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South Carolina in 1964 is certainly a hotbed of racial tension. Although the Civil Rights Act is in force, the citizens themselves are slow to accept the essential equality of people of different races. Rosaleen is ready to take up her rights, however, and Lily seems to have no problem whatsoever of appreciating Rosaleen on the basis of who she is—in some ways, the mother Lily has not had.
Voting for anyone of African-American descent was very difficult; Rosaleen was a victim of the harsh ways of the segregated South. Being allowed to vote was a huge step forward and shows the way the world might be changing.