Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 7: No 1) >> The Sense of Place in The Partisan >> Page 16

image of pageExplore Inside

Page 16

Secondary Scholarship | 1999
Transcription if preparing for that facile descent into the native home, a region as
black as Avernus. (317)
Here tidewater South Carolina is distinctly before us, the setting unmistakably
that of a swamp, a place rich in life, a place potentially and actually dangerous, as
suggested by the phrase "black as Avernus." But in such a place, Porgy can see
beauty, stuff his stomach, and enjoy the camaraderie of other soldiers. He has an
intimate knowledge of swamps and thickets and appreciates them for what they
are, in contrast to Dr. Oakenburg, whose scientific interest in swamp and thicket
life will never bring him in-depth knowledge and enjoyment.
The terrapins that Porgy catches and prepares for his culinary feast come
from the area of the Ashley River, a spot he balks at leaving when Major
Singleton informs him that they must break camp:
"I confess myself unwilling to depart. This is a goodly place, my
dear major; better for secrecy could scarcely be found; and then,
the other advantages. Fresh provisions, for example, are more
abundant here than in Dorchester. Pork from the possum, mutton
from the coon; these ponds, I am convinced, will yield us cat quite
as lively if not quite so delicate as the far-famed ones of the Edisto.
" (353)
Porgy's reluctance melts away, however, when Singleton sings the praises
of the Santee:
"The Santee is rich in numberless varieties of fish and fowl, and
my own eyes have feasted upon terrapin of much greater
dimensions, and much larger number, than the Cypress yields."
(353-54)
Singleton's knowledge of South Carolina's wildlife resources is firsthand, for he
has lived off the land (and water) of the state since becoming a warrior for
freedom.
Seeing Singleton, Francis Marion, Lieutenant Porgy and others function in
these swamps and thickets gives us a fuller understanding of the character of the
Partisans. They love the land, are willing to fight and shed blood for it, are
hoping that they one day can enjoy it in peace. Just now, it enables them to be
better warriors, for it is the protective shield that allows them to strike and fight and
and live to fight another day.
In fighting for their land, they are helping to win the Revolutionary War,
and are doing South Carolina proud in the struggle for independence, for Simms
16