Monday, February 14, 2011

Realism Project- "Letter to his Son"

Robert E. Lee was a famous commander in the Confederate Army during the Civil War ("Meet" 382). Before his involvement in the war, however, he wrote a letter to his son, appropriately titled, "Letter to His Son." In this letter, Lee described his feelings towards the upcoming war, which had began to become an big issue (Lee 385). As the North and the South began to fight, Lee found himself realizing that his heart was with the South, as he was native to Virginia ("Meet" 382.) He told his son that he would most likely be returning to Virginia, and would fight in the war if necessary (Lee 385). Lee wrote mostly about not his feelings towards fighting, but his feelings towards how America would be destroyed. A smart man, Lee realized that this separation between the North and the South would not be easily resolved; even after the war was over and the conflicts settled, men would still not agree with each other and discrimination and hatred would still be present (Lee 385). Lee, although a Confederate, seemed to be a genuine and caring man. He was loyal to his home state, and did not want to see America destroyed; he knew what had to be done but feared for the outcome (Lee 385).

I think that this letter portrays Realism as well as Regionalism. Realism was definitely shown as Lee shared his emotions with his son; he stated facts about what was going on with the people around him and how he felt the ongoing turmoil (Lee 385). There was not necessarily a spiritual or emotional aspect. Lee did mention God and how God's country should not be torn to pieces; however, the article was not centered around God's love or how God would save them from the war (Lee 385). This shows how Realism was portrayed, since God is not necessarily the saving factor in a conflict in typical Realism literature (Diamond). Although usually Realism focuses on middle class individuals and shows them as the hero, Lee spoke of the men around him who were being influenced by the starting of the Civil War, and these men could easily be classified as middle class (Diamond). Therefore, although it was not exactly direct, Realism was also portrayed through the influence of the war on the middle class people. Another example of how Realism was shown is through the manner of which Lee spoke. Again, instead of focusing solely on the emotional or power aspects of the war, Lee simply stated his worries of what would happen to the country. This showed that Lee was a smart man who thought situations over realistically; instead of boasting to his son about how the Confederate Army would destroy the Union or anything silly like that, Lee just stated that it would be a good fight and the best army would win (Lee 385). The realistic understanding that Lee portrayed showed that he was not blowing matters out of proportion. He saw them as they really were. That is a key aspect of Realism (Diamond). Regionalism was also immensely shown in this letter to his son. Lee gave descriptions of the people, setting, and general mindsets around him, which is a trait of Regionalism (Werlock). He wrote about how the people were in a frenzy with the upcoming battles, as well as upset and angry with those who did not share their points of view (Lee 385).


Diamond, Marie Josephine, ed. "realism." Encyclopedia of World Writers, 19th and 20th Centuries. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2003. Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. GEWW480&SingleRecord=True (accessed January 28, 2011).

Lee, Robert E. "Letter to His Son." American Literature. Comp. Jeffrey D. Wilhelm. Columbus: McGraw Hill, 2009. 385. Print.

"Meet Robert E. Lee." American Literature. Comp. Jeffery D. Wilhelm. Columbus: McGraw Hill, 2009. 382. Print.

Werlock, Abby H. P. "regionalism." The Facts On File Companion to the American Short Story, Second Edition. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2009. Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. Gamshrtsty0581&SingleRecord=True (accessed February 13, 2011).

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