Nothing conjures an image quite like the words, the South. It's not a direction as much as it is a place, one that possesses a separate distinction from the United States, much like an annexed country. This is one of the reasons the South has earned its own genre of literature known as Southern Gothic.
The South’s idea of gothic, derived from 18th century England, is concerned more with the internal complexities and moral fiber of a person rather than physical attributes associated with what we know in popular culture as the “goth.” It's no secret that the South is peopled with lost souls. Perhaps this is why Mr. McDaniels sent the devil to Georgia instead of Montana to steal one. That and because it gets so damn hot here, it's regularly confused with Hell.
Southern Gothic literature has in many ways defined the South. The two are so closely connected that it is difficult to differentiate between the imaginary characters of McCullers, Lee, Faulkner, Cormac, Welty, and O'Connor and the living breathing people of this vast demographic region. Fictional characters of the South are most often based on real people, but somewhere along the Mason Dixon Line, Southerners became identifiable by the characters that portray them.
It's no surprise that Southern authors lean toward realism rather than fantasy. Maybe this is because truth is often more outlandish and less believable than fiction. There is a magic to reality that can't always be dissected and defined, and yet, it's there in the Bundrens and the Compsons. It's there in Bailey and the Misfit. It's there in Atticus and Scout Finch and Boo Radley. John Grady Cole. Ignatius J. Reilly and Miss Trixie. Penn Cage, and the dismally enchanting Stella Kowalski. These are deeply flawed and often delusional characters who are isolated either by class or race and plagued by poverty and sometimes supernatural or inexplicable events. See, why I'm so fascinated?
By examining these fictional characters and the social burdens that encompass them, the real characters of the South might be better understood and appreciated. Who knows, you may even like us. But, you should know that we don't really give a damn either way though.