“A part of her believed this one moment — Carolina woods, a wagonload of children, lights of heaven blazing on a clear spring night — was sufficient. An eternity in itself. A perfect instant if you erased guilt of the past and dread of the future.”
— Charles Frazier writing in “VARINA”
Did you enjoy the book? Did you have trouble with the umps forward and backwards through time?
Shimon, I can’t say that I enjoyed the book. I was reading it to try to get an insight into the American Civil War and its aftermath. The author’s device of jumping forward and back in time was a little unsettling. But I think the author is trying to reflect the general American difficulty in coming to grips with our history of slavery, and with the related question of whether the Civil War was a Just War. Guilt is a major theme of the book. I think America is still struggling with the question: Did the injustice of slavery justify the sacrifice of thousands upon thousands of soldiers, the destruction of much of the south, and the continuing injustices of the 100 years following the Civil War. Mind-boggling historical questions, all tied up in guilt and recrimination.
Thanks for your well described answer. It seems to me now that most of us have had such incidents in our personal lives. Looking back, it is hard not to sigh at some of our projects and ambitions; the great mistakes we’ve made… On the national level, I am sure it happens too. Even growing pain, at times, can be fierce.
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Yes, I think Charles Frazier is using the arena of the Civil War and American history to consider individual guilt over the past and fear of the future. Individual responsibility and guilt, intertwined with societal responsibility and guilt. Difficult if not impossible to separate the individual from the context of the society and the mores of the time.