By Jonathan W. Gray
Publish yr note: First released January 1st 2012
The assertion, "The Civil Rights circulate replaced America," notwithstanding precise, has turn into anything of a cliché. Civil rights within the White Literary mind's eye seeks to figure out how, precisely, the Civil Rights stream replaced the literary chances of 4 iconic American writers: Robert Penn Warren, Norman Mailer, Eudora Welty, and William Styron. every one of those writers released major works sooner than the Brown v. Board of Education case in 1954 and the Montgomery Bus Boycott that started in December of the subsequent year,
making it attainable to track their evolution in response to those occasions. The paintings those writers crafted according to the upheaval of the day, from Warren's Who Speaks for the Negro?, to Mailer's "The White Negro" to Welty's "Where Is the Voice Coming From?" to Styron's Confessions of Nat Turner, exhibit a lot approximately their very own feeling within the second whilst they give a contribution to the nationwide dialog that founded on race and democracy.
By analyzing those works heavily, grey posits the argument that those writers considerably formed discourse on civil rights because the circulate was once taking place yet did so in methods that--intentionally or not--often relied upon a suggestion of the relative innocence of the South with reference to racial affairs, and on a build of African american citizens as politically and/or culturally na*ve. As those writers grappled with race and the parable of southern the Aristocracy, their paintings constructed in ways in which have been at the same time sympathetic of, and condescending to, black highbrow proposal happening even as.
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Extra resources for Civil Rights in the White Literary Imagination: Innocence by Association
This heroic achievement of a moral sense of self through resolute struggle with the great issues of the day could not be more unfamiliar to “our age of conformity, of ‘other-directedness,’ of uniformity and the gray ﬂannel suit, of personality created by the charm school” (90). Contemporary men, faced with the twin challenges of the civil rights movement and the Cold War, hearken back to the Civil War “to deﬁne clear aims and certain commitments in the complexity of life” (89–90). “In our world of restless mobility,” Legacy claims, “we look back nostalgically on 34 Warren and the Limits of Historical Responsibility the romantic image of some right and natural relation of man to place and man to man, fulﬁlled in worthy action” (92).
When he asks Warren if he feels the same and Warren replies, “[C]an’t say that I do,” the boy “utters the sudden obscenity, and removes himself a couple of paces from me” (290). Warren characterizes this display as “the cliché of hate” (290) and declares these episodes “thing[s] the uninitiated would expect” (288). Warren hopes to conduct an examination of southern society that reaches past these clichés, since, despite such events, “in the end people talked, even showed an anxiety to talk, to explain” (293).
It is with palpable relief that Warren encounters a scene that seems to conform to his expectations. As he continues south along 61, Warren spies the ﬁgure, suddenly in our headlight . . ), the woman with a piece of sacking or paper over her head against the drizzle now, at her bosom a bundle that must be a small child, the big children following with the same slow, mud-lifting stride in the darkness. . They will move on, at their pace. Yes, they are still here. (285, my emphasis) 22 Warren and the Limits of Historical Responsibility This tableau both comforts Warren and serves as a signpost that allows him to reorient himself in this strange new South.