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Book Report On D.W. Griffith's Film "The Birth Of A Nation" The Teacher Asked Us To Respond To What We Read And How We Feel About It.

2647 words - 11 pages

A Southern View of the Civil War and ReconstructionThe Civil War, still the most line-drawing event in the history of the American Nation, forever separated the United States into the North and South philosophically. Even today, many southern states fly the confederate flag and many southern citizens still harbor animosity towards the North. This war, which took more American lives than Vietnam and World Wars I and II combined, was the trigger that divided our country into the North and the South. As can be seen in D.W.Griffith's film The Birth of a Nation, slavery was the pressure on that trigger. While the North felt it was morally correct to free the slaves, the South felt that the slaves were their property and no one had the right to tell them what they could do with them. Although it may be obvious to us today that slavery is not morally correct, the Southern Nation as depicted in the silent film Birth of a Nation by D.W. Griffith and based on the book "The Clansman" written by Thomas Dixon, had a differing viewpoint. This film relates the story of the Civil War and the Reconstruction from the Southern viewpoint. Although the facts may not have been wholly truthful, the story mirrors the south's recollection of these events.My reading of this book as well as my viewing of the original 1915 silent film gave me insight into a southern viewpoint that I had not formerly been privy to. Living in the North all of my life, I had not been familiar with the southern viewpoint on the Civil War and therefore found it difficult to see the war through their eyes; however, I took the viewpoint for what it was and nothing more in the end. This very controversial book and film opened my eyes to a very different culture and one that I had not previously been familiar with.The story in the "Birth of a Nation" revolves around two families, living on either side of the Mason-Dixon Line, who become good friends through the pairing of their sons in a boarding school. The Stonemans, the book's Northern family, lives in Washington D.C. and maintains a rural getaway in Pennsylvania. The Honorable Austin Stoneman, an abolitionist politician, presides over his family: composed of an elegant, beautiful daughter named Elsie, a prankster son named Phil and a younger brother named Tod. On the other side of the Mason- Dixon Line are the Camerons, a Southern family residing on a modest plantation in Piedmont, South Carolina. The film pictures the household slaves as happy in their lives and lovingly enjoying entertaining their masters on their own break time. The family includes an older refined sister, Margaret, a younger shy and innocent sister named Flora and three brothers. From these three Cameron brothers comes the story's main character. Ben Cameron is the embodiment of Southern ideals and ends up defending them to the end, while his two brothers Wade and Duke end up dieing for these ideals. Through the set up of the two families and their descriptions, it can be...

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