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Oliver’s Journey

January 11, 2011

 

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THE TRULY interesting thing about Oliver Twist is that no matter how much brutality and common vulgarity he encounters, his exquisite sensitiveness remains unchanged. This unfortunate bastard is raised under the most heartless of conditions in a parochial poorhouse, sold as an apprentice to an undertaker and then waylaid by a band of thieves, living in London’s “foul and frowsy dens, where vice is closely packed.” Yet through it all, he radiates a persuasive charm, sweetness and innocence. He possesses unshakable innocence. This is why Mr. Brownlow loves him and Mrs. Sowerberry hates him. His vengeful half-brother Monks senses his goodness, which makes Monks all the more determined.

That is the compelling theme of Charles Dickens’ immortal tale: a sensitive creature in a coarse world. A bureacratic world. A thieving world. A world where Mr. Bumble and Noah Claypole feel at home. Oliver’s youthfulness and sensitiveness are such that he cannot assert himself. He can only be good. Who can save him? Will it be great public projects of reform? Will it be new political parties or social movements? In the end, the thing that saves Oliver is other sensitive individuals. Who but Oliver would motivate the martyrdom of a shabby whore?

Nancy has no real reason to give her life for Oliver other than his goodness, which calls to mind her own lost innocence. Though she has been mistreated all her life, though she has lived “in the midst of cold and hunger, and riot and drunkenness,” Nancy is conscious of her own complicity. She is sensitive in a way that is both exalted and doomed, disappointed by her own sins and retaining love for a violent man because it is the only love she has experienced:

“Whether it is God’s wrath for the wrong I have done, I do not know; but I am drawn back to him [Sykes] through every suffering and ill usage; and should be, I believe, if I knew that I was about to die at his hand at last.”

She does die. Much would have been easier if Oliver had been a regular “jolter-headed” juvenile. Who then would have cared to save him from Fagin? Sensitiveness is a misfortune and a gift. Regardless, it is not something chosen. Oliver was born into a whirlwind. Unable to assert himself, he could only follow his own innocence through the shelterless streets of London.

 

Gratitude from a World of Just Friends

January 11, 2011

 

NICK writes:

I am donating to thank you for your very important work at The Thinking Housewife.

I’m a young, unmarried man (31), so I am beginning to feel the effects of the malaise you so meticulously describe. Meeting a family-oriented woman in the world of “young professionals” (where I find myself) is nigh impossible. Why don’t women want families anymore? What’s so great about that which they would have instead? Read More »

 

Women on the Front

January 11, 2011

 

LAST MONTH, a Congressional panel recommended that the Defense Department eliminate all restrictions on women serving in combat units. In doing so, the panel ignored the real-life experiences of women in the military. Here is an interesting description by one woman of her stint in boot camp in 1999. Catherine L. Aspy writes:

Combat is about war-fighting capacity and the morale of the unit. Here physical strength can be a life-and-death issue. And that is why the physical disparities between men and women cannot be ignored.

Physical differences in strength and endurance are not, of course, the only reason women should be barred from combat in any country serious about its defense. No amount of engineering or training can prevent men and women from forming exclusive bonds that interfere with group morale and cohesion. Why does this even need to be said? This is a phony debate. How can one sustain a debate when one side refuses to ackowledge basic realities? Read More »

 

Two Library Books

January 11, 2011

 

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ALAN writes:

Regarding lowered standards in public libraries, which were discussed here , here, here and here:

James Hilton’s 1941 novel Random Harvest stands today on library shelves next to a book called 10 Crack Commandments.   

Why is that?  It is because rubbish like 10 Crack Commandments is an example of the “diversity” Americans are now commanded to celebrate.  It is because people who now run public libraries are appeasers and acquiescers.  Literature and garbage are equivalent – that is what they are taught in Marxist-dominated colleges and universities and what they swallow whole.  By design or default, they now agree to accept trash fiction that would not have been purchased by any American library in 1959.    Read More »

 

The Problem with Coeducation

January 11, 2011

 

MODERN EDUCATION is based on a false assumption: that boys and girls learn at the same rate and in the same way. In fact, the sexes develop differently and possess distinct ways of viewing reality from an early age, as anyone with the slightest experience with children knows. This common sense has been so stifled we need major research to tell us what we refuse to acknowledge from experience.

Simon Baron-Cohen, the British psychologist who specializes in sex differences, recently wrote:

We know that the male brain is on average 8 per cent bigger than the female brain, even at as early as two weeks of age. But probably more important is that girls’ brains tend to develop faster than boys’. We know from studies using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) that girls peak about four years earlier than boys in terms of when they reach their maximum total brain volume and about two years earlier in terms of when they reach their maximum amount of “grey matter” in the brain. This important discovery tells us that, on average, girls mature at very different rates from boys.

Read More »

 
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