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Chapter 6. Visitors 
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Post Chapter 6. Visitors
No Chapter 6 was listed. I promised myself to work through all the chapters, so here goes. The people who interested Thoreau is interesting in itself.
Quote:
6.8 Who should come to my lodge this morning but a true Homeric or Paphlagonian man -- he had so suitable and poetic a name that I am sorry I cannot print it here -- a Canadian, a woodchopper and post-maker, who can hole fifty posts in a day, who made his last supper on a woodchuck which his dog caught.... A more simple and natural man it would be hard to find. Vice and disease, which cast such a sombre moral hue over the world, seemed to have hardly any existance for him.

Thoreau admires people in whom "only the simplest and most enduring features of humanity are seen (from [/i]A Week). He devotes quite a bit of space to this man, space he wouldn't think of giving to, say, a prominent lawyer or a politician. For a similiar reason, he admires the Indian greatly, though not in the naive, "noble savage", way. The men of Concord who led a marginal existence as hunters and trappers were for him the solid citizenry.
Quote:
Half-witted men from the almshouse and elsewhere came to see me; but I endeavored to make them exercise all the wit they had, and make their confessions to me; in such cases making wit the theme of our conversation; and so was compensated. Indeed, I found some of them to be wiser than the so-called overseers of the poor and selectmen of the town, and thought it was time that the tables were turned.

That scene, already pointed out by Tom, has Thoreau using politically incorrect language but appraising these mentally disabled men quite shrewdly and without prejudice.

It is grand that Thoreau could have an open-door policy as regards his cabin, never having to worry about vandalism and unconcerned about the one thing taken from him. The trail club I belong to owns a few dozen cabins, and we regularly have vandalism and occasionally arson.

DWill



Thu Aug 28, 2008 8:52 pm
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Genius


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Will, seeing as how it's only you and I here (for now), I won't put the 'quote' in . . . just seems to me the less space these posts take up, the easier they are to read . . .

I just wanted to point out something . . . we must remember that this work was written in a time when men & women were accustomed to referring to non-whites as 'savages' . . . there were no 'politically correct' guidelines. Furthermore, the people who lived in that time would have been gobsmacked if someone told them that there would come a day when calling people 'savages' wouldn't be accepted.

......................................

I am not particularly thrown by Thoreau's interest in people who lived what was considered 'inferior' lives. His interest in people from the alms house and his figuring out that they weren't really the ignoramuses that the more 'accepted' kind of people thought them.

It doesn't surprise me that he would draw these people to him and make a point of learning of their thoughts.

His interest in the Indian people isn't strange to me; I was raised in a time when people were still putting 'native' persons down as being inferior. When I was in Florida at 13 years of age (1956), the manager of the hotel we stayed in told my mother to tell me that I wasn't to 'socialize' with the 'negroes' who worked for the hotel.

I was fascinated by the black people there - I wanted to get to know them, play with their children, understand them . . . we had very few negro people living in our residential areas in Toronto - most of them lived downtown, in poorer places.

Still, I was very interested in these people.

And looking back at that time of my life, I don't think my interest in them was strange . . . it didn't take long for my 13 year old self to find out 'why' I wasn't to socialize with them - to find out how the people in the south at that time viewed non-whites.

When we were riding back on the train, shortly after we boarded in Jackson (or is it 'Jacksonville' - I've forgotten), I met a black girl my own age while she and I were waiting for access to the washroom.

We got talking and were really enjoying ourselves together. I got her to come and sit with me in our car and my parents thought nothing of it.

The conductor soon arrived to announce to my father 'we don't do that here, sir!'

He told my father that if the girl didn't move back to her own car immediately, she would be put off the train.

My father was furious! I was furious!

It hurt . . . it really hurt and it still hurts to this day, that I did not have the freedom to choose who I was going to talk to, that this kind of repression existed . . .

Yet I still saw nothing strange in my interested in people that were unlike myself.

Thoreau's interested in Indians and people from the alms house does not raise an eyebrow with me.



Sun Sep 07, 2008 1:15 am
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Genius


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Post 
Will, seeing as how it's only you and I here (for now), I won't put the 'quote' in . . . just seems to me the less space these posts take up, the easier they are to read . . .

I just wanted to point out something . . . we must remember that this work was written in a time when men & women were accustomed to referring to non-whites as 'savages' . . . there were no 'politically correct' guidelines. Furthermore, the people who lived in that time would have been gobsmacked if someone told them that there would come a day when calling people 'savages' wouldn't be accepted.

I look at my own parents as I was growing up; even though they did not stand for seeing people mistreated, they called people what they wanted to and often used what we'd call incorrect speech in company.

My father, for instance, referred to Italians as 'EyeTies' . . . he wasn't unkind to them in any way, but he said what he wanted to say. Still, he was a good man who stood up for injustices in this world, as you will see further in my post.

......................................

I am not particularly thrown by Thoreau's interest in people who lived what was considered 'inferior' lives. His interest in people from the alms house and his figuring out that they weren't really the ignoramuses that the more 'accepted' kind of people thought them.

It doesn't surprise me that he would draw these people to him and make a point of learning of their thoughts.

His interest in the Indian people isn't strange to me; I was raised in a time when people were still putting 'native' persons down as being inferior. When I was in Florida at 13 years of age (1956), the manager of the hotel we stayed in told my mother to tell me that I wasn't to 'socialize' with the 'negroes' who worked for the hotel.

I was fascinated by the black people there - I wanted to get to know them, play with their children, understand them . . . we had very few negro people living in our residential areas in Toronto - most of them lived downtown, in poorer places.

Still, I was very interested in these people.

And looking back at that time of my life, I don't think my interest in them was strange . . . it didn't take long for my 13 year old self to find out 'why' I wasn't to socialize with them - to find out how the people in the south at that time viewed non-whites.

When we were riding back on the train, shortly after we boarded in Jackson (or is it 'Jacksonville' - I've forgotten), I met a black girl my own age while she and I were waiting for access to the washroom.

We got talking and were really enjoying ourselves together. I got her to come and sit with me in our car and my parents thought nothing of it.

The conductor soon arrived to announce to my father 'we don't do that here, sir!'

He told my father that if the girl didn't move back to her own car immediately, she would be put off the train.

My father was furious! I was furious!

It hurt . . . it really hurt and it still hurts to this day, that I did not have the freedom to choose who I was going to talk to, that this kind of repression existed . . .

Yet I still saw nothing strange in my interest in people that were unlike myself.

Were I 'using' them in some way . . . 'patronizing' them, say for an 'essay' I was going to do at school, or something like that, then I would agree that my interest in the people wasn't right.

Somebody told me a horrifying story about a client at the bank where she works - the client passed a forged cheque and she made the mistake of letting it go through without putting a hold on it. She trusted the man because she'd dealt with him for a long time and he was a respected client of that bank's branch.

Now she is in major trouble - the bank's out a few thousand bucks.

In her conversation with me about it, she cursed the Indians (east Indians) . . . said that's why it happened - said these criminals are all Indians.

I was surprised that she felt this way, yet I didn't condemn her for her thoughts, for I once felt this way myself. I bought into the ideas of others, that people different than our white selves were untrustworthy . . . I feel shame for some of the things I said as a young adult, some of the bigotry I myself practiced.

It would have been nice if that 13 year old child had still been strong and alive inside me as I grew into my years, letting others guide my opinions of the world and its people.

I am glad to live in today's world where stereotyping, racism and bigotry is discouraged.

(Maybe I should have done this in two posts . . . hope it's not too distracting)

No - Thoreau's interested in Indians and people from the alms house does not raise an eyebrow with me.

I understand him on that, completely.

(Geesh! That's the most I've said in one post in a long time)



Sun Sep 07, 2008 1:22 am
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