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Scarlett's SistersYoung Women in the Old South$
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Anya Jabour

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780807831014

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807887646_jabour

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Southern Belles Courtship

Southern Belles Courtship

(p.113) 4 Southern Belles Courtship
Scarlett's Sisters

Anya Jabour

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter examines the rituals of courtship involving young women in the nineteenth-century Old South. More specifically, it considers the young southern women's quest for self-determination during the process of courtship as an ongoing form of resistance and at the same time as the cultural ideal of the southern belle. The chapter focuses on the personal experience of Ella Noland, the daughter of Virginia planter Lloyd Noland, who enjoyed “a most delightful winter” with her female friends and male admirers in Richmond prior to her engagement. It highlights the resistance of young southern women to marriage, who instead relished “the prestige of being a belle” by dressing up, socializing, surrounding themselves with admirers, and generally devoting themselves to the pursuit of pleasure. Finally, the chapter considers how most southern belles used the rituals of courtship to find a mate, with whom they strove for intimacy.

Keywords:   courtship, young women, Old South, self-determination, resistance, southern belle, marriage, socializing, intimacy

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