American Writers And The SaccoVanzetti Case — страница 9

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men who marched in the first woman suffrage parade in New York more than twenty years ago, and I am an ardent feminist." [29] Boston opens with an emancipation. Cornelia Thornwell`s husband, a Brahmin whose inherited wealth came from the ownership of cotton mills, is found dead at his desk like the villainous Colonel Pyncheon in Hawthorne`s opening to The House of the Seven Gables. Cornelia is consequently "told of her release" (B, 1). She sheds no tears for her dead husband, tolerates with some difficulty the squabblings of her children and grandchildren over their inheritance, and leaves after the funeral to become a lodger in the same house where Vanzetti lives and to work in a cordage factory owned by a family friend. Cornelia`s late rebellion against her class

is partially explicable in terms of her own origins, which are Irish, not Brahmin. But she explains her departure as consistent with New England history and thought: "For forty years [Cornelia says] I did what I was told was my duty … Now for the rest of my life I am going to be an individual, and not a cog in the family machine. And while that may seem terrible to you, you can comfort yourself with the fact that it is real `Boston`–old `Boston,` the very best there is. Everything that is glorious in our history has been made by people who have `come out,` and fought some prevailing sentiment [she names Sam and John Quincy Adams, Emerson, Thoreau, Garrison, Wendell Phillips, James Russell Lowell, Thomas Wentworth Higginson]…Boston history has been made by the `saving

minority.`" (B, 120-21) In The Education, the self-proclaimed "conservative Christian anarchist" Henry Adams concurs: "resistance to something was the law of New England nature." [30] In Boston, as in The Never-Ending Wrong, the opposition between social class and sentiment is foregrounded, and again the utopian hope is that sentiment can bridge the gulf between classes. Like the "sob sisters" of Porter`s account, Cornelia is accounted a sentimentalist by both the "revolutionists" and the wealthy, who believe that class interests will always ultimately take precedence over humanitarian feelings: The Brinis [the family in whose house she boards] had long ago found out who Cornelia was; they knew that she came from a great rich family;

yet not all the cruel "class consciousness" could weaken their trust in her. It seemed to Cornelia that this offered some hint of how to avoid the stresses of the war between capital and labor; also for the bitter strife between the old Yankees and the new foreigners, and for the "crime wave," and many other troubles of the time. But when she told that theory to her friends of the great world, they called it "sentimental," and went on with their wiser and more practical plan of jailing and deporting and killing. Also most of the so-called "class-consciousness" revolutionists would have agreed that Cornelia`s program was "sentimental"; so apparently the jailing and deporting and killing had to continue. (B, 199) Despite or perhaps

partly because of the violence on both sides, Sinclair underlines the similarities between the ideas of revolutionary New England and those of anarchist revolutionaries. Told of the anarchist doctrine that each person is "a law unto himself," Cornelia responds: "That ought to frighten me, but we New Englanders were raised on that creed — we called it Transcendentalism" (B, 232). Cousin Letitia, a proper spinster who chaperones Cornelia`s granddaughter Betty around Europe, meets some of these revolutionaries; in a letter home Betty writes: "When she [Letitia] was in school, she was taught to admire the revolutionary leaders of New England, and now that she meets those in Europe, she finds them highly educated men" (B, 185). And a French communist

editor observes that "there are few anarchist book shops without copies of Thoreau`s `Duty of Civil Disobedience` " (B, 232). The conflict between the anarchist cause and the Brahmins is formulated as another moment in Boston`s historical dialectic between liberty and consolidated power. But the clear division between the Brahmin class and their social subordinates is, Sinclair suggests, destabilized by the American preoccupation with race. As Italians, Sacco and Vanzetti`s "whiteness" is questioned by their American-born fellow workers, who therefore align themselves with the Brahmins. As was the case with Irish immigrants in the nineteenth century, white skin is not a matter of biology and European descent; it is put into question by the immigrants` poverty.