Andersonville Violets: A Story of Northern and Southern Life

Andersonville Violets: A Story of Northern and Southern Life

Andersonville Violets: A Story of Northern and Southern Life

Andersonville Violets: A Story of Northern and Southern Life

Synopsis

When John Rockwell, a Yankee captive at Andersonville, reaches across the prison's "dead line" to pluck a bunch of violets, Confederateguard Jack Foster is supposed to shoot him. Conflicted over thoughts of Lucy Moore, his girl back home, Foster lowers his gun. Spared, Rockwell lives to escape Andersonville, and Foster is discharged in disgrace. After the war, the paths of the two men are predictably divergent. Foster, as a symbol of the Confederacy, is a burned-out, bitter shell. Rockwell, as an emblem of the North, is thrifty and eager to make something of himself. When Rockwell's ambitions lead him to take charge of a rundown plantation in Foster's native Mississippi, the prisoner and guardfind their paths crossing once again. The struggle of these men represents the post-war chasm between North and South and raises issues of forgiveness and renewal.

Excerpt

Herbert Collingwood never knew why he went deaf, though he speculated that the gradual failure of his hearing began with a babyhood bout of scarlet fever. In his meditation on deafness, Adventures in Silence (1923), he wrote that he "wandered slowly and gently along the road [to the Silent Land], each year coming a little nearer to silence, yet working on so easily and unobtrusively that the way [did] not [seem] hard and rough." But in his dreams, sound never faded. While asleep, Collingwood could hear music as well as ever. Unfortunately, this music was frozen in time. He heard not a note of jazz or ragtime or any other contemporary music. Rather, he heard only "grand operas and songs of the Civil War and the following decade; these last are plaintive melodies for the most part, for New England, when I was a young man, was full of 'war orphans,' who largely dictated the music of the period." Among these orphans was Collingwood himself, for he and his four siblings lost their father to the war.

Thus, it seems fitting that Collingwood took the Civil War and its aftermath as the subject of his only novel. The . . .

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