Friday, November 25, 2016

Caught in the act

     "Freedwoman Martha Hendricks found herself in a similar situation when she fled her husband's attackers, baby in arms, to take shelter in the home of her white neighbors, the Grogans.  Mrs. Grogan at first discouraged Hendricks from entering, but when Hendricks plead that it was cold and there was nowhere else to go, Mrs. Grogan begrudgingly offered hospitality.  Hendricks and her baby sat in a room with Mrs. Grogan and her toddler son to await news.  The cause of Mrs. Grogan's reluctance to admit Hendricks became apparent when her son inadvertently revealed to Hendricks that Mr. Grogan was among her husband's attackers.  Both women pretended not to have noticed the slip and continued to spend what must have been an unimaginably painful evening.  When Grogan returned, after a hushed conversation with his wife, he assumed a casual and protective role to Hendricks, assuring her that he had heard that her husband had escaped his pursuers (as indeed he had).  Perhaps Mrs. Grogan and Jeter's attacker's wife acted more kindly than their husbands would have wanted.  Perhaps the white men had joined the attacks reluctantly, or even intervened to spare Hendricks's and Jeter's lives.  It seems most likely, however, that the white men were attempting, through their use of disguise, to have two parallel relationships with Hendricks and Jeter."

     Elaine Frantz Parsons, Ku-Klux:  the birth of the Klan during Reconstruction (Chapel Hll:  The University of North Carolina Press, 2015), 98.  "The Ku-Klux's performance enabled southern men to shed the antebellum manhood they had come to idealize for a more starkly, explicitly violent postbellum version.  The Ku-Klux's brief reign marked a transition space between distinct regimes of violence:  the threshold between the patriarchal violence of the antebellum years and the chivalric violence of the war, on the one hand, and the public lynchings of the Progressive Era.  If performance is a way of figuring loss, representing that which is passing away and may be forgotten, the Ku-Klux's histrionics marked and mourned the fall of antebellum white southern manhood and erected a new modern southern manhood in its place" (100-101).

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