Them backwards Europeans, makin a messa things agin.

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"Mrs. Shortley recalled a newsreel she had seen once of a small room piled high with bodies of dead naked people all in a heap... This was the kind of thing that was happening every day in Europe where they had not advanced as in this country, and watching from her vantage point, Mrs. Shortley had the sudden intuition that the Gobblehooks, like rats with typhoid fleas, could have carried all those murderous ways over the water with them directly to this place."
("The Displaced Person" p.199)

This passage does a good job of characterizing Mrs. Shortley as an ignorant xenophobe. This story had me pretty disgusted by all of the ignorance of the folk on Mrs. McIntyre's farm. Even though Mr. Guizac turns out to be a great worker, behind his back he is viewed as inferior, questioning if "he can drive a tractor when he don't know English." Europe as a whole is viewed as inferior, "mysterious and evil, the devil's experiment station." Mrs. McIntyre, once his biggest fan, turns on Mr. Guizac because he is so different ("The devil you know is better than the devil you don't"). She even reprimands him for trying to get Sulk to marry his cousin. My goodness, he's trying to bring more awful Europeans over! Mr. Guizac is eventually run over by a tractor, set drfiting by Mr. Shortley. I guess he got rid of the European menace. I hate xenophobia.

Learn to tolerate.

2 Comments

Maddie Gillespie said:

I completely agree with you. I have often heard it said that mankind fears that which it does not understand, and that is exactly what's happening in this story. Mrs. McIntyre and the rest of the farm hands can't understand Mr. Guizac's language or different ways. Therefore, they come to despise him behind his back, seeking to take him down a peg or two. Loving thy neighbor seemed to play a major role in this short story. Despite the video that Mrs. McIntyre had viewed, she was still close-minded about the Poles on her farm. Mr. and Mrs. Shortley saw the Poles as an invasion of sorts into their own territory. And in the end, Mrs. McIntyre was forced to sit day after day, listening to the old priest drone on about the Church's doctrines. Maybe she finally learned that you should take every opportunity to love thy neighbor (but we'll make an exception for the ax murderers!). This was a great entry!

Maddie Gillespie said:

I completely agree with you. I have often heard it said that mankind fears that which it does not understand, and that is exactly what's happening in this story. Mrs. McIntyre and the rest of the farm hands can't understand Mr. Guizac's language or different ways. Therefore, they come to despise him behind his back, seeking to take him down a peg or two. Loving thy neighbor seemed to play a major role in this short story. Despite the video that Mrs. McIntyre had viewed, she was still close-minded about the Poles on her farm. Mr. and Mrs. Shortley saw the Poles as an invasion of sorts into their own territory. And in the end, Mrs. McIntyre was forced to sit day after day, listening to the old priest drone on about the Church's doctrines. Maybe she finally learned that you should take every opportunity to love thy neighbor (but we'll make an exception for the ax murderers!). This was a great entry!

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