What does it mean to "talk outside the family" in the novel "Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns?

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engtchr5 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter 2, as the "womenfolk" begin dissecting the small town's gossip, the phrase "talk outside the family" is first seen. To do so means that someone has verbally spread the private affairs or business of one's own family; in other words, someone is not keeping private matters within the walls of their home -- it's a form of gossip that, by southern standards, is "dirtier" than ordinary gossip, because it involves slandering one's own kin.

The idea that "what happens in the family stays in the family" is a prevalent and overriding mindset during this era in the American South. Even today, keeping family affairs under wraps is considered a social more within stereotypical white southern families. 

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Cold Sassy Tree

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