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Stephanie
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Cain

How does Cain justify his life as a slave catcher? Is Cain essentially an evil man or merely a man of his times?
Stephanie
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kiakar
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Re: Cain



Stephanie wrote:
How does Cain justify his life as a slave catcher? Is Cain essentially an evil man or merely a man of his times?




It is the law. I never felt his heart was into it, though. It was just a way to make money for his medicine. But he justified it by saying it was the law, which of course it was. Like now, when people disagree about laws, it is still prone to follow the law. As with helmets for motorcycles, seatbelts and so on. Of course, I am very strongly for these laws but some people can justify saying they are not and that it is taking their free choice away. It is true with any law, such as abortion is such a issue with us. They are such strong issues probably most of us can say, definitely the law should be this way or that way by the way they feel.
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IBIS
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Re: Cain

Cain does not want to be a gentleman farmer in Virginia, like his father. He has the natural tracking talents to be a hunter. Being a slave catcher is a legitimate and very lucrative way for him to earn his living. What other job, legal or otherwise, could earn him more than a year's wages for a couple of weeks' work?

Cain is a man of his times. He fought, and got wounded, in a war for which he felt no personal allegiance; he believes in a skewed code of honor that his father, and his times taught him. He is kind to others as long as it's not an inconvenience to him ... for example, he donates a clean pair of socks; and he pays the boy for the eggs they ate.

While not actively evil, in contrast to Preacher, he passively allows evil to occur when Preacher tortures the young boy in his presence. Cain's melancholic temperament shapes his behavior. Except for the memories he has of the two women he has loved, there is very little that motivates him.

I'm only up to page 80 of the book, so I don't know what will happen to Cain as the novel moves forward. I hope that on his journey he will find something or someone who will motivate him.
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
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MichaelCWhite
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Re: Cain

I concur with your assessments of Cain. He is a man of his times, neither as bad as Preacher nor as good as some of those he comes in contact with. And like a lot of people, he justifies what he suspects is wrong by following the strict code of the law. He is a passive supporter of slavery (as he will later be told by one of the characters in the novel) Without spoiling the book for anyone, Cain will, more and more, be forced to make his own decisions and arrive at his own moral code.

Michael


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vivico1
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Re: Cain

You know what I think would be an interesting thread is one about Cain and his relationship to women. In many ways,there seems to be a pattern developing between his love for his dead mother and the women he comes into contact with. I will have to think on that one some more lol.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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MichaelCWhite
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Re: Cain

Vivian,

A great discussion topic, Cain's women. I've talked to and with groups about this subject, and will be interested in hearing what you all have to say.

Michael


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vivico1
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Re: Cain


MichaelCWhite wrote:
Vivian,

A great discussion topic, Cain's women. I've talked to and with groups about this subject, and will be interested in hearing what you all have to say.

Michael


Well lets start its own thread then :smileywink:. I'll set one up.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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vivico1
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Re: Cain


Stephanie wrote:
How does Cain justify his life as a slave catcher? Is Cain essentially an evil man or merely a man of his times?


I agree that Cain is basically just a man of his times. He is not really an evil man, nor is he a heroic man. He has had his fill of being a Slave Catcher but as long as he keeps his distance from the slaves he goes after, keeps his indifference, he can do it with great skill when he is in need of some bucks. There is some irony in that tho you know? If you can justify what you do by it being the law and following it, by it being just part of the Southerner's life, if you can pass it off as a necessary thing and justifiable, after all as he says several times, he is going to return someone's "property", then there is a problem with his reasoning that in one sense does make him evil. And that is, if its all ok and justifiable, why does Cain know he needs to stay distant from the negroes he catches? Why does he not want to know about their lives? Could it be that he is worried he will care? And why would he care if he didn't already know its an inherently evil thing, to own another human and not see them as such? Kind of a catch 22 there. But too, the fact that he knows this, that its safer for him to keep a distance from them, also means there is hope for Cain to change. The seed is there, if he lets down his guard, someone can nourish that seed and Cain can become more than he is.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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kiakar
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Re: Cain



vivico1 wrote:

Stephanie wrote:
How does Cain justify his life as a slave catcher? Is Cain essentially an evil man or merely a man of his times?


I agree that Cain is basically just a man of his times. He is not really an evil man, nor is he a heroic man. He has had his fill of being a Slave Catcher but as long as he keeps his distance from the slaves he goes after, keeps his indifference, he can do it with great skill when he is in need of some bucks. There is some irony in that tho you know? If you can justify what you do by it being the law and following it, by it being just part of the Southerner's life, if you can pass it off as a necessary thing and justifiable, after all as he says several times, he is going to return someone's "property", then there is a problem with his reasoning that in one sense does make him evil. And that is, if its all ok and justifiable, why does Cain know he needs to stay distant from the negroes he catches? Why does he not want to know about their lives? Could it be that he is worried he will care? And why would he care if he didn't already know its an inherently evil thing, to own another human and not see them as such? Kind of a catch 22 there. But too, the fact that he knows this, that its safer for him to keep a distance from them, also means there is hope for Cain to change. The seed is there, if he lets down his guard, someone can nourish that seed and Cain can become more than he is.




Viv, I think too, he is not letting himself think about the lives that the slaves have lived . He lacks confidence in himself, he wants to feel the law is justified and he is justified in tracking slaves because this is a way to make money. He needs his medicine.
Cain had feelings, that could plunge out of him like pouring rain, if he let himself feel the pain the slave felt. He fought this feeling by staying away from them,for awhile.

I think it makes for a wonderful story, the feelings Cain had for his mother. He remembers only loving moments and memories of her and this shows constantly in the envolvement he has with the Indian girl and Rosetta. It seems the women are chopping away some of the toughness that surrounds Cain's heart since the memories of his mom fades from his memory as time gathers space between them.
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MichaelCWhite
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Re: Cain

A good point. The women in Cain's life do touch him in ways he can't deny or pretend that he doesn't feel. His mother, the Indian girl, and finally Rosetta--they all do "chip" away at that harden crust he has protected himself with. The drinking, the laudanum, the gambling are all ways for Cain to avoid feeling, avoid having to make himself vulnerable. Regarding the slave catching and his feeling for slaves. Cain said that he was never mean nor cruel to slave, would even talk to them to pass the time. But he never really wanted to get into their lives, and he certainly didn't want to know what would happen to them after he brought them back. Cain, like many of us, try to gloss over the things of our lives that would make us feel bad.

Michael


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Fozzie
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Re: Cain



Stephanie wrote:
Is Cain essentially an evil man or merely a man of his times?



Cain is not an evil man. He is a morally ambiguous character and does not represent either good or evil, but, rather, a mixture of morality. Being a slave catcher is not an illegal profession, but is not a good (versus evil) profession either. On the spectrum of slave catchers, Cain is not like the others, as even Rosetta realizes. He leans more toward the good.

I liked having the main character be morally ambiguous, as opposed to someone like Preacher. I could not stomach an entire book about Preacher, but more than that, the character of Cain allows me to sympathize with him and wonder what I would do in his shoes (even though I can hardly imagine myself in his shoes --- LOL). A morally ambiguous character makes me think about and debate issues presented in the book.
Laura

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MichaelCWhite
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Re: Cain

Laura,

Cain is morally "ambiguous." I found trying to make him more morally appealing the heart of the novel.

Michael


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