Foote mentions the shadow of the Civil War and how it continued to affect the thought patterns of many Southerners well into the twentieth century. How does memory of the War effect Foote’s life and how does this tie into Jim Crow? Think about Reconstruction, memory, and Foote’s observation that he “took all of this for granted, if I wondered at all, as I accepted all the evils of segregation: separate schools, drinking fountains, toilets, blacks being banned from white restaurants and the soda fountains in white drugstores” (32).

The shadow of the Civil War continued to affect the South even after the war was over. Reconstruction often exacerbated old resentments and prejudices. The idea of the “lost cause” became prominent. Jim Crow laws renewed old prejudices, and many people took for granted that their Southern lifestyle was merely normal.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In the South, memories of the Civil War affected life for decades after the war ended. Let's reflect on Reconstruction, Jim Crow laws, and the idea of the “normal way of life.”

We'll start with Reconstruction. This refers to the political and societal rebuilding that occurred to bring the South fully back into the Union after the Civil War. At first, Reconstruction meant broader rights for African Americans, including education, voting, and land ownership. But over time, as governmental control shifted, these rights faded. Old resentments and prejudices flared up, and these often negatively affected treatment of African Americans and even those who cooperated in the Reconstruction process. The idea of the “lost cause” became prominent among some southerners as they strove to hang onto their old ideals about the nobility of the South even as it struggled under Reconstruction politics and, often, Reconstruction injustices.

As the years went by and the Civil War faded deeper into the past, prejudices still remained against African American people. These began to be expressed more and more by Jim Crow laws that required segregation between Black and white people in nearly every aspect of society. As Foote says, Black people had separate schools and restrooms. They couldn't eat in white restaurants or shop in white stores. The idea of “separate but equal” was far from true as Black people received highly inferior treatment.

Yet many white Southerners, including Foote, took this segregation for granted. It was just part of life, and they didn't think much about it. It certainly didn't negatively affect their lives, and they often accepted the prejudices handed down to them by their ancestors, believing as a matter of course that Black people were inferior and therefore must be separated. The shadow of the Civil War and its ideological milieu continued to hang over them in this way. Their culture seemed perfectly normal to them, just as slavery had seemed normal many years before.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on