Patricia White published this in 1999

“When Williams next credits Nancy Chodorow’s analysis of parenting for ‘point[ing] the way to a new value placed on the multiple and continuous female identity capable of fluidly shifting between the identity of mother and daughter’ (306), much of the critical distance she has established collapses in language that has by now become a cliche. Furthermore, her attempt to liken the dynamics of identification in Stella Dallas to Luce Irigaray’s ‘female homosexual economy’ and to Adrienne RIch’s formulation of the ‘lesbian continuum’ (307) diffuses the sexual meaning of the lesbianism thereby invoked by aligning these concepts with Chodorow’s decidedly heteronormative view of mothering. […] Critics’ consideration of the bond between mother and daughter as one of mutuality and nurturing (passivity, dependence, identification) quite often misses the emotional emphases and perverse pleasures of the films–whose vision of ‘pre-oedipality’ can be closer to that of the sadomasochistic maternal relations described by Helene Deutsch or Melanie Klein.”


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