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What does the line "Pastoral Scene of the gallant south" in Lewis Allan's "Strange...

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skyler89 | Student, College Sophomore | Honors

Posted March 1, 2012 at 10:28 PM via web

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What does the line "Pastoral Scene of the gallant south" in Lewis Allan's "Strange Fruit" poem mean?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 2, 2012 at 11:41 PM (Answer #1)

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This line is meant to be a highly ironic criticism of the gap between the South's perception of its own culture and the reality of that culture.

This poem is about lynching.  Lynching was the practice of killing black men through mob violence.  The men, dangling from the trees where they were hung, are the "strange fruit."

In the line you cite, Allan is alluding to the South's view of itself as a place of gallantry.  Southerners saw themselves as having better manners and a more romantic and sensitive culture than the money-obsessed North.  They saw their region as a bucolic and idyllic place of fields and forests, unlike the slums of Northern cities.  Allan is mocking this view of the South.  He is contrasting this idealized view of the South with the reality in which there is "strange fruit" hanging from the trees.

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