From: Robison Michael R CNIN (
Date: 05 Aug 2002

Mario said: I don't think Himes used "moter-raper" to circumvent censorship. I suspect this was a favorite term of his. Maybe it was common in his formative years, though I have never seen it used anywhere. As Mark says, "mother-raper" is not quaint, it is at least as offensive as
"motherfucker", and it calls attention to itself, so it would fail as a euphemism or cloak. Himes doesn't shy away from foul language. His characters have a full repertoire and use it well.

*********** I've only read the one, _Cotton Comes to Harlem_, but to me "mother-raper" seemed an obvious censorship-induced substitute for "motherfucker". Nobody said "motherfucker". Everybody said "mother-raper". Seemed unnatural and forced to me. Also, the "f" word appeared nowhere in the book, either as a standalone or as a combo.

The only place i can recall "mother-raper" is in a non- hardboiled song by Arlo Guthrie, "Alice's Restaurant," and I believe he upped the ante with father-raper and one or two other colorful variations.


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