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October 16, 2008

Perception

Chamberlain: "Buster, tell me something. What do you think of Negroes?"

Kilrain: "There are some who are unpopular,"

"Well, if you mean the race, well, I don't really know."

"I have reservations, I will admit. As many a man does. As you well know. This is not a thing to be ashamed of. But the thing is, you cannot judge a race. Any man who judges by the group is a peawit. You take men one at a time, and I've seen a few blacks that earned my respect. A few. Not many, but a few."

Chamberlain: "To me there was never any difference."

Kilrain: "None at all?"

Chamberlain: "None. Of course, I didn't know that many. But those I knew...well, you looked in the eye and there was a man. There was the divine spark, as my mother used to say. That was all there was to it...all there is to it.

Kilrain: (smiling) "Colonel, you're a lovely man."

"I see at last a great difference between us, and yet I admire ye, lad. You're an idealist, praise be."

"The truth is Colonel, that there's no divine spark, bless you. There's many a man alive no more alive than a dead dog. Believe me, when you've seen them hang each other.... Equality? Christ in Heaven. What I'm fighting for is the right to prove I'm a better man than many. Where have you seen this divine spark in operation, Colonel? Where have you noted this magnificent equality?

The Great White Joker in the Sky dooms us all to stupidity or poverty from birth. No two things on earth are equal or have an equal chance, not a leaf nor a tree. There's many a man worse than me, and some better, but I don't think race or country matter a damn.

What matters is justice.

'Tis why I'm here. I'll be treated as I deserve, not as my father deserved. I'm Kilrain, and I God damn all gentlemen. I don't know who me father was and I don't give a damn. There's only one aristocracy, and that's right here --" [taps his skull with a thick finger]

"And you, Colonel laddie, are a memeber of it and don't even know it. You are damned good at everything I've seen you do, a lovely soldier, an honest man, and you got a good heart on you too, which is rare in clever men. Strange thing, I'm not a clever man meself, but I know it when I run across it. The strange and marvelous thing about you. Colonel darlin', is that you believe in mankind, even preachers, whereas when you've got my great experience of the world you will have learned that good men are rare, much rarer than you think. Ah ... don't you worry about ministers. The more you kill, the more you do the world a service."

Chamberlain: "What has been done to the black is a terrible thing."

Kilrain: "True. From any point of view. But your freed black will turn out no better than many the white that's fighting to free him. The point is that we have a country where the past cannot keep a good man in chains, and that's the nature of the war. It's the aristocracy I'm after. All that lovely, plumed, stinking chivalry. The people who look at you like a piece of filth, a cockroach, ah."

"I tell you, Colonel, we got to win this war."

"What will happen, do you think, if we lose? Do you think the country will ever get back together again?"

Chamberlain: "Doubt it. Wound is too deep. The differences.... If they win there'll be two countries, like France and Germany in Europe, and the border will be armed. Then there'll be a third country in the West, and that one will be the balance of power."

Kilrain: "They used to have signs on tavern doors: Dogs and Irishmen keep out. You ever see them signs, Colonel?"

Chamberlain nods.

Kilrain: "They burned a Catholic church up your way not long ago. With some nuns in it."

Chamberlain: "Yes."

Kilrain: "There was a divine spark."

Posted by Cassandra at October 16, 2008 06:35 PM

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Comments

Ah, One of my favorite books.

Gettysburg is one of the two haunted places I've seen on this Earth.

Posted by: N. O'Brain at October 16, 2008 07:49 PM

Amen.

Posted by: Cass at October 16, 2008 08:57 PM

Each of the great battlefields -- those where men fought for something, not just because the Prince willed they do so -- are haunted.

At Omaha Beach, on Spring mornings when dawn comes gray and overcast, even the gulls are silent...

Posted by: BillT at October 16, 2008 11:17 PM

Hey Bill, why are the French in Flanders or Norway different from the French around Paris?

Posted by: Ymarsakar at October 16, 2008 11:22 PM

Did I say Norway? I meant Normandy.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at October 16, 2008 11:22 PM

Ummmm -- lemme guess. The French around Paris are called Frenchmen and the French in Flanders are called Belgians?

Posted by: BillT at October 17, 2008 01:16 AM

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