The Ballad of Frankie Silver has many issues pertaining to the social case of the periods in which the book was written. The story line follows the murders of three individuals.
Murder: The first is an execution for a murder committed. The offender is Frankie Silver. Her crime is that she murdered her husband using an axe and subsequently dismantled the remains of his body thus; defiling it for a proper funeral. The second murder explores a random killing of two hikers that occurred in the previous two decades in the Appalachian Mountains. The last murder is in the present context: an exact copy of the one that occurred in the mountains. An eighteen-year-old woman committed the first murder, and the punishment was severe. It was a time in the country when murder had only one legislative consequence: execution. The execution was mostly effected by hanging.
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Gender Disparity: The punishment was not biased regarding gender. It did not help matters that Silver committed it against her husband. Issues regarding women were still sensitive at that time. As a result, her crime damned her more than if a male did it.
Legal Procedure: The novel also prefers legal procedure and representation. At that period, there were disparities along gender and racial lines because the law had not reached some areas in the country. Certain legislation had not been documented, but again, this was the Far East. She was the first woman to be executed by the state raising questions whether it was because of the seriousness of the case or whether the punishment was based solely on the circumstances of the crime, and the perpetrator who just happened to be a woman.