Carolina Justice: Southern Fiction
by David Henry Maring
Create Space Independent Publishing Platform

"Since the beginning, Southern culture perplexed the outsider. Often the source of confusion was the mores in the region."

In exploring the early southern culture of South Carolina after WWII, the book takes the reader through a journey of love and hate, compassion and discrimination, beauty and horror, and sense and nonsense. The story is one of historical fiction in exploring the mores in Georgetown, South Carolina in the year of 1948. This culture of a segregated south—the influence of the Klu Klux Klan and the discrimination and prejudice towards Negroes resulting in such horrors as lynchings, hangings, and cross burnings—all relate to the setting of this novel. In this story, we learn of a black man falsely accused of rape and murder, because, as one witness noted: "All black men look alike to me." The black man, Benjamin MacClain, is a war hero who can't get a fair trial as the judge refuses to move the location of the trial and the jury consists only of white males.

The KKK gets involved in working on people's fears and hate by organizing large mobs of people and burning a cross on the jury foreman's lawn. The foreman also happens to be Jewish. With the story also steeped in other rapes and murders, police and National Guard involvement, a sleazy minister, marital affairs, and significant family and cultural dysfunction, the book offers many sub-plots which impact on the outcome of the trial. Yet within the horrors, we find persons of both races to be compassionate and caring with friendships and respect among themselves. But is it enough to overcome the prejudice, discrimination, fear, and hate, prior to the enactment of Civil Rights laws? The book concludes in the 1980s. The ending demonstrates positive changes in the mores of the individuals and the culture, with a look into those persons who are there to fight the good fight and want to leave the world a better place.

The historical influence of the book makes it an even more tragic affair as it is a tale of the realities of black vs. white culture in southern America. The book has its providence in the real-life events of 1940's Georgetown, South Carolina, where the mobilization of the National Guard was needed to keep peace after an alleged assault by a Negro man against a white woman. Likewise, this story is set in Georgetown and examines the major issue: the rapes and murders of two white woman, allegedly by a local Negro, with the resulting clash between whites, Negroes, and the influence of the KKK with its racial hatred and misogyny. Along with this main plot, sub-plots include stories of love and betrayal, children, extended families, and those of both races sometimes working together. Of course, the influence of lawyers and politicians add to the story.

The positives of the book include this historical knowledge and the examination of the culture and the influence of these beliefs upon persons' actions. The realistic look at the horrors of discrimination, segregation, and the violence against Negroes is quite powerful. Occasional stiff dialogue slow the narrative, and stylistic challenges, such as changing from first-person accounts into third-person accounts, can cause confusion. Yet the book offers a glimpse into the problems of prejudice, discrimination, racism, misogyny, and race relationships, which unfortunately continue today throughout the world. In the end, this book helps us to look at how far we've grown—or haven't—in recognizing that we are all one people.

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