Re: RARA-AVIS: Noir and the Bible

From: Kerry J. Schooley (
Date: 17 Apr 2006

Well, there's morality and then there's morality, of course. But we're talking Christian morality. Certainly Spade did not throw over O'Shaughnessy because he believed in God. His reasoning was entirely practical: bad for business and he didn't have sufficient faith in her to support a romantic relationship. Entirely anti-Christian in my mind.

I think, if you go back into the RA archives you'll find one of the reasons suggested for the popularity of hardboiled and noir fiction at its origins was that it identified a loss of faith in institutions (governmental and religious) to deliver populations from horrific wars and economic want during the first half of the 20th Century.

I've already mentioned Postman. Nobody citing the vengeance of God there, that I can recall, unless God's ways are now revealed as not so mysterious auto accidents. Which I guess is my point. Noir characters may be punished for running afoul of the law, or various and sundry other powerful characters or institutions, or because the human condition is one of losing more than winning, but offhand only Pulp Fiction (if you'll forgive the digression) comes to mind as having a character who quotes spiritual scripture before delivering vengeance, and he quit the noir biz when he figured out what he'd been reciting. There are others I'm sure, but usually delivering Christianity through the barrel of a gun is meant to reveal hypocrisy, isn't it?

I think you're reading your own morality into noir.

Best, Kerry

At 03:15 PM 13/04/2006 -0700, you wrote:
>Kerry J. Schooley wrote:
>And I cannot think of any noir stories where
>characters are punished for their immorality.
>And I can think of very few where they aren't.

------------------------------------------------------ Literary events Calendar (South Ont.) The evil men do lives after them

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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 17 Apr 2006 EDT