Zilphia Gant

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Zilphia Gant
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Gant, Zilphia
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"Miss Zilphia Gant" covers 40 years in the life of its title character. During that whole time the narrator and town continue to call her "Miss Zilphia," although she was married at least once. Physically, she is "pole-thin, with a wan, haunted face and big, not-quite-conquered eyes" for most of her life (372), but "plump in a flabby sort of way" at others (375), sickly "from anemia and nervousness and loneliness and actual despair" (372), and beset in her "ineradicable virginity" by insomnia and dreams (379). Abandoned by her father, she is essentially held captive and abused by her mother until well into adulthood, even during her few days as a wife. After her mother's death she makes several attempts to escape her life, but ends up at age 42 living a life that looks very much like her mother's, with a young girl she claims is her own daughter.

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