BEING VERY CAREFUL: Gertrude Stein’s Narrative Constructions of Self-Identification

Undergraduate senior thesis paper prepared for Bryn Mawr College Department of English

In The World Is Round and Ida, Gertrude Stein pairs storytelling with the construction of
identity, showing the ongoing relationship between the formal elements of a story and their creation. These books feature characters for whom self-identification becomes not only a quest within the story but also a gesture toward Stein’s authorial control and toward the false nature of any constructed character. As a commentary on the power of storytelling – the power both to create a character and to play out that character’s conscious attempts at controlling her identity – Stein’s continuous coupling of a narrative and the process of its creation results in work that demonstrates its own formation, telling the story of how a story about self-telling tells itself.

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