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The March - Part 2 (pages 175 - 210)

#22: Dec. - Jan. 2006 (Fiction)
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Chris OConnor

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The March - Part 2 (pages 175 - 210)

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The March - Part 2 (pages 175 - 210) Edited by: Chris OConnor  at: 11/18/05 11:16 pm
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Re: The March - Part 2 (pages 175 - 210)

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Quote:The elisions of her speech, the unschooled and unselfconscious way she moved and held herself, suggested the racial truth that Nurse Jameson was a black girl, freed, and enlisted for the Union. He was not shocked. He'd been months on the march and the fact of fair-skinned Negroes no longer surprised him. In this strange country down here, after generations of its hideous ways, slaves were no longer simply black, they were degrees of white. Yes, he thought, if the South were to prevail, theoretically there could be a time when whiteness alone would not guarantee the identity of a free man. Anyone might be indentured and shackled and sold on an auction block, the color black having been a temporary expedient, the idea of a slave class itself being the underlying premise. pgs 188 - 189 It probably exposes quite a bit about American culture, (or just my own small-mindedness?) but such an obvious thought had never occurred to me before...
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Re: The March - Part 2 (pages 175 - 210)

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My understanding is that such is the course of slave cultures. Slaves are typically external additions to a given culture, won in war or conquest for the most part. The biological and cultural features that tend to distinguish a slave class from a dominant class become muted in proportion to the cross-breeding between the two classes, and I think Doctorow is probably right in suggesting that, given time, America's slave class would have likely been indistinguishable from its master class.One interesting historical phenomenon that arises from this is that the dominant class, inasmuch as they want to continue to associate their advantage with a characteristic like race, will eventually have to impose certain arbitrary social rules. In Haiti, for instance, cross-breeding was so rampant that they would keep records of people's racial heritege to something like the 128th degree. If you were 128th black, your freedom was still dependent on the grant of the ruling class. That sort of thing might have arisen in the United States, given the continuance of slavery, but I think even those restrictions would eventually have to fall under the pressure of sheer confusion.
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Re: The March - Part 2 (pages 175 - 210)

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Interesting argument made by Emily Thompson at the end of this section, to the effect that Wrede Sartorius is complicit in the atrocities of war to precisely the extent that he allows the army to see itself as civilized.More generally, the point was implied by his operation on the vaginal tears of the raped black woman in Columbia. Emily thinks of the procedure as not terribly far removed from the indignity of the actual rape. Maybe if Wrede were motivated by compasion she'd have thought differently, but it seems clear that he's taking all of this as an opportunity to learn, to improve technique, and perhaps to make a name for himself. In that sense, the victim's wounds are nothing but an opportunity for Wrede, and he hardly seems them in the context of the patient's own personal suffering at all. There's some degree of coincidence between the principles that drive his practice and the personal good of the patient, but that coincidence is due mostly to the forerunners who established those principles -- a kindly Hippocrates, perhaps -- rather than to Wrede's own humanity.
AnnetteS

Re: The March - Part 2 (pages 175 - 210)

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Yes, there is dogma that will always ring true. Even though he is simply following the code, she can see he isn't moved by the plight of this poor woman. He's a Mr. Spock type. It seems to me most physicians would be emotionally moved, being human. That doesn't mean a doctor would let his emotions hinder his work. I'm sure humanitarians such as Doctors Without Boarders are very matter of fact, but not completly uncaring.So Emily thinks he is one with the army members who did this to her, since he shows no feeling.It's going to be a real effort to finish this book. "What if the hokie-pokie is really what it's all about?"--Jimmy Buffett
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Re: The March - Part 2 (pages 175 - 210)

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AnnetteS: It seems to me most physicians would be emotionally moved, being human.I don't know. I think a lot of physicians wrestle against the tendency to sympathize, with varying results. I've known a lot of med students, and I don't think very many of them really felt much noble sentiment towards their potential patients. There were a few stand-outs among the crowd, but a great many of them were motivated by the title, the money, the social standing, or the fire lit under their asses by domineering parents.This is actually a topic of some interest to me, having had family in the medical practice, and last quarter I suggested a John McPhee book, "The Heirs of General Practice", which examines the decision of some medical students to enter into family practice rather than the specialized medical fields that tend to win more reknown and higher salaries. The book's on my shelf, so I'll end up reading it eventually anyway, but let me know if you have any interest in checking it out as well.Oh, I also posted a link to an article that's related to this topic. I think it was in the science forum. I'll try to find it and bump it to the top so you can check it you, if you'd like.
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