By John McGahern
Moran is an outdated Republican whose existence is remodeled endlessly by means of his days of glory as a guerrilla chief within the warfare of Independence. Now, in outdated age, dwelling out within the kingdom, Moran continues to be battling in a fight to come back to phrases with the previous.
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44, The Mysterious Stranger make way for Twain’s reckless expedition into the American racial imaginary and the irregular tempo of industrial life in the nineteenth century. For this reason, it supplies an expedient point of entry into the ways that texts on the margins of the genre cultivated detective fiction’s devices for their own purposes. Twain’s “cosmic” detection could not resemble the concise puzzle mystery that advances “the myth of the necessary chain,” taking as its only proper solution a single, unassailable “step-by-step path of logico-temporal recon- 30 dreams for dead bodies struction” (Porter 41).
44’s “strangeness” elucidates an infrastructure of racial competition nurtured in industrial life. His ambivalent entrenchment in the manuscript is instrumental, in other words, since Twain uses No. 44 to decipher and then detonate the industrial landscape. First, there is No. 44’s numeric brand—a stamp of industrial make— the sort of designation that treats factory men as indistinguishable from the machinery they operate. What is of additional interest, however, is the conjecture in Twain’s text that the number signifies he is a convict of some kind.
Their attempt to induce an angry reply from No. 44 is not something to marvel at; clearly it approximates those racist encounters in which the victim is compelled to insult his oppressor, thereby legitimating his or her own violent repression. ” According to August, the worker’s revenge reverses the stranglehold; he observes that Stein “was privately boiling over them; but he had to swallow his wrath” (265). The implication seems to be that in order to keep his men from striking, the master is himself struck dumb: “He must see nothing, hear nothing, of these wickednesses” or his ruin is imminent, but is it not the case that his failure to object to this hazing is the mark of a mercenary complicity?