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Character Names 
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Heinlein Biographer

Joined: Thu Apr 10, 2008 1:33 pm
Posts: 1024
Post Re: Character Names
James Gifford wrote:
RAH did "ethnic slice" name lists like this a couple of times, but this is the archetype. Do remember that the story was written in 1948; you have to cut him some slack for what are very un-PC naming assumptions.

There is more there than meets the eye, too. While "Slappey" might seem like Stepin's dumb cousin, there was a series of short stories and other works about a "colored" detective in Harlem in the 1920s - Florian Slappey. Here:

http://www.thrillingdetective.com/slappey.html

As much as RAH might have been playing off a stereotyped name for race recognition, he might have been gently elevating the name to a loftier position as well.

Think "G. Stephen Fetchit, the doctor who found the cure for cancer."

PS - while noodling around for info on Slappey, I came across an Atlanta personal injury law firm named Slappey and Sadd. *Serious* keyboard.

Second Jim's comment. In 1948 to place an obvious Black in a heroic context was nyet kulturni. (Come to think of it, hadn't Kingsblood Royal just been published? Nearly destroyed Lewis as a commercial property -- and his previous books had been first-issued in lots of 200,000 copies). It was a daring thing to talk about "The Negro Problem" in public in any fashion -- and six or seven years later, Miss Dalgliesh stated firmly that the conspicuously Negro character in Tunnel in the Sky (Caroline) would lose them the sales of the entire South (and this was before she knew Rod Walker was intended to be Negro, as well).


Fri Jan 23, 2009 9:09 am
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