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In her third novel of the Virginia series, The Deliverance: A Romance of the Virginia Tobacco Fields (1904), Glasgow combines elements of realism and romance to depict the South's postwar struggles. With an epic grandeur, she explores the escalating class conflicts within Virginia agricultural life after Reconstruction, highlighting the fall of the old aristocracy and the rise of a new order. Glasgow focuses on the decline of the Blake family, who had been prosperous landowners for the two hundred years leading up to the Civil War. Having lived extravagantly under the assumption that their white overseer, Bill Fletcher, was handling their financial affairs honestly, they do not become aware of their destitution until shortly after the war when their ancestral home, Blake Hall, goes to auction. Reduced to living in the overseer's home and farming his small share of the tobacco fields, the Blakes stand by in disbelief as the low-born Fletcher purchases Blake Hall for himself, presumably after successfully defrauding them. Christopher Blake, who becomes head of the new household at age ten, takes to the tobacco fields even as Fletcher's grandchildren, Maria and Will, receive the polished upbringing previously accorded only to the children of Virginia gentlemen. The rivalry between the neighbors festers as Christopher seeks revenge on Bill Fletcher by corrupting Will so that he will never become a true gentleman. However, Christopher finds himself falling in love with Maria, which ultimately foils his hatred for the Fletcher name.
The growing tension between the Blakes and the Fletchers increases as Christopher and his sisters, Cynthia and Lila, keep the truth about their financial ruin from their blind and paralyzed mother. Mrs. Blake continues in what she believes to be her former opulence, thereby representing the best days of the southern aristocracy as well as its hypocrisies and unyielding social standards. Her lectures to her children on marrying within one's station and the importance of social graces hold little significance given the Blakes' impoverished lifestyle. However, the children's insistence on concealing the truth shows their own desire to cling to the old ways. Indeed, Glasgow argues throughout the novel that the South's deliverance from its unhappy spiritual state can only come through love and acceptance, when social standing will no longer be the measure of "good breeding." Christopher's uncle, Tucker Corbin, and later Maria, both represent a hopeful future for the South in their ability to see beyond the importance of material wealth and the accident of birth. By contrast, both Christopher and Bill Fletcher remain encumbered by the past. Try as he might, Fletcher cannot buy character or community standing, and Christopher becomes consumed with revenge over his lost inheritance. In this way they represent the South's resistance to a new postbellum order that is moving toward social equality. It is only after Christopher has accepted his future in the new South, finding redemption through Maria Fletcher's love, that he can be truly happy.

Includes a biography of the Author

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Additional Info

  • Publication Date: September 18, 2011
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • Lending: Disabled
  • Print Length: 476 Pages
  • File Size: 900 KB

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