Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: can noir writers advocate social reform?

From: Kerry J. Schooley (
Date: 30 Nov 2006

At 08:44 AM 29/11/2006 -0800, you wrote:

>Kerry, note that I said: "*sometimes* the noir character
>has been moral and has had integrity right up until the
>point that he or she becomes obsessed or has a need that
>draws him into the vortex ..."
>By my definition, noir=doomed, and yes, most of doomed by a
>character flaw, but note that I said "sometimes."

Right, and my fault. I remembered you saying, either at Bouchercon or here or both, that we differed on something near this end of things. I think now it was that you weren't convinced that noir reflected my conviction that the certainty of death is the ultimate expression of that doom. (Have I've got it right, now?) Anyway, with that in mind I applied your "sometimes" more to the notion of doom than to the cause of it. I apologize for the misinterpretation.

I agree, too, with your observation about everyone having character flaws as being consistent with the noir vision. And then there are external factors to bring the protagonist down, as well, though that's all part of the same thing. But the lack of perfection brushes up against the idea of the protagonist trying to do a purely good deed, and being brought down. Motives are suspect at the best of times, and seldom single-minded or purely without self interest. But we might argue that the drifter in Postman is as innocent as we might reasonably expect anyone to be, and that it is his guilt and ambivalence about the deed that makes it so difficult for him to kill his benefactor. He does seem more conflicted about killing the husband than the detective. Dunno. Just a thought.

Best, Kerry

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