Obsessive Characters in the South
A look at how Southern fiction is preoccupied with family relationships, with intense emotions, and with sinister, even gothic undertones.
“Southern writer Pat Conroy says that “My mother, southern to the bone, said that “Southern literature can be summed up in these words: “on the night the hogs ate Willie, Mama died when she heard what Daddy did to sister”” (Conroy). Of course Conroy and his mother are probably joking but behind the joke lays a certain truth. Southern fiction is preoccupied with family relationships, with intense emotions, and with sinister, even gothic undertones. The hogs eat Willie, Joe Christmas eats toothpaste, and Livvie and Solomon’s food and the domestic details of their home are described in detail. Death is never far from any character’s mind, it seems, and obsession runs rampant and as deep as the bloodlines of the characters. These obsessions are a form of heat: hot thoughts, the metaphor of putting “the heat” on someone, and the summer landscape of the south which is as hot and volatile as the characters themselves can be.”