Re: RARA-AVIS: Surprise Endings (was "Unreliable narrator")

From: Karin Montin (
Date: 12 Nov 2005

No racism in Cain? The slurs against Mexicans and the Greek café ¯wner (husband) bothered me when I read the book a few years ago. Cora is insistent that she's not a "Mex," that she's white, and the Greek is called greasy over and over. These remarks serve to build the characters, yet our sympathies are supposed to lie with the narrator, at least at the beginning.

In my humble opinion, The Postman Always Rings Twice is vastly overrated. Cain, unlike Agatha Christie, was a two-hit wonder. I know he wrote more but everyone thinks immediately of Postman and Double Indemnity. I think the movies based on those two Cain novels were better than the books.

Looking for a Cain quote, I found this interesting Anthology of Thirties Prose, which includes essays, short stories (I think) and excerpts from novels, divided into various sections, including one on hobos and tramps. Authors discussed in Rara-Avis are among them (Ahlgren, Cain, McCoy, West and more):


At 19:43 12/11/05 -0500, you wrote:

>I think Hammet is much worse on the racism/misogyny than other writers of
>that period because of the casual assumptions that fall into the background. It's
>fine to have a character who's a racist, as a character flaw, but it bugs me
>how it's not really a purposeful point in the Maltese Falcon. Notice that
>Cain, being in the same era, has no racism, and his women might be bad, but
>they're not weak.

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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 12 Nov 2005 EST