Thursday, January 28, 2010

Joaquin Murieta

I rather enjoyed reading Joaquin Murieta. I was quite surprised how Joaquin descended from his relatively honest living as a miner and farmer to become one of the most feared and revered bandits of California. However, given his treatment by white Americans, the rape of his wife, the loss of his homes and the death of his brother drive him to the revenge-killings of any white man he comes across. All he had wanted to do was to settle in California and raise a family, he was pushed to crime by white Americans.

Even with this though, he still maintains a certain sense of his prior moral ethics. Generally he does not murder people who have done him no harm and in fact goes so far as to protect the innocent victims who find themselves in the middle, like the ferry man and Rosalie.

His story is very similar to other bandits of American history, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid quickly come to mind. Slightly different circumstances, but neither outwardly punish innocent people and they all seem to meet the same end at the hands of the authorities, their luck finally running out.

What I found most lacking about the story was the lack of character development on the part of Joaquin's partners in crime. People like Claudio and Reyes are given very little backstory, we have little idea what their lives were like before they joined the bandit group. I suppose it is entirely possible that the author had no information on them, and rather than fabricate their stories to make for a better novel he merely omitted them. However they all seem united to commit crimes, whereas their leader Joaquin has a somewhat more dedicated purpose.

Even the Captain, Love is given a little backstory, a dispatch rider during the Mexican War. Of all the characters I think I like Love the most. He has no qualms about fighting fire with fire, using Joaquin's brutal tactics against him like when he executed one of Joaquin's number, Gonsalez. Even with his early failures, Love manages to continue chasing Joaquin, forcing the outlaw and his gang to go on the defensive for a time.

It is difficult for me to figure out which character is the hero of the story, or if there is even a hero. I do not consider Joaquin to be a hero, murdering white men just because they are white, robbing them and torturing them is hardly the mark of a hero. Love could be considered a hero, but we do not get a chance to really see what goes on in his mind or what his beliefs are. Perhaps there is just no hero in the story, and it is just a story that tells the events as they happened.

Brian Rush

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Blog Post #1

So first post, we'll have to see how this goes.

What I found upon reading The Blithedale Romance and the idea of Trancendentalism interesting was the similarity between Trancendentalism and other more or less secular communities. The most obvious one that comes to mind would be the Amish of North America. What were the core issues that divided these two styles of community and made one far more successful than the other?

Both the Amish and the Trancendentalist communities, like Blithedale, saw the "modern" community as corrupting of people. Both groups sought to distance themselves from the outside world. Obviously as we all know, the Amish were far more successful for several reasons.

While they did indeed forgo most modern conveniences, their lifestyle seems to have been much more compatible with living apart from the modern world. Not to mention the mindset of the people was far more accepting of their way of life and they had experience with farming and were quite used to that lifestyle. This is in contrast to the Blithedale community that very much relied on one man to do most of the farming.

The people who inhabited the Blithedale community also came from the outside world, rather then having lived traditionally such as the Amish have. The Amish have also adopted some modern conveniences, and do not limit their diets as many Trancendentalist communities have, eating plenty of meat and even some forms of candy.

Also, many Amish communities have begun to mesh with modern society, and do not shun the conveniences provided. Things like movie theatres, soft drinks and other social elements have been incorporated into the community, which takes away the urge some might feel to want to experience them as we saw in the Blithedale Romance with Coverdale escaping to return to modern society.

It is entirely possible that if the Trancendentalist communities had taken its que from the Amish, their communities would have been more successful and far more long lasting than is seen in the Blithdale Romance and even the essay, Trancendental Wild Oats.