What's In a Name?

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"She asked one last hting when they came down the mountain. When they came down the mountain she asked, what's the J. stand for? He told her" (389).

- Colson Whitehead, John Henry Days.

Throughout the novel, we've all wondered what the J. stood for in J's name. Obviously, it could stand for John Henry, but it could also stand for "John Smith," one of those general names exactly like the generality in John Henry's name.

Regardless, I was a very disappointed and jealous reader- why did Pamela get to know J's name, but I didn't. I've been growing with J. this entire time. Why can't I get into his head? Well, then I realized that the answer to this doesn't really matter all that much. Regardless of what J's real name is, the fact that he told Pamela kind of makes me speculate that he went to New York with her in the end. It seems like he trusted her enough to tell her his name. Also, his coworkers don't even know his real name. This could mean that he's ready to move onto something other than junketeering.


I had the same reaction! I kind of blogged about why it was important that we didn't know his name, but it still bothered me. I hate being left out of the loop about something. I like your idea, though, that him entrusting her his name was akin to entrusting her with his future.

JessicaOrlowski Author Profile Page said:

You put it a lot more eloquently than I did, Karyssa, but that was basically what I was getting at. There has to be a lot of trust involved. I wonder why he didn't tell his name in the first place. Well, say that his name is John Henry Sutter. He'd be trying to cover that up in order to avoid a comparison between himself and the man of "myth."

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JessicaOrlowski on What's In a Name?: You put it a lot more eloquent
Karyssa Blair on What's In a Name?: I had the same reaction! I kin