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Subject Topic: Ernest should have listened to his mother Post ReplyPost New Topic
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hijo
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Posted: 21 September 2005 at 10:36am | IP Logged Quote hijo

Mike: exactly.

The title of an excellent novel by Joseph Conrad, in fact, starts with the "N" word - Nigger of the Narcissus. It, in fact, is about prejudices and the main character's attempt to overcome the same. If you haven't read it, or "Tuan Jim" (Lord Jim), both are worth the time and research.

Lately I've been musing: everyone I know who reads a novel pictures themselves in the narrator, if not a character's, role. It is assumed most characters are white? Most writers are white and are writing about characters of similar lack of melanin unless specifically stated otherwise?

You gotta remember, folks, my parents were anthropologists. There is no such scientific classification as race. There are different species of hominids, but we are all humans of essentially the same skull type and ultimately the same gene pool.

One reason I love Morgan Freeman's portrayal of James Patterson's "Alex Cross" is he fits - though I admit I never pictured him in the role.

Would we know even roughly what Jim and Joe looked like in Huckelberry if we didn't have race identifiers before their names? And does it matter to the story?

This isn't to say racist pejoratives or slurs are necessary to make writing more "tough," only that to leave such things out when, say, you're writing about a conflict on the docks at Red Hook, or Southie, or even among the Bloods and Crips, is cheating. It's avoiding actual language for fear it does, in fact, convey meaning. And if that's what a writer does, I should hope the person eventually gives up writing.

And all this is to say Dennis, I'm sorry about your apparently toxic family relationships that seem to have led you to a deeper understanding of Hemingway's views of his own mother.

If nothing else, a dysfunctional family (like there's one that isn't?) or a miserable childhood have always been great grist and character-building material for great writers - at least that's what my father always told me when I was mad at my own mother.

Of course, he also always told me that a bit of charcoal on my hamburger was just carbon, and "it's good for the teeth."

Best,
hijo
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rob on the job
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Posted: 22 September 2005 at 3:07pm | IP Logged Quote rob on the job

If Hem's mother was distressed by the b-word and dammit in "Sun," she probably had a coronary at the f-bomb that Papa dropped in "To Have or Have Not."

I'm not sure that Mother Hemingway poisoned the author in his future relationships, at least not more than Papa's doubts about his father's strengths ruined his dealings with other men.

The tough times with parents and siblings were all part of the rich tapestry of love and tragedy and difficult emotions that was the backdrop for Hemingway's best writing.
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