Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Aberration of MindSuicide and Suffering in the Civil War-Era South$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Diane Miller Sommerville

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781469643304

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469643304.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 24 May 2022



(p.255) Conclusion
Aberration of Mind

Diane Miller Sommerville

University of North Carolina Press

Suicide, by late nineteenth century, had transformed from a shameful, sinful act to one of sacrifice and courage. The most famous suicide of the Civil War, that of Edmund Ruffin, shows this evolution in attitudes about suicide. Ruffin’s suicide is venerated in Lost Cause literature as an act of patriotic martyrdom. The glorification of (white) suicide converged with the racial politics of the era as seen in the classic film, Birth of a Nation, and on the novel on which it was based, Thomas Dixon’s The Clansman. Suicide had become a marker of racial superiority that anchored the act to a neo-Confederate identity. By contrast, black suicides were either denied or explained as the acts of uncontrollable, manic, crazy former slaves no longer under the constraints of enslavement. Heroic suicide instilled meaning into the vast suffering in the failed effort at independence.

Keywords:   Edmund Ruffin, Birth of a Nation, The Clansman, Thomas Dixon, suicide, Confederate identity

North Carolina Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .