Changing the past: The pushback of narrative against temporality in southern literature
Janik, Nicole D.
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The southern region of the United States (characteristically referred in the proper form of the South) features an identity that differs significantly from the rest of the national framework that contains it. While this self-conceptualization has manifest actions and behaviors (i.e. political conservatism, agrarianism as a means for economic generation), it is rooted in a strong sense of memory and history. Southerners wishing to assert themselves within a modern, national framework while still maintaining their regional identity, therefore, must reconcile their Civil War-centered history with modern moralities that are no longer in line with the values inspiring the Confederate rebellion. Also central to Southern identity is the act of storytelling and oral narrative. As the works of William Faulkner and Eudora Welty display, this propensity for narrative and necessary reconciliation of history are not two separate phenomena, but two inter-connected concepts that feed off of and inform one another. In each writer's works, narrative takes on a social, performative aspect that has real-world implications. By harnessing the fluidity that narrative introduces to individual relationships with elapsed time, Southerners are able to pushback against an inescapable past and become agents in cultural change in modern society.