The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #12823   Message #104156
Posted By: ddw in windsor
11-Aug-99 - 11:56 PM
Thread Name: Origins: Ten Little Indians
Subject: RE: 10 Little Indians
All this political correctness -- particularly if it's RETRO PCness -- runs me nuts.

A few years ago a theatre troupe here in Windsor did a version of Huck Finn with all the "bad" words taken out. I wouldn't go to it after I hear an exerpt on CBC radio. The scene was the one where Jim has been caught and about to be thrown in jail or beaten or something -- it's been about 45 years since I read it -- and Huck is pleading Jim's case by saying "he's a good nigger." That got changed to "he's a good man."

Quite apart from the fact the plagerist "playwright" was messing with Twain's prose, it bugged the hell out of me that he had missed the most important point of what Twain was saying.

When HF was written, many didn't consider African-Americans even to be men; they were "niggers," nothing more. Men would be praiseworthy, so to say Jim was a good man was meaningless, almost redundant. But for a white boy to say he was a "GOOD nigger" was high praise indeed, something that even the most bigoted would have to pause and think about. It had impact, conveyed a whole new meaning and new way of thinking. That, if you've read the body of Twain's work, seems to me the most logical interpretation of what Twain was doing. He made a career of making people look at how silly most of their attitudes, beliefs, etc. were (or are). It came out subtly throughout his work, but became screamingly obvious in his Letters From The Earth -- the collection of essays and short stories published posthumously.

Twain set out to do what I tell all the PC idiots they should be doing -- working on changing attitudes, not words. Word meanings often change, but couching bad attitudes in different words never helped anybody.


ddw -- going for a walk......