The head of Cavalry Records, Armstrong quickly concludes that Coyote Springs does not have what it takes, and he agrees to promote two white women, Betty and Veronica, dressed up like Indians instead.
A onetime rock singer who heard his calling to the Catholic priesthood in a McDonald’s, Father Arnold is devoted to his Indian congregation and admiring of both their defiantly cheery nature and their physical beauty. When Checkers develops a crush on him, he has a crisis of faith and nearly leaves the reservation, but Big Mom brings him to his Christian senses.
Along with Veronica, Betty becomes a Coyote Springs groupie who later joins the band, but quits after the scuffle outside the Trading Post. The two white women later sign up with Cavalry Records as pseudo-Indians.
A sort of . . . Read More
Chapter 1: Reservation Blues
As Reservation Blues begins, jazz musician Robert Johnson shows up at the reservation crossroads in Wellpinit, Washington, looking for a woman on a hill. Thomas Builds-the-Fire kindly drives Johnson toward the mountain home of Big Mom—who generations ago witnessed a tragic slaughter of horses by U.S. troops—but the van dies en route. Johnson must walk up, and he leaves behind his guitar, which Thomas adopts. In front of the Trading Post, Victor Joseph finds Thomas and smashes the guitar before leaving with Junior Polatkin to deliver water and then go drinking. Meaning to burn the guitar, Thomas wakes up to find it healed; he converses with it while it intermittently plays itself. Summoned by the music, Victor and Junior arrive and agree to join Thomas’s band.
Chapter 2: Treaties
Rehearsing at an abandoned grocery store, Thomas, Victor, and Junior’s band starts . . . Read More
Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper contains several instances of mistaken identity, the most obvious cases being those of Prince Edward and Tom Canty. Through the experience of mistaken or lost identity, Twain depicts one’s personal identity as something with a dualistic nature. For Twain, as these characters’ experiences demonstrate, identity exists as a composite of how we view ourselves and how we are viewed by others. Additionally, the author’s creation of his own overtly dual identity—that of Samuel Langhorne Clemens and that of Mark Twain— underscores the significance to Twain of this conception of identity and selfhood.
From the moment Edward realizes that, after he has changed clothes with Tom Canty, no one recognizes him as his true self, he continues to insist on who he truly is. His personal sense of self is strong, as he has been nurtured from the time he was an infant to believe his physical person is sacred. He has been told from the time he was . . . Read More
The Monarchy of Henry VIII
As a historical novel, The Prince and the Pauper is inspired by the general history of the time period in which the novel is set. (Like any historical novel, it does not claim to be wholly accurate factually. For example, historically Prince Edward was only nine when he became King of England, but in the novel he and Tom Canty are fifteen.) During this period in English history, Henry VIII ruled as king from 1509 until 1547. Over the course of his controversial reign, he had six wives. The children (Mary, Elizabeth, and Edward) of these wives are mentioned in or appear in Twain’s novel. The first wife was Catherine of Aragon, whom Henry married in 1509. The couple had one daughter, Mary, who would later become Queen Mary I and reign from 1553 to 1558. Henry wanted a male heir and when Catherine did not produce one, Henry decided to divorce her. The Pope refused to allow the divorce, but Henry proceeded with it anyway . . . Read More
Nineteenth-Century Historical Romance
The Prince and the Pauper was labeled upon publication a ‘‘historical romance.’’ As a genre, nineteenth-century historical romances did not necessarily feature a romantic relationship between two individuals. Rather, the term historical romance was used to characterize books that looked back to an earlier time in European history and focused on the adventurous aspects of that earlier time period. These books featured knights and kings, princes and peasants. The genre was popularized in England before crossing the Atlantic to become a significant literary genre in America as well. Twain’s foray into this genre— The Prince and the Pauper—was seen by many critics as serious and well mannered, as opposed to Twain’s more overtly humorous and boisterous tales, such as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (which is a combination of several genres, featuring aspects of the coming-of-age novel, the American . . . Read More
Social and Economic Inequality
Twain’s novel demonstrates the stark contrast between two social classes in sixteenth-century England. The society of the day is organized around the idea of a class system. The noble class is a group of people who inherit titles and the corresponding wealth, and usually lands, as well. One is born into this class of status and privilege; such a designation cannot be earned through the accumulation of wealth. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the lowest class of society, that of paupers and peasants. These are individuals who usually have no education or even access to it. They typically manage to acquire a few coins by begging but often have no regular income. The prince’s world, that of the noble class, is associated with luxury, ease, and comfort, while Tom’s world is filled with drunkenness, violence, and ignorance. However, the noble class has its cruelties as well. The torturous punishments . . . Read More
Father Andrew is the kindly priest who instructs the pauper Tom. He teaches him reading, writing, and some Latin. He shares with Tom stories of castles and kings and princes, encouraging in Tom the boy’s yearning toward nobility. When Edward is captured by John Canty and taken to be his own son, Father Andrew rises to the boy’s defense as Canty is about to beat Edward. Father Andrew receives a blow to the head from Canty’s cudgel, a blow that later kills him.
Bet is one of Tom’s fifteen-year-old twin sisters. Bet and her twin Nan are portrayed as kind and comforting toward Tom.
Grandmother Canty is Tom’s paternal grandmother. She is prone to drunkenness and often abuses Tom and presumably his sisters as well.
John Canty is Tom’s poor, abusive, drunken father. . . . Read More
The first chapter of The Prince and the Pauper announces the birth of Edward Tudor, Prince of Wales, and that of Tom Canty, a pauper.
In this chapter, the narrator tells of Tom’s poverty, recounting the deprivations of Tom’s formative years in Offal Court, the part of London where Tom and his family live. Tom lives with his mother, his father, his fifteen-year-old twin sisters Nan and Bet, and his grandmother. The narrator tells of the drunkenness, violence, and hunger that plague this poor area. Father Andrew, a kindly old priest who teaches an eager Tom reading, Latin, and writing, is also introduced. Tom gradually becomes fixated on the idea of seeing a prince; he is also increasingly aware of the ‘‘sordidness of his surroundings.’’
Tom wanders around London and finds himself at the palace, where carriages are arriving and . . . Read More
In The Princess Bride Goldman managed to produce a fantasy novel that parodies the genre in a consistently amusing manner, yet also reveals an underlying seriousness of purpose. It is a fine balancing act, successfully accomplished, which is why The Princess Bride is usually regarded as Goldman’s best novel. Rob Reiner’s excellent film adaptation of the novel to the screen has added to the popularity of the book, giving it a new generation of readers both young and old.
In many ways, although the romance between Buttercup and Westley takes center stage, The Princess Bride is the story of three pairs of fathers and sons, with some glancing insight into two marriages and the prospects for a third. The fathers and sons are the fictional William Goldman’s father and the author’s fictional ten-year-old self; the fictional Goldman and his ten-year-old son, Jason; and Domingo Montoya and his ten-year-old son Inigo. The fact that all three boys are ten years old . . . Read More
The Fantasy Novel
Goldman published The Princess Bride at a time when the fantasy novel was gaining popularity. Much of the new interest in fantasy was fueled by the success of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit (1937) and the Lord of the Rings trilogy (1954–55), which became extremely popular in the United States in the late 1960s. C. S. Lewis’s seven-volume Chronicles of Narnia (1950–56), written for children but also read by adults, also contributed to the growing interest in fantasy literature. The first great fantasy work to be published in the United States following the wave of interest in Tolkien was Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea Trilogy (1968–72), written for young adults but read by a far wider group for its psychological insight. The trilogy is set in the fantasy islands of Earthsea and shows the coming of age of a young wizard. Another of the most popular fantasy writers of the period was Terry Brooks, whose first book, The . . . Read More