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The first of her novels to be based in the South, Ilsa , reflects this negativity. What she found convinced her that, the ideal of the Southern gentleman was still valid and could be revived. It needed, however, to be extended to include those who had ly been excluded: African-Americans, poor white men and children, and to rediscover its Christian roots.
In particular, the Southern gentleman, paragon of all the manly virtues, is still with us Cazir , despite many attempts to show that the ideal has been honoured more in the breach than the observance. However, these modern knights were by no means identical to their itinerant, adventure-seeking medieval predecessors; each one was, according to Daniel J. Certain figures in the history of the South have embodied this ideal, perhaps the most notable being the Confederate general Robert E. This was not always easy and became increasingly less so as the twentieth century moved the South further and further from its golden age.
Even if this may be considered to be an exaggeration, for many people there were problems in the ideal itself. Their menfolk would acknowledge their civilising influence, but frequently this was just another means of controlling and restricting their behaviour. This combination of twentieth century Southern gentlemen ificantly failing to live up to the standards their ancestors professed, together with criticism of the ideal itself, transformed the portrayal of such characters in literature, particularly among the authors of the Southern Renaissance from the s onwards.
She remained there, going to school in Charleston and spending her vacations in Jacksonville, until she left for Smith College in Bion Jr. However, Margaret Mitchell did little to promote the ideal of the Southern gentleman. Rhett Butler is hardly a gentleman at all and his behaviour is no advertisement for the South. While many of its descriptions are highly evocative and the portrayal of the Jacksonville fire transports the reader into the heart of that terrifying historical event, Ilsa fails principally because its Southern male characters are all so unattractive and, in many ways, personify the stereotypical defects of their kind.
However, he is even more objectionable. He finally dies young from drinking too much bad gin. Although he is a minor character, Edwin does provide a possible form of salvation to Henry at the end of the story, offering to find him a job in New Orleans.
Despite Edwin, the reader who does not know the South well is likely to come away from the book with no great desire to meet any Southern gentlemen. It had vision, and it was blind. In addition, she had given much thought to the sort of books she liked to read and wanted to write. For her own books about the South, this ideal already existed, in the person of the Southern, Christian gentleman, and she invented the Renier and Phair families and their households, closely based on her own ancestors, in order to incarnate a community and also individuals in whom this ideal is alive.
She was therefore careful not to preach in her novels, but rather to show people or situations that would bring her ideals to life. This does not mean, however, that her novels are unrealistic or play down the horrors of the history of the region. Those of her characters who forget this always pay heavily for their mistake and her South contains all the violence, cruelty, intolerance, sexism, racism, lynchings and snobbery any students of the area might expect. However, in addition to supporting her own conviction that all sections of society are called to behave like gentlemen, her application of the ideal to those who are often considered to be inferior, makes it easier for the reader to accept and appreciate her good characters.
As Ritchie D. Stella, the first person narrator, has recently married Terry Renier, a young diplomat who has been sent away on a government mission and she has never visited the American South before. He also introduces her to his sister, Xenia, who has been paralysed by a stroke and completely lost the power of speech. It also becomes clear that James respects, trusts and confides in his elderly, black housekeeper, Saintie, even on sensitive political issues In spite of his age and frailty, he is ready to ride into the scrub to rescue Stella when she is in danger.
However, Stella, in her understanding of James, is not limited to what she sees. Stella learns that James inherited the family plantation, Nyssa, when he was twenty-one, freed all his slaves and went to live there with his cousin Theron. Those former slaves who wished to stay and work there were welcome and the plantation became a kind of Christian community.
Xenia took charge of the house and created a school where all the children, black and white, learned to read and write, as they did in the real Fatio household. Clive and his brother were among the black children born and educated at Nyssa. Stella learns that James was also trained as a lawyer and became politically active, using his legal skills to protect the vulnerable.
He has never underestimated women and trusted his cousin Olivia, teaching her to shoot and encouraging her to act as a spy and to carry messages behind enemy lines during the Civil War Mado is not alone in her opinion that black Clive may be considered a gentleman. Aunt Olivia esteems that he has wisdom and asks his advice, as do many of the other good, white characters. His qualities also include his courage, his extensive knowledge of the Bible and his attitude to women. Clive married the widowed Honoria in order to protect her from potential abusers.
At all times, Clive is present to support the more gifted Honoria, to encourage and to protect her, but he also lets her take the lead. He protects Stella and prevents other men, including Hoadley, from harassing her Throughout the novel, James, Theron and Clive are portrayed as honest, truthful, honourable, courageous and deeply religious men who attract opposition because of their refusal to compromise and their desire to protect the vulnerable from those who would exploit or abuse them.
At the same time, they encourage those around them, whatever their gender or social position, to use their gifts to the full and adopt their own gentlemanly code. In The Other Side of the Sun , the ideals associated with the Southern gentleman are just as relevant to women. Olivia is as chivalrous as the men and finally shoots and kills Ron rather than see him lynched. Honoria is acknowledged by all the men to be the wisest member of their community and shows the same leadership qualities as they do. In the end he will give his life to save Stella from being abused.
Therro and Jimmy are already tragically dead by the time Stella comes to America. Although all three of these men were brought up knowing how gentlemen are supposed to behave, they each fall short and suffer because of this failure. A photograph of all the children in the community when Hoadley was about sixteen shows them all united. However, gradually, the young men become corrupted and, as a result, no longer at ease with inter-racial friendships. All three are unwise and lack both the traditional chivalry and even basic respect in their relationships with women.
Abandoned by his white friends, the now vulnerable Jimmy is seduced by the beautiful, but uneducated and thoroughly pagan, Belle Zenumin, whom he then marries. Belle then also seduces Therro and, as a result, gives birth to Ron. After Therro and Kitty die in a boating accident, which may have been suicide, Hoadley is left alone and will depart further and further from the ideal of the Southern gentleman.
Unable to repent and return to the ideal, Hoadley develops a deep hostility to all African-Americans, ing and becoming a leader of the White Riders, a Ku Klux Klan type movement who impose their concept of law and order on the black population. There is dramatic irony in the fact that, after their evil plots are foiled, having refused to be gentlemen, Hoadley and Tron do not lose their lives, but their virility. James, Theron and Clive take the ideal for granted, although it plays a subordinate role to their Christian faith. This le to good, honourable behaviour, consideration for subordinates and a respect for their women folk, who are also encouraged to embrace the ideal.
Therro, Hoadley and Jimmy acknowledge the tradition, but do not live up to it and are thus estranged for their elders and, ultimately, from each other. His upbringing therefore requires him to adapt these Southern gentlemanly ideals to the second half of the twentieth century in which he lives. Like James in The Other Side of the Sun , Quentin freed all the slaves and let them choose whether to stay as part of the community or go.
In Quentin, the gentlemanly ideal and the faith which originally underpinned it were divorced, leading to an attitude of racial superiority, not dissimilar to that which led many Southern gentleman to feel that they did not have to treat their black neighbours with consideration. For her, a gentleman who ill-treats, fails to protect or shows a lack of respect to a woman, of any social class, or to an African-American, an invalid or an idiot is not worthy of the name.
Gentlemen are always to be judged by their truthfulness, honesty and fidelity, not by their outward appearance or social status. Clive and Ron are black gentlemen, James is a very frail and elderly gentleman, Simon is a poor, teenage gentleman and all the main good female characters, but especially Honoria, Olivia and Leonis are seen to live by the same moral code.
March 1, Amos, Alcione M. The Life of Luis Fatio Pachecco. Biba, Catherine. Rawley Graduate Conference in the Humanities , Paper 10 : n. Cazir, Jack. A Guide to Being a Southern Gentleman. Chase, Carole. Katherine Kirkpatrick. Clinkscales, John George. De Planchard de Cussac, Etienne. Paris : Michel Houdiard, England, Kenneth. Fulton, Lorie Watkins. The University of Southern Mississippi, August Gros, Emmeline. Georgia State University, 12 December Holsaert, Eunice. Lee, Harper.Western lady looking for a true southern gentleman
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