Mary Austin: Cactus Thorn

(1516 words)

Because of its rejection of social conventions and its violent conclusion, Mary Austin’s Cactus Thorn written around 1927, did not see publication until 1988. Its publication was part of the movement during the latter decades of the twentieth century to recover forgotten or suppressed texts by female authors. Its plot and themes place it within what Elaine Showalter calls the “feminist” phase of women’s writing, in which female authors, tired of conforming to male standards of artistic production, invent heroines who suffer under the domineering actions of male characters.

The novella opens at a remote California depot where Grant Arliss, a famous New York progressive, is waiting for a train. The politician (…

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Kale, Verna. "Cactus Thorn". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 24 October 2006
[, accessed 30 June 2015.]