This was a very enjoyable passage, and I found many themes that run throughout the story. The first that struck me related to gender stereotypes, and was (for me) the most prominent. In a group of gamblers Cherokee Sal’ was the only female on this particular settlement, and is described as being “a very sinful woman,” whom during childbirth “most needed the ministration of her own sex.” First of all we note that the blame is placed solely on Sal for her condition, and secondly that it is a woman’s duty to take care of the birthing process. In fact, the labor itself was considered some sort of compensation for her “transgression.”
We see even more expectations of the feminine role throughout the text including when referring to Kentuck’s fondness of the child, “Kentuck had the weaknesses of the nobler sex,” and also when discussing about a feminine role model in Tommy Luck’s upbringing. We see evidence of this when, against their wishes of bringing strangers to the settlement, the men began to consider opening a hotel and inviting a few families to reside there, “for the sake of “The Luck,”-who might perhaps profit by female companionship.”
It was interesting to note that once decided to adopt the baby, how the manners and the atmosphere altered within the camp. As a believer that, in an ideal world, it takes a village to raise a child; meaning that a child is influence by more people than just the biological parents. A child has many teachers, not merely the ones employed in educational institutions, and for me the portrayal of the change in the camp highlighted this very point so eloquently, especially with reference to the reduction in cursing, and a new focus on hygiene and cleanliness. We also have a general attitude that children force us to see things in a new light, give us hope for the future, and allow us to meet new responsibilities that we could never fathom before. In short, these men developed a new understanding and appreciation of life, and the text does mention the “excitement” that the new birth brought – for they were only accustomed to death.
The first paragraph of the story mentions the year 1805, yet in the year 1851 – when disaster struck Roaring Camp, 46 years later, Luck was still a baby. So, was this child a metaphor for something good – after all they all referred to his mother in sinister terms, and barely gave her a second thought after she passed (or even when she was alive for that matter). Could it be then that her passing was itself considered a lucky event, given that they were a superstitious population, and also that she were female? I am still stewing on this one……..
I noted some similarities with Bierce’s writing, especially with the use of imagery when describing the scenery. I certainly could visualize the mountains, the river, the settlement, the vast array of flowers that had previously gone unnoticed by the settlers, at least consciously. “The men had suddenly awakened to the fact that there were beauty and significance in these trifles…..”
Again, regional dialects play a role to keep the story authentic to Western sentiment but there is less use of dialogue than Twain utilized in “The Notorious Jumping Frog…,” and it is probably for this reason that I found the story, although more lengthy, much easier to follow. That said, there was enough dialect to ensure an element of realism in the story, for example, when talking about Luck and his affinity with his environment,”I crep’ up the bank just now,” said Kentuck one day, in a breathless state of excitement, “and dern my skin if he was n’t a talking to a jay-bird as was a sittin’ on his lap.
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