Ideas for Reports and Papers

Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 446

1. There are several mothers in this book: Charlotte, Mrs. Wigfall, Mrs. Turnstable (Connie's mother), and Mrs. Thomasia Christian Winston Harrold, Susan's next door neighbor. Looking at these women, compare and contrast their characteristics. Speculate on why Rinaldi used all these women. How do they, in their own scenes, act...

(The entire section contains 446 words.)

Unlock This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this The Last Silk Dress study guide. You'll get access to all of the The Last Silk Dress content, as well as access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

  • Summary
  • Characters
  • Analysis
  • Teaching Guide
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

1. There are several mothers in this book: Charlotte, Mrs. Wigfall, Mrs. Turnstable (Connie's mother), and Mrs. Thomasia Christian Winston Harrold, Susan's next door neighbor. Looking at these women, compare and contrast their characteristics. Speculate on why Rinaldi used all these women. How do they, in their own scenes, act as "foils" to each other? (A foil is a character who stands in direct contrast to another and who sheds light on that other character through contrast.)

2. The Last Silk Dress is historical fiction. Reviewing the text, list ten things you learned about the Civil War. Then discuss how this knowledge is integrated into the novel. Is it part of something Susan tells you? How does the historical data enrich your reading?

3. Examine the structure of the novel and discuss why it is divided into four parts. Speak about why specific dates are mentioned. Examine how character is shown in each part. Do divisions relate to character development? In your estimation, does the novel benefit from such divisions?

4. There are many historical novels devoted to the Civil War experience. Compare The Last Silk Dress to one other such novel. In your comparison you might think of point of view and how differing points of view affect you as a reader. You could also look at historical data presented in the two texts and major themes. (One possibility for comparison is Irene Hunt's Across Five Aprils [1964].)

5. The Southern "belle" is an image that appears in many books about the American South. Looking at The Last Silk Dress and one other work, examine what the Southern "belle" stands for. How, if at all, do alternate visions of "corruption" and "beauty" factor into your definition? Look closely at characters who seem to fit the "belle" description for your analysis. Feel free to examine modern works. In particular, Tennessee Williams has many plays featuring "belles." If you look at Williams's works, you might think how the twentieth-century "belle" is presented. You could also look at the character of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind (1936) and compare her to Susan.

6. Why are the characters in The Last Silk Dress patriotic to the Confederate cause? Looking at particular scenes, examine their sentiments. Then check through other history sources and write about why the war was fought. For a creative exercise, you could pretend that you are a Richmond citizen. You are defending the war to a Northern friend or a Southerner who feels quite differently than you do.

7. The majority of people in this novel are Southern. Discuss what is "stereotypical" Southern behavior? What "stereotypes" do Northerners have about Southerners and visa versa? Do American authors rely on certain generalities about Southerners?

Illustration of PDF document

Download The Last Silk Dress Study Guide

Subscribe Now
Next

Topics for Discussion