"He Filled My Heart with Doubt": The Southern Belle's Love and Duty in the Civil War

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the language of the sentimental novel gave shape to difficult emotions; it set the parameters for acceptable expressions of grief in a Christian culture that espoused complete faith in afterlife reunion. The novel legitimized and codified romantic and political choices that were in no way divorced from each other. For individual women, sentimental literature gave primacy to the nebulous concept of the "heart." The sentimental novel had a deep ethos of self-directed virtue, and an unwavering faith in the good heart of the virtuous heroine. For a worthy protagonist, following the dictates of her heart above all else leads inevitably to a happy, or at least a righteous end. (45)