Study Guide

The Killer Angels Society and Class

By Michael Shaara

Society and Class

The North and the South don't just have different attitudes towards slavery—they're two different societies, with different ethnicities and religious denominations. The South is more aristocratic and hierarchical, partly because of slavery; it's largely Protestant, as well.

The North, on the other hand, has many Catholic Irish and other immigrants. It's a more multicultural society, with a different approach to economics. In the North, farmers were able to stand on their own feet without enslaving anyone. In the South, farm labor was supplied by slaves working on massive plantations owned by a small fraction of the population.

Questions About Society and Class

  1. How has the multi-religious and multi-ethnic society we live in today been shaped by the Civil War? Can you think of examples?
  2. How does The Killer Angels show society and class in the lives of its characters? Compare, for example, General Lee and Buster Kilrain.
  3. Do you think America still has an aristocracy of sorts today? If so, is it easier to join than it was back in the pre-Civil War era?

Chew on This

"Democracy means government by the uneducated, while aristocracy means government by the badly educated." – G. K. Chesterton

"There is a natural aristocracy among men. The grounds of this are virtue and talents." – Thomas Jefferson

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