Those Crazy Southerners

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To start off, I was a little upset in chapter 18 when Foster says we've all seen Ordinary People (1976) because I haven't seen that. And my English class didn't assign it either so I had no idea what he was referring to. I'm starting to feel this book is out of date or is using books that not everyone has read. (But, how can he use books that everyone has read when there is no strict canon.)

What I really wanted to comment on is chapter 19 about geography on page 171 of my book. "When writers send characters south, it's so they can run amok."

I see his logic here and I can even relate to it in some books, but really this idea brings up more questions. What about the characters who start in the south? Southerners? Do they have to travel more south? Or do they already run wild? Or do they have to go north?

Was Foster relating to how the warmer temperature makes these people do crazy things? Or is it because of the change in culture? What if someone was from South Africa and their more south was to go to Antarctica? Would this running amok still happen?

Students on Foster


I had the same exact thought when I read the section about geography the first time I read this book for another class. Here's my initial blog entry about that:

The whole south=craziness thing is totally dependent on where the writer is located. If you already live south, the north may be the place to go wild. Certainly, warmer climates seem like better places to let your hair down and have all kinds of shenanigans because you're more inclined to want to go outside. But I think the main point is that whenever a writer sends a character anywhere different geographically that is outside of their comfort zone, mayhem is likely to ensue. It's just that the Western writers he mentions that are less used to warmer climates tend to view the south as "ooo, forbidden pleasures." But I think it's really all based on the writer's perspective.

Aja Hannah said:

I didn't think of the author's background. Good point. If a character goes south from the north, I wonder what they would do. I think alcohol would be involved.

I was thinking if a real person went from north to south if they would run amok. My friends suggested Mardi Gras...I wonder if this idea of characters running amok came from real life.

Jessica Bitar said:

I was thinking the same thing when I read that quote. I did not really understand why the characters would run "amok." I think in a way it depends on the setting and time period of the story. Foster's interpretation could also have meant amok to mean "free." When I initially read the passage I imagined a ranch or farm where it's wide and open full of possibilities. (if that makes sense)

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