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The Deep South vs. the Old South: A Comparative Analysis

Updated on January 13, 2018
alahiker28 profile image

Ms. Parker is a senior paralegal from Alabama. She earned her Bachelor's from Millsaps College in Mississippi. She freelances on the side.


by Vicki Parker

"In the South, perhaps more than any other region, we go back to our home in dreams and memories, hoping it remains what it was on a lazy, still summer's day twenty years ago." - Willie Morris

Most Northerners don’t know what grits are, much to the chagrin of Southerners. But the gospel of the matter is, grits no more make a man Southern than church makes a man righteous. The hungry mind thinks of turnip greens and cornbread with sweet tea when the word Southern is heard. The geographical mind finds blues and barbeque on Bealle Street or beignets and artists in the French Quarter. But whatever the image, most of us draw from a long list of Southern exposures. You cannot escape the images of history – cotton fields for miles along a Mississippi Delta horizon or that ignoble war where the South was pitted against the North.

The Deep South is considerably different from the Old South though neither can claim any particular freedom from their civil unrest. The similarities come in the shapes of antebellum homes that share the same corner of the map. The difference, however, is entirely political. The Deep South is comprised of Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina. Some accounts try to add Arkansas, Florida or even Texas, but the Deep South is comprised of those states that depended on plantation type agriculture to sustain themselves before the Civil War, hence the term, “Down South.” Florida and Texas are much less considered southern now because of their high rate of immigration.

The Old South, on the other hand, more politically refers to the tradition of Southerners voting Democrat. It refers to those Southern States in the original thirteen colonies and they include, Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Delaware, South Carolina, and Georgia. The Old South shares some of the same history as the Deep South, but not nearly all of it. Civil right’s activists forged the term “New South” after the war.

And Now for the Lagnippae: The Real Truth About Being Southern

Whether new or old, deep or not, the south should be famous for it's story tellers, not its politics. Aside from good eats and civil history, true Southerners are defined in direct relation to their ability to tell stories. Eudora Welty, William Faulkner, John Grisham, Willie Morris, Lewis Grizzard, Pat Conroy, Samuel Clements (Mark Twain) and many others, relate stories that magnify simple as beautiful or explain the complexity of truth.

So you see, what makes a man Southern has nothing at all to do with geography. I cannot do it justice, so I hope you enjoy these links about some of the greatest story tellers of the South.

Eudora Welty followed her heart. And her heart led her to a Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, several O.Henry Awards, and more. When she wasn't writing, she captured the Mississippi images on photographic film engraving them in history along with her natural talent for catching the simplicity and complexity of the South in a single shot.

Lewis Grizzard explains the Southern Language

William Faulkner's "The Sound and the Fury." You can view all of it on Youtube. This is just enough to get you hooked ... but it's a far better read than a movi

A documentary about William Faulkner, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1949 for his novel, "As I Lay Dying."


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    • alahiker28 profile image

      Vicki Parker 6 years ago from the Deep South

      Thanks, LillyGrillzit.

    • LillyGrillzit profile image

      Lori J Latimer 6 years ago from The River Valley, Arkansas

      Awesome. This is very well written

    • alahiker28 profile image

      Vicki Parker 7 years ago from the Deep South

      Outdoorsguy's got jokes : )

    • outdoorsguy profile image

      outdoorsguy 7 years ago from Tenn

      Great Hub.. Texas is still in the deep south though cough cough LOL.

    • valeriebelew profile image

      valeriebelew 7 years ago from Metro Atlanta, GA, USA

      I am definitely a John G. fan, and also a Pat Conroy fan. I loved "The Great Santini," and "Prince of Tides." I never gave much thought to these guys being southern, but perhaps we do tell stories differently. I'll have to think on that one. (: v

    • alahiker28 profile image

      Vicki Parker 7 years ago from the Deep South

      Thanks, Winsome. I am impressed that someone as far away as California, by way of Texas, appreciates the Deep South.

    • Winsome profile image

      Winsome 7 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      What a lovely hub Alahiker. There is much to be said for the Deep South. It is a fertile ground for the birth of literature, politics, romance and hospitality. They knew the value of consideration and manners and the steel magnolia ferocity when protecting their own. Thank you.