Document Type


Date of Degree Completion

Spring 2021

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


English Literature

Committee Chair

Christopher Schedler

Second Committee Member

Sarah Sillin

Third Committee Member

Michele O'Brien


This thesis analyzes the changing gender roles of British women who served as caretakers in World War One. Often overlooked for their contributions, the women who worked on the frontlines of the war defined the changing role of women during and after the war in several crucial ways: 1) the general expectations of women’s gender role, 2) how women perceived and acted in motherhood, and 3) how women constructed and maintained heterosexual, homosocial, and platonic relationships. Using a gender theory approach, this thesis analyzes two semi-autobiographical fictional texts, Evadne Price’s Not So Quiet: Stepdaughters of War, published in 1930, and Mary Borden’s The Forbidden Zone published in 1929, as well as propaganda posters from the time, to highlight how caretaking women were defined, freed, and constrained by the gendered expectations of wartime. Women were crucial to the war effort, and by serving their country through war work, the gendered role of women was altered forever. This thesis also serves to bring to light a scholarly gap in the study of war literature written by women and focused on women characters. Women’s gender roles during WWI is an under-researched area within literary studies, and this thesis serves to illuminate two important authors who represent women’s experience and impact on the war.