Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Cub of the Panther: A Hunter Legend of the ''Old North State'' >> Afterword >> Page 266

image of pageExplore Inside

Page 266

Novel (Romance) | The University of Arkansas Press | 1997
Transcription 266 THE CUB OF THE PANTHER
from most slaveholders in Simms's earlier works. Finally, Sweetzer is
analogous to the heartless overseer, a character often depicted in the
antebellum fiction, yet she "oversees" white governesses instead of field
slaves. Only the now-redeemed postwar Gabriella treats a servant well
the Irish maid, Bridget.
The Cub of the Panther is a more important book than heretofore rec-
ognized. Simms was approaching a new frontier, not only in technique
and setting, but also in structure, characterization, theme, and personal
acceptance of a different "world order." But like his Revolutionary War
fiction, particularly Woodcraft and Katharine Walton, this novel of the
North Carolina mountains is a vehicle for contemplating the change
from the old order to the new. It had been a wrenching change in
Simms's homeland, in his social order, in the economic order, and in
the moral order, as Simms himself was learning. He was struggling with
these changes, but he had his vocation to help him understand them. He
was not fully successful; yet under the adverse conditions he suffered in
1868-1869, the novel looks forward, not only to realism and local color,
but to a new postbellum South with revitalized social structures, val-
ues, economics, and even popular education.