Southern Table Manners During 1930s~40s.

“Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.” Southern table manners were acts one needed to follow in order to be kind and polite to other people sitting at the table. Chewing with your mouth open, rinsing your mouth out and spitting into the water glass is an example of not following the manners. Requiring different table manners toward gender and races, and showing respect reflect the society in 1930~40s.

The society expected different table manners for men and ladies. Gentlemen should stand up when a lady enters a room and seat the lady they are escorting to their left(earthlink). All gentlemen remain standing until all ladies are seated(earthlink), because they thought ladies are weak and must be ‘protected’ by men. Retrieving dropped items for women is another example(earthlink). Ladies remove their gloves when they are seated, and gentlemen remove theirs just before seating themselves(earthlink). Sometimes, the gentlemen are the ones who do the most work to make the ladies comfortable. Gentlemen are to tend to the needs of the lady on their left, as well as make agreeable conversation with ladies to either side and across the table(earthlink). However, African Americans faced different treatments.

African Americans were not treated respectfully. They should use first name, not “Mr,” or “Mrs”(Wilson). Whites did not shake hands or tip a hat with a black, because they discriminated them(Wilson). These acts maintained the segregation between the two races. When black teenager Emmett Till whistled at a white woman, he was lynched(Wilson). Always following the etiquette created anxiety and intimidation in them. Blacks were always polite, because those manners could change their fates. However, white southerners tried not to hurt their feelings.

Showing respect while dining is the main goal of the table manners. When dining, one should never say they didn’t like something that is being served(Paszak). Always saying "please" and  "thank you" with every request(Paszak), show how important respect was. The first person to take a bite of food should be the person who prepared the meal(Paszak), because the person who prepared the meal worked hard to give good flavour. Never reach for food, but ask for another person to pass it(Paszak). Good table manners are something that will be important and carry through all our lives. They can make people feel kindness. Whether different etiquettes toward certain gender and race is something  to be considered of.

According to Clarence Thomas, “Good manners will open doors that the best education cannot.” Slavery abolished, but the stereotype that girls are weak and must be protected by men is still existing nowadays. We should make sure that we are not treating girls differently. Also, it is totally fine to eat and dine comfortably with someone you are close to, but let’s not pass the line, and be respectful.

Work Cited

Dining Etiquette & Table Manners. Accessed 19 Apr. 2017.

“THE LANGUAGE OF NINETEENTH CENTURY ETIQUETTE BOOKS.” Etiquette, 9 Mar. 2002, Accessed 18 Apr. 2017.

“Manners and Customs - Culture and To Kill A Mockingbird.” Google Sites, Accessed 18 Apr. 2017.

Martin, Judith. Miss Manners' Basic Training: Eating. New York, Crown, 1997.

“Restaurant-Ing through History.” Restaurant-Ing through History, Jan Whitaker, 29 July 2012, Accessed 19 Apr. 2017.

“Southern Manners and Etiquette.” Manners and Etiquette, Accessed 18 Apr. 2017.

Sweeties, Two Southern. “Posts about Tracey Paszak on Two Southern Sweeties.” Two Southern Sweeties, 11 Sept. 2012, Accessed 22 Apr. 2017.

“Table Manners.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 29 Mar. 2017, Accessed 18 Apr. 2017.

Vanderbilt, Amy. The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette. Place of Publication Not Identified, Doubleday, 1978.

Wilson, Charles Reagan. The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture Volume 4: Myth, Manners, and Memory. Chapel Hill, The University of North Carolina Press, 2014.

The-amy-vanderbilt-complete-book-of-etiquette-entirely-rewritten-and-updated-first-edition 23425860

This book has useful info. about the etiquette during southern 1930s to 40s.


Good Table Manners (1951)10:21

Good Table Manners (1951)

Pages in category "Southern Etiquette"

This category contains only the following page.

Ad blocker interference detected!

Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.