In the American South, anti-miscegenation laws define social position. Cultural taboo has its roots in the slavery period. Slave status was inherited matrilineally, and therefore female sexual purity became the part of the white culture in the southern part of the United States. Christmas has broken the taboo, and his castration is an expression of the fear of destruction of the existing social order by the people, whose existence was credited to the fact that the taboo was broken. Percy Grimm, who believes that "the white race is superior to any and all other races,”47 is the personification of the fear. His words after Christmas' castration: "Now you’ll let white women alone, even in hell,"48 illustrate how the status quo of racial segregation was kept in the American South. Such methods, used by the Ku Klux Klan, effectively inhibited any attempts to integrate the two communities and shaped people's attitudes and behaviour. An extreme example of the fear is the scene in the novel, when Hightower delivers stillborn baby because his father is too afraid to ask a white woman for help.
Religion is another factor which preserves existing social order. In other communities, it unites its followers; here it is a segregation tool with separate churches for each group. White people do not respect black’s churches. Hines praying the superiority of the white race in black’s temples is respected, because for black people God is white. The fact that Hines and his wife live at their mercy does not matter. The underestimated African American's self-esteem, shaped by the centuries of racial segregation, also supported that system. Elliot Aronson in his book The Social Animal describes how racial prejudice affect human’s behaviour and self-image:
A white policeman yelled, ‘Hey, boy! Come here!’ Somewhat bothered, I retorted: ‘I’m no boy!’ He then rushed at me, in-flamed, and stood towering over me, snorting, ‘What d’ja say, boy?’ Quickly he frisked me and demanded, ‘What’s your name, boy?’ Frightened, I replied, ‘Dr. Poussaint, I’m a physician.’ He angrily chuckled and hissed, ‘What’s your first name, boy?’[...] Hollywood would have had the hero lash out at his oppressor and emerge victorious. But when this demoralizing experience actually happened, in 1971, Dr. Poussaint simply slunk away, humiliated—or, in his own words, ‘psychologically castrated.’ Feelings of helplessness, powerlessness, and anger are the harvest of being the constant target of prejudice.49
It is almost impossible to maintain a positive self-image in the case of long term discrimination which is supported by a well-organized system.
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