise his willingness to open doors between East and West by “tearing down the wall.” Reagan, by illustrating how his negotiative rhetoric exemplified strength and facilitated productive discussion, proves he did not sway from conservative-approved peace through strength initiatives in favor of Carter-era negotiative approaches, but rather bolstered his own ideas. Reagan structures his statement so that his audience will believe that, by bringing Soviet leadership to the negotiating table, his rhetoric has successfully caused these leaders to cave under pressure of strong Western demands. Though this may or may not have bore the intent of a direct message to those, such as Prime Minister Thatcher, who admonished his diplomatic discourse, Reagan does attempt to strengthen the credibility behind his own decisions.

Second to concerns about total nuclear disarmament were concerns regarding U.S. response to potential Soviet nuclear threats in the aftermath. Margaret Thatcher, prior to her 1979 election as Prime Minister, spoke on Soviet tendencies to disregard mutual agreements in favor of continuous military expansion in her “Britain Awake” speech. Such concerns that the Soviet Union would continue their under-the-table military expansion called Reagan to speak directly to those concerned. “I pledge to you,” he directly addresses his audience, assuming a more genuine, promising, and personal tone, “that we will maintain the capacity to deter Soviet aggression at any level at which it might occur.” Reagan reflects back on the Strategic Defense Initiative, also coined “Star Wars,” to better convey this promise, asserting that the research behind the initiative to shield Western populaces from Soviet intercontinental missile attacks will continue. Reagan’s use of the personal pronoun “I” bears significance to his listener as he makes a personal guarantee that he will continue to serve the safety and best interests of his people as opposed to pandering to Soviet interests. Reagan seeks to instill trust within his audience with this personal tone, assuring each concerned individual that his administration will provide the essential protection and guidance America needs during what would become the final years of the Cold War.

Another aspect of West German society to which Reagan appealed, an aspect also crucial to American principle, was the promise of freedom and what its promise could offer to the isolated world behind the Iron Curtain. “The East and West do not mistrust each other because we are armed; we are armed because we mistrust each other. And our differences are not about weapons but about liberty,” Reagan asserts in his address, concluding his statement with special attention to West Berlin, saying “Berlin stands security in its liberty. And freedom itself is transforming the globe.” By Reagan’s attempts to convince his audience with this rhetoric, each member would be led to assume that the West must have an advantage in the Cold War. This advantage stems from the fundamental liberties expressed in societies that emphasize ideals such as freedom, individualism, and social mobility, found in the enlightenment philosophies of Adam Smith, the “Father of Capitalism,” and John Locke, the “Father of Liberalism.”  According to Political Behavior contributor Keena Lipsitz, “the concern for liberty developed in human groups as they responded to the challenge of dealing with individuals who would bully and attempt to dominate them” (59). This “concern” shows centuries after its development, with the central oppositional stance against Soviet policy being its disregard for liberty. Reagan reiterates this comparison between Soviet “equality” and American “liberty,” citing the failures of one and the successes of the other to fortify his argument. Reagan’s syllogistic approach to Soviet failures deduces that failures of the Marxist system stem from its unwillingness to assume ideas that coincide with his own fundamental beliefs attributable to various Western philosophies and American foundational literature.

Diverging from the Marxist “equality of outcome” ideal, Reagan’s expressions of liberty find root in equality on the premise of “the innate “God-given” equality of all people” (Lipsitz 59). This “God-given” equality provides equal authority to the people, authority which allows for the “removal of tyrants” as it is “very much in tension with authority” (Lipsitz 59). Instilling this premise, along with other premises crucial to Western philosophy, would provide individuals oppressed by the Soviet government with adequate justification to assemble and reform its centralized structure. By this definition, Soviet equality fails due to its denial of basic fundamental liberty and individualism in favor of a systemic equality enforced by other humans who assume the position of equalizers. Reagan attempts to sustain this idea as well as his notion that Marxist governments are “obsolete” in the “age of redoubled economic growth,” and of “information and innovation” by citing the upcoming youth as a hopeful generation that fosters the growth of liberty.

It is no coincidence that Reagan’s address occurred in Berlin, the place Reagan himself cited as the “meeting place of East and West.” The “Tear Down this Wall” speech’s transcript passage containing this description of Berlin exemplifies Reagan’s trademark tone of hope, of inspiration, and of optimism with language that regards the city’s positive future. Berlin, in a late 1980s context, embodies a willingness of ideologies to come together for the good of humanity. Reagan’s coined identity as the “Great Communicator” is only intensified by his ability to optimistically present scenarios that should otherwise be approached with detriment and his gift for instilling hope for the future that not only are America’s best days are ahead, but also the world’s. Today, thirty-three years after Reagan delivered his address before the Berlin Wall, his presence in these former-Soviet nations is secure. In Warsaw and Przymore, Poland, Budapest, Hungary, Tbilisi, Georgia and even near the site of his speech in Berlin, he stands in bronze figures that encapsulate a legacy, a foreign policy, and a rhetoric which changed the world.



Works Cited

Atkinson, Nathan S., David Kaufer, and Suguru Ishizaki. "Presence and Global Presence in Genres of Self-Presentation: A Framework for Comparative Analysis." Rhetoric Society Quarterly, vol. 38, no. 4, 2008, pp. 357-384. ProQuest,

Bechtel, Gabriele. "Rhetoric Online. Persuasion and Politics on the World Wide Web." Rhetoric Society Quarterly, vol. 38, no. 2, 2008, pp. 224-228. ProQuest,

Grano, Daniel A. "Wise Ignorance and Socratic Interiority: Recovering a Dialogic Rhetoric." Rhetoric Society Quarterly, vol. 37, no. 1, 2007, pp. 1-18. ProQuest,

Lipsitz, Keena. “Playing with Emotions: The Effect of Moral Appeals in Elite Rhetoric.” Political Behavior, vol. 40, no. 1, Mar. 2018, pp. 57–78. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1007/s11109-017-9394-8.

Monje, Scott C. “Volume 2: End Game: Ronald Reagan’s ‘Tear Down This Wall’ Speech.” Defining Documents: The Cold War (1945-1991), Oct. 2016, pp. 471–477. EBSCOhost,,shib&db=khh&AN=12710 6366&site=eds-live&scope=site.

Ratnesar, Romesh. Tear Down This Wall: A City, A President, and the Speech That Ended the Cold War. Simon & Schuster, 2009.

Rowland, Robert C., and John M. Jones. "Reagan at the Brandenburg Gate: Moral Clarity Tempered By Pragmatism” Rhetoric & Public Affairs, vol.  9, no. 1, 2006, pp. 21-50. ProQuest,, doi:

Yoshitani, Gail. “Tear Down This Wall: A City, a President, and the Speech That Ended the Cold War - By Romesh Ratnesar.” Historian, vol. 73, no. 2, 2011, p. 3

"Mary Oliver Redefines 'Nature Poetry' "

by Kayla Hibberts

Best 1000-level Paper

The term “nature poetry” can be quite misleading due to the broad simplicity it applies to a truly complex style of prose, an expression conjuring up thoughts of elementary haikus about sunshine and springtime. In actuality, though, “nature poetry” encompasses not only nature as a muse of inspiration, but also as a means to challenge preconceived social and cultural ideologies. Mary Oliver is a writer who is very effective in utilizing her poetry for this purpose, specifically in her poems “The Journey,” “Wild Geese,” and “When Death Comes.” Her reoccurring theme of nature throughout these three poems allows her to influence readers to appreciate feminism, live a life of fulfillment, and seek self-expression, all through a means greater than themselves.

As previously stated, the theme of nature is reoccurring throughout most of Oliver’s poems. More specifically, Oliver creates through her writing “explorations” that are “firmly located in the materiality of nature” (Bonds 7). Essentially, nature is the foundation that Oliver uses to support her poems. This is to be expected because Oliver felt most content “out of doors in the woods, down by the water’s edge at the ponds or on the shore” (MacNamee 56). MacNamee vividly describes the “attention” Oliver gave “to the natural world around her home in Provincetown, Massachusetts” (56). Both her love for the outdoors and her observant personality transition directly into her work, “becom[ing] the hallmark of her poetry, taking notice simply of whatever happens to present itself” (Franklin). Franklin is not the only source with this view of Oliver’s writing style; the poet, according to Burton-Christie, “[w]ith her intense gaze focused carefully on the details of the ordinary, the everyday—especially in the natural world—she asks whether seeing more clearly can lead to living more deeply” (77). Burton-Christie explains that Oliver’s work makes readers reconsider their view of the natural world, and by extension, their views of themselves.

           First, Oliver’s writing is exceptional because, while it maintains the same beauty found in that of earlier poets, it also calls the reader’s attention towards something of more importance; through its reference to nature, Oliver’s work influences readers to appreciate feminism. In her seemingly simplistic “nature poems,” Oliver “challenges assumptions in our literary culture that implicitly deny women the power of imagination and the power of speech by objectifying women as a mute matter” (Bonds 4). Oliver’s poetry serves as an example that women writers are just as creative and capable of cultivating change as their male counterparts. While some critics claim that Oliver’s incorporation of nature in her poetry aligns with what “feminist Rosemary Radford Reuther has described as a ‘project of return to nature’ that is ‘aesthetic, personalistic, and escapist[,]’” it must be observed “counterpoised to Oliver’s nature poems are poems keenly attuned to a social world” (Bonds 9). This description from Bonds explains how Oliver’s nature poetry surpasses standard expectations of its genre and advocates for social change. For example, in her poem “The Journey,” Oliver utilizes the theme of nature to allude to a woman breaking free from her societal mold:

It was already late

           enough, and a wild night,

           and the road full of fallen

           branches and stones.

           But little by little,

           as you left their voices behind,

           the stars began to burn,

           through the sheets of clouds,

           and there was a new voice

           which you slowly

           recognized as your own, (19-29)

The descriptive imagery of a path littered with debris and stars burning through the clouds, as someone sets out for a new beginning, helps Oliver to paint a vividly dark picture in the minds of her audience. This is important because readers “need a little darkness to get [them] going,” and the trials of Oliver’s poem may lead to “revelations, [which], should feel hard-won” (Franklin). Rather than having the calming characteristic or “escapist” effect of nature poetry mentioned earlier, Oliver utilizes nature in her poems as a force for feminism, “cultivating attentiveness to nature’s communication of significances for which there is no human language, that is, for significances that elude consciousness dominated by patriarchal constructions,” thereby giving herself a stronger voice (Bonds 6).

           Second, Oliver utilizes the theme of nature to persuade her audience to live a life of fulfillment. In her own experience and writing, Oliver “asked questions ceaselessly and . . . encouraged us to do the same – to be curious, whimsical and above all, learn how to love and pay attention to the world” (MacNamee 56). Oliver believed awareness of the world’s complexity would lead to a greater awareness of our own complexity as humans, viewing life as “a meditation on the present moment [and] raising a pointed question (and a choice) about the kind of life that is unfolding before us, the kind of life we are or are not choosing” (Burton-Christie 77). In her poem “Wild Geese,” Oliver reasons with her readers that there are no set guidelines for the way someone must live:

           You do not have to be good.

           You do not have to walk on your knees

           for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.

           You only have to let the soft animal of your body

           love what it loves. (1-5)

Here, Oliver also uses vivid imagery of a dry, unforgiving climate to show the harsh reality of living a life for anyone else. She also compares the human spirit to a “soft animal,” showing that the desire to live a life of fulfillment is a basic instinct. Though this verse reads as a declarative statement, it is ultimately “an attempt at an answer, to the question that seems to drive just about all of Oliver’s work: How are we to live?” (Franklin). By once again utilizing the theme of nature, Oliver causes her readers that contemplate the meaning of “goodness” and explains that a life of fulfillment is the only reasonable answer to her daunting question.

           Third, Oliver uses “nature poetry” to advocate for self-expression amongst her audience. By searching to “understand how and where the natural world takes root within us” and the way “we are challenged and even transformed in the process of [a]wakening to nature’s soulful presence,” Oliver has been able to elaborate on these personal transformations in her poetry (Burton-Christie 77). Specifically, Oliver views nature as “a gentler form of moral direction,” providing an “impulse toward self-improvement” (Franklin). “Self-improvement” for Oliver being synonymous with genuine self-expression, or being true to oneself. Self-expression is important to Oliver because she views “all life as transient,” realizing that “pain and suffering [will] also pass, and that joy [can] be found even in singular moments, in the smallest, simplest things (MacNamee 56). This belief is apparent in her poem “When Death Comes” when Oliver states, “[A]nd I look upon time as no more than an idea, / and I consider eternity as another possibility, / and I think of each life as a flower, as common/ as a field daisy, and as singular,” (15-18). Initially, Oliver establishes that time is a manmade concept and eternity is not a guarantee, then she again references nature to compare individual lives to common flowers, each existing separately from one another. This nature-linked metaphor allows Oliver to show how fleeting life is and further expands on the need for self-expression.

           In summary, the work of Oliver, through her love for the natural world, has transformed both the world of poetry and the world from which it came. By consistently incorporating themes of nature throughout her writing, Oliver has been able to advocate for many different ideas, with feminism, fulfillment, and self-expression being among these. Rather than simply writing poems to appreciate the beauty of nature, Oliver was able to channel her admiration for nature into her poetry as a means to cultivate change. With this accomplishment, Mary Oliver redefines “nature poetry” by adding truly thought-provoking prose to this genre and forcing readers to acknowledge the depth that is beyond its simplistic title.



Works Cited

Bonds, D. S. “The Language of Nature in the Poetry of Mary Oliver.” Women’s Studies, vol. 21, no. 1, Mar. 1992, p. 1-16. Taylor & Francis Online, doi:10.1080/00497878.1992.9978923.

Burton-Christie, Douglas. “Nature, Spirit, and Imagination in the Poetry of Mary Oliver.” Cross Currents, vol. 46, no. 1, Spring 1996, p. 77. JSTOR Journals,

Franklin, Ruth. "What Mary Oliver's Critics Don't Understand." The New Yorker, 20 Nov. 2017, Accessed 21 Mar. 2020.

MacNamee, Jane. “A Thousand Opening Doors.” Resurgence & Ecologist, no. 319, Mar. 2020, p. 56. Resurgence & Ecologist,

Oliver, Mary. "The Journey." Peaceful Rivers Homestead, Accessed 12 Apr. 2020.

Oliver, Mary. "When Death Comes." The University of New Mexico, Accessed 12 Apr. 2020.

Oliver, Mary. "Wild Geese." Peaceful Rivers Homestead, Accessed 12 Apr. 2020.


"The Feminine Rhetoric of Michelle Obama"

by Kristina Almazan

Over the past century, the role of the First Lady of the United States has expanded from being merely ceremonial to being more actively involved in the election process of the president. Although first ladies can and do play an important role in helping their husbands secure the presidency, they are still expected to take on and convey more traditional feminine roles. Indeed, first ladies are often seen as embodying American femininity, and as such, they must present themselves in every way as a “lady.” Every first lady must be a “wife and mother who is patriotic, gracious, well-spoken, politically fluent and inoffensive” (White, 2011). This feminine image that a first lady is expected to present significantly impacts the rhetoric employed by the women who are “auditioning” for the role. The speeches and public speaking strategies used by each first lady has taken on that of a more feminine style, including those of Michelle Obama. Using various rhetorical strategies considered to be more feminine, Michelle Obama adheres to the traditional notion of a first lady.

One feminine rhetorical strategy that Michelle Obama uses to present herself as a first lady is that of personal narratives. As with all other first ladies, Obama’s public addresses were meant to humanize and make both herself and her husband more relatable and, thus, more likeable. Obama was expected to accomplish this by making her addresses more personal and emotional. Rather than speak about politics or issues the nation might be facing, topics that are seen as more masculine, Obama employs the more feminine strategy of storytelling to to humanize herself and her husband (Vigil, 2014). For example, during her 2008 Democratic National Convention speech, Obama used several personal stories to describe her and Barack Obama’s connection to the American Dream. She begins by telling her audience about the shared values that she and her husband were taught growing up and explains how they hope to impart these values to the next generation of Americans. In sharing such a story, Obama assures her audience that she and her husband have “a clear moral compass” that will allow them to lead the nation in the right direction and that they understand the value of hard work (Valgento, 2016). Obama continues the narrative of the American Dream by telling the story of her father who, while disabled, continued to work hard so that he could give his family a better life. Through the stories of her father and of the values she shares with her husband, Obama conveys to the audience that she understands the struggles of average Americans and reminds them that they are all connected by the American Dream (Valgento, 2016). As a result, Obama uses the feminine rhetorical strategy of personal narratives to fulfill her first lady duty of making herself and her husband more relatable.

A second feminine rhetorical strategy that Michelle Obama uses to conform to the traditional role of a first lady is that of maternal appeals. As a country, Americans expect the first lady to adhere to traditional gender roles and continue to embrace their place as mothers, even when they hold a position with more power. To appear more feminine, first ladies are expected to focus on speaking about their experiences as mothers, and Michelle Obama does so using maternal appeals. Throughout her many addresses during the 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, Obama highlights how motherhood is her most important role and greatest accomplishment (Hayden, 2016). She rarely chooses to focus on her Ivy League education or her success as a lawyer, placing motherhood above both. For example, in her 2012 Democratic National Convention speech, Obama said that her most important occupation is that of “mom-in-chief” (Hayden, 2016). To emphasize how important motherhood is to her, she continuously references how devoted she is to her daughters. In her opening statements to the 2008 Democratic National Convention, Obama heartfeltly says that she is speaking to her audience as “mom who’s girls are the center...of [her] world.” (Hayden, 2016). She continues to show how devoted she is to the upbringing of her children in later interviews when she describes how she disciplines her children to shape them into better people. Obama further highlights her role as a mother by explaining how her daughters are the main reason she does all that she does. For instance, when speaking about her community service projects, Obama emphasized how she was doing it for her daughters instead of for herself (Hayden, 2016). As a result, Obama uses maternal appeals to highlight her role as a mother and, therefore, adhere to the traditional gender role occupied by all other first ladies.

Although not considered a “feminine” strategy, Michelle Obama uses the technique of changing her rhetorical persona to better appeal to how different audiences view the first lady. In general, America expects the first lady to adhere to traditional gender roles and present herself as more feminine. However, different audiences view the first lady, and female orators in general, in different ways, and Michelle Obama changes her rhetorical persona to fit with the viewpoint of those she is speaking to (White, 2016). For instance, when speaking to an audience of Black women, a group Obama fits in the most with as a Black woman, she does not present herself in an overly feminine way, nor does she reference her motherly role as often. Instead, she actually speaks about her professional accomplishments and issues of inequality, such as the gender pay gap, both of which are considered more masculine rhetoric (White, 2016). Obama does not have to appeal to femininity when speaking to this group because they do not expect her to; they are a group that is not concerned with the first lady being feminine because they understand what being a mother is and want her to speak to them as their equal (White, 2016). In contrast, her speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, a venue where the audience was predominantly White, Obama focuses on her role as a mother and wife and mentions little about her education and career. Obama limits her rhetoric to the more feminine aspects of her life because, in general, White women and White men (especially conservative-leaning White men), expect her, as a future first lady, to embrace a more traditional gender role. As a result, Obama changes her rhetorical persona to be more masculine-leaning or more feminine-leaning to better appeal to how different audiences view the position of first lady.

The feminine rhetorical strategies used by Michelle Obama and many other first ladies raise important questions about the limitations placed on female politicians. The fact that women are expected to speak about and use strategies considered to be more feminine, such as personal narratives and maternal appeals, shows how women in higher places of power are still being confined to the domestic sphere. Since women cannot speak freely about their profession or work outside motherhood and family, their rhetoric reinforces a “hegemonic masculinity in a traditionally patriarchal political system” (Vigil, 2016). Women are expected to uphold the patriarchal notion that politics is only a place for men by adhering to traditional gender roles.  When women try to use rhetoric that is considered to be more masculine or not feminine enough, they face backlash that could endanger their husbands’ bid for the presidency. For example, early in the 2008 presidential campaign, Michelle Obama was thought to be rejecting her traditional gender role as a supportive wife and mother when her rhetoric was deemed too critical of her husband and his campaign (McGinley, 2009). To prevent her husband from potentially losing the election, Obama adopted a more feminine presence through more feminine rhetoric. Obama’s experience illustrates how difficult it can be for female politicians to try to break away from and reject the constraints placed on them as women in a male-dominated sphere (Vigil, 2016). Ultimately, the fact that many women opt to conform to traditional gender roles uphold the masculine nature of the political scene, making it difficult for future first ladies to challenge the place they are expected to occupy.

In the minds of the American public, the First Lady is a position characterized by the elegance and poise of a true “lady.” Every woman who has received this title has been expected to fulfill and embrace the qualities that it entails. As a result, the idea of the first lady embodying true American womanhood has had a major impact in shaping the rhetoric of the position. First ladies, like Michelle Obama, have used rhetorical strategies considered to be more feminine in order to better appeal to and present themselves the way Americans expect them to. These expectations would suggest that Americans will only accept women who conform to their traditional role as mothers and wives, severely limiting the possibility of women breaking away from their gender norms. It will be interesting to see how the rhetoric of the president’s spouse, a position that has always been occupied by women, will change when it is a man who speaks on behalf of his wife.


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maternity. Women's Studies in Communication, 40(1), 11-28. Retrieved from

McGinley, A. C. (2008). Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, and Michelle Obama: Performing gender,

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"Sex and the Southern Belle: Deconstructing Power Dynamics of Southern Sensuality"

by Taylor Penley

            Coy, masquerading behind pretenses of hospitality and etiquette, and bearing cumbersome age-old traditions, the “southern belle” characterizes one distinct essence of the American Southern Renaissance. The Old South’s romanticized gentility typifies and dehumanizes the southern belle, ascribing her to bygone societal standards instead of allowing her autonomy and indignance. But, these women, dressed in frills and spirited colors, remain conscious of their childhood admonitions and cling to an ebbing standard characterized by restraint and deception. This way of life, as “gone with the wind” as Margaret Mitchell’s fiction implies, subsists in this archetype personified by characters such as her Scarlett O’Hara and A Streetcar Named Desire’s Blanche DuBois. Each belle cultivates controversial discourse in various ways, her own individual societal role and portrayal of “Dixie” now challenged and berated. The two characterize aristocracy, a growing contentiousness between agrarian ages and modernity, and an inevitable diminution of an old way of life. The southern elite in each belle’s account comes associated with another predominant and oppressive feature – male sexual dominance exemplified by violent assault. Sexual submission reaffirms patriarchal constraints by which southern belles could be contained and fashioned to a fulfill a “perfect” standard, but how these constraints surface in both Gone With the Wind and A Streetcar Named Desire are not  bound to scenes which either describe or insinuate assault. The southern belle sexual standard appears complex, involved, and ingrained in this antiquated society now beholden to different constraints – the harsh conquest of history and the fair criticism of today.

            From the first moment Scarlett O’Hara sits on Tara’s porch steps in broad, billowing frills of white, she illustrates a fiery disposition confined to an outward image of purity and decorum. Gone With the Wind’s introductory pages establish her coy daintiness and careful exhibition of femininity through her interactions with Stuart and Brent Tarleton. She gossips and groans at the possibility of war, reclaiming her central authority in conversation. Mitchell takes a clear focus on Scarlett’s intricate behavior and physical appearance in the introductory scene of her novel, describing Scarlett as attention-seeking when concerning the opposite sex, playing into the southern belle standard of flirtatious yet virginal. “She could never long endure any conversation of which she was not the chief subject,” Mitchell describes of Scarlett, but her conscious physical reactions to a conversation laden with “masculine” discussion especially appeals to southern belles and their keen awareness of beauty and charm (5).

Scarlett is manipulative by nature. Her feminine charm, indicated by descriptions as simple as her “consciously deep[ened] dimple” and emphasis on long, fluttering eyelashes made comparable to a butterfly’s wings, is one of her defining characteristics throughout Gone With the Wind. Men remain in constant pursuit of Scarlett, struggling to capture and maintain her interest and striving to appease her when she expresses disdain. From the beginning, Scarlett appears as an object, but one more complex than a simple object of desire. Though she exudes charm and appeals to the nature of the southern man, this charm and appeal transforms her into an object, a prize to be won, for many men. The Tarleton twins compete for her attention during the initial scene at Tara and, at the Wilkes’ Twelve Oaks barbecue, each man appears captivated by her presence. Southern belles innately relish in vanity due to their emphasis on outward presentation, so Scarlett, except when under the influence of bad moods, also relishes in capturing the attention of men.

            Blanche DuBois presents the Southern belle archetype at a different time. Tennessee Williams published his world-renowned A Streetcar Named Desire in 1947, eleven years after Margaret Mitchell published Gone With the Wind. Evidently, the Southern belle archetype maintained a relevance throughout the 1940s, following the success of the Gone With the Wind film released in 1939. Blanche DuBois, though similar to Scarlett O’Hara in multiple regards, stems from a background in Laurel, Mississippi as opposed to North Georgia. Blanche, exhibits the dramatic whims of a Southern belle while also remaining conscious of two essential factors – her background and her appearance. Deborah Geis describes Blanche’s behavior as “hyperbolic,” while also providing a unique insight into how this “hyperbolic” attitude only intensifies her sexual embodiment through the “near-caricatured imagery of the Southern belle” (27). Blanche is inherently complex, but this “hyperbolic” demeanor only contributes to the many roles she assumes, including the one southern society expects her to uphold. Geis later amends her description of Blanche, adding that “Williams’s Blanche, herself, is a consummate actress and role-player,” tying her into multiple facets of sexuality (28). This description can be deconstructed as an illustration of some sexual exhibitionist nature Geis assumes Blanche has or, in contrast, emphasizes the effect her façade has on her overall coyness.

            Williams’s text presents Blanche as vain, seeking validation from men, and flirting with them often. Her gestures and words vary, but sustain one purpose. She “coquettishly” places the flowers Mitch bought for her to her lips, she “blows a kiss” at a young man, calls him “honey lamb,” and physically kisses the young man all at the conclusion of one scene (99). Like Scarlett, the nature behind Blanche’s sexuality is deceitful. When speaking of Mitch in Scene Five of Williams’s play, Blanche addresses her advancing age and states that she has not disclosed its actual numeric value to Mitch. “I want to deceive him enough to make him – want me” she says to Stella, reiterating her background as a Southern belle whose façade attempts to attract the opposite sex, and asserts that he already believes her to be “prim and proper” (95). Blanche must appear virginal to attract a man in this harsh Southern society though she is, in fact, neither a virgin nor as “proper” as her appearance indicates.

In the scene in which Blanche and Stella discuss age, Blanche, like Scarlett, wears white. Her white skirt is nearly stained by a Coke Stella pours into a glass, but the skirt remains unstained. In both instances of Scarlett O’Hara and Blanche DuBois, this shade of white is meant to represent purity or virginity, but, as symbolized by the near-stain, Blanche’s threatens to be tarnished by reputation. Mitchell, in Gone With the Wind, masterfully plays with color to symbolize sexual awakening and reputation with the novel’s progression. John M. Clum, in comparing Scarlett with Belle Watling, a brothel owner in Gone With the Wind, analyzes Scarlett’s changing attitude about sex, stating that “[she] will use [it] to survive and prosper” (191). Scarlett first notices Belle Watling in Atlanta and cites her “brightly colored dress—too bright for street wear” in addition to Belle’s fiery red hair (197). Color appears integral to sexuality in Gone With the Wind, with vibrancy and ostentatiousness affiliated with promiscuity. Clum adds that Belle’s extravagant wear signifies she is a prostitute, but “Scarlett, too, becomes identified with attire that is far more lavish than that worn by respectable Atlanta ladies” (192). Following her seemingly private embrace with Ashley Wilkes, Scarlett becomes the focal point of scandal and Rhett Butler, in non-negotiative fashion, instructs her to wear her most lavish and revealing gown to Ashley’s birthday party the following evening. In the novel, the controversially sexualizing dress is green, but late 1930s technicolor film better accommodated red, so the dress appeared even more scandalous and as something that “no respectable Atlanta lady could conceive of in the 1860s” (Clum 193).

Fashion and sexuality appear synonymously in A Streetcar Named Desire as well. Blanche’s flashy, extravagant wardrobe augments her masquerade as a dainty, fragile southern belle. The introductory stage directions of scene ten describe Blanche’s wardrobe trunk as resting in the “center of the bedroom” with “flowery dresses thrown across it” (Williams 151). In this scene, Blanche fashions a rhinestone tiara atop her head and wears a “crumbled white satin evening gown and a pair of scuffed silver slippers” (Williams 151). Stanley, when he enters the apartment, is made synonymous with sexuality and vivaciousness by mention of his colorful attire. Blanche, however, still attempts to maintain an image of purity and togetherness. The unfortunate fact that Williams describes her white satin gown as “soiled” indicates that perhaps some aspect of her image or psyche will also be tarnished as a result of the impending sexual assault (151). Stanley, though a masculine figure, further exhibits the sexual vitality Williams seeks to invoke in this scene as he “shakes out a brilliant pyjama coat” from the silk set he wore on his wedding night and later adorns it in the scene (157-158). Stanley, in addition to physically violating Blanche, criticizes her fashion as being a “worn-out Mardi Gras outfit, rented for fifty cents from some rag-picker,” both demoralizing and chastising her for utilizing a façade. In the aftermath of Stanley’s sexual assault of Blanche, the next scene describes a “tragic radiance in her red satin robe” (Williams 166). Red is an especially emotive color. As with the vibrant red dress Scarlett O’Hara wore in technicolor film, red often encapsulates sex, fear, excitement, and a plethora of other strong, striking, or fearful emotions. The “tragic radiance” Blanche’s red robe assumes in scene eleven does not evoke red’s pleasant connotations, but rather a fearful approach to sex, the result of sexual violence.

A Streetcar Named Desire’s emphasis on sexuality reaffirms a plethora of power structures inherent to the more “traditional” South. From the moment Stanley and Blanche meet, Williams characterizes Stanley as an especially masculine man who exudes sexuality at every turn. He is aggressive, as seen in his assault on Blanche in scene ten and his physical abuse of Stella in scene three. He is callous, as demonstrated by his ill regard for Blanche’s psyche or Stella’s well-being and concern for her sister, and he is overtly sexual, described initially in terms of crudity, roughness, and indulgence (Williams 25). Sex’s role in the work is apparent from the moment he enters, his interest piqued by Blanche. Stella seems too susceptible to giving in to Stanley following his physical abusiveness enacted on her, so he likely sees women as generally weak objects of sexual desire.

The role of sex in Gone With the Wind, however, develops gradually, according to John Clum, with the “promise of [it]” serving as a means of Scarlett “getting what she most wants” (193). In the novel’s beginning, Scarlett lusts for attention from men, but, beholden to the laws of warfare and the tragic course of time, Scarlett’s focus shifts instead to security until she believes she has a bountiful amount. “First [she wants] the undivided attention of young men,” Clum says, “Later, it is financial security. Finally, it is pleasure” (193). Scarlett may be defiant and self-sufficient in many regards, but her acknowledgement that her own sexuality is her source of power signifies an inherent structural flaw that, in fact, sex sells.

The structural flaw of dependency allows men to exert power over Scarlett, whether intentionally or unintentionally. For example, Scarlett wears rouge to “win over” her second husband, Frank Kennedy, “so she could get his money” (Clum 193). Scarlett, by way of enticement in return for favors, serves as a loose iteration of a prostitute though she does not actually offer sex as an exchange. However, one uniquely definitive trait credited to Scarlett O’Hara is, as Deborah E. Barker indicates in “Southern Belle/s: Contextualizing Gone With the Wind in Two Twenty-First Century Films,” that she “refuses to be defined as a victim” and she flaunts her own “sexuality and femininity,” relating her to modern feministic culture more than originally thought (210). This expands upon an assertion made by Susak K. Cahn in Sexual Reckonings where she asserts that Scarlett O’Hara perfectly blended two iterations of the American South – one that is idealized in the form of the beautiful and representative of tradition, but also another which links her to the “New South” in which women are “strong-willed, impetuous, and aggressive” (4). Clum, in his article, also affirms that Scarlett’s “power over men is what she values most” (194). While Scarlett does appear to successfully exert power over a number of men such as Frank Kennedy, Charles Hamilton, and even Ashley Wilkes in Gone With the Wind, her obvious enigma is Rhett Butler.

Like Stanley Kowalski, Rhett Butler fulfills the role of a mysterious, masculine figure with an ambiguous background. In both Gone With the Wind and A Streetcar Named Desire, lustful stares serve as initial signals of sexual desire and male dominance. As Scarlett climbs a staircase during the Twelve Oaks barbecue, she gazes down and sees Rhett Butler for the first time – smiling and offering a gaze she feels undresses her. As Stanley enters the room and sees Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire, he is noted as habitually “sizing up women for a glance, with sexual classification, crude images flashing into his mind and determining the way he smiles at them” (25). Each insinuate an attack of sorts, a violation of the helpless and frail image society attempts to ascribe to southern belles. Though Scarlett O’Hara defies this image on numerous occasions, she, like Blanche, is not spared physical violation.

From the moment Scarlett and Rhett meet, their sexual relationship is foreshadowed. The pivotal moment often characterized as a “sexual awakening” for Scarlett comes after a confrontation during her marriage to Rhett. Rhett, notably drunk, forces himself on Scarlett who, appears resistant at first, but then more accepting of his advances. Molly Haskell in Philip Gentile’s “A Forum on Gone With the Wind: A Convergence of Voices,” discusses the scene characterized as marital rape, implying that it leads into Scarlett’s final transition for her use of sexuality for pleasure instead of bribery or vanity and she, “a frigid woman,” finally “succumbs [to Rhett] and in the process discovers the delights of sex” (251). Though Scarlett, in both novel and film adaptations, does appear to be in a positive mood following the event, the development indicates a blatant disregard for her initial objections. Haskell, with her assumption, does assume Mitchell included the scene either as a result of 1930s cultural differences regarding sexual behaviors or that Mitchell herself had been sexually assaulted and attempted to “blur” the harsh reality of the event,” but Haskell’s analysis fails to thoroughly consider factors of intoxication or delirium (251-252). Scarlett perceives the event in terms of a fever dream with a “soft and swirling and all enveloping” darkness surrounding them (Mitchell 940). The most poignant illustration of sexual power, that Rhett is “someone stronger than she, someone she could neither bully nor break, someone who was bullying and breaking her” reiterates the masculine power dynamic embedded in Old South culture (Mitchell 940).

Stanley’s assault of Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire is less ambiguous. An uncomfortable atmosphere develops in the apartment as Stanley returns from the hospital at which Stella delivers their son. Blanche, not only making a now exponential descent into mental instability, but also typified by her blatant alcohol addiction, now faces the same delirium debate the marital rape scene faces in Gone With the Wind. Both women are conscious enough to reject the forceful advances of both men. Blanche, however, appears to struggle more internally as she not only sorts through mental tribulation, but also acknowledges the looming threat of physical assault. Scene ten is laden with light and musical descriptions which invoke chaotic imagery and perpetuate both Blanche’s sense of terror and desperation for help. From Stanley, animalistic desire manifests into a situation in which he disregards Blanche’s reproach of him, but, from Blanche, the mental connotations grow increasingly convoluted. “For the first time in her whole life,” Daniel Thomières writes in “Tennessee Williams and the Two Streetcars,” “she is wearing dirty clothes, as if the pretense of going back to the white world of Belle Reve had been completely shattered” (388). This exemplifies a “fall” of an Old South archetype, of the southern belle which Blanche represents.

Blanche, unlike Scarlett O’Hara, finds herself in a large city in the 20th century, during an age of rapid modernization where conflicting variables of tradition and progressivism stand at the crux. Both Scarlett and Blanche suffer hardship and, in some capacity, illustrate a changing American South, but the contexts of each scenario differ. Each represent a “southern hospitality” or etiquette that Anthony Szczesiul, in The Southern Hospitality Myth: Ethics, Politics, Race, and American Memory, characterizes as “a reflection of actual social practices associated with the antebellum planter classes” (11). However, transitions between Old South and New South attempted to preserve some aspect of the antebellum past, so that “southern hospitality” of Scarlett O’Hara’s youth becomes more of a façade or “performative speech act” than a ritualistic practice of a bygone era (Szczesiul 11). Blanche DuBois exemplifies this “act” with her sexual and moral proprieties and extravagant attire which creates a deceptive but alluring image of southern aristocracy reminiscent of white agrarian-class antebellum standards. Southern belles appear virginal, protected by extravagant plantation allure and the security, the wealth this allure signifies. Blanche, even as she further descends into insanity, clings to any idea of stability – financial, social, mental – in the form of her fantasies about the wealthy Shep Huntleigh relieving her from tragedy.

In either case of Blanche or Scarlett, tragedy leads to feelings of isolation. Blanche’s fantasies regarding Huntleigh are an attempt to reconnect with the security of her lost family home Belle Reve because he signifies financial security and a stability her mental state gradually loses. The responsibility of Tara that befalls Scarlett O’Hara also means the plantation’s finances become her burden. Tara is Scarlett’s beacon on a hill, her source of strength and self-rediscovery throughout Gone With the Wind. Her love affair with her home often supercedes her love of multiple men, including Ashley Wilkes or Rhett Butler. Even in searching for “home” and stability both women are led to believe men are the manifestation of each. Southern Women in the Progressive Era: A Reader describes the life of a southern belle as “aimless,” the byproduct of a society dominated by men (Roberts and Walker 10). Scarlett attempts to restore this almost “aimless” life in which her only goals regarded enchanting men, namely Ashley Wilkes, just as Blanche seeks to restore her stability through an idea of a man.

Patriarchal dominance ingrained in either woman’s era reiterates an inherent societal belief that women cannot be strong or self-sufficient. The cumbersome reality Scarlett O’Hara faces after returning to her war-torn Tara does illustrate her capacity for independence, but her longing to return to the stability and security of the bygone antebellum South leads her to commit to two marriages to financially stable men. These commitments serve as a part of her “exchange” or, as Clum asserts in his analysis, her loose iteration of “prostitution” (193). Scarlett exchanges marital sex with Frank Kennedy and Rhett Butler in exchange for the preservation of an idea, of Tara.

Belle Reve’s loss recapitulates an argument of feminine dependence by Blanche’s inability to sustain a home on her own in A Streetcar Named Desire. Blanche appears aware of the fragility associated with her sex through both her perpetuation of the southern belle archetype and her recurring search for a male partner. If financial and home security come from men, then either woman in either story must make an “exchange” with a man to receive each. Since Blanche searches for a man but never finds one in Williams’s play, her only possible home or stabilizing source is a mental hospital which then becomes the dominant force in her life. Scarlett, as Gone With the Wind concludes, attempts to stop Rhett as he abandons her, crying “if you go, what shall I do?” (Mitchell 1035). Scarlett’s “new money” can only be credited to Rhett’s wealth, so he proves essential to the security she seeks. Once he goes, however, she recognizes her link to an idealized past, her old home Tara. This leads the reader to question what exactly is “gone with the wind”: the Old South, Rhett Butler, or Scarlett’s hopes of rekindling an old sense of stability?

As critique and discourse into the Old South changes in the twenty-first century, such quintessential figures as Scarlett O’Hara and Blanche DuBois also fall subject to such critique and discourse. Their portrayal of an idea, a southern fantasy reiterates something valuable about the American past – the structural and ideological incompetence of a society that abounds in allotted roles. The southern belle archetype subsists in characters like O’Hara and DuBois and each conveys a sense of female subjugation in various senses. If critiquing these inherently flawed structures and ideologies of the past contributes to better understanding of societal structures today, these Old South archetypes and fantasies achieve a purpose. Regardless of the roles sex assumes as both an act and as a biological identifier, either meaning indicates potential for power disparity. As discourse swiftly shifts into an intersectional and all-encapsulating entity in the twenty-first century, both Scarlett O’Hara’s and Blanche DuBois’s iterations of the classical southern femininity prove valuable elements in better understanding how sexuality and power have functioned over the course of time.

Works Cited

Barker, Deborah E. “Southern Belle/s: Contextualizing Gone With the Wind in Two Twenty-First Century Films.” Southern Quarterly, vol. 55, no. 2/3, Winter 2018, pp. 207–226. EBSCOhost,shib&db=a9h&AN=131644750&site=eds-live&scope=site.

Cahn, Susan K. Sexual Reckonings. Harvard University Press, 2007. EBSCOhost,,shib&db=nlebk&AN=282359&site=eds-live&scope=site.

Clum, John M. “Kisses and Commerce: Belle Watling and Scarlett O’Hara.” Southern Quarterly, vol. 55, no. 2/3, Winter 2018, pp. 191–206. EBSCOhost,,shib&db=a9h&AN=131644749&site=eds-live&scope=site.

Geis, Deborah R. “Deconstructing (A Streetcar Named) Desire: Gender Re-Citation in Belle Reprieve.” American Drama, vol. 11, no. 2, Summer 2002, pp. 21–31. EBSCOhost,,shib&db=ibh&AN=31727978&site=eds-live&scope=site.

Gentile, Phillip. “A Forum on Gone With the Wind: A Convergence of Voices.” Southern Quarterly, vol. 55, no. 2/3, Winter 2018, pp. 245–254. EBSCOhost,,shib&db=a9h&AN=131644752&site=eds-live&scope=site.

Mitchell, Margaret. Gone With the Wind. Scribner, 1936.

Roberts, Giselle, and Melissa Walker. Southern Women in the Progressive Era: A Reader. University of South Carolina Press, 2019. EBSCOhost,,shib&db=nlebk&AN=1802806&site=eds-live&scope=site.

Szczesiul, Anthony. The Southern Hospitality Myth: Ethics, Politics, Race, and American Memory. University of Georgia Press, 2017. EBSCOhost,,shib&db=nlebk&AN=1523447&site=eds-live&scope=site.

Thomières, Daniel. “Tennessee Williams and the Two Streetcars.” Midwest Quarterly, vol. 53, no. 4, Summer 2012, pp. 374–391. EBSCOhost,,shib&db=slh&AN=78091488&site=eds-live&scope=site.

Williams, Tennessee. A Streetcar Named Desire. New Directions, 1947.

Work and Fulfillment

"From Candlewicking to Chenille: The Story of the Rise of the Tufted Textile Industry in Dalton, Georgia

by Rachel Pinson

Best Upper Division Paper

                                         “Home Means More with Carpet on the Floor”

                                                                         - Carpet Institute Marketing Strategy 1945-1947

            Located in the rolling foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, in the southern Appalachian region of Northwest Georgia, sits the serene and bucolic town of Dalton. Originally called Cross Plains, the denizens changed its name in 1847, to honor the founder of the city, Edward Dalton White. Many historical events have occurred in Dalton, like when the General passed through it during the Great Locomotive Chase of the Civil War.  However, the most notable historical event is how serene little Dalton became known as the “Carpet Capital of the World.” The origins of Dalton becoming the “Carpet Capital” happened by chance when a young girl rediscovered the lost art of tufting bedspreads in 1895. This eventually led to the tufting of carpet, which grew out of the tufted bedspread industry that began in the early 1900s. Dalton being located in the Appalachian region of Georgia is ironic because most people associate the Appalachian region as being home to backward, illiterate and poverty-stricken people. However, because the tufted carpet industry grew out of the tufted bedspread industry in Dalton, it quite literally catapulted Dalton from anonymity to become an anomaly because, during the late 1960s and the early 1970s, more millionaires per capita lived in Dalton than anywhere else in the United States.[1] This essay will seek to explain how the entrepreneurial and economic opportunity that inspired many women to craft and sell tufted bedspreads in the early 1900s was still around sixty-eight years later when four men founded the anomalous Galaxy Carpet Mills Inc. in the Appalachian region of North Georgia.

             This essay is not the first work to detail the tufted carpet industry of Dalton, Georgia. Two informative and detailed books about the tufted carpet industry of Dalton, Georgia are Carpet Capital: The Rise of a New South Industry by Randall L. Patton with David B. Parker and Bedspreads to Broadloom: The Story of the Tufted Carpet Industry by Thomas M. Deaton. Although, both books chronicle the rise of the tufted carpet industry, each framed the narrative in a different way. In Carpet Capital, Randall L. Patton framed his narrative to tell the story of how the tufted carpet industry rose to become a major industry in the New South during the post-World War II period.[2] The term “New South” was coined by Henry W. Grady in speeches that he gave in the years after the Civil War. In those speeches, Grady implored the Southerners to look towards the industrialized nature of the North and to model their own economy in that way, instead of just rebuilding their agrarian society.

             According to Patton, “most scholarship on industrial development in the American South has focused on what James C. Cobb has called ‘the selling of the South,’ which is the feverish pursuit of outside investment by southern state and local governments and boosters.”[3] In other words, most of the written accounts of the industrial South have been propaganda-like in nature because they were trying to persuade outsiders to bring their businesses to the South to help it grow. Patton’s reason for writing Carpet Capital: The Rise of a New South Industry was to show how the tufted carpet industry helped to industrialize not only Dalton, Georgia, where it began, but also the South as well.

            In Bedspreads to Broadloom, Thomas M. Deaton framed his narrative as a way to tell the story of the tufted carpet industry by presenting it as “the story of the people who worked, dreamed and created the companies, the machines and the carpet.”[4]  As a caveat to his narrative, Deaton informed the reader that “not every story can be told,” so he selected the ones that best “represented both the present and the past of those who created the tufted carpet industry."[5] Although some of the same entrepreneurs and their carpet mills are featured in both Randall L.  Patton’s book and in Thomas M. Deaton’s book, there are differences between the two. One difference is that Patton provided a more extensive timeline of the tufted carpet industry, by mentioning practically each one in his narrative, whereas Deaton focused on only a few of the major carpet mills and their founders. Another difference is that Deaton’s book is more detailed than Patton’s because he focused on only a few carpet mills. However, both books begin by chronicling the life of Catherine Evans Whitener, the inspiration behind the tufted carpet industry.

            The tufted carpet industry has a very humble beginning, that began when a young girl, Catherine Evans, rediscovered the lost art of tufting bedspreads in 1895. Catherine Evans was born on August 10, 1880 to William R. and Nancy A. Evans in a farmhouse that was located one mile west of Reo, near Dalton, in Whitfield County.[6] She was the “second of six children” and because she lived in a rural portion of Georgia, she only received a fifth-grade education.[7] In 1892, when Evans was twelve years old, she went to visit her cousin, Milton Tate, at his home in McCutchen, Georgia, and, while she was there, she “saw a bedspread that attracted her attention.”[8] The design of the bedspread was “square [and] checked off by quilting frames.”[9] Evans admired the “craftsmanship of the spread,” so much “that she wanted to replicate it so that she could have one of her own,” but after “inquiring among the older women in her family, she realized that none of them knew how the spread had been produced.”[10] After Evans returned home, “the memory of the beautiful “counterpane,” [as bedspreads were referred to in the late 1800s], remained in her mind,” and, three years later, in 1895, when she was fifteen years old, she “again visited the Tate home and examined the spread more closely.”[11] At her second look at the bedspread, Evans realized that it was “tufted,” which meant that “several strands of thread were pushed through the cloth [and] then clipped,” which produced a beautiful design.[12]

            The technique that Catherine Evans had rediscovered was called “candlewicking,” which had been “practiced in the United States since the 1700s,” but had become a lost art by the time the Civil War began in the 1860s.[13] The term candlewicking refers to the practice of hand-tufting “plain stitches [that] are sewn into a sheet of fabric (usually cotton), then are clipped on the top of the fabric and fluffed to make tufts.”[14] The result is “short pieces of yarn that look like regular stitches on the bottom of the fabric and fuzzy pompoms on top.”[15] The following is the process of how Evans, in her own words, described how she made her first tufted bedspread:

            I got the material (flour sacks) seamed it together, placed it on the floor, took quilting frames and marked it off (with a pencil) in squares of about three inches. Then I got white thread which was in skeins, and ran it off on the spinning wheel to make 12 strands of number eight yarn. I put in a bodkin (curved) needle and started working.[16]The finished bedspread was “like that Irish Chain quilt pattern in squares.”[17]

            Evans had thus successfully resurrected the lost art of “candlewicking,” but, in the process of making her own bedspread, she also created a new sewing technique. The new technique was the tufting stitch, “which is a running stitch of yarn sewn into the base sheeting and cut between stitches to form the tuft.”[18] To ensure that the tufts stay in place, “the unbleached sheeting is then laundered so it shrinks around the base of the tuft leaving it securely anchored.”[19] Evans’ new technique improved upon the original tufting design, which then changed how materials were tufted in modern times. The process of how Catherine Evans rediscovered candlewicking is significant to the origins of the carpet industry, as Thomas M. Deaton stated, because most of the carpet that is produced in the United States is “manufactured by the [mechanized] tufting process, which comprises insertion of pile tufts by a row of eyed needles which penetrate a primary backing fabric, thus forming tufts from the yarn threaded through the eyes of the tufting needles.”[20] The modern mechanized tufting process was inspired in part by Catherine Evans' creation of the tufting stitch and in part by inventor, Glenn Looper, who is credited with creating the first tufting machine that could tuft larger items more easily.

            In 1896, Evans crafted her second hand-tufted bedspread, and, once again, her entrepreneurial instincts kicked in by allowing her to, ingeniously, create different patterns by using common household items like “plates, saucers or anything [else] round” to create the curves in some of her “conventional patterns.”[21] Evans’s second bedspread was adorned with a “star and circle design.”[22] To create the new design, Evans sketched or “laid out” the star design on the cloth with chalk or a pencil, and she then, “used saucers or plates to outline the circle designs.”[23] Some of the other popular designs for the tufted bedspreads were copied from quilt patterns. These included the “Wild Rose,” the “Double Wedding Ring,” “the Washbowl” and the “Irish Chain” pattern that Evans used for her first tufted bedspread. In later years, one of the most popular designs was the “Peacock” design, which was invented because different colored yarns would be left over after a bedspread was finished, and one person thought to create a Peacock design out of the left over yarn so that all the yarn could be used.[24] 

            After Catherine Evans had finished her first two tufted bedspreads, she laid aside her craft because she had no need for any more bed linens, but, in 1900, when she next picked up her needle, the action sealed her fate to become the founder of the tufted textile industry that created tufted clothes, home goods and carpet. In 1900, Evans’s brother Henry married Lizzie Creamer of Trion, Georgia, and, as a wedding gift, Evans made them a tufted bedspread in the “Star” design.[25] Creamer’s sister, Mrs. John Lange, admired the bedspread so much that she offered to buy one from Evans.[26] At first, Evans was hesitant to sell one of her bedspreads, but, in the end, she agreed to sell the spread for $2.50, because “the cloth and thread cost $1.25” and Evans charged $1.25 for her labor.[27] Mrs. John Lange wanted to pay more for the bedspread but Evans “did not want to charge [more] ” because “[back] then a man worked for one dollar a day” and Evans had already charged more than men made in a day.[28]

            After buying the bedspread, Mrs. John Lange “moved to Summerville,” where Evans’s bedspread caught the attention of the ladies there.[29] Soon, many of the women in Summerville wanted a tufted bedspread, and, as Evans’s bedspreads grew in popularity, four things happened: Evans moved “four miles southeast of Dalton” in 1909, she increased her price for a finished bedspread, she found a faster and easier way to produce the bedspreads and she also began teaching others how to make them, which led to the creation of the tufted bedspread industry.[30] The price for the spreads was increased because it became harder for Evans to keep up with all of the orders she received. To ensure profit, Evans then created a new technique to expedite the tufting process. As Evans stated, “it was a task to mark off spreads with a pencil, so I figured out an easier way. I put a work spread on the floor, put the spread to be stamped over it, and by rubbing with a tin box lid-which had been rubbed on a meat skin-made the pattern to be worked appear in black dots.”[31] The aforementioned technique made it infinitely easier for Evans to tuft a bedspread because the pattern became easier to see, which, therefore, allowed her to produce bedspreads more quickly. However, she was still swamped with orders, so she taught her new neighbors in Dalton how to tuft, which marked the first time that she began outsourcing the labor to create hand-tufted bedspreads. Evans would “stamp the spreads, then the ladies would take them home, [tuft them ] and bring them back when finished and get more to make.”[32]

            Inadvertently, and by teaching other women how to tuft, Evans had created a lucrative cottage industry in Dalton, Georgia. A cottage industry occurs when a business or manufacturing process takes place in a person’s home. Evans made the bedspreads in her home, but, as the demand grew, she again had to outsource to acquire the materials she needed to complete the bedspreads, but this time she incorporated local businesses into her entrepreneurial purview. Evans entered into a contract with “Dalton’s Elk Cotton Mill to produce 25-pound lots” of yarn, which allowed her to not have to waste valuable time spinning the yarn herself on her spinning wheel.[33] Evans also wanted to create colored yarns, so she “wrote to numerous mills asking for information about color-fast yarns.”[34] In the end, Evans chose to obtain her dyed yarn from the Franklin Process Dye Company that was located in Providence, Rhode Island because they manufactured the color-fast yarn like Evans was looking for. Ironically, in later years after the “demand became so great” for dyed yarns, the Franklin Company built a plant in Greenville, South Carolina and another one in Chattanooga, Tennessee to dye the yarn and to be closer to their buyers.[35] The process of Catherine Evans creating a cottage industry for hand tufting bedspreads and by outsourcing to acquire the materials she needed in the early 1900s helped to establish the entrepreneurial and economic opportunity in Dalton, Georgia that led to it eventually becoming known as the "Carpet Capital of the World."  

            In 1917, Evans and her brother expanded the family’s cottage industry into a full-fledged business when they “formed the Evans Manufacturing Company.”[36]  This gave Evans a bigger place to produce and sell her tufted bedspreads, which then allowed her to make them in a more timely manner. The next year, 1918, was a banner year for Evans because that was when her business really took off. On July 3, 1918, Evans was approached by a Mrs. Parmalee, who offered to sell Evans’ bedspreads. Evans agreed, and Mrs. Parmalee “was on the next train to Atlanta,” where she went “to Rich’s Department Store and came away with an order for 24 spreads.”[37] Around the time Evans’ business was expanding, another local Dalton lady, Mrs. Eugenia Jarvis, saw that there was opportunity and profit to be gained from widely marketing the tufted bedspreads, so she became Catherine Evans’ agent.[38] Jarvis would stamp out the spreads in her home, following Evans’s method of rubbing it with a piece of tin covered in meat grease,  and she also “typed out countless letters to individuals and business firms to acquaint them with the spreads, their prices and to ask for orders.”[39] One of the first large orders Jarvis received was from Wanamaker’s Department Store in Philadelphia, when they ordered one dozen of Catherine Evans’s hand tufted bedspreads.         

            Although many bedspreads were sold throughout the North and the South, via the many women peddling their wares to different stores in both regions, the most unique way to purchase a hand tufted bedspread was to buy it on Bedspread Alley. Bedspread Alley was “also known as Bedspread Row, Bedspread Boulevard [and] Bedspread Line,” but its proper name was US Highway 41, which was a well-traveled road that stretched from Michigan to Florida. In the 1920s, the stretch of US Highway 41 that ran from Dalton to Cartersville became known as “Bedspread Alley” because the tufters would hang their bedspreads out on lines to dry in the breeze and sun.[40] As people, including many tourists and salesmen, traveled along Bedspread Alley, they would stop and often buy their favorite bedspreads “off the line.”[41] The most popular pattern that attracted the most attention and the most sales, “12 to 1,” from the other patterns was the “Peacock” design of “feathered birds facing each other” with their tails fanned out and “covering the breadth of the [bed]spread.”[42] The success of the tufted bedspread industry in Dalton soon led to it earning the nickname, “the Bedspread Capital of the World.”[43]            


       On January 22, 1922, Catherine Evans, then forty-two, married W. L. Whitener, who did not have a head for business, although he allowed his new wife to continue to express her entrepreneurial prowess by letting her continue to hand tuft bedspreads. After her marriage, Catherine Evans Whitener’s next entrepreneurial venture was to expand her business by making hand tufted candlewick “mats and kimonos [bathrobes].”[44] Although Whitener owned her own company, she “lacked [the] funds to expand her business [in a way] to emulate textile mills of the North, so her efforts remained a successful cottage industry with a confederacy of women working in their own homes.”[45] After Whitener’s bedspread business took off, many of the ladies she taught to tuft began their own cottage industries, by selling bedspreads they made out of their homes, much like Whitener did with her original business. As Whitener stated: “I taught a lot of people how to make tufted spreads. Some of them became competitors, but there was plenty of work and orders, enough for all of us.”[46] Although responsible for helping to create the entrepreneurial and economic opportunity in Dalton, Georgia, Catherine Evans Whitener was not a competitive entrepreneurial cutthroat that excluded or drove others out of business, like some men became in the late 1980s. Instead, Whitener's contribution to helping Dalton become the "Carpet Capital" was to foster a sense of community development of the tufting industry, which led to the creation of the tufted carpet industry in the 1950s.  

            One competitor that Whitener was kind enough to help when they were so strapped for money due to the post-World War I recession where they owed $22,000 dollars was B.J Bandy and his wife Dicksie. Whitener gave the Bandy’s some of her bedspread patterns, and, soon, Mrs. Bandy had made enough money selling the bedspreads throughout the North that they could repay their debt. After Mr. Bandy and other men became involved in selling bedspreads in 1922, and with the invention of tufting machines, the tufted bedspread industry was transformed from a women’s cottage industry into a male dominated fully-fledged tufted textile industry that specialized in tufted carpet. The men then continued the out-sourcing technique that Whitener started by having others make bedspreads, but “where she had found enough workers in her neighborhood, they soon expanded over all North Georgia.”[47]

            One of the first male founded industries in Dalton was Cabin Crafts, which was founded in 1932 by Robert McCamy and brothers, Fred and Lamar Westcott. Cabin Crafts produced tufted bedspreads, along with other tufted items like small bath mats and toilet tank covers. One interesting fact about Cabin Crafts is that founder Fred Westcott befriended Fred Peters, one of their buyers that lived in California, who also happened to be Clark Gable’s brother-in-law.[48] Because of Peters’ connection to Clark Gable, the producers of David O. Selznick’s Civil War drama, Gone With the Wind used two Cabin Craft bedspreads to adorn Scarlett O’Hara’s bed at her plantation called Tara in the movie. The bedspreads were in the patterns of “Henry Clay” and “Rosette.”[49] After Cabin Crafts was established, other men created their own industries, like B.J. Bandy, who built two textile plants: Southern Craft Company in Rome, Georgia and Bartow Textile Company in Cartersville, Georgia. His companies proved to be very profitable, and his efforts were rewarded when he “became the first person to ever make a million dollars in the bedspread business.”[50]

            As aforementioned, the creation of the tufting machine advanced the tufting industry and expanded it from the tufting of bedspreads to the tufting of carpet; however, there is some discrepancy about who made the first tufting machine. As R.E Hamilton, an editor for the Dalton News newspaper quipped, “if you were to invite the man who invented the [tufting] machine to meet you on the steps of the courthouse in Dalton, it would be impossible to go up the steps-people claiming that honor would be standing elbow to elbow with no wiggle room.”[51] This is interesting because, apparently, everyone had experienced a common "brainstorm" of retooling  Singer sewing machine model 3115 into a tufting machine.[52] However, the one man who is usually credited with creating the tufting machine is Glenn Looper. Looper created “a single-needle tufting machine that inserted large yarn into a fabric and cut the tufts with a scissors-like mechanism.”[53] In 1940, Joe Cobble and Lewis Card improved upon Looper’s tufting machine by creating a pass machine that used multiple needles to “sew tufted fabric by making a number of passes” over it.[54] The addition of more needles caused the tufting machines to expand in size from small table-top machines, like Singer sewing machines, to the bigger sized tufting machines that could produce larger items, like wall-to-wall carpeting and in the 1950s, “production of carpet and large-sized rugs rapidly began to eclipse the production of bedspreads, bathmats and robes as the popularity of those items started to wane.”[55] This was the time when Dalton transitioned from the “Bedspread Capital of the World” to the “Carpet Capital of the World.”

            Throughout the 1950s, many other men created other successful carpet companies, but, as Randall L. Patton asserted, it was the “Dalton district of the 1960s [that] exemplified the hopes of those southern leaders who had advocated entrepreneurial capitalism as a development strategy in the 1940s,” and which had first been exemplified in the entrepreneurial spirit and opportunity that Catherine Evans Whitener began when she rediscovered the lost art of tufting in 1895.[56] As Patton also stated, one great example of this is found in the story of the “origins, rise and eventual sale” of Galaxy Carpet Mills Inc. because the story of Galaxy accurately portrays the “‘second wave’ of the carpet industry’s growth after 1967."[57] The story of Galaxy also shows how one company grew from anonymity to become an anomaly in the tufted carpet industry. Galaxy grew from anonymity because it was just another in a long string of other carpet industries that produced carpeting to become an anomaly because of the vision of its founders and because it was not established in the carpet cradle of Dalton, Georgia.

            Galaxy Carpet Mills Inc. was the brainchild of two North Georgia natives, Bobby Mosteller and Charles Bramlett, who both had a background in and experience of the interworking of a carpet mill because each had worked for other carpet mills. However, in 1968, they decided to take advantage of the economic and entrepreneurial atmosphere that Catherine Evans Whitener had established in North Georgia by starting their own company. Bobby Mosteller had been born and raised in Murray County, Georgia, but, after serving in the military for two years, working in his father’s car dealership as a bookkeeper and teaching math at Murray County High School, Mosteller finally entered into the carpet industry in 1958.[58]

            Mosteller’s first foray into the world of carpet occurred when he began working in production at Katherine Chenilles; chenille is what tufting is called when it is done by a machine rather than by hand. Mosteller worked at Katherine Chenilles for three years. In 1961, Mosteller left Katherine Chenilles “to become customer service manager at Pride Carpet Mills in Calhoun, Georgia.[59] Mosteller only worked at Pride Carpets for a year because they became a union mill, and he was uncomfortable working in a unionized mill. After leaving Pride Carpets, Mosteller, initially got a job as a tufting room supervisor at the Dalton plant of E&B Carpet Mills, but he quickly moved up through the ranks and “by 1964, Mosteller was a stockholder and vice president at E&B.”[60] E&B stands for Evans-Black, which was named after its founders, Eddie Evans and Art Black. Evans and Black’s first company, Evans-Black Carpet Company, worked as a wholesale distributor company, established in Dallas, Texas, that did not make its own carpet. After the two ran into competition from other manufacturers that sold directly to retailers, they formed E&B Carpet Mills in 1959 and began manufacturing their own carpets.  

            As Mosteller was rising through the ranks at E&B, he met and befriended the Dalton-area native, Charles Bramlett.[61] Bramlett went to Dalton High School, and he played football with the infamous Bob Shaw, who founded both Shaw Industries and Engineered Floors, two of the major  and most successful floor surfacing facilities in present-day Dalton. Charles Bramlett entered into the carpet industry earlier than Bobby Mosteller, working for many of the big names in the carpet industry throughout the 1950s and the 1960s. Bramlett worked for Cabin Crafts, and he also worked at McCarty Chenilles. He continued to work there, even after it was bought by Gene Barwick, who turned it into Barwick Mills: “the largest company in the industry in the late 1950s and 1960s.”[62] In 1960, Bramlett “was hired away to work with E&B Carpets,” where he met Bobby Mosteller.[63]

            Bobby Mosteller also met the other two founders of Galaxy, Irv Harvey and Irv Pomerantz, while they were all working at E&B. Irv Harvey was born in Chicago, Illinois on April 24, 1931. Harvey, like Bobby Mosteller, served in the military as an “enlisted man in the U.S Army Signal Corps in Georgia from 1952 to 1954, where he attained the rank of Sergeant.”[64]   Harvey’s career in the carpet industry began in October 1954, “when he became a sales trainee for [the] Pinsky Floor Covering Company, a floor covering distributor in Chicago.”[65] Also, like Bobby Mosteller, Irv Harvey rose through the ranks at Pinsky, where he eventually became a salesman; however, Harvey left Pinsky in 1958. After his departure, Harvey formed his own sales agency called Hymans and Harvey, and, in 1963, he joined E&B Carpets, where he “organized their Midwest Service Center” and “became the company’s first regional manager.”[66] Irv Pomerantz had also been part of the carpet industry for a number of years before he began working at E&B. Pomerantz was a successful salesman and formed a close friendship with Irv Harvey because they both lived in Chicago and worked in the Midwest branch of E&B.

            In the mid-1960s, Bobby Mosteller and Charles Bramlett began discussing the idea of going into business for themselves. As Mosteller recalled, “after the workday was over, around 5:00 p.m., Charlie and I would…go into the office, sit down and put our feet up and talk about going into business for ourselves someday.”[67] The men’s far off someday became a reality in 1967, when Armstrong World Industries acquired E&B. It was during the transferring of companies that Mosteller and Bramlett decided to venture out into the accommodating entrepreneurial fray and create their own carpet mill.

             Mosteller and Bramlett were both proficient in the manufacturing aspect of the carpet industry, but they felt they needed someone to help with the sales and marketing aspect of the industry; so, they asked Irv Harvey to join their venture and be their sales and marketing man. Harvey agreed to join their team as their marketing man, but he suggested that they bring Irv Pomerantz into the fold as the salesman. On March 18, 1968, Bobby Mosteller wrote the following to Art Black of E&B, as part of his resignation letter:

            The most difficult decision of my life, one that will effect the lives of the persons most dear to me, my family, and the people whom I love and feel very close to, on a personal as well as a working relationship. The decision has been to leave these people and the company that has been part of my life for the past five years…therefore effectively immediately I give you my resignation. […] A new company is being formed of which I will be a part of and in our evaluation of many factors have made this decision.[68] On April 11, 1968, Bobby Mosteller, Charles Bramlett, Irv Harvey and Irv Pomerantz founded Galaxy Carpet Mills Inc., and Harvey became president, Bramlett became executive vice-president, Pomerantz became vice president-Marketing and Mosteller became vice president-Manufacturing.

On April 11, 1968, Bobby Mosteller, Charles Bramlett, Irv Harvey and Irv Pomerantz founded Galaxy Carpet Mills Inc., and Harvey became president, Bramlett became executive vice-president, Pomerantz became vice president-Marketing and Mosteller became vice president-Manufacturing.


The new company was founded during the height of the Apollo space program, which was trying to adhere to President Kennedy’s 1961 vow to “land a man on the moon and bring him home before the end of the decade.” This led the quartet to choose the name “Galaxy” because it fit into the new era of “space-age” design and technology that was created during the 1960s. Galaxy’s logo was in the shape of a spiral that had nine stars scattered throughout. Four of the stars symbolized the four founders and the other five stars represented the first board members of Galaxy. In keeping with the space theme, many of Galaxy’s “initial styles had space-based labels and names associated with the space program, such as ‘Schirra Shag,’ named for one of the Apollo astronauts” and “Spaceway.”[69]

            Galaxy Carpet Mills was an anomaly almost from its inception because the four founders were vastly different, and this led to them making some unique decisions in how the business should be set up. Bobby Mosteller and Charles Bramlett had been born in Georgia and were both Southern Baptists. Also, they had become close friends when they worked at E&B Carpets together. Irv Harvey had been born in Illinois and Irv Pomerantz had been born in New York, but both of them were Jewish and they too had formed a close friendship with one another while working at E&B. Ironically, each man was skilled in a different area of the carpet industry, but his expertise correlated with that of his close friend. For example, Mosteller and Bramlett knew the most about how to properly produce carpet, and Harvey and Pomerantz knew the most about marketing and sales, respectfully.

            The aforementioned differences led the men to split the functions of Galaxy up in such a way that appeased everyone. Irv Harvey really wanted to move back and live in Chicago because both he and Irv Pomerantz had been living in Dallas, Texas while they worked for E&B; so, they established Galaxy’s official headquarters in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, which was a suburb of Chicago. As Irv Harvey stated, “from [the headquarters in Elk Grove Village] the carpet will be sold and distribution made to retail outlets throughout the country.”[70] Bobby Mosteller and Charles Bramlett chose to remain in Georgia, where they established Galaxy’s production mill in Chatsworth, Georgia. This was ironic and also made Galaxy an anomaly because Dalton, Georgia was the “Carpet Capital” and most of the carpet produced was made within a 50-mile radius of Dalton. So, it was strange for the headquarters of a carpet company to be found in Elk Grove Village, Illinois that was not in any way associated with the production of carpet. It was also strange for the manufacturing facilities to be located in Chatsworth, Georgia because carpet production “had never really ‘taken off’ in Chatsworth” or in surrounding Murray County.[71]

            In response to the question of why they chose to make their base of productions in Chatsworth, Irv Harvey stated, “Chatsworth was chosen because of the availability of labor and land for future expansion.”[72] Harvey also stated, that “the location will be convenient to both skilled and unskilled labor in the immediate area, who now travel to Dalton to work.”[73] The Chatsworth plant had 33,000 square feet of space and it “contain[ed] 2 tufting mills (with the capacity of 4), a finishing oven, a shearing machine, storage capacity for 500 rolls [of carpet], miscellaneous other equipment and approximately 2,000 sq ft of office space.”[74] It was a testament to Mosteller and Bramlett’s entrepreneurial prowesses that they chose to build their production mill in Chatsworth instead of in Dalton because Dalton was already home to so many other mills that Galaxy could have gotten lost in the sea of other mills located there. This way, with Galaxy out of the entrepreneurial fray in Dalton, they would be sure to accrue and turn a steady profit because there would be less competition for workers and materials in Chatsworth than in Dalton.

            The following is Irv Harvey’s marketing strategy for Galaxy when it began in 1968. The company’s marketing organization will consist of a network of regional warehouses located throughout the country, for storing and shipping direct to its customers. These will be carpet specialty stores, department stores, furniture stores, and carpet contractors. By not selling through independent distributors, the company will build a reputation for being very competitively priced, even while it is achieving higher net profits than they otherwise would be able to attain.[75]Galaxy then followed Harvey’s plan as stated in a 1968 advertisement,

            [Galaxy] initially had a line of 8 to 10 qualities [of carpet] in the low to medium price bracket. These [were] made of synthetic fibers-nylon, acrylic, and polyester. Having a short line will enable Galaxy to maintain inventory in depth for prompt shipment and reliable service to its customers. For the present, the line will concentrate on high volume styles in popular colors.[7]And, by the end of 1968, Galaxy had made $864,368 in sales and they had about fifty people in their employ.

            For the first two years, from 1968 to 1969, Galaxy did moderately well for a new company, in terms of taking advantage of the economic opportunity afforded by the carpet industry. However, the company soon hit an economic snag, despite Irv Harvey’s intricately designed plan for Galaxy that almost made them closed down production for good. In 1970, Galaxy was on the verge of going bankrupt, so company president Irv Harvey called an emergency meeting to be held between the founders in Chicago. This meant that Bobby Mosteller and Charles Bramlett would have to fly to Illinois. Harvey had booked them flights in coach, but, upon hearing this arrangement, Bramlett told him to exchange them “because we’re going to Chicago first-class, even if this is the last time.”[77]  Fortunately, Mosteller and Bramlett took with them samples of a new style of carpet, called Caravelle. The Caravelle sample consisted of a solid-colored, scroll pattern design that, ultimately, saved Galaxy from going under because it proved to be a popular among customers.

            After the bankruptcy scare in 1970, Galaxy steadily improved and gradually began implementing Irv Harvey’s plan. The company’s next course of action after the bankruptcy scare was to build a dye house on their property in Chatsworth. With their own dye house, Galaxy could save money and make a better profit by not having to hire out and send the materials off to be dyed. This would allow them to begin the process of creating a vertically integrated system, which would eventually allow them to own and control all of the different aspects of the carpet industry in Chatsworth.[78] Unfortunately, the company ran into some water issues that resulted in them not having enough water to adequately supply a dye house in Chatsworth; so, they built the dye house in Dalton. When it opened in 1971, the Dalton dye house had “21,000 square feet of space.”[79] It also contained “nine dye becks, a complete extractor, and a drying unit.”[80] A dye beck is a large vat that is full of dyes, chemicals and water that has a reel across the middle of the vat. Carpet, in pieces or rolls, is then placed in the vat and turned continuously around the reel, which ensures that the carpet is fully dyed. A complete extractor is a carpet cleaning machine that is used to fully deep-clean the carpet before it is sold. At the end of 1971, Galaxy’s gross sales “was over 21 million dollars” and they had “over 400 employees” working at the “mill, warehouses and offices.”[81]

            In 1972, Galaxy continued to follow Irv Harvey’s plan by focusing on selling a variety of  “middle of the road” or average, understated styles that had affordable prices because as Harvey stated, “we always wanted to be the Chevrolet of the [carpet] industry.”[82] What Harvey meant by his statement is that he wanted to emulate Chevrolet’s marketing strategy of mass producing and selling a variety of car models, whereas Chevrolet’s competitor Ford only produced one model of car for the masses when the companies first began. Galaxy’s carpet prices ranged from “$8.95 to $13.95 a square yard,” whereas other carpet company’s sold their carpet for prices that ranged from the twenty to thirty dollar price point.[83] As the company slogan put in, Galaxy made “very rich carpet that not so rich people can afford.”[84] At the end of 1972, Galaxy offered “38 styles of carpet with an average of 12 colors per style.”[85] Also, in 1972, Galaxy went public and began selling shares of stock in their company. In all, over 300,000 shares of “over-the-counter” stock sold in 1972. Over-the-counter meant that Galaxy sold its stock through a broker instead of through a stock exchange, but, in 1973, Galaxy joined the American Stock Exchange, and its symbol was GXY.[86]

            Galaxy continued to expand, in both size and profits, throughout the mid-1970s, which allowed them to become an innovator in the carpet industry before their 10th anniversary. In 1974, the Dalton dye house was “expanded by 43,460 square feet” and Galaxy acquired the “Volunteer Spinning Mill,” which they quickly “expanded by 6,000 square feet.”[87] In 1975, Galaxy evolved to become an innovator in the national carpet industry by taking advantage of a lucrative economic opportunity offered to them by the Dow Chemical Company. In 1975, Galaxy was operating “one of the largest regional distribution networks in the nation,” because, thanks to the foresight of Irv Harvey and Irv Pomerantz, they had distributions centers in many cities scattered throughout the United States.[88] Also, Galaxy carpet was being sold in many of the United States’ largest carpet retailers and they had achieved their dream of vertical integration because they had their own spinning, heatsetting, finishing and dyeing facilities scattered throughout North Georgia and Tennessee. Because of this, Galaxy soon caught the eye of the Dow Chemical Company, who offered Galaxy a partnership opportunity to work with them to create a new urethane backing for carpet.

            The new urethane backing that the Dow-Galaxy partnership created was the cost-effective prime urethane carpet pad. Prime urethane backing is made from pieces of foam that are cut into sheets, that are then attached to the tufted carpet. The urethane backing made the carpet more cushioned and softer to walk on. As Irv Harvey stated, “urethane is tougher than the synthetic rubber that’s used for backing on many carpets.”[89] Because Dow Chemical Company partnered with Galaxy Carpet Mills to create the urethane backing, Galaxy was given exclusive rights to use the new urethane backing for one year. So, Galaxy created a new carpet that used the new backing, which led them to, quite appropriately, name their new product: Future Step®. Once other companies could use the urethane backing, urethane backed carpet “made up about 25 percent of the carpet that [was] sold nationwide,” at that time, and it was all thanks to the Dow-Galaxy partnership.[90]

            Galaxy’s next innovation in the carpet industry came in 1977, when they re-enticed people to buy new carpeting after becoming one of the first carpet mills to use an internationally renowned fashion designer to create a designer line of carpets. The fashion designer that Galaxy chose to work with was Oleg Cassini, who, himself, was an innovator in the fashion world.

            Oleg Cassini was born in Paris and rose to “international eminence” when, shortly after entering the White House, Mrs. John F. Kennedy named him her official couturier. Responsible for the sheath and the “little white collar dress,” knits, the military look and the A-line, Cassini was one of the first prominent designers to undertake male fashions. Some of his contributions to men’s wear are the blazer look, the turtle-neck for evening, the blue-jean look, the western look and the colored shirt for men.[91]

            The man behind this outrageous idea was Galaxy’s president and marketing extraordinaire, Irv Harvey. The following was Harvey’s rationale for how he came up with this idea: Twenty-five years ago, when most carpet was made of wool and there were five basic colors to choose from, people changed their carpets once every 15 years. Now it’s down to once every seven years, although it’s virtually impossible to wear out nylon, which is what 95 percent of today’s carpet is made from.[92]What Harvey meant by this was that because nylon carpet was tough to destroy,  people kept the same styles for many years; so, Galaxy, striving to be like Chevrolet, needed to introduce new and unique carpet styles that would entice people to buy new carpets. Harvey also meant that in the earlier days of carpet it was used out of necessity to cover the floor, but, in 1977, carpet was being used for aesthetic purposes because there were more colors and styles to choose from.   Galaxy’s Oleg Cassini line consisted of six carpets that “were based on the designs of the Italian Renaissance styles of [Cassini’s] native Italy” in striped and tiled patterns.[93] The Cassini Line was unusual because all of “its 20 colors coordinate[d] with every one of its six distinct patterns, and the consumer [was] able to choose multiple color-coordinated patterns without need[ing to consult] an interior designer.”[94] Galaxy’s price for the Oleg Cassini Line was $15.95 to $19.95 a yard and by Galaxy introducing a new “designer” line, they would be able to “get regular buyers of Galaxy carpet to trade up to a more expensive and attractive carpet.”[95] They would also “gain new customers who regularly [bought] more expensive ‘designer’ carpets to save money by spending less than $25 dollars a yard of more for those carpets.”[96]

Cassini designed the carpets in 1977, but they were not released until 1978, which was a smart economic strategy for Galaxy because 1978 marked Galaxy’s 10th anniversary of being in business in the carpet industry. After the Oleg Cassini Line was released, it took the United States by storm. Every home furnishings trade paper carried a story about the Cassini Line, and “nearly 350 newspapers” throughout the country carried articles about Cassini’s designs.[97] Galaxy also marketed the Line in three ways: by issuing carpet retailers an Oleg Cassini Merchandising Kit, by featuring it in a television ad campaign and by offering a sweepstakes for the distributors who purchased Cassini designed carpet. The Oleg Cassini Merchandising Kit made for retailers consisted of a “poster with a photo-script of text and pictures from the television commercial, an oval plaque, suitable for wall hanging or counter display with the words ‘Oleg Cassini for Galaxy’ written in gold on a deep-brown, earth-tone background,” similar to the carpet colors and four-color brochures that each contained pictures of the six different styles of carpet.[98]

            The television ad campaign used to showcase the Cassini Line consisted of a “30-second television spot” being featured in a four-week long advertising campaign that was shown in “15 cities throughout the United States.”[99]  The commercial reached an “estimated 20 million households of adults age[d] 18 to 49.”[100] The commercial featured a person’s feet walking on each of Cassini’s six carpets with Oleg Cassini’s voice being heard describing the unique concept found in each design. At the end of the commercial, an announcer’s voice is heard telling the audience that Oleg Cassini designed the carpets, while the camera is panning back to show Cassini standing there.

            Galaxy’s last marketing strategy offered a sweepstakes prize for the distributors that purchased Cassini designed carpets. Every distributor that bought the carpet would be entered for a chance to win an “Adventure in Style,” which was a grand trip to Italy for two people.[101] The “Adventure in Style” was a deluxe trip that featured “accommodations at the finest hotel, gourmet meals [and a chance to see] the best of Italy.”[102] The trip was scheduled for May 8-17, 1980 and “one trip was given away to two people every three months for the first nine months the line was out.”[103] There was also a consolation prize for those that did not win the “Adventure in Style” because, with every dealers’ first purchase, they received an Oleg Cassini designer necktie.

            As the 1970s drew to a close and the 1980s began, Galaxy was still riding high and enjoying the economic gain they had made by partnering with Oleg Cassini to make designer carpets. In 1980, Galaxy’s third innovation that they introduced to the carpet industry was the Vividye™ technique, which they received exclusive permission to use throughout the 1980 fiscal year. This meant that, yet again, Galaxy was on the leading edge of the industry and could use a process before anyone else could. The Vividye process “applied a random flow of color to the carpet’s surface to create a unique, distinctive and marbleized effect.”[104] Each of the colors blended together harmoniously in abstract patterns, which would add a subtle dimension to any decor that a person had in their home.[105] Galaxy’s use of Vividye in the early 1980s helped keep them on the edge of the industry because they had introduced lighter, pastel and shaded colors, which “delighted their retailers” because most other carpet companies were “just beginning to move away from the earth tones-rust, beige, brown and tawny-gold-that dominated the 1970s home decorating schemes.”[106] 

            In 1982, Galaxy Carpet Mills was “ranked number one among the eight publicly-owned companies that exclusively produced carpet” by the Kurt Salmon Associates, a management consulting firm that annually published a performance profile of textile companies.[107]  Some of Galaxy’s competition included “Shaw Industries, Peerless of Canada, Masland, Salem and several other industries.”[108] Out of eleven categories that Kurt Salmon Associates analyzed, Galaxy obtained higher numbers than Shaw Industries in nine of them. Galaxy also had a slightly higher net income of percentage of sales than did Shaw. Galaxy’s net income was 4 percent, and Shaw’s was 3.36 percent.[109] However, Shaw Industries had higher gross sales and a greater net income than Galaxy did.

            In 1983, Galaxy was the 12th largest carpet manufacturer in the United States, and about 85 percent of their sales were sold directly to retailers.[110] One perk of Galaxy having their headquarters in the midwestern city of Chicago was that they could fill orders faster than most other carpet companies, whose headquarters were in the eastern city of Dalton. Depending on where a retailer was located, Galaxy could get orders to them in as little as two days or as long as two weeks, whereas, it took other companies six to eight week’s time to ship carpet to their retailers.[111] Galaxy could fill and ship orders faster because, along with their headquarters being somewhere other than Dalton, they also had showrooms and distribution centers scattered throughout the United States that housed supplies of carpet. This allowed Galaxy to be able to ship its carpet faster than other companies that did not have distribution centers located throughout the United States.     

            Throughout the mid-1980s, an economic price war swept through the carpet industry, and Galaxy got caught in its tide. The price war placed every carpet company in competition with the others, and, because of this, Galaxy’s earnings fell and continued to be off until late in 1986 and on into 1987, when Irv Harvey, Irv Pomerantz, Bobby Mosteller and Charles Bramlett decided to restructure Galaxy’s marketing strategy. For years, Galaxy had been following the marketing plan that Irv Harvey created in 1968, that said that Galaxy would produce good quality but lower priced carpets that anyone could afford and they also eventually created their own vertically integrated plan by owning every aspect of the carpet production, themselves, from the tufting to the dyeing of the carpets. However, in 1986, the company changed their plan by “reaching an agreement with [the] Sears [Roebuck Company] to become a major carpet supplier for [their] retail chain.”[112] Galaxy would “manufacture ‘private label’ carpets that would be [sold under] the Sears label in stores.”[113]

            Also, in 1986 and 1987, to help bring up their revenue, Galaxy’s researchers and chemists had been researching how to include stain resistant fibers into carpet, but DuPont beat them to a finished product. DuPont was a chemical company, but, in the early 1960s, its products had been useful in furthering the carpet industry by having them convert to their new invention, nylon fibers to make carpet instead of cotton and wool fibers. In 1985, DuPont chemist, Armand Zinnato discovered that “‘certain dye-resist agents previously used to improve wash-fastness’ in carpet fibers ‘would also impart stain-resistance.’”[114] DuPont called their new product “Stainmaster,” and, in January 1987, they licensed Galaxy to be one of their initial twelve mills to market and sell Stainmaster products.

            Even though Galaxy was one of twelve companies tapped to market Stainmaster products, they realized its potential to be a hit with the public before the other companies, and they channeled all of their energy into producing as much stain-resistant carpet that they could. This proved to be a very fortuitous move on the part of Galaxy’s founders because consumers did see the usefulness of having stain-resistant carpet and, because so few companies were selling it, they were willing to pay more for it. Because Galaxy produced more stain-resistant carpet than the other smaller companies they could sell it for a higher price. In 1987, Galaxy’s broadloom [tufted, wall-to-wall] carpet line sold “at an average of $7.17, compared with an industry average of $6.16.”[115] Some of the new styles, treated with Stainmaster, that Galaxy created was “Regal Elegance,” “Union Square,” “Glen Haven,” “Sonora Sands,” and “To Priority.”[116]  Galaxy also produced carpets, labeled as its “spot-less collection,” that used other stain-resistant fibers such as “Anso, V worry-free, Gold and Silver Labeled Wear-Dated, and Scotchgard StainRelease,” which that came in a wide variety of colors and styles.[117]

            In 1988, Galaxy celebrated its 20th anniversary of being in business in the carpet industry, but its days were numbered because of two important things that Galaxy experienced in the late 1980s: flooding and agglomeration. In 1988, “the roof collapsed on Galaxy’s Dalton dye house and [the] insurance payoffs did not come close to meeting company costs for repairs and lost production.”[118] No sooner had Galaxy fixed the roof, then the area around the Dalton dye house flooded and their production was again disrupted while extensive repairs took place. Also, in the late 1980s, Shaw Industries had begun to take advantage of the entrepreneurial atmosphere in Dalton by taking the carpet industry into the new direction of agglomeration or consolidation. Shaw Industries was a “merciless competitor” because they were the “undisputed low-cost producer in the industry” and they would also buy out smaller companies that could not keep up with the way Shaw did its business.[119] To keep up with Shaw, Galaxy would have had to get “lean and mean” by drastically downsizing the number of their employees.[120] Bobby Mosteller and Charles Bramlett did not want to do that to any of their employees because Mosteller felt like Galaxy “was one big family” and Bramlett did not want to be the cause of any of the thousands of people that Galaxy employed to lose their job.[121] The industry had changed and the founders of Galaxy could not keep up and still retain their integrity, so it was time for them to end their dream.

            After having been incorporated for twenty-one years, Galaxy announced on May 1, 1989 that they had accepted a buyout offer from the Montreal based Canadian firm, Peerless Carpet Corporation. At its height, Galaxy boasted $285 million in sales and operated a dye house in Dalton, spinning mills in Fort Oglethorpe and in plant in South Pittsburg, Tennessee.[122] On June 12, 1989, Peerless President and Chief Operating Officer, David H. Arditi, wrote the following letter to all Galaxy employees:

            Peerless Carpet Corporation was established in 1954 by our current Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Bram Garber and [it] is the leading Canadian manufacturer and distributor of broadloom carpet for both Canadian and foreign consumption. The company is also the exclusive distributor of Congoleum resilient floor covering and is a major distributor of carpet underpaying, adhesives and other accessories. Peerless is also the leading Canadian manufacturer of bathroom broadloom, bath sets, bath mats and scatter rugs.[123]  Galaxy Carpet Mills Inc. sold to Peerless Carpet Corporation in 1989 for $46 million dollars, and, after Peerless took over, “some 280 [former Galaxy employees] were trimmed down to the current workforce [number] of 1,864,” but Steve Silverman, executive vice-president of Peerless/Galaxy, said that those “employees would have left anyway through normal attrition.”[124] It is ironic that two of the companies, Shaw Industries and Peerless Carpet Corporation, that Galaxy beat in the 1982 Kurt Salmon Associates annual “Performance Profile of Textile Companies" would be same two companies that forced them to leave the business and then buy them out. However, out of the two, only Shaw Industries remains a powerhouse in the carpet industry to this day because, in 1995, Mohawk Industries bought Galaxy from the Peerless Carpet Corporation, which gave them access to use Galaxy’s plant in Chatsworth. In tribute to Galaxy, Mohawk has a collection of “Galaxy Carpet” that is made of Stainmaster®, WearDated® or Anso® nylon fibers, like the original Galaxy Carpet Mills Inc. originated and innovated in the 1970s and the 1980s.

            In conclusion, from bedspreads to broadloom, the tufted carpet industry has had a long and storied history that all began when one young girl rediscovered the lost art of tufting in 1895, thereby creating an economic and entrepreneurial opportunity in Dalton, Georgia that was still around sixty-eight years later when four men founded Galaxy Carpet Mills Inc. in 1968. Catherine Evans Whitener rediscovered the lost art of tufting materials after she noticed a bedspread at her cousin’s house in 1892 that no one in her family knew how it had been created. The bedspread intrigued Whitener so much that she just had to learn how it had been created. In 1895, her efforts were rewarded when she successfully made her own tufted bedspread, and, in the process, improved upon the old way of tufting by creating a new tufting stitch. In 1900, she made history when she crafted another hand tufted bedspread for her brother’s wedding. The bedspread then captivated the women of Summerville, Georgia, after Whitener’s brother and sister-in-law moved there, and soon everyone wanted one of Whitener’s beautiful bedspreads. Whitener became so swamped with orders, due to her entrepreneurial prowess, that she taught other women how to tuft. This led to the creation of a very lucrative cottage industry of women selling tufted bedspreads from their homes or along the infamous stretch of US Highway 41 that became known as “Bedspread Alley.”

            In the 1930s, the men of Dalton began to take notice of just how lucrative the women’s bedspread industry really was, so they decided to get involved and when they did, they turned the tufted bedspread industry into a fully-fledged textile industry that made bedspreads, mats and bathrobes but most importantly, carpet. One of the first male dominated industries was Cabin Crafts, who made the tufted bedspreads that were used on Scarlett O’Hara’s bed in the 1939 movie classic, Gone With the Wind. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, many other men created their own companies and many of them sold tufted carpeting, however, it was in the late 1960s, with the creation of Galaxy Carpet Mills Inc., that the entrepreneurial spirit that Catherine Evans Whitener first began in Dalton re-emerged during the “second wave” of the carpet industry. 

            Galaxy Carpet Mills Inc. was founded by four men, Bobby Mosteller, Charles Bramlett, Irv Harvey and Irv Pomerantz, and, throughout its twenty-one year existence, Galaxy grew to become an anomaly in the carpet industry. One of the ways that Galaxy became an anomaly was because its founders were split up into two groups, which caused the business to be divided as well. Bobby Mosteller and Charles Bramlett were close friends from Georgia and they knew the most about how to properly produce carpet, whereas, Irv Harvey and Irv Pomerantz were close friend who lived in Chicago, Illinois and they knew the most about marketing and sales, respectfully. This led the men to decide to let Harvey and Pomerantz establish Galaxy’s headquarters in Elk Grove Village, which was a suburb outside of Chicago, while Mosteller and Bramlett established Galaxy’s production plant in Chatsworth, Georgia. Having Galaxy’s headquarters and distribution centers outside of Dalton, where tufted carpet originated, was a bold move that paid off, because it allowed Galaxy to produce and ship its carpet faster than other companies who had their headquarters and distribution centers in Dalton.

            Galaxy was also an anomaly that took advantage of the entrepreneurial opportunity started by Catherine Evans Whitener, by becoming a leader in the carpet industry throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Galaxy produced good quality carpets that had reasonable prices that everyone could afford. Galaxy was also one of the first companies to have a world-renowned fashion designer, Oleg Cassini, to design a whole line of designer carpet for them. Galaxy also partnered with other innovators in the carpet industry, like the Dow Chemical Company and the DuPont Chemical Company, to produce innovative styles of carpet: the urethane backed Fashion Step® and the stain-resistant Stainmaster® carpet. In each of these situations, Galaxy was given the exclusive rights to use the products for one year before it was released to the other carpet companies, which gave them a head start in sales for the next year.    

            Despite being born in the 1800s, Catherine Evans Whitener got to see and experience much of the first wave of the carpet industry that included watching how the cottage industry she created of hand tufting bedspreads evolved into the mechanized process of tufting broadloom carpets. Whitener also saw how Dalton, Georgia transformed from a serene and bucolic town into an industrial hotspot, which was home to many millionaires that had profited due to her entrepreneurial and economic prowess, although she died on June 2, 1964, before the second wave of the carpet industry began. In 2001, Whitener was inducted into the Georgia Women of Achievement Hall of Fame because of the entrepreneurial opportunity that she started that fateful day in 1900, after she sold her first bedspread for $2.50. However, the four founders of Galaxy all worked in one (or more) of the first wave of carpet industries before they created Galaxy during the second wave in 1968. All of them are now deceased, except Bobby Mosteller, who still lives in Chatsworth. Irv Harvey died on June 25, 2006, at the age of 75. Charles Bramlett died on August 18, 2014, at the age of 82. Irv Pomerantz died on December 17, 2018, at the age of 92. Although Catherine Evans Whitener, Irv Harvey, Charles Bramlett and Irv Pomerantz are no longer here, their legacies still live on as reminders of the many innovators and entrepreneurs in the tufted textile industry, that transformed Dalton, Georgia from the "Bedspread Capital of the World" to the "Carpet Capital of the World."           



Bobby Mosteller-Galaxy Carpet Mills Inc Collection. Bandy Heritage Center for Northwest Georgia. Dalton State College. Dalton, Georgia.

Catherine Evans Whitener Collection, Crown Gardens and Archives, Dalton, Georgia.

Hamilton, R. E. “Bedspread Bonanza.” Condensed from The Christian Science Monitor in Reader’s Digest. 15 March 1941.

US Congress. Congressional Record. 91st Cong., 1st Session., 1969. Vol. 115, pt. 28.


Callahan, Ashley. Southern Tufts: The Regional Origins and National Craze for Chenille Fashion. Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 2015.

Deaton, Thomas M. Bedspreads to Broadloom: The Story of the Tufted Carpet Industry. Acton, MA: Color Wheel, 1993.

 Garrett, Laurel “From Bedspreads to Broadloom: The Story of Dalton’s Carpet Industry,” Rural Georgia, 1987.

Patton, Randall L., and David B. Parker. Carpet Capital: The Rise of a New South Industry. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1999.   

Tamasy, Robert J. Tufting Legacies: Cobble Brothers to Card-Monroe, The Story of the Men Who Revolutionized the Carpet Industry. Bloomington, IN: iUniverse Inc, 2010.

 Webb Robert, “Catherine Evans Whitener: Inventor, Businessperson, Mother of Georgia’s Tufted Textile Industry,” Whitfield-Murray Quarterly Historical Society, 2000, Volume 19- No. 4.

            [1] Randall L. Patton and David B. Parker, Carpet Capital: The Rise of a New South Industry. (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1999), 231.

            [2] Randall L. Patton and David B. Parker, Carpet Capital: The Rise of a New South Industry. (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1999), xi.


            [3] Patton and Parker, Carpet Capital, 2.


            [4] Thomas M. Deaton, Bedspreads to Broadloom: The Story of the Tufted Carpet Industry (Acton, MA: Color Wheel, 1993), x.


            [5] Deaton, Bedspreads to Broadloom, x.


            [6] “Mrs. Catherine Evans Whitener, 83, Dies,” Newspaper Clipping, Catherine Evans Whitener Collection, Crown Gardens and Archives, Dalton, Georgia.


            [7] Robert Webb, “Catherine Evans Whitener: Inventor, Businessperson, Mother of Georgia’s Tufted Textile Industry,” Whitfield-Murray Quarterly Historical Society, 2000, Volume 19- No. 4.


            [8] Ashley Callahan, Southern Tufts: The Regional Origins and National Craze for Chenille Fashion (Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 2015), 5.


            [9] “Catherine Evans Whitener Began a Mammoth Industry,” The Daily Citizen-News, CEW Collection.


            [10] Robert Webb, “Catherine Evans Whitener: Inventor, Businessperson, Mother of Georgia’s Tufted Textile Industry,” Whitfield-Murray Quarterly Historical Society, 2000, Volume 19- No. 4.


            [11] Callahan, Southern Tufts, 5.


            [12] Callahan, xxi.


            [13] Laurel Garrett, “From Bedspreads to Broadloom: The Story of Dalton’s Carpet Industry,” Rural Georgia, 1987.


            [14] Ashley Callahan, Southern Tufts: The Regional Origins and National Craze for Chenille Fashion (Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 2015), xxi.


            [15] Callahan, Southern Tufts, xxi.


            [16] “Women Dominated Industry,” Citizen-News, Article by Cheryl Wykoff, September, 6, 1987, 4C, CEW Collection.


            [17] Randall L. Patton and David B. Parker, Carpet Capital: The Rise of a New South Industry. (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1999), 85.


            [18] Women Dominated Industry,” Citizen-News, Article by Cheryl Wykoff, September, 6, 1987, 4C, CEW Collection.


            [19] Women Dominated Industry,” Citizen-News, Article by Cheryl Wykoff, September, 6, 1987, 4C, CEW Collection.

            [20] Thomas M. Deaton, Bedspreads to Broadloom: The Story of the Tufted Carpet Industry (Acton, MA: Color Wheel, 1993), 207.


            [21] Deaton, Bedspreads to Broadloom, 4.


            [22] Ashley Callahan, Southern Tufts: The Regional Origins and National Craze for Chenille Fashion (Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 2015), 4.


            [23] Callahan, Southern Tufts, 4.


            [24] Peacock Alley Poster, CEW Collection.


            [25] “Mrs. Catherine Evans Whitener, 83, Dies,” Newspaper Clipping, CEW Collection.


            [26] “Mrs. Catherine Evans Whitener, 83, Dies,” Newspaper Clipping, CEW Collection.


            [27] “If I Had Been A Man,” Chattanooga News- Free Press, Catherine Evans Whitener, June 30, 1990, CEW Collection.


            [28] “If I Had Been A Man,” Chattanooga News- Free Press, Catherine Evans Whitener, June 30, 1990, CEW Collection.


            [29] “Mrs. Catherine Evans Whitener, 83, Dies,” Newspaper Clipping, CEW Collection.


            [30] Thomas M. Deaton, Bedspreads to Broadloom: The Story of the Tufted Carpet Industry (Acton, MA: Color Wheel, 1993), 4.


            [31] “If I Had Been A Man,” Chattanooga News- Free Press, Catherine Evans Whitener, June 30, 1990, CEW Collection.


            [32] “If I Had Been A Man,” Chattanooga News- Free Press, Catherine Evans Whitener, June 30, 1990, CEW Collection.


            [33] Thomas M. Deaton, Bedspreads to Broadloom: The Story of the Tufted Carpet Industry (Acton, MA: Color Wheel, 1993), 4.


            [34] Deaton, Bedspreads to Broadloom, 4.


            [35] Deaton, 4.


            [36] Robert Webb, “Catherine Evans Whitener: Inventor, Businessperson, Mother of Georgia’s Tufted Textile Industry,” Whitfield-Murray Quarterly Historical Society, 2000, Volume 19- No. 4.


            [37] Thomas M. Deaton, Bedspreads to Broadloom: The Story of the Tufted Carpet Industry (Acton, MA: Color Wheel, 1993), 5


            [38] Deaton, Bedspreads to Broadloom, 5.


            [39] Deaton, 5.


            [40] Peacock Alley Poster, CEW Collection.


            [41] Peacock Alley Poster, CEW Collection.


            [42] “A Brief History of the Tufting Industry,” CEW Collection.


            [43] Robert J. Tamasy, Tufting Legacies: Cobble Brothers to Card-Monroe, The Story of the Men Who Revolutionized the Carpet Industry (Bloomington, IN: iUniverse Inc, 2010), 7.


            [44] “Mrs. Catherine Evans Whitener, 83, Dies,” Newspaper Clipping, CEW Collection.


            [45] Robert Webb, “Catherine Evans Whitener: Inventor, Businessperson, Mother of Georgia’s Tufted Textile Industry,” Whitfield-Murray Quarterly Historical Society, 2000, Volume 19- No. 4.


            [46] “Mrs. Catherine Evans Whitener, 83, Dies,” Newspaper Clipping, CEW Collection.


            [47] R. E. Hamilton, “Bedspread Bonanza,” Condensed from The Christian Science Monitor in Reader’s Digest, March 15, 1941.


            [48] Thomas M. Deaton, Bedspreads to Broadloom: The Story of the Tufted Carpet Industry (Acton, MA: Color Wheel, 1993), 22.


            [49] Peacock Alley Poster, CEW Collection.


  [50] Cong. Rec., 91st Cong., 1st Sess., 1969, vol. 115, pt 28: 37856.


            [51] Robert J. Tamasy, Tufting Legacies: Cobble Brothers to Card-Monroe, The Story of the Men Who Revolutionized the Carpet Industry (Bloomington, IN: iUniverse Inc, 2010), 8-9.

               [52] Tamasy, Tufting Legacies, 8.


            [53] Robert J. Tamasy, Tufting Legacies: Cobble Brothers to Card-Monroe, The Story of the Men Who Revolutionized the Carpet Industry (Bloomington, IN: iUniverse Inc, 2010), 9.


            [54] Tamasy, Tufting Legacies, 31.


            [55] Tamasy, 55.


            [56] Randall L. Patton and David B. Parker, Carpet Capital: The Rise of a New South Industry. (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1999), 207.


            [57] Randall L. Patton and David B. Parker, Carpet Capital: The Rise of a New South Industry. (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1999), 209.


            [58] Patton and Parker, Carpet Capital, 210.


            [59] Patton and Parker, 210.


            [60] Randall L. Patton and David B. Parker, Carpet Capital: The Rise of a New South Industry. (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1999),  211.


            [61] Patton and Parker, Carpet Capital, 211.


            [62] Patton and Parker, 211.


            [63] Patton and Parker, 211.

            [64] Autobiography of Irv Harvey, Bobby Mosteller-Galaxy Carpet Mills Inc Collection, Bandy Heritage Center for Northwest Georgia, Dalton State College, Dalton, Georgia. Bobby Mosteller collection


            [65] Autobiography of Irv Harvey, BM-GCMI Collection.


            [66] Autobiography of Irv Harvey, BM-GCMI Collection.


            [67] Randall L. Patton and David B. Parker, Carpet Capital: The Rise of a New South Industry. (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1999), 211-212.


            [68] Bobby Mosteller, Resignation Letter to Art Black, 18 March 1968, BM-GCMI Collection.

            [69] Randall L. Patton and David B. Parker, Carpet Capital: The Rise of a New South Industry. (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1999), 212.


            [70] Bobby Mosteller-Galaxy Carpet Mills Inc Collection, Bandy Heritage Center for Northwest Georgia, Dalton State College, Dalton, Georgia.


            [71] Randall L. Patton and David B. Parker, Carpet Capital: The Rise of a New South Industry. (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1999), 213.


            [72] History of the Galaxy Carpet Mills Inc Portfolio by Bobby Mosteller, BM-GCMI Collection.


            [73] History of the Galaxy Carpet Mills Inc Portfolio by Bobby Mosteller, BM-GCMI Collection.


            [74] History of the Galaxy Carpet Mills Inc Portfolio by Bobby Mosteller, BM-GCMI Collection.


            [75] History of the Galaxy Carpet Mills Inc Portfolio by Bobby Mosteller, BM-GCMI Collection.


            [76] 1968 Advertisement for Galaxy Carpet Mills, BM-GCMI Collection.


            [77] Michael Edgerton, Newspaper Article, BM-GCMI Collection.


            [78] Randall L. Patton and David B. Parker, Carpet Capital: The Rise of a New South Industry. (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1999), 214.


            [79] A Progress Report from Galaxy Carpet Mills, Inc. June 1978, BM-GCMI Collection.


            [80] Overview Letter of Galaxy, From Irv Harvey to Bobby Mosteller, January 4, 1972. BM-GCMI Collection.


  [81] Overview Letter of Galaxy, From Irv Harvey to Bobby Mosteller, January 4, 1972. BM-GCMI Collection.


            [82] Michael Edgerton, Newspaper Article, BM-GCMI Collection.


            [83] Michael Edgerton, Newspaper Article, BM-GCMI Collection.


            [84] Handout for Customers of Galaxy’s Grand Opening of its new headquarters and Midwest Regional Branch in Elk Grove, October 24, 1971, BM-GCMI Collection.


            [85] A Progress Report from Galaxy Carpet Mills, Inc. June 1978, BM-GCMI Collection.


            [86] A Progress Report from Galaxy Carpet Mills, Inc. June 1978, BM-GCMI Collection.


            [87] A Progress Report from Galaxy Carpet Mills, Inc. June 1978, BM-GCMI Collection.


            [88] Bobby Mosteller-Galaxy Carpet Mills Inc Collection, Bandy Heritage Center for Northwest Georgia, Dalton State College, Dalton, Georgia.


            [89] Michael Edgerton, Newspaper Article, BM-GCMI Collection.


            [90] Michael Edgerton, Newspaper Article, BM-GCMI Collection.


            [91] “The Galaxy Universe”- The Official Publication of the Employees of Galaxy. Chatsworth, GA. Sept. Oct. Nov. Dec. 1977, BM-GCMI Collection.


            [92] Michael Edgerton, Newspaper Article, BM-GCMI Collection.


            [93] The Daily Herald, Newspaper Article, December 24, 1977. BM-GCMI Collection.


            [94] The Daily Herald, Newspaper Article, December 24, 1977. BM-GCMI Collection.


            [95] Michael Edgerton, Newspaper Article, BM-GCMI Collection.


            [96] Michael Edgerton, Newspaper Article, BM-GCMI Collection.


            [97] A Progress Report from Galaxy Carpet Mills, Inc. June 1978, BM-GCMI Collection.


            [98] A Progress Report from Galaxy Carpet Mills, Inc. June 1978, BM-GCMI Collection.


            [99] A Progress Report from Galaxy Carpet Mills, Inc. June 1978, BM-GCMI Collection.


            [100] A Progress Report from Galaxy Carpet Mills, Inc. June 1978, BM-GCMI Collection.


            [101] Oleg Cassini Merchandising Kit Brochure, BM-GCMI Collection.


            [102] Oleg Cassini Merchandising Kit Brochure, BM-GCMI Collection.


            [103] Oleg Cassini Merchandising Kit Brochure, BM-GCMI Collection.


            [104] 1979 Galaxy Carpet Mills, Inc. Annual Report book, BM-GCMI Collection.


            [105] 1979 Galaxy Carpet Mills, Inc. Annual Report book, BM-GCMI Collection.


            [106] Chicago Business, Newspaper Article by Joanne Cleaver, February 21, 1983, BM-GCMI Collection.


            [107] Dalton Daily Citizen Newspaper Article, BM-GCMI Collection.


            [108] Randall L. Patton and David B. Parker, Carpet Capital: The Rise of a New South Industry. (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1999), 219.


            [109] Patton and Parker, Carpet Capital, 219.


            [110] Chicago Business, Newspaper Article by Joanne Cleaver, February 21, 1983, BM-GCMI Collection.


            [111] Chicago Business, Newspaper Article by Joanne Cleaver, February 21, 1983, BM-GCMI Collection.


            [112] Randall L. Patton and David B. Parker, Carpet Capital: The Rise of a New South Industry. (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1999), 221.


            [113] Patton and Parker, Carpet Capital, 221.


            [114] Patton and Parker, 270.


            [115] Randall L. Patton and David B. Parker, Carpet Capital: The Rise of a New South Industry. (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1999), 222.


            [116] Dalton Carpet Journal, Dalton, GA, Sunday March 20, 1988 Article, Bob Murdaugh, BM-GCMI Collection.


            [117] Dalton Carpet Journal, Dalton, GA, Sunday March 20, 1988 Article, Bob Murdaugh, BM-GCMI Collection.


            [118] Patton and Parker, Carpet Capital, 223.


            [119] Patton and Parker, 222.


            [120] Randall L. Patton and David B. Parker, Carpet Capital: The Rise of a New South Industry. (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1999), 222.


            [121] Dalton Daily Citizen, June 10, 2003 Newspaper Article, Matthew Lakin. BM-GCMI Collection.


            [122] Dalton Daily Citizen, June 10, 2003 Newspaper Article, Matthew Lakin. BM-GCMI Collection.


            [123] David H. Arditi, Peerless Letter to all Galaxy employees, 12 June 1989, BM-GCMI Collection.


            [124] Dalton Citizen News, 12 April 1990, BM-GCMI Collection.

"Stereotyping and Offending Races in 'The Quadroons' "

by Rayna Wilson

           Best 2000-level Paper

Lydia Maria Child’s “The Quadroons” is known for making a significant impact on the world of abolition literature and politics right before the Civil War. Eve Raimon, like many others, considers Child the second most influential woman on the reformation of slavery, next to Harriet Beecher Stowe (26). Sanchez states that the author was a politician interested in writing, rather than a writer interested in politics (Sanchez, 146). “The Quadroons” was not the only work of Child’s that discussed the abolition of slavery. However, it is considered the work of literature that created an unofficial genre of writing, although there were other, less popular works with similar plots before Child’s (Raimon, 26). This genre consisted of novels or short stories that centered around a mulatta main character, which came to be known as the tragic mulatta trope. The typical trope was classified by Anna Shannon Elfenbein as “in story after story, this near-white ingenue reappears. She is white. She is beautiful. She speaks impeccably and dresses in enviable style” (Hanrahan, 600). These characteristics recurred in many works that were part of the genre (Livesey, 268-271). However, because these qualities were so widely used in literature, they quickly became the stereotype of real, mixed-race women, only found to be inaccurate years later, in the twentieth century (Benjamin, 87).

The tragic mulatta trope was already racist, but “The Quadroons” took the offenses even further. Most works within the genre did not have to have a mulatta main character. For example, Louisa Picquet’s narrative, Louisa Picquet, The Octoroon: A Tale of Southern Slave Life, tells the story of multiple slave owners purchasing Picquet for sexual use (Livesey, 269-271). Picquet happened to have mixed blood, but any full-blooded African American woman could have been a sex slave. Picquet did not have to make her protagonist a mixed-race woman so the plot could unfold, like most authors who used the tragic mulatta trope. However, the plot of “The Quadroons” centers around the fact that Xarifa, the main character, is mulatta. Child does this by continually pointing out Xarifa’s skin color and regarding it as beautiful. This implies that mulattas are superior in beauty to females of other races. In addition, the story fails to provide any dimensional personality to Xarifa, suggesting that mulattas do not have interesting identities because of the color of their skin. “The Quadroons” offends white, African American, and mixed-race women equally with its use of the trope, its explicit mention of the mulatta’s beauty based solely on her skin color, and its non-dimensional main character.

   The significant impact “The Quadroons” made on tragic mulatta literature resulted in its incorrect recognition as the first work within the genre (Raimon, 26). While the trope itself is slightly racist, “The Quadroons” goes so far as to favor the mulatta over other races. Once Xarifa’s father dies, she learns that she is now subject to the laws of Georgia, which is where “The Quadroons” takes place. In 1853, a Georgian judge ruled that free black men were to have no social, civil, or political rights, except for those given to them by their previous owner (Gosse, 52). Xarifa’s previous owner would be considered her father, who failed to free her. Then, she goes on the slave auction, “There she stood, trembling, blushing, weeping; compelled to listen to the grossest language, and shrinking from the rude hands that examined the graceful proportions of her beautiful frame,” (Child, 156). Here, Child draws on what she mentions earlier in the story: Xarifa is a mixed-race, innocent girl that has never known the life of a slave. The author is trying to convince her readers that Xarifa should not have to be a slave and supports her argument by identifying the protagonist’s light skin. The continual mentions of Xarifa’s “beautiful frame,” face, and hair indirectly reminds the reader that the girl is a mulatta (Child, 156). This reminder that Xarifa is a quadroon implies that she should not have had to go through the experience she did. In doing so, Child, perhaps unintentionally, suggests that full-blooded African American slaves did deserve the treatment they received, while mixed-race slaves did not. “The Quadroons,” then, is set apart from others within the tragic mulatta genre for this superior take on the mulatta, for the implications that surround Xarifa’s skin color, and in other cases, the description of her beauty.

Becoming a sex slave was not only common for the tragic mulatta trope, but for mulatta slaves in the real world as well. Louisa Picquet’s narrative provides a firsthand account of the common fate of a mixed-race slave woman. Andrea Livesey explains, “Picquet had ‘every appearance’ of a white lady, but in the slave market there were ‘plenty’ of ‘white’ girls like her who underwent physical examination before being purchased for their sexual labor” (277). Livesey draws attention to Picquet’s skin color, in this example, explaining that whiter slaves were more likely to be purchased for sexual purposes than full-blooded African Americans. According to Molly Silvestrini, “Western societal standards of beauty are often based on a white, European ideal of attractiveness, indicating that skin color can play a significant role in how beautiful or attractive individuals are perceived,” (307). This indicates that the American white man’s attention would be drawn towards a whiter slave rather than a darker one when seeking a sexual partner. Mulattas, then, were more likely to become sex slaves than full-blooded African American women. This explains why so many mulattas within the genre were subject to the fate of becoming a sex slave.

“The Quadroons” introduces this position when Xarifa goes on auction. However, Child focuses more so on why the men touch Xarifa rather than the feelings experienced by the character (156). While works from the genre like Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs provide the reader with insights to the protagonist herself, “The Quadroons” centers on Xarifa’s light skin color, on which male slaveowners are eager to get their hands (Jacobs, 910-931). Once sold at the auction, Xarifa’s new owner tries to win her over by offering “lavish presents and delicate attentions,” “glittering chains of gold,” and “costly bands of pearl,” (Child, 157). A slave, even a sex slave, would not have received gifts from a white individual if they were not considered incredibly special by their owner. Child shows the reader through that simple detail, then, that Xarifa’s owner thought she was gorgeous. However, it is also implied, by using this tactic, that full-blooded African Americans, and even full-blooded whites, cannot be as beautiful as a mulatta. Child repeats details such as “the brown color on her soft cheek was scarcely deeper than the sunny side of a golden pear” (154-155) throughout the short story. In these moments of detail, Child describes Xarifa's beauty as a facet of her skin color. In other words, Child implies that Xarifa would not be beautiful if her skin were not a mixed color. Child, then, idealizes the mulatta’s beauty in “The Quadroons” by considering her skin color superior to those of other races. The short story, then, discriminates against women of different races, not just full-blooded African American women, by considering the mulatta’s beauty superior. However, there is still another race discriminated against in “The Quadroons”: the mulatta herself.

Heidi Hanrahan attributes the creation of a mixed-race protagonist to Child needing some form of relatability in “The Quadroons” (Hanrahan, 613). She argues that any author that wrote about the trope would have a primarily white audience, and it would make sense for them to write about a character with as similar physical characteristics to their audience as possible (Hanrahan, 613). By enforcing this argument, Hanrahan agrees with the work by Teresa Zackodnik, which explains that young white girls are inherently feminine in the eyes of white men (75). If white men within Child’s audience find a character feminine, they are more likely to feel sympathy for the tragedy that befalls her (Zackodnik, 75). However, this argument assumes that Child’s audience consisted of white men, which is not accurate.

“The Quadroons” was written for a white female audience. Xarifa has the life of a common white woman in the nineteenth century. Mary Wollstonecraft explains in A Vindication of the Rights of Women in 1792 that “Women are told from their infancy...that a little knowledge of human weakness, justly termed cunning, softness of temper, outward obedience...will obtain for them the protection of man; and should they be beautiful, every thing else is needless” (45). Wollstonecraft argues that women act a certain way to receive approval from men. She continues, saying that if a woman is beautiful, she has already received that approval. Xarifa achieved that approval early in her life, “her young cheek mantled at the rude gaze of young men” (Child, 151), and ever since, she relied on men for survival. At first, her financial situation rested in the hands of Edward, her father, but once he died, she put all her trust into George, her lover (Child, 155). Wollstonecraft explains that this situation was not uncommon in the eighteenth, and assumedly, the nineteenth century (38). “The Quadroons,” then, was written for the eyes of women, suggesting that Xarifa did not have a mixed skin color so she could be found relatable, or viewed as feminine. Rather, Child’s true meaning behind her mulatta protagonist contributed to the discrimination already lying in the short story. 

The discrimination against mulattas in “The Quadroons” comes from Child’s failure to create an in-depth personality for Xarifa. The character is nurtured in a loving environment in her childhood and does not show too much remorse when Edward and Rosalie, her mother, die (Child, 155). Child explains, once George is introduced, “And lucky was it for her enthusiastic and affectionate nature; for she could not live without an atmosphere of love” (155). Here, Child shows that Xarifa did not remain in grief for her parents very long. In fact, Xarifa is incredibly happy with George (155). She shows no signs of conflict, worry, or horror, which are often found at the beginning of relationships, especially when one half of the couple has no other family. It is not until the conclusion of the story when Xarifa goes insane that she feels multiple emotions at once. When this occurs, Xarifa fractures her head against a wall, ruining the beauty that Child has continually mentioned throughout the story (157). Arguably, Child wrote this to imply that mulattas cannot be beautiful and have exciting personalities at the same time. If “The Quadroons” was only one member of the tragic mulatta genre, this interpretation might be different. However, the work essentially determined what the tragic mulatta trope would become, so Child caused future tragic mulattas authors to write their protagonists as flat characters. Therefore, she created a stereotype that would dominate attitudes toward mixed-race women for years (Benjamin, 87).

“The Quadroons” manages to offend white, African American, and mulatta women in the span of eight pages. While the work was considered excellent in the nineteenth century, today, such writing would be termed racist. Not only would white and African American women find offense to this story, but so would mixed-race individuals. Although Child supposedly meant for her work to fight for the mulatta, the finished product, currently, has the opposite effect. This is not to say that “The Quadroons” was not a once-brilliant work, Hanrahan considers it one of the greatest works of literature, whether it fits today’s society or not (602). However, American society has most definitely changed in the last one and a half centuries, so perhaps Child’s work should take a step back, and let an upcoming author shine a light on the current political scene.

Works Cited

Benjamin, Michael. “Globalizing a Race to Publish an Encyclopedia.” American Nineteenth Century History, vol. 11, no. 1, Mar. 2010, p. 79. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/14664651003616966.

Child, Lydia M. “The Quadroons.” The Norton Anthology of American Literature, edited by Robert S. Levine, W. W. Norton & Company, 2017, pp. 149-157.

Gosse, Van. “Patchwork Nation: Racial Orders and Disorder in the United States, 1790–1860.” Journal of the Early Republic, vol. 40, no. 1, Spring 2020, p. 45. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1353/jer.2020.0000.

Hanrahan, Heidi M. “Harriet Jacobs's ‘Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl: A Retelling of Lydia Maria Child's ‘The Quadroons.’” The New England Quarterly, vol. 78, no. 4, 2005, pp. 599–616. JSTOR, Accessed 27 Apr. 2020.

Jacobs, Harriet. “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.” The Norton Anthology of American Literature, edited by Robert S. Levine, W. W. Norton & Company, 2017, pp. 910-931.

Livesey, Andrea H. “Race, Slavery, and the Expression of Sexual Violence in Louisa Picquet, the Octoroon.” American Nineteenth Century History, vol. 19, no. 3, Sept. 2018, p. 267. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/14664658.2018.1538009.

Raimon, Eve Allegra. The “Tragic Mulatta” Revisited : Race and Nationalism in Nineteenth-Century Antislavery Fiction. Rutgers University Press, 2004. EBSCOhost,,shib&db=nlebk&AN=127228&site=eds-live&scope=site.


Sánchez, María Carla. Reforming the World : Social Activism and the Problem of Fiction in Nineteenth-Century America. University Of Iowa Press, 2008. EBSCOhost,

Silvestrini, Molly. “‘It’s Not Something I Can Shake’: The Effect of Racial Stereotypes, Beauty Standards, and Sexual Racism on Interracial Attraction.” Sexuality & Culture, vol. 24, no. 1, Feb. 2020, p. 305. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1007/s12119-019-09644-0.

Wollstonecraft, Mary, et al. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Yale University Press, 2014. EBSCOhost,,shib&db=nlebk&AN=818466&site=eds-live&scope=site.

Zackodnik, Teresa C. The Mulatta and the Politics of Race. University Press of Mississippi, 2004. EBSCOhost,,shib&db=nlebk&AN=140846&site=eds-live&scope=site.

“The Epic of Gilgamesh: Finding One’s Life Purpose “

By Cassidy Lawrence

             In “The Epic of Gilgamesh,” the demigod Gilgamesh leads an unfulfilling life and rules as King of Uruk with an atrocious form of leadership. Enkidu is created as a match for

Gilgamesh, resulting in a powerful friendship. Enkidu tragically dies, and Gilgamesh experiences extreme grief. His grief leads him on a journey for the cure to immortality, as he suddenly fears his death. In this epic, the protagonist Gilgamesh is not truly happy in his life until he meets his best friend, Enkidu. One of the lessons conveyed to readers is that one’s life has a purpose. It is not about birth or death, but about the experiences in between.

In order to understand how Gilgamesh’s life was changed, it is essential to evaluate the life he led before meeting Enkidu. In the beginning of his reign, the people of Uruk express their concerns regarding the rulings of Gilgamesh, who they claim to be “arrogant” and without a male or female heir (Kovacs line 67) who the gods “have indeed brought into being a mighty wild bull, head raised! “There is no rival who can raise a weapon against him” and “His fellows stand (at the alert), attentive to his (orders!) (Kovacs line 67). Gilgamesh knows that no man is a match for his strength or wisdom. Because he has no match, he feels he may behave as he pleases, and no one can stop him. It is expressed within the literature that his prerogatives at this time were winning battles and sexual intercourse. The author uses the phrase “… does not leave a son/daughter to their father/mother” (Kovacs line 67). Uruk’s sons were recruited to fight in battle while the daughters were used for sex unless married. These characteristics prove that Gilgamesh is a self-indulgent king. His priorities are of those that benefit him, rather than his people. 

In a study measuring the value of one’s life, researchers discovered that “Participants who reported a higher sense of purpose had higher levels of household income and net worth initially and were more likely to increase on these financial outcomes over the nine years between assessments” (Hill 1). These findings can be applied to Gilgamesh in a variety of ways. At the beginning of the epic, it is made known that Gilgamesh is extremely wealthy and assumes a very extravagant lifestyle; however, he lacked a real purpose in life, resulting in an unfulfilling life. On the other hand, after Gilgamesh discovers there is no cure for mortality, his life becomes more fulfilling. He no longer worries about the materialistic values and begins to care for his people and experiences in his life. It cannot be said for sure whether or not Gilgamesh’s income and net worth increased due to his revelation; however, one can hypothesize that it did due to his likeability from the city’s people. Becoming more amiable would ultimately result in the citizens further supporting Gilgamesh, both financially and physically.

Later, Enkidu is created by Aruru as the only match for Gilgamesh. The friendship between the two flourishes until Enkidu passes away. To express his grief, Gilgamesh speaks to the dead Enkidu, saying:

Enkidu… your mother is a gazelle, and your father who created you, a wild ass. [You were] raised by creatures with tails, and by the animals of the wilderness, with all its breadth. The paths are going up to and down from the forest of cedars. All mourn you: the weeping does not end day or night. (Kovacs 1113)

Gilgamesh uses imagery to express the extent to which grief has taken over. He depicts Enkidu’s parents as animals to convey that his death has affected all living things. Nature has felt the disappearance of his presence, as he previously lived his life within the wilderness. The grief and suffering that Gilgamesh is experiencing feels that it will never end. The death of Enkidu is so powerful to Gilgamesh, as he was like a brother. Enkidu helped Gilgamesh change his ways for the better; however, it was through this death that Gilgamesh realized his fear of death. His extreme fear of death led him on his journey to find the cure for mortality. 

According to Inge Corless et al., “Grief and the expression of grief is an articulate not only of loss but potentially of gain, growth, and the birth pangs of a new personal synthesis” (Corless 1). Grief is a very challenging experience. Gilgamesh faced the grief of losing his best friend. He expressed that it felt as if he would grieve forever. It is often during these times that others feel this way as well. It also feels that the grief felt has no purpose; however, it is quite the contrary. It is through this experience that individuals grow and mature. Gilgamesh grew to love Enkidu; however, through his death, Gilgamesh could truly discover himself and grow. He used this pain and grief to become a better person and live life as he should have all along. 

While on his journey to discovering the key to immortality, he crosses paths with Siduri.

Through this encounter, Siduri tells Gilgamesh to live what life he has left. She goes on to say, “As for you Gilgamesh, let your belly be full, make merry day and night. Of each day make a feast of rejoicing. Day and night dance and play! Let your garments be sparkling fresh, your head be washed; bathe in water. Pay heed to a little one that holds on to your hand, let a spouse delight in your bosom” (Tigay 50). Gilgamesh is consumed by the idea of becoming immortal that he essentially devotes his mortal life to finding this cure. He believes so strongly in this cure that he is willing to give up everything as long as he can prevent himself from dying. Siduri attempts to open his eyes to the idea of living in the moment. She tries to convince Gilgamesh that he should not waste any more time searching and enjoying life while he can. She expresses to him the things he is missing in his life. She encourages him to eat, dance, laugh, have kids, and love another. After he finds the answer to his immortality question, he can admire his hometown and its people. 

According to James Gillies, “…the most important process in successful cognitive adaptation is finding benefit in the experience: by engaging in interpretations and evaluations that focus on benefits and lessons learned, survivors emphasize benevolence over malevolence, meaningfulness over randomness, and self-worth over self-abasement…” (Gilles 5). It was through the death of Enkidu that Gilgamesh became more benevolent towards others. The suffering also taught Gilgamesh to cherish each moment and spend time on important things to him, as Siduri suggested. Gilgamesh also learned how valuable his life actually is. It was through this experience that Gilgamesh began to value himself and the people of his city. These acts are the key to grief. When grieving, one must focus on the positive to get through the negative.

The idea of dedicating one’s life to finding a “cure” is a prevalent theme today. The cure can be literal or figurative. A patient with cancer can spend their remaining time trying different treatment forms until their body can no longer fight. A person can also dedicate their lives to work. Someone gives up all joyful things in their lives to prioritize their career. In today’s society, it is too easy to get caught up in things that are not important. Time is so fast-paced that we rush through things or waste time on things that are not as important. Society forgets to enjoy time with family or friends, dancing, singing, and only having fun. A lesser-known phrase for this is “live your dash.” This refers to the dash on a tombstone. The birth date and death date are irrelevant. It is what one accomplishes during the dash that counts. 

            According to Jessica Morgan, “…individuals are strongly motivated to find personal meaning, that is, to understand the nature of their lives, and to feel that life is significant, important, worthwhile, or purposeful” (Morgan 1). This statement resonates significantly with the theme of this epic. After Enkidu dies, Gilgamesh realizes his fear of death. There are many reasons one might fear death. It could be that one does not want to experience death, is afraid of how death will feel, or one did not accomplish enough in their lifetime. Though the epic itself does not clarify this, it could be hypothesized that the last reason could apply to Gilgamesh. Due to the life Gilgamesh led before meeting Enkidu, he could feel that his life was wasted or that he never accomplished anything great as King. Through this realization, Gilgamesh sets out on his journey to become immortal. Could it be because he felt an eternity is a sufficient amount of time to make up for all the wrong things he did? Once he discovered there was no way to become immortal, he decided to make things right immediately. He became a better person and

King. He found his purpose in life, and thus felt his life was worthwhile. 

Ultimately, The Epic of Gilgamesh is a story of transformation. A king who was living a life of worldly things changed his ways after befriending Enkidu. After his best friend’s death, he becomes afraid of his mortality and searches for a cure. When he learns there is no cure, he appreciates his life and all things in it. Through these experiences, Gilgamesh knew that his life had a purpose and to live his life wisely. This story evokes the thought of whether one is living or merely existing.







Work Cited

Corless, Inge B., et al. “Languages of Grief: a Model for Understanding the Expressions of the

Bereaved.” Health Psychology and Behavioral Medicine, vol. 2, no. 1, 22 Jan. 2014, pp.

132–143., doi:10.1080/21642850.2013.879041. 

Gillies, James, and Robert A. Neimeyer. “Loss, Grief, and the Search for Significance: Toward a Model of Meaning Reconstruction in Bereavement.” Journal of Constructivist Psychology, vol. 19, no. 1, Jan. 2006, pp. 31–65., doi:10.1080/10720530500311182. 

Hill, Patrick L., et al. “The Value of a Purposeful Life: Sense of Purpose Predicts Greater Income and Net Worth.” Journal of Research in Personality, vol. 65, Dec. 2016, pp. 38–42., doi:10.1016/j.jrp.2016.07.003. 

Kovacs, Maureen, “The Epic of Gilgamesh”, September 18,  2020.

Morgan, Jessica, and Tom Farsides. “Measuring Meaning in Life.” Journal of Happiness Studies,      vol. 10, no. 2, 2007, pp. 197–214., doi:10.1007/s10902-007-9075-0.  

Tigay, Jeffrey H. The Evolution of the Gilgamesh Epic. Bolchazy-Carducci, 2002. 

"The Benefits of Kind Actions on Health and Well-being"

by Cynthia C. Coronel


Happiness is a significant factor in well-being. Research shows that happiness is linked to kindness. For years, human beings have engaged in acts of kindness to receive self-benefits and make a difference in others’ lives. However, with busier lifestyles becoming more common among teenagers and adults, the lack of engagement in volunteering has posed a threat in assisting people in need across various communities. This paper evaluates kind actions and the positive health benefits that result from performing helpful gestures for family and strangers. One act of service performed by the researcher was assessed to understand this topic further. A survey was also created asking participants about feelings felt when and after completing friendly services for others. The survey was conducted on college students at Dalton State College. Each participant answered nine questions composed of multiple-choice, matrix, rating, and yes or no questions. The questions on the survey asked information ranging from demographics to stress alleviation. An interview was also conducted on a high school senior to compare college students' data to data gathered from a high school student. Also, three scholarly sources provided detailed information for the study of this topic. The results show that helping others and performing acts of kindness generate happiness, which is an essential factor for healthy living. Based on the data, the paper concludes that assisting others produces positive feelings and mental-health benefits. Also, work, school, and extracurriculars prevent some people from engaging in more acts of kindness, which leads to less stimulation of happiness and less engagement in helping individuals in communities. 

Keywords: acts of kindness, helping others, healthy lifestyle, happiness, volunteering

The Benefits of Kind Actions on Health and Well-being

            Individuals spend a lifetime striving to achieve a healthy lifestyle and finding happiness. People live every day performing acts of kindness without noticing the positive effects that result from kind gestures. The human body and research analysis have provided data to understand the correlation between kind actions and well-being. In recent years, health professionals have investigated happiness’s connection with helping others. The positive correlation that data reveals about the two variables happiness and acts of kindness raise concern whether a lack of engagement in helping others can negatively affect a person's well-being. Another concern is the rising number of individuals that need help in communities because of the lack of volunteering and helping others. In order to evaluate these issues and the effect of helping others on health and well-being, kind actions and happiness will be discussed, along with the analysis of the amount of time spent on performing acts of kindness.

            To analyze the effects of kind gestures, it is essential to discuss what a kind gesture is and provide examples. Kind gestures and acts of kindness are phrases used interchangeably to describe an action that is completed out of the service of one’s heart without expecting anything in return. These actions are performed to help others, whether it be a family member or stranger. Kind gestures can be as small as opening the door for someone or even smiling at a person while walking across the street. Acts of kindness can also cost money and time, like donating to a charity or volunteering at a homeless shelter.

To study the impact of acts of kindness on well-being, the researcher surveyed a group of 19 college students at Dalton State College. Of the students surveyed, 74% of the students were aged 18-24, and 26% were aged 25-34. Also, 79% of the students were female, while 21% were male. Question three on the survey asked about employment status. Seven students reported working part-time, six working full-time, three being unemployed because of full-time student status, and one being unemployed. Two students reported an employment status as “other” (Acts of Kindness and Well-being Survey, personal communication, October 19, 2020).  It is important to note that these demographic questions are essential when discussing whether students have time to engage in acts of kindness.

First, questions 4,6,7 and 10 examine acts of kindness and the effect these actions have on emotion. Question 4 asked the participant to describe the level of satisfaction felt after completing a kind gesture. Ten participants reported feeling very satisfied, while eight reported feeling satisfied. Only one student reported feeling neither satisfied nor dissatisfied. It is important to note that zero students associated feeling dissatisfied after performing a helpful act (Acts of Kindness and Well-being Survey, personal communication, October 19, 2020). Question 4 compares to question 10. Question 10 was an open-ended question asking participants to use one word to describe mood and emotions after helping another person. All 19 participants used a word that contained a positive connotation and expressed happiness. The most common words reported were “happy” and “good” (Acts of Kindness and Well-being Survey, personal communication, October 19, 2020).  Questions 6 asked participants if helping others improved daily mood and emotion. Most participants answered that helping others improved mood while only one reported that assisting others does not improve mood. Question 7 had participants rate happiness on a scale of 1-10 while performing an act of kindness. The average rating was 8.8, and 11 participants chose a 10. Therefore, 11 people reported feeling very happy while performing kind gestures (Acts of Kindness and Well-being Survey, personal communication, October 19, 2020). These participant’s responses add insight that acts of kindness are associated with happiness and feelings of satisfaction.

Second, the participant’s responses added perception of the effects of kind acts on well-being. Question 8 on the survey asked participants whether helping others relieves stress temporarily. Of those surveyed, six answered "yes," and nine answered "sometimes." Four participants answered either “no” or “I am not sure” (Acts of Kindness and Well-being Survey, personal communication, October 19, 2020). In addition to the survey, the researcher created a scenario to study the effects of kind acts on well-being. It is important to note that the act of kindness was performed on a day that the researcher was feeling stressed. The researcher saw an opportunity to give money to a homeless person on the side of the road. When the money was given, the homeless man was very appreciative and responded to the researcher by saying, “Thank you so much. God bless” (C. Coronel, personal communication, October 20, 2020). The tone in the man’s voice hinted to the researcher that the homeless man was grateful for the act of kindness. Also, the moment the act of kindness was performed, the gratification and feeling of happiness that stemmed from the gesture temporarily relieved the researcher’s stress. The researcher’s ability to positively impact a person’s life in some way makes the small stressful factors of life insignificant for the time being (C. Coronel, personal communication, October 20, 2020). 

Third, the survey conducted on the 19 participants contained questions 5 and 9, which asked participants about time spent performing acts of kindness for others. Question 5 focused on the number of kind gestures performed in one week. Of those surveyed, nine participants perform 3-4 kind gestures per week, and five participants perform 7 or more kind gestures per week. The other students only perform 1-2 kind gestures per week (Acts of Kindness and Well-being Survey, personal communication, October 19, 2020). Question 9 asked participants about volunteer availability and whether school or work interferes with helping others. Of those surveyed, 13 answered “yes,” and 6 answered “no” (Acts of Kindness and Well-being Survey, personal communication, October 19, 2020). These results demonstrate that students engage in acts of kindness if given the time or opportunity.

In addition, the results from the Acts of Kindness and Well-being Survey collaborate with an interview conducted on a high school student who is a member of multiple extracurriculars at school. The researcher asked the student whether school and participation in sports interfere with volunteering and helping others. The interview respondent explained that practice times occur right after school, and after practice is study time (B. Mitchell, personal communication, October 21, 2020). The respondent emphasized that helping others is very important and something that the individual would engage in more if given the time. The person being interviewed explained that performing small acts of kindness like picking up cones during practice and helping siblings with math homework are gestures that stimulate happiness and satisfaction (B. Mitchell, personal communication, October 21, 2020). Based on these results, college and high school students' busy schedules interfere with performing more acts of kindness; however, positive feelings of emotion are created when acts of kindness are portrayed. 

Furthermore, performing acts of kindness becomes addicting based on the gratitude that stems from these gestures. According to the article, ""Paying it forward" via satisfying a basic human need: The need for relatedness satisfaction mediates gratitude and prosocial behavior" (2018), donating to charity causes feelings of gratification; this act of kindness also creates satisfaction in the giving individual (Shiraki & Igarashi). The authors explain that once gratification feelings are evoked, emotional manipulation occurs, causing individuals to engage in more prosocial behavior (Shiraki & Igarashi, 2018). This study relates to the information the researcher gathered from the interview. The respondent to the interview explained that engaging in small helpful tasks like picking up cones and putting the gear away during practice time results in feelings of gratification and satisfaction. Because of the emotional happiness that occurs, the respondent explained this task is performed every day at practice (B. Mitchell, personal communication, October 21, 2020). These findings provide insight that acts of kindness have significant effects on emotional satisfaction; therefore, experiencing positive emotions and feelings results in healthy living and well-being.

In comparison, acts of kindness play an essential role in positively affecting well-being. Research has found, “The effect of engagement in a kindness intervention on adolescents’ well-being: A randomized controlled trial” (2019), the study shows that an increase in self-esteem, interpersonal relationships, and prosocial behaviors all result from engaging in kind acts (Binfet & Whitehead). However, Binfet and Whitehead (p. 34) also explained that outcomes are only optimal when these acts of kindness are performed with high engagement. Therefore, a person will not have these same benefits in well-being if actions are engaged with evil intentions or hope to receive a reward. This study performed by Binfet and Whitehead compares to the researcher's feedback from the high school participant interviewed. The participant explained, “Sometimes what some people describe as a kind deed does not feel like a kind deed. For example, giving someone answers to homework” (B. Mitchell, personal communication, October 21, 2020). The respondent described that even though this action is kind and helpful, it does not produce satisfaction or happiness (B. Mitchell, personal communication, October 21, 2020). Based on these results, an individual must be willing to help and be highly engaged in the kind gesture for health benefits to develop.  

Another study discusses how lack of time attributes to fewer acts of kindness being performed. According to the article, “Positive psychology techniques – Random acts of kindness and consistent acts of kindness and empathy” (2015), Passmore and Oades explain that America is a very individualistic world. This idea means that people frequently think that time is money and repeatedly use phrases like “I think” and “I believe” (Passmore & Oades, 2015, p. 90). In other words, people will choose to work and make money than to use that time to give and help others. Passmore and Oades suggest that informing the public about the mental and physical health benefits resulting from performing acts of kindness could shift Americans away from the individualistic mentality; the benefits could also cause people to commit more time towards helping others (2015). These findings compare to the answers recorded on the Acts of Kindness and Well-being Survey. The survey recorded 68% of participants answering that daily schedules interfere with volunteering and helping others” (Acts of Kindness and Well-being Survey, personal communication, October 19, 2020). It is essential to note that high school and college students have busy schedules consisting of work, school, and sports. However, lack of time, shown in the survey and research article, prevents more individuals from performing more acts of kindness.

In conclusion, the researcher has shown that acts of kindness have positive benefits on health and well-being. Also, results show that kind gestures are positively correlated with happiness and feelings of satisfaction. These findings are promising in dealing with the concerns about the lack of time for helping others. With more knowledge and evidence supporting that acts of kindness provide health and well-being benefits, there is a possibility that more individuals of all ages will become aware of the needs in communities and provide kind gestures whenever there is an opportunity to make a difference.


Binfet, J.-T., & Whitehead, J. (2019). The effect of engagement in a kindness intervention on adolescents’ well-being: A randomized controlled trial. International Journal of Emotional Education, 11(2), 33–49.,shib&db=eric&AN=EJ1236238&site=eds-live&scope=site&custid=dal1

Passmore, J., & Oades, L. G. (2015). Positive psychology techniques -- Random acts of kindness and consistent acts of kindness and empathy. Coaching Psychologist, 11(2), 90–92.,shib&db=pbh&AN=111008280&site=eds-live&scope=site&custid=dal1

Shiraki, Y., & Igarashi, T. (2018). “Paying it forward” via satisfying a basic human need: The need for relatedness satisfaction mediates gratitude and prosocial behavior. Asian Journal of Social Psychology, 21(1/2), 107–113.