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Old 05-28-2008, 03:25 PM
 
2 posts, read 5,682 times
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Hi guys, I was wondering if someone from MS could help me out here. I am currently writing a novel and some of it is set in mississippi. I would set it somewhere else that I was more familiar with but it is essential to the plot that it is in the deep south. So if anyone could tell me basically what it is like growing up in a small town in MS that would be great.
To a lower-middle class white kid, what kind of racism would you expect to see, if any?
I know there is a lot of tornado activity, how much does this disrupt your life?
Finally, how big is christianity? Are most people religious?
I might sound a bit dumb, but I'm british and don't know a lot about american culture.
Thanks!

~Maddy~
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Old 05-28-2008, 05:29 PM
 
Location: Gulfport, MS
469 posts, read 2,639,639 times
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Maddy,

A lot would depend on what time period and where in the state the story is set. Someone growing up on the Delta is going to have a different childhood from somebody growing up on the Coast. I lived on a small farm in Raleigh, MS (pop. about 2,000) as a kid, so here's my point of view.

To a lower-middle class white kid, what kind of racism would you expect to see, if any?

Assuming the story is set in the present day, a kid might hear racist language from older family members (I know I did). Bigotry still exists in MS, just as it exists in the rest of the country, but it's very rare that you hear about lynchings or what have you. That stuff mostly died out in the 60s and 70s. The kid's grandfather might have been in the Klan (mine was) and so forth.

I know there is a lot of tornado activity, how much does this disrupt your life?

Tornados aren't an everyday thing. I had a couple of close calls when I was a child, but it's not like every summer a tornado comes and rips up your house. MS does get tornados, hurricanes, mudslides, etc.

Finally, how big is christianity? Are most people religious?

MS natives tend to be religious. The Baptists are the biggest group, followed by the Methodists (my family was Methodist). Catholics mostly live on the Gulf Coast. Churchs are often little woodframe Baptist churchs, and yes, some do have gospel music. I'm not religious myself so I'll leave details to someone more knowledgeable.

Here's some fun vocabulary for your story, so your characters sound like authentic MS natives:

Tote: this is an African word that means "carry". As in "Tote this bag for me."
Mee-maw: This is an old-fashioned word for grandmother. You hear Mee-maw, grandma, and grandmama. Grandfathers might be Grandpa, Pawpaw, etc.
Bubba: This is sort of dying out, but I did call my brother Bubba until I was about 15.
Chifferobe: Pronounced "shiff-robe." This is furniture you store clothes in.
Over yonder: "It's over yonder" means "It's over there somewhere."
Y'all: Perhaps the most famous Southern word. It's a contraction for "you all" and is used to address two or more people. "Hey, where y'all going?"

Food that MS natives will be familiar with: okra, black-eyed peas, cornbread, fried chicken, collard greens, sweet tea.
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Old 05-28-2008, 05:36 PM
 
Location: home...finally, home .
8,512 posts, read 19,820,488 times
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Are you sure that you would not do better writing a novel set in the UK ?
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Old 05-28-2008, 07:13 PM
 
22 posts, read 65,404 times
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Not much diversity in Mississippi.
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Old 05-29-2008, 01:07 AM
 
2 posts, read 5,682 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mississippienne View Post
Maddy,

A lot would depend on what time period and where in the state the story is set. Someone growing up on the Delta is going to have a different childhood from somebody growing up on the Coast. I lived on a small farm in Raleigh, MS (pop. about 2,000) as a kid, so here's my point of view.

To a lower-middle class white kid, what kind of racism would you expect to see, if any?

Assuming the story is set in the present day, a kid might hear racist language from older family members (I know I did). Bigotry still exists in MS, just as it exists in the rest of the country, but it's very rare that you hear about lynchings or what have you. That stuff mostly died out in the 60s and 70s. The kid's grandfather might have been in the Klan (mine was) and so forth.

I know there is a lot of tornado activity, how much does this disrupt your life?

Tornados aren't an everyday thing. I had a couple of close calls when I was a child, but it's not like every summer a tornado comes and rips up your house. MS does get tornados, hurricanes, mudslides, etc.

Finally, how big is christianity? Are most people religious?

MS natives tend to be religious. The Baptists are the biggest group, followed by the Methodists (my family was Methodist). Catholics mostly live on the Gulf Coast. Churchs are often little woodframe Baptist churchs, and yes, some do have gospel music. I'm not religious myself so I'll leave details to someone more knowledgeable.

Here's some fun vocabulary for your story, so your characters sound like authentic MS natives:

Tote: this is an African word that means "carry". As in "Tote this bag for me."
Mee-maw: This is an old-fashioned word for grandmother. You hear Mee-maw, grandma, and grandmama. Grandfathers might be Grandpa, Pawpaw, etc.
Bubba: This is sort of dying out, but I did call my brother Bubba until I was about 15.
Chifferobe: Pronounced "shiff-robe." This is furniture you store clothes in.
Over yonder: "It's over yonder" means "It's over there somewhere."
Y'all: Perhaps the most famous Southern word. It's a contraction for "you all" and is used to address two or more people. "Hey, where y'all going?"

Food that MS natives will be familiar with: okra, black-eyed peas, cornbread, fried chicken, collard greens, sweet tea.

Thank you so much! That was really helpful! Sorry I didn't specify when it was set, it was about 80s and 90s, but what you said was fine.

To nancy thereader, it is set in the uk for the majority of the story, but there is a bit where someone from MS looks back on his childhood and I just wanted it to seem realistic.
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Old 05-29-2008, 05:16 AM
DB3
 
55 posts, read 291,811 times
Reputation: 41
Something Mississippiene might not have conveyed about Mississippi life that stood out to me when I moved down here from up north about 15 years ago:

It's a slower way of life. When I first got here, it used to shock the heck out of me how total strangers would strike up a conversation with you. I remember being at a friend's house who was born here and every single car that came down the street honked or stopped and people riding their bikes or walking stopped to chat. She pretty much knew every single person coming down the road and made time to talk to each of them even if it was mostly just pleasantries. It was so unusual to me to see this and frustrating at times too because if you're out to get something done it's just not possible to do it quickly. After a while you chill out and learn to accept it and even slow down a bit yourself!

A saying not on Mississippienne's list that I'd never heard prior to moving down here is "fixin' to..." Everyone from here is always fixin' to do something or other.

Also, as far as the importance of religion in southern life, I'd have to say it's absolutely more prominent here than where I'm from originally. As an example, they read bible stories to children in preschool here, something that I don't think would be allowed and would certainly be challenged up north. All those stories you hear about not calling it Christmas but instead calling it the "winter break," I don't believe that would ever be an issue in MS. It's Christmas, period. There's just not the fanaticism (that may be too strong of a word) about ever uttering the word God in public that seems to be prevalent up north.

In my opinion, Mississippians are proud of their country and their state. They proudly display the flag. They believe in the right to carry and own guns (which I believe is why they have such a low crime rate) and when the going gets tough they get up off their butt and do what needs to be done, quietly and without fanfare and complaint. There is much more of a sense of ownership and pride in their state than I saw where I lived up north, even though it consistently ranks at the bottom of most surveys.

Last edited by DB3; 05-29-2008 at 05:29 AM..
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Old 05-29-2008, 07:06 AM
 
Location: Alvarado, TX
2,914 posts, read 4,498,128 times
Reputation: 800
Quote:
Originally Posted by teacher5 View Post
Not much diversity in Mississippi.
Explain, please?
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Old 05-29-2008, 11:22 AM
 
Location: N.C.
177 posts, read 907,447 times
Reputation: 158
Every region of Mississippi is completely different than the others, from race, religion, education, eating habits, etc. And although the foods mentioned are a southern stereotype, not everybody eats collards, peas and cornbread. Catholics are quite plentiful in the delta in addition to Jewish and Chinese. Also, the areas along the western boundary of the state (along the river) are more prone to tornado activity.
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Old 05-29-2008, 01:26 PM
 
1,351 posts, read 3,846,788 times
Reputation: 1273
There is also a Lebanese and Syrian background as they came as merchants selling their wares up the river. It might be useful to get some regional cookbooks that have some historical and cultural information.
A Gracious Plenty by John T. Edge and Ellen Rolfes might be a good start. There are others.
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Old 05-29-2008, 05:06 PM
 
Location: home...finally, home .
8,512 posts, read 19,820,488 times
Reputation: 18639
A saying not on Mississippienne's list that I'd never heard prior to moving down here is "fixin' to..." Everyone from here is always fixin' to do something or other.

Gosh, I went to WVU for one semester and I remember the expression. I had not heard it for over forty years.
__________________
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People may not recall what you said to them, but they will always remember how you made them feel .
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