Southern stories became near and dear to my heart soon after coming to North Carolina.
We transplants should ask questions to set down roots, and over the years I’ve asked plenty of them. Why is it done this way? Why do you prefer that? Why is this so important?
Before long, patterns emerge and much of what we hear as Southern literature is the result of the oral storytelling told in outdoor places–under the shade tree, on the front porch. The traditions of the Scots-Irish, the African Americans and others have blended in such a way to bring us the Southern tradition.
Along the way, commonalities have emerged. Religion is ever-present. It extends beyond good and evil to the physical manifestation of faith. There is little doubt as to what a Southern character believes. There’s little question about what faith they have chosen and what they think of the preacher, the priest, or other worship leader. The important thing is that there is faith.
I point to Calpurnia’s church in To Kill a Mockingbird, the strong Catholicism of James Agee and Flannery O’Connor, to name three examples. I’ll talk about this and other common themes at 6:30 p.m. next Thursday, April 25, at the Jonas Library in Lincolnton as a Road Scholar with the N.C. Humanities Council. The program is free and open to the public. I hope to see you there.