Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 6: No 2) >> Simms's Scarlett O'Hara: Zulieme de Montana Calvert of Panama in The Cassique of Kiawah >> Page 2

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Secondary Scholarship | 1998
Transcription Simms's Scarlett O'Hara: Zulieme de Montana Calvert of
Panama in The Cassique of Kiawah


Jan Bakker



. . . something of a philosopher something higher, perhaps a
seer, a poet, gifted with prophetic foresight!
--Authorial reflection on Iswattee in The Cassique of Kiawah

The last of William Gilmore Simms's long fictions set in Lowcountry
South Carolina, The Cassique of Kiawah, was published in 1859 on the very
threshold of disaster.1 And as I point out in another essay, "William Gilmore and
the American Apocalypse," 2 in this last pre-War romance Simms indeed can be
taken as "a seer, a poet, gifted with prophetic foresight" of Southern apocalypse.
I see in his noble, outraged, outnumbered, and doomed Indians, for example, a
paradigm rather surprising because the parallel is so apposite—for Simms's own
noble, outraged, outnumbered, doomed South in the looming War. In this essay,
however, I want to shed some other light on another paradigm or prototype I see
in The Cassique, and there is nothing of Southern apocalypse about her. For all
the adversity this character faces, especially in her marriage, I see in her a goo
deal of Southern uplift. Furthermore, I see her as Simms's ideal heroine.
She is that type of the often elegant, pampered, aristocratic Southern
woman who underneath her facade is really quite tough. She is the type of
Granny, say, in William Faulkner's The Unvanquished (1936). Granny is strong
in adversity, a survivor, determined, of a wiry will, and stubborn endurance. In
Simms's The Cassique, the type is found in the dark-haired and lively-eyed

1 This paper was given at the Simms/Faulkner Conference in New Orleans in
December 1997.
2 This paper was given at the American Literature Association Conference in
Baltimore in May 1995.
2