This book examines how Lee Smith has given voice to all aspects of her experience both as a woman-artist living in contemporary America and as a native of Appalachia, a southern region that still retains a strong sense of oral tradition and community ties. Smith revisits and alters the language and myths that have conditioned their quests for identity and silenced their voices. In doing so, she explores the relationship between female heroism and women's creativity as distinct from that of men. In their struggle, Smith's heroines reflect the writer's personal and artistic development. Her female characters' conflicted relationship to self-affirmation and to the world of Appalachia reveals Smith's own ambivalent feelings towards the concept of individuality and towards her cultural roots.