“In a Conventional Dither”: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Camouflaged Critique of Race Relations at Mid-Century

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 “In a Conventional Dither”: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Camouflaged Critique of Race Relations at Mid-Century

Published in The Hopkins Review, New Series 5.3, Summer 2012 Issue

            Standard histories of the African American experience in America like John Hope Franklin’s or Manning Marable’s agree that in most respects the years 1949-51 fell in the middle of a fallow period.  The wave of political and social betterment for American blacks achieved during the New Deal and World War Two had crested, culminating with the 1947 admission of Jackie Robinson to the white major leagues and Harry Truman’s 1948 order integrating the Armed Forces.  After that, with few exceptions, the movement had reached a “one step back” moment.

Red Scare

            The Red Scare was largely to blame.  Segregationists could with remarkable success tag all integrationist aspirations as Communistic, via the syllogism that international Communism sought to destabilize the U.S., integration would differ from and hence be destabilizing to the existing state of affairs in much of the country, and hence integration was Communistic.

            Moreover, American Communists who had been, by all accounts, the most principled and consistent foes of Jim Crow laws and segregation in the workplace, were in full flight, being hunted into what would prove a permanent exile from the U.S. labor movement, academia, government, and entertainment.  Incidental to that purge was fratricidal infighting on the American left between Communists and anti-Communists which took a particularly heavy and distracting toll on the NAACP and Congress of Racial Equality.

            True, Charles Houston and Thurgood Marshall were continuing their careful case-by-case assault on the legal citadel of Jim Crow, an assault that would reach its apex in 1954 with Brown v. Board of Education, and Brown would change everything.  But while some of the five cases consolidated in Brown had already been filed by 1951, it is significant that in four of them segregation was upheld.  Fundamentally, Jim Crow laws and what might be called the Jim Crow state of mind, a sense that white privilege was a norm which could never fundamentally be overturned, continued to hold sway in 1949-51.

            The anti-Communist hysteria also had well-known implications in the world of entertainment.  Though the infamous Hollywood “blacklist” turned out not to affect Broadway employment much, there was so much travel back and forth between the venues that the habits of circumspection the Red Scare brought to Hollywood could hardly fail to affect Broadway productions.  And since, as noted, support for African American civil rights was viewed as a sign of Communist sympathies, it would not in turn be easy to espouse those civil rights on Broadway.

Indirection

            In short, during the three-year stretch in which Richard Rodgers’ and Oscar Hammerstein II’s South Pacific (1949) and The King and I (1951) reached the Broadway stage, theatrical expressions of support for the equality of black and white were a dicey proposition, courting charges of Communist sympathies.  And yet in these two musicals, lyricist and librettist Hammerstein found a way to voice that support.  However, in keeping with the times as well as his temperament, he did so by indirection, and also with what might be called camouflage: presenting the “destabilizing” message about race relations in a matrix that included remarkably conventional and reassuring, even retrograde, messages concerning the relations of the sexes and colonialism.  The conservative American Weltanschauung was being challenged, but only a little.  Both the indirection and the camouflage were bound up with the showmanship and the temperaments of Hammerstein and his collaborator Richard Rodgers.

            These two shows came at the fulcrum of R&H’s career.  Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II created eleven musicals over the years 1941-1959.  Five of them (Oklahoma!, Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I, and The Sound of Music) were indisputably great: game-changers as to the whole genre of the musical theater, long-running, sources of popular hits and standards, and destined to be revived continuously through the changing tastes and mores of the succeeding years.

Hammerstein the Integrationist

            As chronicled by Jim Lovensheimer, author of the phenomenally well-researched and insightful study South Pacific: Paradise Rewritten (2010), Hammerstein was an inveterate inegrationist.  He had been part of the Writers’ War Board, a group formed two days after Pearl Harbor whose official mission was to help sell war bonds, but which was also dedicated to fighting racial prejudice as a form of American fascism.[1] Before that, during his movie-writing years, he had been the chair of an “interracial commission” of the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League.[2]  Lovensheimer also recounts that Hammerstein served as a member of the Board of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People “from the late 1940s.”[3]  Yet R&H never wrote a great civil rights musical.  They never even wrote together a musical in which the rights and status of African Americans were directly addressed.

            Instead we have South Pacific and The King and I, two masterpieces that express abhorrence for American racial prejudice and segregation, which was mostly about black and white at that time.  Yet remarkably they do not include a single necessarily black character.  (There were at least two African American actors in the original South Pacific cast.  One was a member of the male chorus with no individual lines but given the name Abner, portrayed by Archie Savage,[4] who was given to jitterbugging, understood as a race-specific activity then.  The other was Juanita Hall, but portraying the Tonkinese Bloody Mary, not an African American character.)

            As is well-known, South Pacific was hewn from James A. Michener’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Tales of the South Pacific(1947), sometimes called a novel but really more a collection of related and interwoven short stories following a military campaign in the New Hebrides (the area being a part of the nation now known as Vanuatu).[5]  In the course of the book, various characters appear, disappear, and sometimes reappear.  There is no one coherent tale.  Of course that would hardly work for a musical, especially one of that era.  So a drama had to be located and shaped within that raw material.

Our Heroine

            The most important story chosen was “Our Heroine,” the story of the romance of Nellie Forbush, a Navy nurse who comes “from a small town in Arkansas,” (in the musical a self-described “little hick”) and Emile De Becque, expatriate French plantation-owner.  The dissimilarity of these characters was emphasized by R&H’s disparate original casting for these roles (Broadway-seasoned Texas gamine Mary Martin and Italian operatic basso Ezio Pinza).  The audience is asked, nay forced by the plangent power of Rodgers’ music and especially the song SOME ENCHANTED EVENING, to believe that these dissimilar souls are attracted, that they recognize something elementally alike in each other.  Hammerstein tries to make this more credible by giving Nellie a line not suggested by Michener: “We’re – we’re the same kind of people fundamentally – you and me.  We appreciate things! We get enthusiastic about things!”  This attempt to explain is both unnecessary (as Hammerstein the lyricist himself has Emile sing: “Fools give you reasons–/ Wise men never try”) and beside Michener’s point.  Michener makes it clear enough that what draws them together is an expatriate spirit, a willingness to cut ties with an old life and to make a new one in an out-of-the-expected, if beautiful place.  And ultimately R&H follow suit in that characterization.

            The conflict in “Our Heroine,” and what undoubtedly drew Hammerstein to the material, was of course racial, posed not by the white skins of Nellie or Emile, but by the multi-colored skins of Emile’s daughters, who are the products of Emile’s various extramarital liaisons: Javanese, Polynesian, and Tonkinese.  Nellie must learn to overcome the racism she was raised with to accept Emile’s children as step-children, and she very nearly does not.

Fo’ Dolla’

            The Michener story which Hammerstein chose as counterpoint to “Our Heroine” was by far the longest of the tales in the book, “Fo’ Dolla’,” which concerns a romance in which the parties are indeed of different colors: white and Philadelphia-and-Princeton aristocratic Marine Lt. Joe Cable and Tonkinese Liat.  All the chemistry is auspicious, and the love is never in question: “He and Liat were experiencing a passion that few couples on this earth are privileged to share.”  But he cannot see any way to bring her back into his Stateside life, and embraces the opportunity to escape from her provided by orders that move him to a different theater of combat.  We learn later, in the concluding pages of the concluding story, “A Cemetery at Hoga Point,” that Cable was so distraught over the experience that he effectively threw his life away by exhibiting excessive heroism invading a beachhead.

            So R&H had two stories, one with a happy outcome, one tragic, both demonstrating how racial prejudice can threaten romance.  And these became the core of the show.  Cumulatively, they illustrate the point that racism causes unhappiness, not only to the non-white Others and those who, like Emile, love them, but also to the racists themselves.  Nellie manages to overcome hers, thereby insuring her own happiness and that of Emile and his children.  Cable cannot, and so brings misery to Liat, who must marry a French planter she does not love, and destruction to himself.

The N-Word

            But this story is told without black people, at least without them being directly involved or placed on the stage in front of the audience.  This reflects what appears to be a similar pulling of punches in the source material.  Michener’s Emile has no fewer than eight daughters, with various mothers: Javanese (Indonesian), Polynesian, and Tonkinese (Vietnamese).  But this story takes place in the New Hebrides, whose natives are Melanesian.  Melanesian skins are blacker on average, than those of the mothers of Emile’s children.[6]  In his autobiography, Michener commented on the comparatively darker skin of Melanesians – and on his observation that whites generally find Polynesians comelier.[7]  One wonders whether Michener hesitated to have Emile actually fathering half-Melanesians, even in the midst of the New Hebrides where Melanesians predominated.

            On the other hand, perhaps Michener was making a tougher point in a roundabout way.  Michener’s Nellie, unlike Hammerstein’s, is aware, before she meets any of Emile’s eight children, that his children are of mixed race.  She decides to await an actual meeting to gauge her own reaction.  When she encounters his two Polynesian children, she clutches.  Michener makes the language harsh, and quite applicable to U.S. race relations: 

But before her were … indisputable facts!  Two of them!  Emile De Becque, not satisfied with Javanese and Tonkinese women, had also lived with a Polynesian.  A nigger!  To Nellie’s tutored mind any person living or dead who was not white or yellow was a nigger.  And beyond that no words could go!  Her entire Arkansas upbringing made it impossible for her to deny the teachings of her youth.  Emile  De Becque had lived with the nigger.  He had nigger children.  If she married him, they would be her step-daughters.  She suffered a revulsion which her lover could never understand.

Arguably, Nellie’s bracketing of Polynesians with American blacks as “niggers” more thoroughly illustrates the unreasoning quality of Nellie’s racism than would be possible if the children were part-Melanesian instead.

            In any case, there is no use of the n-word in Hammerstein’s adaptation and even the word “colored” was stripped from the 1949 script (though it was reinstated in the archival 2008 Lincoln Center production).  There are only two children, and only one mother (and she a deceased wife).  The children are half-Polynesian, and that in itself, bracketing aside, seems enough to turn Hammerstein’s Nellie away for a time.

 NELLIE          It means that I can’t marry you.  Do you understand?  I can’t marry you.

EMILE            Nellie– Because of my children?

NELLIE          Not because of your children.  They’re sweet.

EMILE            It is their Polynesian mother then–their mother and I.

NELLIE          … Yes.  I can’t help it.  It isn’t as if I could give you a good reason.  There is no reason.  This is emotional.  This is something that is born in me.[8]

 Cable, who has witnessed the exchange, then gives voice to the most pointed commentary Hammerstein permits himself in the musical, the song YOU’VE GOT TO BE CAREFULLY TAUGHT, a bombshell that lasts only 1:19 on the original cast recording.  The song concludes:

 You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate –
You’ve got to be carefully taught!
You’ve got to be carefully taught!

 It gives the lie to Nellie’s “born in me” excuse, and suggests the path to her redemption, which is a process of unlearning what she had been carefully taught.  And of course it would also be Cable’s path to redemption, could he but take it.  Again, not once is there anything explicitly about the American black-and-white situation, but the song is nonetheless aimed directly at it, and was naturally understood as such by the original audience.  R&H were under great pressure to remove even so elliptical a set of references to America’s racial problem by cutting the song during tryouts on the road, but stood their ground.

Unprivileged Others

            The pattern was repeated with The King and I.  If possible, the ostensible subject matter (the years spent by a British schoolteacher in the royal Siamese court in the 1860s instructing women and children of the harem) was even further from contemporary racial conflicts.  Yet the story is in a way even more on-point.

            In The King and I, the focus is on privilege, and the un-privileged Others are women, Southeast Asians, even whites – in fact everyone who is not the King himself is in a non-privileged status at some point vis-à-vis the King.  Even the King, it emerges, is un-privileged and suspect next to the monarchs of the European colonizing powers.

           U.S. race relations are explicitly dragged in only as a critique of gender relations in the Siamese court, via the “Small House of Uncle Thomas” pantomime and ballet, in which an American tale about race is presented as a Siamese story about monarchical privilege.  But every status disparity in The King and I, whether between men and women, Thais and Burmese, a king and his subjects, Simon Legree and Eliza, or Queen Victoria and King Mongkut, is shown an enemy to human potential and happiness.  It is hard to imagine a musical in which the baneful effects of privilege are more fully limned and pilloried.

            Of course, privilege is one thing and race relations somewhat separate. Nonetheless, what R&H saw in the story of Anna Leonowens and King Mongkut of Siam was an array of privilege issues that mirrored the privilege issues in U.S. race relations of that era.  Consider a few key aspects of the plot.

Unenforceable Rights

            The struggles between Anna and the King begin almost at once, as Anna discovers upon arrival at Bangkok that the contractually-stipulated house outside the palace will not be made available to her.  As the Kralahome, the prime minister, advises her: “King do not always remember what he promise.  If I tell him he break his promise, I will make anger in him.”  This pattern, whereby rights and interests of those with lesser privilege can be ignored by those with greater privilege, and then those with greater privilege can prevent grievances merely by avoiding or changing the subject, or preemptively forbidding the raising of a grievance at all, runs throughout the play.  It also parallels the kind of problem those fighting for African American rights kept encountering: an inability to lodge grievances.

            A concrete example of this problem in then-contemporary America was the way black sharecroppers would be cheated, and without appeal, by their landlords.  Isabel Wilkerson, in her recent study The Warmth of Other Suns (2010) recounts how at the annual accounting, black sharecroppers would regularly come up with no compensation at all, based on the landlord’s unchallengeable computations.  Wilkerson quotes anthropologist Hortense Powdermaker, who had studied sharecropping in the 1930s:

One reason for preferring Negro to white labor on plantations is the inability of the Negro to make or enforce demands for a just statement or any statement at all.  He may hope for protection, justice, honesty from his landlord, but he cannot demand them.  There is no force to back up a demand, neither the law, the vote nor public opinion.”[9]

Later, when Anna seizes an opportunity to address the King directly on the contract, she says: “Those were your words in your letter.”  The King replies: “I do not remember such words … I will do remembering.  Who is King?”[10]

Liberties

            As early as Scene 1.2, we are plunged into the story of Tuptim, a “gift” from the ruler of Burma to the King.  By singing MY LORD AND MASTER, Tuptim makes clear at once that, though she is dedicated to the King’s sexual service, her heart belongs to another, Lun Tha, the emissary who has brought her from Burma.  Of course, the chattel slavery which had enabled widespread sexual exploitation of African Americans by their white owners was gone from the American scene by 1951, but imbalances of power nearly as grotesque, many of them sexual, were everywhere to be seen.  Here is Wilkerson again, on the situation in Florida in the 1930s:

[C]olored men had little say over their wives since the days when slave masters could taken their women whenever they pleased and colored men could do nothing about it.  Planters were known to take the same liberties the slave masters had, and the contradictions were not lost on colored men: white men could do to colored women what colored men could be burned alive for doing to white women.[11]

            Anna also encounters, and expresses strong disapproval, of protocol which demands ritualized servility.  Anna’s take, expressed in SHALL I TELL YOU WHAT I THINK OF YOU?:

 All that bowing and kowtowing
To remind you of your royalty,
I find a most disgusting exhibition.
I wouldn’t ask a Siamese cat
To demonstrate his loyalty
By taking that ridiculous position!

In similar fashion, the best-known aspect of Jim Crow was the way it reinforced black servility by mandating it, enforcing that mandate by law and by lynching.  Once more Wilkerson, on the informal education of Southern black children of that era: “All this stepping off the sidewalk [when a white person was coming], not looking even in the direction of a white woman, the sirring and ma’aming and waiting until all the white people had been served before buying your ice cream cone, with violence and even death awaiting any misstep.”[12]

            And then, of course, there is the “Small House of Uncle Thomas” ballet, which makes the parallels explicit: the King’s regime is likened to that of “King Simon of Legree.”  This is not to say that the attack on privilege is nothing but an allegory of U.S. race relations, but it certainly is that.

Leonowens

            On this point it is instructive, as it was with R&H’s treatment of Michener, to see what use they made of their sources.  Here, the work was nominally adapted from Margaret Landon’s book Anna and the King of Siam (1944).  Landon’s book was itself largely an adaptation of Leonowens’ two volumes The English Governess at the Siamese Court (1870) and The Romance of the Harem (1872), and it is clear from many aspects of the musical that R&H had had access to Leonowens’ own books.[13]  Taking these sources together, they would have recognized Leonowens as a woman of many parts.  Leonowens was far more than a memoirist recounting her time at the court.  She was also vastly knowledgeable about Siamese history and geography.  She could turn her hand to travelogue, going into great detail, for instance, about a visit to Angkor Wat in Cambodia.  She provided interesting, if somewhat arch, observations on and comparisons of the religions practiced in Siam: not only Buddhism, but Hinduism and various stripes of Christianity.  She also had some talent as a Sheherezade, a spinner of exotic and sentimental tales, even if they are not all to modern taste.  Although she was far from innocent of European condescension to some of what she saw, it is also true that she found much to learn in Siam, and she was an apt pupil.  And even when she despised what she saw, she took the trouble to anatomize it carefully.  Chapter XXX of her second book is a long and minute description of the laws and customs regarding slavery in Siam; remarkably the summary is based on a code of slave laws provided her by the King himself.  In short, like the Anna of the lyrics of the musical, although not (I submit) the plot, she agreed that: “[I]f you become a teacher/ By your pupils you’ll be taught.”

            R&H were of course constrained by the demands of their medium to simplify this complex and accomplished woman enough so she would fit into two Broadway hours and provide a vehicle for Gertrude Lawrence into the bargain.  What was largely lost in the process was a sense of her self-sufficiency.  Leonowens does not expatiate on her widowhood.

“How many years your husband has been dead?” he asked.

I replied that his Excellency had no right to pry into my domestic concerns.  His business was with me as a governess only; on any other subject I declined conversing.”[14]

This exchange is somewhat reproduced in the musical, in Scene 1.1, but in the books Leonowens keeps her own stated counsel and says little more about her romantic past.  In the musical, though, she sings HELLO YOUNG LOVERS, and discloses her past love life to the women of the harem.  Clearly her deceased husband Tom remains central to her identity.  One thing this revelation does is provide a counterpoint to Tuptim’s previously mentioned MY LORD AND MASTER; it shows the superiority of freely-chosen love to the broken hearts and enforced sex that concubinage brings.  But it also diminishes the independence of Leonowens’ personality.  Actually, R&H do the same with the flight from the harem of Tuptim, who as both Leonowens and Landon depict her is not following a romantic dream built around a man but rather a quest for freedom.

Given A Pass

            Another liberty along these lines, of course, is the decision to put an entirely fictional element of romantic attraction into the relationship between Anna and the King.  They are given a moment to act like lovers in the grand polka SHALL WE DANCE?  And, via the tropes of romance, the King is also given a partial pass on all of his other abuses, when his head wife, Lady Thiang, sings SOMETHING WONDERFUL.  She is in love with him because of his yearnings to improve matters, even if matters don’t seem to have improved much on his watch.  It is a “Stand By Your Man” moment on a par with WHAT’S THE USE OF WOND’RIN’ from Carousel, giving the man a pass on all of his defects.  This treatment ignores that the King’s personal defects bring consequences for all his subjects.  The personal is far more political than this handling of it suggests.  Considering the ease with which his son and heir, Prince Chulalongkorn, ends kowtowing, with an edict before the dying King’s body is even cold, it seems as if the King’s failure to resolve any of the grievances against his regime is not so much a matter of incompetence as of design.  (The historical Chulalongkorn also ended slavery and concubinage.)

            Lovensheimer has well summarized the shifting message American society was giving women after World War II and during the early Cold War.  And the change is beautifully summarized in the last few minutes of the 1984 movie, Swing Shift, as the forcibly retired female aircraft assemblers are shown a propaganda film designed to make them feel good about being laid off to make room for returning male workers.  Rosie the Riveter was being eased out, and the domestic goddess, heroine of a thousand sitcoms, was the icon called upon to replace her.  Nellie Forbush, a forward-deployed Rosie, may be the type to, as she sings, “stand on my little flat feet,” but in the final image of South Pacific she becomes a materfamilias.  Henceforth her value will derive largely from Emile’s love, his flat feet.  She will become the stepmother of two legitimate children (rather than, as in the book, eight illegitimate ones).  Likewise, Anna’s stature is greater because she was loved once, and Tuptim’s story is largely about the value (and not the cost) of trying to love a man.

Reviving the Empire

            Similarly with the political message.  The old empires were dying at mid-century, but the fight to continue white cultural hegemony and the political influence of the former colonial powers was continuing.  Both musicals were set in what would soon be called the Third World, the object of a contest between East and West.  Each of these musicals conveys wholehearted support for the rightness and the continuation of white and Western influence and dominance.

            Consider again that same closing tableau in South Pacific.  Lovensheimer quotes tellingly from a study by Christina Klein on the subject.  This just-constituted family:

… invigorates an aging and weary France, gives provincial America access to the colonial sources of French wealth and prestige, and maintains the childlike Asians in a condition of security and dependence…. It visualizes and narrativizes America’s emerging role in Southeast Asia.[15]

Indeed.  Nor should it escape notice that part of the triumphant mood at the end of the musical owes to the spectacle of U.S. military forces enthusiastically moving out to occupy Third World turf.

Anna the Westernizer

            And it can be said that The King and I conveys a similar message in far more concentrated form.  Anna is hired specifically to bring a “scientific” Western body of knowledge and outlook to the children of the King, presumably members of the future Siamese/Thai ruling class including the next monarch.  She is also retained to assist the King with his correspondence and the related tricky business of helping the King put up a Westernized front to fend off impressions that he is a “barbarian” whose country is unfit (in the eyes of the colonial powers) to remain independent.  The one lesson we witness, Scene 1.4, is about demonstrating to the pupils how small Siam is (using, however, a Mercator projection map that unfairly minimizes Siam’s relative size).  The things she objects to in Siam are all signs of the country’s backwardness, and not matters of difference between equally valid cultures.

            There is no question that Leonowens despised slavery, but she also evidenced a great admiration for Siamese culture and took a somewhat relativistic approach to the various religions competing there.  And while R&H pay lip service to that outlook (“by your pupils you’ll be taught”), I can discern no evidence that the stage Anna actually learns anything beyond the information that comes with mere acquaintance.

            Instead, we see the King literally dying because he cannot bring himself absorb Anna’s westernizing lessons, while upon his demise his son, under Anna’s tutelage, proudly proclaims the changes Anna directed.  Anna, unlike the historical Leonowens, either of her memoirs or of Landon’s adaptation, remains on the scene.  Civilized Westerners need to stay on the scene to keep things from going awry.

Camouflage

            The messages that women are validated by their male and family relationships and that the West had an important role to play in the Third World would have been comforting, not challenging to even the sternest segregationists in the Broadway audiences of mid-century, and would have taken away a great deal of the sting and discomfort inflicted by the indirect messages about race relations.  And Rodgers and Hammerstein, master showmen, would have known this perfectly well.  We can argue about whether these sustained exercises in talking about a problem without mentioning it much are tours-de-forces or cowardly evasions.  But the artistry cannot be disputed.  When Nellie goes into “a conventional dither” about Emile, we are going to be swept along, and rendered defenseless against a few indirect lessons that might otherwise not be welcome.


[1].  Id., at 30-31.

[2].  Id., at 17-19.

[3].  Id., at 31.

[4].  Concerning Savage, see id., at 105.

[5].  Michener drops a great many hints as to the setting, some of them hard to reconcile.  His nameless narrator recounts that “I served in the South Pacific during the bitter days of ‘41 through ‘43,” and also mentions that he knew and dealt with various heroes of the Battle of Guadalcanal, which ended in February 1943.  Yet: a) there is no suggestion that the action takes place on Guadalcanal; and b) Guadalcanal is not in the New Hebrides, although it is in the South Pacific.  Operation Alligator, the campaign around which the book revolves, actually sounds a bit like the campaign up the “Slot” made possible by the success of the Guadalcanal campaign, but both the location and the timing are wrong.  As presented in the musical, the campaign resembles the beginning of the “Slot” campaign added to the actual history of the New Hebrides occupation as the U.S. military’s jumping-off point for Guadalcanal and the first land offensive of the War in the Pacific.  (To be clear, however, the Japanese never occupied the New Hebrides, and did not have to be driven out, so that no land fighting occurred until the campaign of the Solomons which began with Guadalcanal.  In other words, Alligator could not have occurred there, and a planter like Emile De Becque could not have used local knowledge to serve as a land watcher assisting such an operation.)  In his memoir, Michener speaks of having been an observer through much of the Slot campaign.

[6].  The reader can compare the opening scenes of The Thin Red Line, streamable on Netflix, based on James Jones’ novel, mainly about the invasion of Guadalcanal, but which starts out probably in the same general area as South Pacific does, showing some of the soldiers hanging out AWOL with Melanesians.  They do not look remotely Polynesian.

[7].  Michener, The World Is My Home: A Memoir (1992) at 35-36.

[8].  Scene 2.4.

[9].  Wilkerson at 54, quoting Powdermaker, After Freedom: A Cultural History of the Deep South (1939) at 86.

[10].  Scene 1.4.

[11].  Wilkerson, at 52.

[12].  Id., at 62.

[13].  For instance, as mentioned above, the first conflict appearing in the musical is over whether Anna can have her own house.  This fight is greatly downplayed in Landon’s book (where, from aught that appears the initial failure to comply may have been an oversight), Landon at 84, but it forms a major part of the early action in Leonowens’ first book, spilling over Chapters I, VII and VIII.

[14].  Leonowens, Chapter II.

[15].  Lovensheimer at Page 178, quoting Christina Klein, Cold War Orientalism: Asia in the Middlebrow Imagination, 1945-1961 (2003) at 168.

 Copyright (c) Jack L. B. Gohn

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