Elsie’s selflessness brings her heartache when she is forced to choose between the two men she loves—her father and Ben Cameron. When a Klan outfit falls out of Ben’s coat, Elsie chooses loyalty to her father but ultimately succumbs to her love for Ben. Elsie is pure and delicate, portrayed as an angel in a daguerreotype image, or in a lily-white nightgown wearing a headpiece of flowers. Her innocence stands in strong contrast to the sexuality of the lustful blacks and mulattos of the film. Elsie is an idealized, sentimental figure who symbolizes the purity and beauty that soldiers and families on both sides of the conflict are fighting to defend. In choosing Ben, Elsie presents the South as having been on the side of righteousness all along.

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