Miller, Resurrection Blues

Henri, the philosopher of this story, can’t seem to make up his mind about anything. At first, he adamantly protests the crucifixion of the rebel. But then, when he goes to meet Skip, he tells him,

“This man must be hunted down and crucified; because– he still really feels everything. Imagine, Mr. Cheeseboro, if that kind of reverence for life should spread!” (76).

The “he still really feels everything” part is italicized, like Miller’s stage directions, which gives it two possible meanings: either it is said by Henri, referring to the rebel’s feelings, or it is a stage direction describing Henri’s own emotional state as he says the next line about reverence for life.

What brought about this sudden (and passing) change in Henri? He goes from begging Felix to leave this man alone to insisting to greedy Skip that the rebel must be crucified for the world to go on. And yet, he is also trying to persuade Skip to leave in the meantime. So what is the meaning of his seemingly contradictory statement here?

Henri is taking a satirical jab at Skip with this line, as in, “oh, we wouldn’t want love of life to spread, so we better crucify him before it does.” His statement is really about having to crucify the rebel so that the government and views of the people can continue as they are, not because it is something he truly believes. As the profound thinker, it is only his nature to bring up all sides of an issue, and to support his reasoning with confusing allegories, too. It’s his role.

Source: Miller, Resurrection Blues

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