Desire & Decorum: Chapter 11, The Clock Runs Out Part I

So in the last episode, we went to the racetrack to see the Edgewater Estate horses run in the derby and I received news that my father fell ill with yellow fever.

Now look at the title-what did I tell you! I knew my father wasn’t going to last long-I wrote a paper on how Yellow Fever assisted the Confederate Soldiers in the Civil War as it devastated the northern troops. It quickly spread and was a brutal disease.

Now interesting-this chapter starts off with a warning:

This chapter contains scenes of implied sexual violence that may be upsetting to some players. Discretion is advised.

What does that mean? This sounds bad…

So my father is very sick-he is going to die in this episode, I just know it. Darn, I just found him and now I will lose him.

Aw, that’s sad.

As my grandmother is talking to me my  evil stepbrother, Mr. Marcastle comes in asking what is wrong. Now you have the choice to tell him the truth or keep it from him.

Hmmm…

On one hand Mr. Marcastle, my stepbrother, has been pretty awful and plotting against me this whole entire time, he and his mother spreading lies and trying to sully my reputation. It would serve him right if I kept it from him.

BUT…even though he is horrid, my father did raise him and Mr. Marcastles loves my father.

Hmmm…Weighing my options

Even though I want to be tough, I decide to tell him the truth. It is the right thing to do, however much he has hurt me-he deserves to know the man who was his father is dying.

By doing so it does give me a +Relationship.

Mr. Marcastle leaves to be alone and so does grandmother. As I enter my own contemplation all I can think is this stinks!

It sucks!

I lose my mother in the first chapter, finally meet me father and NOW he is dying. Ugh.

While I am commiserating Briar gives me a stack of love letters.

Apparetly my mother gave them to Briar to hold onto and give to me later when she felt the time was right. I don’t know why it took so long, but I am eager for them!

I of course want to read them-maybe something sweet about my parents or even useful information that can help me is in them?

Tell ME!!!!!

But unfortunately, I do not have enough diamonds. I need to pause the game and return after I achieve seven more diamonds.

So, we will have to finish this another time.

For more Desire and Decorum, go to Desire & Decorum: Chapter 10, On Your Marks

For more on Choices, go to Did the Bride Run Off Or Was She Kidnapped?: Veil of Secrets (2018)

For more love letters, go to P.S. I Like You

Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans: The Buccaneers, Episodes 1-2

So Happy Indepedence Day. It is time for another:

So after you watch every single version of Jane Austen movies, what do you have to watch next?

Hmm…I don’t know!

That’s why I started this list, to have non-Austen films that Austen fans can enjoy.

I can’t stop watching!

I was trying to decide what to  post today and was split between Poldark, which takes place after the Revolutionary War and The Buccaneers which is about a group of ladies “invading” England. After a long deliberation, Buccaneers won out.

So I first stumbled on this about six or five years ago when I was scrolling through Amazon Prime looking for the next thing to watch.

I started with one episode and was hooked!

The one thing that really struck me when I was watching it was all the famous actors in it. I mean there is the amazing James Frain as Julius, Duke of Trevennick; why, why, why hasn’t he been in a Jane Austen film yet?

Then there is Spy Kids mama Carla Gugino who plays the lead, Annabel “Nan” St. George.

And Greg Wise, (best known to Jane Austen fans as Mr. Willoughby), as the strong upstanding, Greg Thwaite.

This miniseries is what I consider to be “what would have happened if the Austen characters married the wrong people.” You know the Wickhams, Willoughbys, Churchills, Thorpes, etc.; of the world.

The horror! I can’t even think of it.

So I have yet to read the book and am going to focus on the movie only. There are a few changes-which you will see.

So the series takes place in the Gilded Age, after the Civil War. The St. Georges have become extremely wealthy in the aftermath, Mr. St. George being the third wealthiest man on Wall Street. They have moved to Newport Beach but find it hard to enter society as they are “coarse” and “nouveau riche”. It doesn’t matter that the St. George’s have more money that a whole coastline of “old money” people put together, they are not considered polite society. This hurts Mrs. St. George who wants nothing more than to finally be accepted.

Mrs. St. George was actually from a “good family” and married beneath her (as Nan shares), but her husband made a ton of money in the aftermath of the war. She reminds me a lot of Mrs. Bennet, but isn’t so worried about marrying her daughters off as she is in hoping they can get invited into society.

She is joined as an outcast with Elmsworths (who I don’t know what their money is in, I don’t think they say. The housekeeper from Two and a Half Men plays the mother-but all I can see her as is the grumpy housekeeper in that show and the murdered one in Murder She Wrote.) And rounding out this group are the Clossons. Mr. Closson met his wife in Brazil and married her, making his money in the ranches and plantations she owns combined with the casinos in New York that he owns. Their daughter, Conchita has an even harder time with society as all assume her to be a “dark-skinned Native”. So-yes no one wants them.

However, Conchita is invited to the right parties as she is newly engaged to Lord Richard Marabel, and everyone wants a real English Lord at their party. Remember A Change of Fortune?

Mrs. St. George, feeling desperate, hires an English governess to instruct her younger daughter Nan, and give her family some ummph. Ms. Laura Testvalley arrives from England, happy as the St. George’s not knowing any better are paying her a small fortune. She’s doing way better than she would  have in England. Too bad Jane Fairfax wasn’t born later.

Ms. Testvalley tries to instruct the girls and smooth out their rough edges. But they still are not invited anywhere.

It sucks!

Ms. Testvalley knows Lord Richard as she was governess to his sisters, and I don’t know if this is true but I always felt they had a “thing” in the past. They seem too close, if you know what I mean.

The big party of the summer is happening, and the only one who gets an invite is Conchita, and only because her fiance is Lord Richard. Elizabeth “Lizzy” Elmsworth and Nan’s older sister Virginia St. George, pretend to be Lord Richard’s sisters so they can go to the party, but they are later found out. Awkward!

Nan cannot go as she is not “out” in society, watching this I do get where Mrs.Bennet is coming from. It isn’t fun when you are stuck at home because your older sister isn’t married. Nan is adorable, fun, but a young girl. She thinks being a mistress is “exciting” as you have freedom and can do what you want. She even idealizes Ms. Testvalley’s life. Ms. Testavalley tries to help her with her naivety, but there is only so much she can do.

That is not what life is like.

Mrs. St. George is bemoaning  that she cannot get invited anywhere, when Ms. Testavalley comes up with the idea of a London Season. She understands the American class system better than Mrs. St. George and knows that if the ladies go to England, when they return-everyone will be begging them to attend their functions. Mrs. St. George agrees and they are off.

In England, Conchita marries Richard and meets the family. There are huge issues as they come from very different cultures. Richard is the black sheep of the family, a gambler, loose with everything, etc. He thought marrying the wealthy Conchita would solve everything, but that’s not how it works out for him. Conchita’s family expects him to take care of their daughter and actually work for a living.

Ugh! Work!

Richard was kicked out of the family home and Conchita allows him back in as his father would never kick out a woman, especially one as beautiful as her.

Richard exits the picture, using the allowance she gets to live his life however he wants, and leaving the fiery, fun-loving Conchita in a cold, damp, mansion with the uptight well-to-do family.

Meanwhile, the St. Georges and Lizzy have come to England. Ms. Testavalley wants them to do well and enlists another expatriate, her old friend Ms. March. Ms. Testavalley just wants aid in teaching them proper manners and how to follow society rules, but Ms. March has a better idea. Ms. March was once a young girl who came to England for a season, and it was hard to get into English society. In fact she was going to marry Lord Brightlingsea, Richard’s father, but was left at the altar. It seems that there was some nefarious plot, (I personally think that Lady Brightlingsea found a way to trick him, but that’s just my opinion.) Ms. March wants revenge and plans to do so by getting all the girls with wealthy, important, high-society men.

The girls visit with Conchita who is very unhappy, lonely, and determined to take a lover to ease the days. She loves having the girls to visit with her and brighten her days. She takes them to visit with Guy Thwaite. Every girl loves him but he is “unmarriageable” as he has no money. When his mother died she left him £20000 or £50000 (depending on who is telling the story). His father invested it and lost it all. Many a lady wouldn’t mind marrying him as he is handsome, intelligent, and comes from a great family-but he refuses them all as he wants to have his own money, he doesn’t want to just live off his woman.

This kind of character gives me mixed feelings. He reminds me a lot of Carl from O Pioneers! and both characters infuriate me. One one hand you have to admire a guy who wants to have his act together, provide a life for his family instead of mooching off the woman, and be a man. But on the other hand, having so much pride you waste so much time. And you might lose the girl to another.

Guy and Nan hit it off right away and she falls hard for him. He likes her, but even though she is extremely wealthy, he wants to have his own  money so he’d be worthy of his future wife.

I admire you and I’m angry with you. I’m angire or admry

So Lady Brightlingsea is not a happy woman. Conchita is pregnant, but Richard is never home and the money she brings in is not as much as this family would like to fill their extremely diminished coffers. And to add to it, her older son, the good one, has given no heir and has no interest to marry. He’s been involved with an older woman, Idina Hatton. Idina needs money and rents her cottage out to Ms. March, who brings the girls there. There they have fun and throw little parties.

From Emma (1996)

Nan is bored of those things-as she can’t really join in-and she and Ms. Testvalley go down to the countryside where Nan runs into Julius, Duke of Trevennick. Julius has been breaking hearts of all the ladies as no one can pin him down. He isn’t interested in any women as all they want are his title, he seems sweet but there is also something off-putting about his love of clocks and solitude. Like I get your an introvert, but it seems a tad…controlling. I don’t know.

Moving on…Nan impresses him as she has no clue who he is, loves the ruins as much as him, and is just full of innocence, childlike wonder, imagination, feelings, etc. She’s like a mix between Marianne Dashwood and  Catherine Morland.

The Duke is taken with her and invites her to tea-the two talking and he continuing to be struck by her.

Meanwhile, Virginia and Lizzy have both been struck by Lord Seadown’s “sad eyes”, “brooding nature”, and melancholy demeanor. Oh man, you know the type.

Lord Seadown on the hand has been doing some calculating. His extremely dwindling coffers compared to the GNP of the Elmsworth and the St. George’s. Virginia is a better choice as her family has a lot more money. Seadown boasts of his plan to his brother and how he’ll have the better deal.

One day Lizzy, Virginia, and Conchita are having a little party, when Idina shows up, angry that Seadown stood her up. She makes a scene and yells at Virginia. Virginia is a classy lady, but Lizzy won’t stand the way she is being treated and lets all know that Virginia and Seadown are engaged.

The two marry and Virgina is ecstatic over being married to her love, Lord Seadown, becoming the future Lady Seadown, and winning over her rival Lizzy. But the marriage happiness is short lived as Seadown reveals that he only married her for her money and will be using it to redo the West Wing.

Replace beauty with money

Virginia is crestfallen, but that’s not the worst of it-Lord Seadown just uses her money-giving all love and affection to Idina.

So now we are left with little Nan. Guy is extremely interested, but lets her know that he is not going to marry anyone without money. He also thinks that Nan is too young at 18. He is going to South America for two years to work on the railroad and make his fortune. Nan insists that she is not too young, as her mother married at 18. But he says no and walks out of her life.

You’re making a huge mistake!!!!!!! Come back, at least propose!!! Don’t leave her!!!!!!!

Julian on the other hand is very interested in Nan and goes to speak to her but finds her out. He instead speaks to Ms. Testvalley about his wanting to marry Nan. Now in an interesting twist Ms. Testvalley really discourages him against. She warns him that Nan is young and he should wait as in a year or two-after she’s grown up a bit, she could be an incredibly different person.

This reminds me of Mrs. Bennet and Mr. Bennet. If Mr. Bennet had not been taken in by a pretty face but really spent his time getting to know Mrs. Bennet or maybe had a longer engagement he would have realized she isn’t the right person for him. But they both were young and didn’t think.

Julian ignores Ms. Testvalley and goes to Nan who is crushed and heartbroken and lonely. When Julian proposes he gives her a puppy! A PUPPY!!! There is a guy who knows how to do a good proposal, Mr. Darcy could take notes. She’s sad, crushed, alone as her sister and friends are married ad gone and she says yes.

So Nan becomes the crown jewel for Ms. March and Ms. Testvalley as she snagged the Duke, just under a Prince. Wowee!!

Yes the americans have won and conquered the English marriage market.

So here we have as I see it-Lord Richard is nothing but Mr. Wickham. Charming on the surface but a gambling bounder who only cares about having a good time for himself. We get a glimpse of how life would have been if Wickham succeeded in marrying Georgina or Miss Gray.

Then we have Lord Seadown. He reminds me of Mr. Elliot or Mr. Willoughby. But are as calculating when it comes to maintain their fortunes/way of lifestyle. Either would do all they can to keep it.

Smarming and plotting away.

And then we have the Duke. I’m not sure who he best lines up with, he seems like a nice catch…but I guess we will just have to wait and see.

So I was going to do the whole series in one post, but there is just too much. I’ll do a secondary post on the last three episodes.

In other news, I’ll be spending this weekend with my niece. I usually post every three days, but I might have to postpone as I don’t what we will be doing. I hope you all have a wonderful 4th of July, whether it is just another day:

Or celebrating our Independence!

For more Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans, go to Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans: Stardust (2007)

For more Gilded Age, go to Book Club Picks: Julie

For more 4th of July posts, go to Let Freedom Ring

So I like to joke and have fun, but I’m going to end this post on a serious note. I just want to thank all past and present who have served to protect not only my country and my rights, but those around the world.

So You’re the Little Woman Who Wrote the Book that Made this Great War: Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Day 16) P is for Politics: Choose a book that is Political

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Uncle Tom’s Cabin or Life Among the Lowly by Harriet Beecher Stowe

In 1852 this book was published and created a phenomena. It became the highest selling book of the 19th century, just behind the Bible. The first year it sold over 300,000 copies in the United States and three years later over a million in the U.K.

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This book is credited with, like The Jungle, being a revolutionary change in the actual world.

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In fact the political change they believe it started, was the helping bring about more awareness of slavery in the South and promoting abolitionism that sparked the Civil War.

Wow

Wow

In fact, Stowe’s family claims that when Harriet Beecher Stowe met Abraham Lincoln, he greeted her with “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war!” Whether or not this is true has been disputed for years with no one really certain whether it happened or not.

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Stowe was the daughter of minister Lyman Beecher, and wrote this novel to depict slavery, along with showing Christianity and being an allegory of Christ.

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I started reading this book when I was going down a list of classics provided by Barnes and Noble. As I borrowed the book from the library my mom spotted it and said she loved the book, it was one of her favorites.

I wasn’t thrilled to read it at first as I had heard it was a “bad book”, you know making fun of those of African-American descent.

I don't know...

I don’t know…

I started reading it and became sucked in:

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I was surprised as it was AMAZING! I couldn’t understand why people hated it. It was fantasticly written and such a great story.

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So many people today view the novel negatively; the way it uses “sentiment” to pull at heart strings, how all the slaves “had” to be helped by white men and women, and the fact that Tom never ran away but chose to honor the “contract” of his masters.

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But what they fail to see is that it is a powerful story, has some truly great African and white characters, and that Tom is supposed to represent Christ and the things he went through to save our souls.

Wow

Wow

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So the book focuses on six main characters: Tom (called Uncle Tom by others), Eliza, Augustine St. Clare, Eva St. Claire, Ophelia, and Cassey; and their views, interactions, and how they are changed or shaped by slavery.

Tom is a strong, middle aged, African-American slave. He is also a devout Christian and tries to embody the scriptures and live his life for the Lord.

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” Matthew 5:43-44

“All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered.” 1 Timothy 6:1

Tom has been a part of the Shelby family for a long time, and has a family and children. As Tom knows how to read, his cabin is the place for the other slaves to go and hear about Christ along with getting individual instructions. George Shelby is the young “master” of the house and spends all his time with his “Uncle Tom”. In fact Tom is more of a father to him then his own father, and also his religious instructor.

Family

However, the Shelby’s have debts and they have to sell somethings…or in this case some people. They choose Tom as his height and strength will get a lot and we have the incredible sadness of seeing a family torn apart because of an archaic principle.

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Another slave, Mrs. Shelby’s maid, Eliza is married to a slave from another plantation. After a series of miscarriages, the two were finally able to give birth to a boy, Harry. While the Shelbys are a kind people, George’s master is cruel and he can’t stand it anymore.

“My master! and who made him my master? That’s what I think of–what right has he to me? I’m a man as much as he is. I’m a better man than he is. I know more about business than he does; I am a better manager than he is; I can read better than he can; I can write a better hand,–and I’ve learned it all myself, and no thanks to him,–I’ve learned it in spite of him; and now what right has he to make a dray-horse of me?–to take me from things I can do, and do better than he can, and put me to work that any horse can do…he puts me to just the hardest, meanest, and dirtiest work, on purpose!”

George decides to flee to Canada, earn enough money, and then return to purchase his wife and son. After he takes off, Eliza gets the news that she will be sold as well to pay the debts.

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Afraid to be separated from her child, she too tries to take the long road to freedom.

Not good

As Tom is taken away, George vows to one day buy his friend back and free him.

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Tom is sold to a trader and being transported on a riverboat when he spots a little girl, Eva St. Clare. He misses his own children, so he begins amuses her, and she begs her father to buy him. Augustine St. Clare loves his little girl and gives in to her every whim. He buys Tom and takes him to his plantation.

Here Tom and Eva share their love of Christ as they both have a strong faith and relationship with the Lord. We also meet St. Clare’s sister Ophelia, who is from the North, who has moved to help take care of the house. Now here we have a great critique on the North’s treatment of African Americans. Ophelia is an aggressive abolitionist, constantly lecturing St. Clare and talking about the evils of slavery, yet she can’t stand to be around those of African-American descent. She is a complete racist, but can’t even admit it to herself.

“Well!” said Miss Ophelia, “you southern children can do something that I couldn’t.”
“What, now, pray?” said St. Clare.
“Well, I want to be kind to everybody, and I wouldn’t have anything hurt; but as to kissing – ”
“N*****,” said St. Clare, “that you’re not up to, – hey?”
“Yes, that’s it. How can she?”

St. Clare, tired of her constant lecturing, buys her a slave girl, Topsy, and bets she won’t be able to help her. At first Ophelia does poorly, having to instead be lead by Eva in showing kindness.

one word kind change day

Eva and Topsy become best of friends, even though they “should” be separated buy race and class, it doesn’t matter to Eva as all she sees is someone who needs love.

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Augustine is another interesting character as he isn’t a fan of slavery, but won’t do anything. He sees the way Christianity is, how his daughter lives but won’t commit to it. He is supposed to represent the people who were against slavery but never took a stand against it, waiting for future people to decide or others to fight. When his daughter dies, he is utterly heartbroken.

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He promised Eva on her deathbed to release the slaves and become an abolitionist for his daughter, but waits too long and is killed before he can do it.

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Meanwhile, Eliza has been running for her life and from slave catchers, and she actually manages to find her husband. After they go through horrible hardships they manage to make it to Canada and freedom.

Tom is sold by St. Clare’s wife, while Ophelia returns to the North with Topsy, taking what she learned with her, as Topsy does the same.

Tom is sold again, this time to the incredibly cruel owner Simon Legree. He rapes and beats his slaves. He begins to hate Tom and treat him in unspeakable ways. He has a slave, Cassy, who is his unwilling mistress. He has stolen her children from her and sold them, beat her, and just given her a horrible life. She is bitter and in pain.

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She is a quadroon, one quarter black, so she has a strange place in society. She is better educated than most, but is a sex slave, representing the harsh lives of female slaves and how they are at the whim of their master more than the men. Simon is planning on replacing Cassy with a young girl he just bought, Emmiline.

One day as they are picking cotton, Tom sees a woman struggling to fill her sack and looking at horribly beaten or worse. He helps her, aided by Cassy, and is then ordered to whip the women by Legree. When Tom refuses, Legree whips him and Tom has earned a permanent spot on his hit list.

This movie

Tom’s pain makes him consider turning back on his faith, but he sees a vision and remains true.

I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.” Psalm 89:1

Cassy knows the life that Emmeline will have and decides to run away with her. When Simon finds them gone he tries to beat the answer out of Tom, but he will not reveal anything. He is so horribly treated that he begins to die.

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George arrives to buy him, but is too late. He fights with Simon and takes Tom’s body, giving him a proper burial.

Leave me alone so I can cry over the death of my fictional characters

Cassy and Emmeline reach Canada and find themselves with George Harris and Eliza. It turns out that Eliza is Cassy’s daughter, and the two are finally reunited.

Double double yay

In the end George goes home and decides to honor Tom and free all his slaves:

“It was on his grave, my friends, that I resolved, before God, that I would never own another slave, while it is possible to free him; that nobody, through me, should ever run the risk of being parted from home and friends, and dying on a lonely plantation, as he died. So, when you rejoice in your freedom, think that you owe it to that good old soul, and pay it back in kindness to his wife and children. Think of your freedom, every time you see UNCLE TOM’S CABIN; and let it be a memorial to put you all in mind to follow in his steps, and be as honest and faithful and Christian as he was.”

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So this story is an amazing thing. Why would people call it horrible?

Why not?

Why?

Well what I personally feel has caused this shift from honoring Uncle Tom and all the other characters to having their names now be used as derogatory terms was the over-popularity of the novel.

Say What

As this book became so sought after and was selling millions of copies; everyone wanted a piece of the pie; but when there such a wide amount of people madly grabbing to make their fortunes, they tend to forget about what the book actually stood for and was trying to change. Plays and films were being made based on the story, but instead of honoring and revealing the social issues that Harriet Beecher Stowe was writing about, these pieces became all about entertainment and cheap laughs. No longer are we shown the characters going through different trials to reveal the hypocrisies and social injustices of the time, but instead are given pure comedy or in extreme cases sexual innuendo.

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Too few people actually read the novel and understood how the characters and situations can be easily relatable.

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Uncle Tom is more than a slave toiling in the United States waiting for his freedom, but is a figurehead for any oppressed people. As David Reynolds writes in his book, Mightier Than the Sword: Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the Fight for America, Tom easily connected to the Russian serfs; the Chinese peasants, the Chinese immigrants in America, Jews all over the world, black slaves in Brazil, black slaves in Cuba, etc. Tom’s passive resistance to Simon Legree, as he does not listen to Legree’s warning but continues to stand up for what he believes in and aids Cassy, and Emmeline; can even connect to passive resistance done by Gandhi in India, Martin Luther King Jr. in the South, and Cesar Chavez here in California. While the unjust situations may never be the same as those that Tom or the other slaves faced, wherever trouble arises and people are suffering Uncle Tom is there struggling alongside and encouraging the oppressed that everything will be alright in the end.

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Another way that Tom’s character is still so relatable and present in today’s time is how loving and willing he is to protect others. Tom lives by the mantra “the needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few”; causing him to be the type of person we all want to be. The way Tom lays down his life so that the rest of the Shelby slaves could be spared and in the end dying to protect Cassy and Emmeline; is behavior we all admire and hope would imitate in such situations; as no one wants to imagine themselves being a Sambo or Quimbo character; betraying their fellow man to protect their own interests. We all recognize the value and honor of self-sacrifice for a person or a cause.

In Stowe’s novel she hit upon so many issues, and attempted (and in some cases succeeded) in trying to make a difference in how African-Americans were treated. While she did not completely change the way the United States worked, or resolved every issue; her novel did bring awareness and start people talking and thinking about abolition, integration, education, religion, politics, etc. This initial jolt eventually set America on a path to striving for change.

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To start the 30 Day Challenge from the beginning, go to It Was a Pleasure to Burn: Fahrenheit 451

For the previous post, go to The Great Depths of the Ocean are Entirely Unknown to Us: Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

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For more Harriet Beecher Stowe, go to If It Means A Lot to You

For more on the Civil War, go to Why Everyone Should Read Gone With the Wind

For more Frank Peretti, go to A Giant Metal Man: The Iron Giant (1995)

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Today’s song is O Holy Night. In 1843 Roquemaure, France; the church organ was renovated. The priest asked wine merchant and poet, Placide Cappeau, to write a poem to commemorate the event. Four years later it was turned into a Christmas carol by compser, Adolphe Adam.

In 1855, minister John Sullivan Dwight translated and created the version that most sing today.

I choose the version by Josh Groban.

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For more Josh Groban, go to Midnight in Austenland

For more Christmas Carols, go to I’d Spent Some Time As a Kid Wishing My Name Were Ashley or Katherine, if Only Because It Would Have Made Life Simpler, But My Mom Liked to Tell Me That My Name Was a Litmus Test: Along for the Ride

Why Everyone Should Read Gone With the Wind

B is for Best-Selling Novel

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Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

When it came to look for a Best-Seller to put on the list I decided to start first with 1916, as that book would be celebrating its 100th anniversary.

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But I didn’t see any I was a very big fan of so I went to 1926. Nothing there as well.

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I decided I would then check 1936 and if I couldn’t find a book I was a fan of I would try 1896, then 1886, then 1876, and then go back to 1946 and on and on until I finally found something.

However, I stopped at 1936 with Gone With the Wind.

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Gone With the Wind was published in 1936 and at time sold 176,000 copies. It was a best seller in 1936 and 1937, winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1937, and by 1938 sold a million copies. In 1939 the film came out and the book sold two million copies.

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My first introduction to Gone With the Wind was when I first watched the film when a friend and I were going through AFI’s list of the best films. We made it to #15 before we became too busy and haven’t finished doing it since.

Oh well.

Oh well.

Anyways, I watched it and thought the movie was really good. The cinematography was absolutely stunning, it was full of good quotes, and Clark Gable was just amazing as Rhett Butler (funny thing is Margaret Mitchell didn’t want him as she thought he wasn’t handsome enough to be Rhett).

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I didn’t care for Scarlett as I thought she was a…

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And thought she was just horrible, not Vivian Leigh’s performance but her.

Then three years later, as it was on my reading list, I decided to read it, borrowing my mother’s copy. And when I read it I was amazed at how it was a truly fantastic book!

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And I believe that everyone should read it at least once.

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So the book is a huge epic! It follows the Irish O’Hara clan from the father’s immigration into the new world and settling in the South, the radical changes from the Antebellum period, to the Civil War, and the Reconstruction era.  At the heart of all this chaos is the story of the beautiful, ruthless Scarlett ‘O’ Hara and the dashing soldier of fortune, Rhett Butler.

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So let’s list off why one should read this book:

A) Shows How the Irish were Viewed in America

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So we start off with Gerald O’Hara, head of the clan. Back in Ireland he was a part of a Catholic Emancipation group, like the Ribbonmen or such and ends up having to flee because of his political activities. He comes to America and isn’t always treated very nicely, as the Irish weren’t. Often they were made fun off, not allowed in certain areas, and thought to be taking over jobs. He starts working in his brother’s store but what he really wants is land, the very land that was denied him back in Ireland as no Catholic Irish could ever own anything.

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He eventually wins a plantation in a poker game and spends a long time building it up and having it be one of the richest ones in the area. He then decides to marry, but while these Southern families enjoy his wealth and propsperity; none could ever think of marrying their daughter to an Irish immigrant who’s family is unknown. The only thing for him to do is try to find a woman somewhere else, as he returns to his brother for help in finding a bride.

Yes, most don’t realize this but the wealthy South wanted to be like the old manors of Europe. Be the master of the land with pure bloodlines of other wealthy families, not bringing any low class in, and very racist against any that weren’t established in their group. This kind of racism against the Irish and Catholics went much farther than the South and was seen all over the country. Many times Irishmen and women had the lowest class jobs, found it hard to get land and keep it, and found themselves competing against African Americans who would work for lower wages (in the North). While Gerald O’Hara does extremely well, a lot of Irish weren’t able to ever reach that, especially in the South at this time.

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B) Scarlet O’Hara

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Scarlett is a Southern women in the Antebellum period and has very little schooling. All that is expected of her is to marry well and have plenty of children. But Scarlet has always felt different and out of touch with the time she lives in.

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She is extremely intelligent and has great business acumen. In fact it is often remarked that if her brain had been born into a boy she would have been able to go far.

Scarlet doesn’t have life easy either. With the Civil War she finds herself becoming a nurse, a midwife, and eventually has to take on the plantation or risk starvation. Because of those experiences it makes her hard, as with the book we see how she is constantly worried if things will turn out alright, if they can make it, or if they will be back to starvation; everyone looking at her to take care of everything.

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That is an incredible burden to be laid on a teenager (as she is about 17 or 18), let alone one who’s education was “how to look her prettiest”. She becomes tough because if she doesn’t, none of them will survive.

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When the home is attacked, she defends it shooting the deserter and protecting the home and people.

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Now she does steal her sister’s boyfriend, so she has faults, but she does it because she has foresight none of the others do. He has a hardware store, but when Scarlet takes over she also creates a lumber mill, triples the money, and is able to provide for everyone. Even though she accomplishes all this everyone still tells her she isn’t being a lady, running businesses and doing better than her husband. They try to convince her to stop, but she keeps on doing it. Using her “ladies mind” which contains a powerful way with numbers.

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She continues to be this strong, forceful woman throughout the rest of the novel; even though she does make a lot of bad personal decisions. Still, for a woman in the 1800s to have her own business, earn her own money, choose who she will marry (several times), is pretty awesome! She is a powerhouse of a character.

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C) Not as Racist as People Think

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People had slaves and if a book mentions it, that is not racist. In fact in this book the slaves aren’t really shown to be stupid, slow, or other clichés; except Lettie who is mentally disabled (something we understand more now than we did then). There is the house slave who didn’t want to work in the fields, but being a house slave was seen as better than an outdoor slave and slaves on the inside often treated the field slaves as being lower class.

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In fact this book isn’t racist to African Americans, but points out racism and hypocrisy that African Americans faced from those who were trying to free them. It is often remarked that while the North wanted the Southern slaves to be free, that did not mean they actually wanted to work with those freed slaves or have them near. There were plenty of racist people living in the North fighting for African American rights, but if they were near an African American they would still treat them cruelly. Mitchell points this out when the new Republicans brought in by Reconstruction say they would never have an African American nanny their children as they have “diseases” and “uncouth ways”. In fact they would much rather ship over an Irish immigrant than ever let their child be touched by someone black.

What jerks

What jerks

Many say that Mitchell started this “Mamie” stereotype  creating a myth that all Africans were pleased with being slaves; which Mitchell does not do. Like The Help, which by the way everyone loved and praised, she shows that because the nannies lived in the house and raised the children they sometimes became like family. It didn’t happen with everyone, but in this case Mamie was a mother to Scarlet more than her own mother.

Also people are all different and have their own views, even if they live in the same area. Mitchell presents a look at the many ways people regarded slavery; indifferent as Scarlet, necessary as Mr. O’Hara; and how some treat African Americans rudely, cruelly, or like family.

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D) The Person You Love are Not Always True

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Scarlet is in love with Ashley Wilkes, but they could never marry as her blood (Irish) is too inferior for the Wilkes family. He is to marry none other than his cousin, but instead of flat out saying that to Scarlett, Ashley likes how this beautiful woman who everyone wants loves him and leads Scarlett on, trying to make sure her “flames of love kept burning” because it made him feel good. He was such a jerk and a coward! I mean we’ve all had guys like that who say “they would make the commitment”, but their life isn’t quite together yet. They haven’t reached their plans. And then when you try to move on, they always snag you back, bemoaning that if only things were different; trying to get you to wait for them.

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They get their poisonious hook into you and keep you.

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My friend was in the snare of a guy like Ashley for three years. He would go on about how they couldn’t be together, she deserved someone better; but as soon as she started to move on or see other people he would pop in about how much he cared about her. Constantly stringing her along in this cycle.

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Thankfully she finally realized it or she would have been like Scarlett constantly pining after something she thought she needed when the real prize laid before her. It is horrible, and this book really teaches you the errors of being stuck on someones hook.

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E) Stop Looking to the Past

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Like most people, Scarlett gets stuck in the past. All she can do is think of Ashley and wish of Ashley.

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How many of us have had a broken heart and instead of realizing how that person wasn’t right and deciding to move on, we cling to the past dreaming, wishing hoping. How many of us waste our time like Scarlett?

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Scarlett was so consumed with her dreams and thoughts of the past that she was blind to the person who really loved her, that if she had only let her dream of Ashley die and stop mooning about him she would have seen how much better Rhett was for her.

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F) Never Be afraid to Say How You Feel

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Everyone talks about Scarlett’s blindness and how she was unable to see what she has but you know who was a real coward? Rhett! Rhett never told her he loved her until the very end. Maybe if he had not been so afraid to admit his real feelings and told her the truth about how he felt instead of distancing himself for the fear of her breaking his heart or lording over him, then they might have had a chance at true happiness.

Yes it can be hard to be vulnerable, or share your heart with others. Things can go very wrong of the person doesn’t care. But they can go just as bad of you say nothing and let the person you love pass you on by.

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G) Hold On to Tomorrow

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As Little orphan Annie says, “So you got to hang on ’til tomorrow, come what may!” Even after all she’s been through, Scarlett has an optimism that seems to go against everything else about her. She has faith that in tomorrow things can change. Life is hard now but in the flip of a dime it could turn out better. This kind of optimism we should instill in our life as well. Anything could happen tomorrow, don’t give up as things can get better.

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To start the 30 day challenge from the beginning, go to It Was a Pleasure to Burn: Fahrenheit 451

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For more on Gone With the Wind, go to At the End of the Rainbow: 17 More Irish Heroes

For more on Margaret Mitchell, go to I Will Survive

For more Ayn Rand quotes, go to The Power is Yours

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Today’s carol is O Little Town of Bethlehem. Phillip Brooks visited Bethlehem in 1865 and three years later wrote the poem, asking his organist Lewis Redner to write the music.

“As Christmas of 1868 approached, Mr. Brooks told me that he had written a simple little carol for the Christmas Sunday-school service, and he asked me to write the tune to it. The simple music was written in great haste and under great pressure. We were to practice it on the following Sunday. Mr. Brooks came to me on Friday, and said, ‘Redner, have you ground out that music yet to “O Little Town of Bethlehem”? I replied, ‘No,’ but that he should have it by Sunday. On the Saturday night previous my brain was all confused about the tune. I thought more about my Sunday-school lesson than I did about the music. But I was roused from sleep late in the night hearing an angel-strain whispering in my ear, and seizing a piece of music paper I jotted down the treble of the tune as we now have it, and on Sunday morning before going to church I filled in the harmony. Neither Mr. Brooks nor I ever thought the carol or the music to it would live beyond that Christmas of 1868.”

Amazing. Now it is famous and such a part of the festive year. My favorite version is the Nat King Cole one.

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For more Christmas carols, go to We Wish You A Merry Christmas

Escape to Alcatraz

So as today is Clint Eastwood’s birthday….

Happy birthday

Happy birthday

So I thought that I would do a post that relates to him in some way…

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So this adventure took place around three years ago. So you all know what that meanes, we’ve gotta go back in time…

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So about three years ago I was a junior in college and getting ready to start my finals. And I’m sure there are plenty who remember how that feels. Your mood flips faster than the weather in Wyoming. From stressed out:

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To sad and unsure that you even know what you are doing:

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I was a part of the history club, and we decided that this was the perfect time to take a trip.

I've got to get out of here.

I’ve got to get out of here.

We tossed around a bunch of ideas like going to the Scottish Games, Alcatraz Night Tour, Exploratorium, Wine Tasting, Cheese Tasting, etc. Of course it took forever for everyone to decide but we finally settled on Alcatraz.

Now I have always wanted to go to Alcatraz. I have been a big fan every since the Clint Eastwood movie based on a true story, Escape from Alcatraz.

The story is about Frank Morris. He was sent to Alcatraz because he escapes every prison they put him in. They placed him in Alcatraz because it was impossible to get out of.

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Not only because of all the guards, as said in the trailer, but the location. Alcatraz is in the bay of San Francisco, which if you have never been there, has freezing cold water year round. Mark Twain once said:

“The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”

Not to mention the coordinates of the prison has a horrible pull of the current that if you managed to try to escape by swimming, the current would keep you from going forward, and you would eventually die from hypothermia.

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So the story is that Frank Morris comes up with this way to escape Alcatraz by digging a hole through the vent in his room, creating a facade to hide the digging, paper mache heads and fake bodies, and a raft. He teams up with three other guys, but unlike the movie one failed to escape through the vent because he had a pipe blocking his path, not that he was afraid. No one knows whether the three drowned or escaped. Their bodies and persons were never seen again.

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But I was so jazzed to learn more about the island. Beside the Frank Morris story, Al Capone actually walked there as he was imprisoned there. How cool would it be that I was where one of the greatest gangsters was?

I mean he did horrible things, but it still is slightly cool

I mean he did horrible things, but it still is slightly cool

And to be somewhere CLINT EASTWOOD ACTUALLY SPENT TIME!!? MY FANGIRLNESS JUST EXPLODED!

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Words cannot explain my excitement.

You definitely made mine!

You definitely made mine!

And then of course Sam Neil when he filmed that show Alcatraz (on my to-watch list).

It was great

It was great

So I was sooo excited.

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And it didn’t disappoint. The bay was beautiful, and so was Alcatraz. I didn’t know that the families of the workers lived with them on the island, so there were beautiful gardens and flowers growing.

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And the complex was used for so many things. During the Civil War they kept it as fortress and military prison, Native Americans were housed there, it was used as a jail, and most recently a famous author had a show there.

It was so cool being there. So much information, and such a history. Plus the architecture was amazing.

So we were able to see the rooms of Frank Morris, the brains, and his compatriots. It was pretty cool how they kept everything the same for the tourists.

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But because we were the Night Tour, things definitely took a creepy turn.

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Like the hospital room. Full of these older, slightly rusty tools, and at night with a weird light. I wouldn’t want to stay long in that room.

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Getting out of here

Or the Isolation Chamber?

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The isolation chamber was were you were sent when you were causing trouble or if a guard hated you. You are in a small cell with nothing in it, and the day it is okay. But when it is night, it is pitch black in there and super creepy.

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It was right next to the library where they were doing a lecture I wanted to attend, and that was the only way to get there so we had to pass through it. Oh man, it was scary.

Creepy!

Creepy!

And another kinda creepy factor? There were tons of seagulls everywhere. It felt as if I was in The Birds and they were just waiting to attack.

Not gulls but you understand the feeling.

Not gulls but this was what it felt like.

But it was a lot of fun and even though it was spooky, I definitely recommend it to anyone.

 

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For more San Francisco adventures, go to I Left My Car in San Francisco

For more stories from my everyday life, go to A Bump in the Night

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In other news, as I said before today is Clint Eastwood’s birthday so I’m going to celebrate the best way I can!

Just a few of his films.

Just a few of his films.

MARATHON!!!

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For more Clint Eastwood, go to A Cowboy’s Christmas