The Deep South vs. the Old South: A Comparative Analysis
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.
- How I Wrote It: An Interview with John Grisham - YouTube
Grisham discusses his first book, A TIME TO KILL, and its sequel, SYCAMORE ROW, published 25 years later. Grisham's new novel is GRAY MOUNTAIN. He spoke with...
- John Grisham - Academy of Achievement
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.
The text of Eudora Welty's story, "Why I Live at the P.O."
Lewis Grizzard explains the Southern Language
- Walker Percy, Mississippi writer
Walker Percy has one of the most interesting biographies of all Southern writers.
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."
This site is a good review of Flannery O'Connor's works.
- November 20, 2009 | Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly
A documentary about Flannery O'Connor, considered the only great Christian writer in the U.S. She was a devout Catholic from the Deep South who said her subject was the action of grace in territory held largely by the devil.
Pat Conroy wrote The Prince of Tides, The Lords of Discipline, South of Broad, The Great Santini, The Water is Wide, My Losing Season, The Boo and more. Read reviews of his works here.