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Gothic kinship$
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Agnes Andeweg and Sue Zlosnik

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780719088605

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719088605.001.0001

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Seed from the east, seed from the west, which one will turn out best? The demonic adoptee in The Bad Seed (1954)

Seed from the east, seed from the west, which one will turn out best? The demonic adoptee in The Bad Seed (1954)

Chapter:
(p.63) 4 Seed from the east, seed from the west, which one will turn out best? The demonic adoptee in The Bad Seed (1954)
Source:
Gothic kinship
Author(s):

Elisabeth Wesseling

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7228/manchester/9780719088605.003.0005

Lies Wesseling’s Chapter 4 traces the genealogy of evil children, by analysing the success of William March’s portrayal of the demonic adoptee in The Bad Seed and its remediations. The success of this unprecedented work becomes all the more remarkable when we take its cultural context into account. The Bad Seed, Wesseling argues, takes issue with the two dominant US discourses on adoption at the time. It subverts the adoption professionals’ paradigm of similarity, by suggesting that even when parents and children are perfectly matched, conforming as closely to the ideal of the white middle-class family as one could wish for, a bad seed could nevertheless still assert itself and wreak havoc. It is also at odds with the ‘love-and-faith-will-conquer-all’ optimism of inter-country-adoption-enthusiasts, suggesting that the normative nuclear family may not be such a great model for world politics after all.

Keywords:   Adoption, Discourse, Evil child, Nuclear family, Similarity, William March, The Bad Seed, USA

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