Race And Reunion : The Civil War Essay

1099 Words Nov 27th, 2016 5 Pages
Blight, David W. Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2001

Thesis: Blight argues that in terms of the American Civil War memory "romance triumphed over reality, (and) sentimental remembrance won over ideological memory (5)"

Themes: One of the first themes that appears is rituals and symbolism. Parades, statues, and speeches all came about as a way to remember the war for both sides and for both the black and white race. Coffins were carried to symbolize the "death of slavery (67);" statues were erected of both black and white (mostly whites, in fact all but one were white) to commemorate the memories of these "heroes," and also to symbolize the power the white race still had over the black race. Decoration days (eventually Memorial Day) were created to remember the strength and courage, and the sacrifices of the war. Another theme of the text is fear. Many whites in the South feared that blacks would not only be considered their equals, but considered their betters because of the Reconstruction efforts. It was this fear that empowered the KKK and allowed for black lynching to occur. A recurring theme of the text is sentimentalism. Much of the text focuses on healing and forgetting the bad parts of the war and sentimentalism allowed for soldiers to pack away the bad and remember the "good." Sentimentalism aided in selling interesting (not always truthfully graphic) stories to newspapers and magazines,…

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