The Englishman’s Boy is a historical novel by Guy Vanderhaeghe, which depicts the 1873 Cypress Hills Massacre whereby a band of American wolfers assaulted a group of Assiniboine. The book deals with philosophical and moral issues that arise from the manner…
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The author has used the technique of interconnecting time lines and story narratives in adopting a post-modern approach to portray details of the Cypress Hills Massacre, which is characteristic of demonstrating the relationship between conflicting historical versions. This paper will focus on the power commanded by Rachel Gold, the main female character and on how other women in the novel are oppressed, which will be substantiated with reference to the histories of women’s roles in early Hollywood.
The story is narrated by Harry Vincent whose dream woman is Rachel Gold. Rachel is a Jewish vampy screen writer who helps Harry Vincent get a job as a writer of film plots with Best Chance Pictures after he arrives in Hollywood from Saskatchewan. Rachel is depicted as a powerful lady of very strong character as she maneuvers her life through a male dominated environment. She s able to create a place for herself and is recognized for her ability to write screenplays in surroundings where people hated women. She is portrayed as being extremely beautiful and catches the eyes of several men in Hollywood. But she was outnumbered in terms of her sex as well as religion. Rachel managed to gain immense recognition and clout in Hollywood because of her pulpy screen plays, which made her a force to reckon with whereby no one could take her lightly. She is depicted as being very considerate towards Harry and his un-well mother. Because of Rachel’s strong influence over film makers, she develops her own style of portraying the presence of anti-Semitic feelings in Hollywood as more and more Jews start entering the film making business in terms of starting production houses and directing films. It is perhaps in this context that Rachel enjoyed saying that “The true test of any scenario is to read it to a cameraman. Cameramen are invariably Irish and invariably drunk. If they can grasp the plot, the moral, the theme of your simple tale through an alchoholic haze, you can be assured you have struck the proper intellectual level” (36). She had the veracity to challenge film producers with her screen writing and often got away even after declaring that men can be divided into two distinct classes; gigolos and cruel people (Staines, 1997). The most noteworthy features of the novel are the moral issues that are raised by intentionally creating suggestions relative to another massacre, the Holocaust (Vanderhaeghe, 1997). Just as the Holocaust was attributed to Hitler, the author attributes the Cyprus Hills Massacre to Tom Hardwick who was leading the wolfers. Although the number of Assinboine killed in the massacre were only about 20, the author clearly lays emphasis on the white-indian conflict, including the sufferings that characterized the way in which the history of the region was shaped. The story assumes further importance in the context f the Holocaust because Rachel was also a Jew. In all the references to Hollywood, the author depicts a strong link with the Holocaust that has contributed to contemporary debates in regard to whether writers should be held responsible for the anti Semitic feelings created by their work (Janes, 2002). Menckenian rhetoric is used by Rachel because she believes in boorishness and accepts it with a great deal of distaste in the context of what was demanded by the public from Hollywood films. Rachel is able to accurately represent Mencken’s oratory and concepts relative to language that distinguishes her from characters such as Harry and Chance. She does not favor elements in Chance’s style such as his style of manipulating languages to
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