Saturday, September 17, 2011

Lonesome Dove Character Profile of the Day: Pea Eye

Dumb as an ox; but self-aware enough to know this about himself and not be overly defensive about it. On the other hand, one of the hardest-working characters, very skilled at what he does, and essentially good-hearted and pure of spirit. There's not an unkind bone in his body. Pea Eye's 15 minutes of fame in the book came with his epic journey from the Indian attack on him and Gus back to the Hat Creek crew (and, therefore, to Gus's rescue). Pea Eye's essential goodness as a character, I would argue, made the story of his being led to safety by the spirit of a dead Deets both palatable and believable. I'd argue further that only Pea Eye's character could have carried this off in the novel. It just wouldn't have passed muster otherwise.

I'd also like to take this moment to compare Pea Eye to a modern political narrative: the dumb-as-an-ox redneck stereotype. When Sarah Palin gins up populist outrage over the elite's condescension towards what she would say is the heartland American, Pea Eye is the character that she probably means. However, what Sarah Palin doesn't really get is that the elitist condescension she often references is not one that is directed against the "Pea Eyes" of America, but rather against the self-absorbed cynics like herself who claim to be a "Pea Eye" equivalent, but who are really nothing of the sort. It's the abuse of the "Pea Eyes" of America by televangelists and Palin-esque politicians that earns elite contempt.

5 comments:

Eric said...

Pea Eye = Dumb as an ox redneck.

Elitist Condescension is directed at self-absorbed cynics, not dumb as ox rednecks.

Sarah Palin is recipient of elitist condescension (Mike Tyson notwithstanding).

Resolution: Sarah Palin cannot be a dumb-as-ox redneck.

Glad you finally figured it out!

Huck said...

Dang! I lost another comment. Oh, well ... trying again.

Your logic is flawed, and you know it.

What your logic implies is that Sarah Palin has to be either a self-absorbed cynic or a dumb as ox redneck. Even dumb as ox rednecks can also be self-absorbed cynics: witness the Lonesome Dove character who is the oldest brother of the gang that Jake Spoon ends up with. Thus, I posit the possibility that Sarah Palin is both.

Hence, elitist condescension towards Sarah Palin is directed at her self-absorbed cynicism, not at her dumb as ox redneck-ness.

Eric said...

Well it's good to know at not ALL of the the condescension is directed at her redneck-ness... although I do find a bit of irony in the idea cultural elitists pooh-poohing anyone for being self absorbed and cynical.

Huck said...

I do find a bit of irony in the idea cultural elitists pooh-poohing anyone for being self absorbed and cynical.

Touche. But at least we cultural elitists tend to own up to our pretensions, which is more than can be said for Sarah Palin, who never owns up to anything. If you really think Sarah Palin's story matches up to that of the inherent goodness of Pea Eye's story, I'd like to hear you argue it.

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