Honor and Violence in the Old South

Honor and Violence in the Old South

Honor and Violence in the Old South

Honor and Violence in the Old South

Synopsis

Wyatt-Brown now offers us an abridgement of his hailed classic, Southern Honor, which The Journal of American History has called "a wide-ranging, innovative, and highly readable analysis of white social relations in the Old South" and "a major contribution." Covering a wide range of topics including childbearing, marital patterns, duelling, slave discipline, and lynch-law, Wyatt-Brown seeks to discover the role of honor in the psyche of white Southerners.

Excerpt

The concept of honor seems inherently and perversely contradictory: comic and tragic, romantic and shrewd, inhumane and magnanimous, brave and hypocritical, sane and mad, like the famous Don in pursuit of the unresponsive Dulcinea.But for all the perplexities that the elusive concept raises, in many regions, especially in slaveholding societies, honor may be seen as a people's theology, a set of prescriptions endowed with an almost sacred symbolism. Under honor's law those who have power to demand, and to hold, esteem and authority are able to do so because the entire social order has sanctioned their rule and called it moral. Whereas in Christian and humanistic ethical systems distinctions are drawn between moral and physical power, honor places them in close proximity.

In these pages, which are an abridgment of Southern Honor: Ethics and Behavior in the Old South, the ethnic of honor takes on larger and more socially active meanings than ordinary parlance tends to convey.Honor in the pre-Civil War slave states was an encoded system, a matter of interchanges between the individual and the community to which he or she belonged.Meaning was imparted not with words alone, but in courtesies, rituals, and even deeds of . . .

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