Southern Colour Essay, Research Paper
Southern Colour In the anthology, Stories of the Modern South, two stories demonstrate themes typical to that of the South during the time following the Civil War. These two stories, Children on Their Birthdays by Truman Capote, and The Yellow Bird by Tennessee Williams, share common ideas, existing in Southern society at this time. Both stories are flavored with a hint of fantasy, different from the fantasy of more contemporary stories. The themes that are evident in these stories are the quintessential ideas that establish a local, or, in this case, southern, colour. In Truman Capote s story, Children on Their Birthdays, the main character, Miss Bobbit, is the typical Southern belle. She doesn t work, doesn t attend school, and appreciates the finer things in life that most youngsters are not exposed to. She lives in a fantasy world, untouched by dreariness. Miss Bobbit is the perfect example of a character in Southern Literature who avoids change. She is locked into the past, and doesn t attempt to change. For instance, when Copland inquired about her attending school, Miss Bobbit charmingly, yet sternly, replied:No, Mr. Copland, consider for a moment and you will see neither of us has the time nor energy. After all, it would only be a matter of whose spirit broke first, yours or mine. And besides, what is there for you to teach me? Now, if you knew anything about dancing, that would be another matter 69Of course the likelihood of a young lady speaking to a schoolmaster in such a manner would have been remarkable during this time, especially in the South. In Southern Literature, characters live and act in such a manner that it is clear that they value refined manners. Much of the town was in accord that Miss Bobbit should be whipped. However, she pulls it off, which adds to the implausibility of the whole situation. The ending of the story was certainly just as perplexing as the story itself. This ending, the death of Miss Bobbit, alludes to the desire of many of those members of Southern society who wish to escape reality.
In Tennessee Williams The Yellow Bird two major themes from Southern Literature are present. Most significant of the themes is the totally bizarre character, Alma Tutwiler. In Southern Literature it is common to find misfits. Secondly, the idea of escape through fantasy. Alma is disobedient; she challenges the society in which she lives. She starts small. First Alma disobeys her father: Mrs. Tutwiler concealed the terrible knowledge that Alma was smoking in the attic from her husband, and she didn t even dare raise her voice to Alma about it because the old man might hear Alma would smoke; she claimed it had gotten a hold on her and she couldn t stop it now Several times the old man had said he smelled smoke in the house, but so fat he hadn t dreamed that his daughter would dare take up smoking. But his wife knew he would soon find out about it and Alma knew he would too. 494Alma Tutwiler is the epitome of the misfit in Southern Literature. She breaks out of the typical Southern belle mold; she is anything but a southern belle, by any definition. The beginning and the end of the story have different moods than the middle, when Alma was living with her family. The beginning immerses the reader in a tale of witchcraft and betrayal. The end of the story, although very different, is quite similar in the fact that it is outside of the realm of reality. Alma, because of the profligate lifestyle she leads, has a son. He is bewitched. When Alma dies she is alone, but she dies with riches given to her when John the First descends to greet her.A formula that seems clear in both stories, the idea that the story goes from fantasy to reality to fantasy and ultimately to death proves that it is only through death that one truly escapes. For those in the South during this time who wanted to escape were actually waiting to die, if they hadn t truly died already.