Black and White Jacksons

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  • 03 Sep 2015 at 4:57 am #7568

    Richard L.

    I’m late commenting on this thread, but I think, first, it should be pointed out that the white and black Jacksons with the identical names were historical members of the gang, and one of them black.

    Cormac McCarthy took the history and made it into one of his many parables. I certainly like the Iago/Othello connection, as well as the others discussed. But there is more here.

    I think it was Elisabeth Andersen (THE STRING IN THE MAZE: THE MYTHOS OF CORMAC MCCARTHY) who first framed the White and Black Jacksons as a parable, and I believe that she had the drift of McCarthy’s intent. As they ride on, the gang listens to the Judge and sheds itself of what Nietzsche called “slave morality.” Which is to say, they began yielding to ego in place of their previously held idealism, altruism, and humanism. And McCarthy has them kill every jailer they meet.

    White and Black Jackson share a national experience, but with the advent of his ego, the Black Jackson considers himself the peer of any man, and thus he draws the Fool tarot card, the every man card. When White Jackson seeks to control Black Jackson and make him eat with the other non-whites, Black Jackson revolts, thus refusing to conform to the slave morality.

    This identical scene is played out among two members of the crew in Jack London’s THE SEA WOLF, which McCarthy must have read at some point, their names being Johnson and Johanson, the two obvious poles in Nietzsche’s slave morality theory.

    McCarthy likes to recycle his parables, and thus in the White and Black of THE SUNSET EXPRESS, we have the names transposed but a similar view of slave morality leading nowhere, white or black.

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