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The role of black humour in the plays of George F. Walker Walsh, Una Therese 1984

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THE ROLE OF BLACK HUMOUR IN THE PLAYS OF GEORGE F. WALKER by UNA THERESE ^WALSH B.A. U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a , 1 9 8 2 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS i n THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department o f T h e a t r e ) We a c c e p t t h i s t h e s i s as c o n f o r m i n g t o j b h e / i r e q u i r e d s t a n d a r d THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA A u g u s t , 1 9 8 4 (5 ) Una T h e r e s e Walsh, 1 9 8 4 I n p r e s e n t i n g t h i s t h e s i s i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t o f t h e r e q u i r e m e n t s f o r an a d v a n c e d d e g r e e a t t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a , I a g r e e t h a t t h e L i b r a r y s h a l l make i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r r e f e r e n c e a n d s t u d y . I f u r t h e r a g r e e t h a t p e r m i s s i o n f o r e x t e n s i v e c o p y i n g o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y p u r p o s e s may be g r a n t e d b y t h e h e a d o f my d e p a r t m e n t o r b y h i s o r h e r r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s . I t i s u n d e r s t o o d t h a t c o p y i n g o r p u b l i c a t i o n o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r f i n a n c i a l g a i n s h a l l n o t be a l l o w e d w i t h o u t my w r i t t e n p e r m i s s i o n . D e p a r t m e n t o f / j  The U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a 1956 Main M a l l V a n c o u v e r , C a n a d a V6T 1Y3 DE -6 (3/81) ABSTRACT The w o r l d p o s i t e d by George F. Walker i n h i s p l a y s i s u n r e l e n t i n g l y c h a o t i c ; i t houses b o t h good and e v i l , b o t h j u s t i c e and i n j u s t i c e . The e q u i v o c a l and a r b i t r a r y n a t u r e o f t h i s u n i v e r s e , however, g r a n t s p r i o r i t y t o no v a l u e system. M o r a l i t y and t r u t h a r e no l o n g e r a b s o l u t e s i n Walker's w o r l d ; l i k e e v e r y t h i n g e l s e t h e y a r e r e l a t i v e and f l u i d . Walker's p l a y s , l i k e many t w e n t i e t h c e n t u r y works con-s i d e r the i m p l i c a t i o n s o f l i v i n g i n a g o d l e s s , s i l e n t u n i -v e r s e . The i n c o m p r e h e n s i b l e and i r r a t i o n a l w o r l d which e n v e l o p e s h i s c h a r a c t e r s bears much resemblance t o the abs u r d w o r l d o f A l b e r t Camus' The Myth o f S i s y p h u s . Walker's response t o t h i s w o r l d , however, i s d i f f e r e n t from t h a t o f Camus. Whereas Camus sees l i b e r a t i o n i n the ac c e p t a n c e o f man's absu r d c o n d i t i o n Walker does n o t . L i b e r a t i o n , f o r Walker, r a t h e r , l i e s i n the a b i l i t y t o t r a n s c e n d t h i s ab-s u r d i t y t h r o u g h l a u g h t e r . Walker's c h a r a c t e r s a r e f o r the most p a r t d e f e a t e d , y e t h i s v i s i o n i s n o t t o t a l l y b l e a k . As a b l a c k h u m o u r i s t Walker i s a b l e t o evoke b o t h "the comic and the t e r r i f y i n g . " Man's i s o l a t i o n and a l i e n a t i o n w i t h i n the l a r g e r expanse thus i s s i m u l t a n e o u s l y e x p e r i e n c e d as bot h h o r r i f y i n g and humourous. B l a c k humour as a term i s d i f f i c u l t t o d e f i n e . W h i l e many d i s a g r e e on i t s nuances, most would agree t h a t i t c o n t a i n s w i t h i n i t a j u x t a p o s i t i o n o f i n c o m p a t i b l e s . Walker' p l a y s d i s p l a y and e x p l o i t a v e r y b l a c k humour - though h i s t e c h n i q u e may d i f f e r s l i g h t l y i n each. I t i s t h e purpose o f t h i s s tudy t o examine the r e l a t i o n s h i p o f t h e s e t e c h n i q u e s t o the mood of b l a c k humour and t o the l a r g e r p h i l o s o p h i c a l v i s i o n w hich i t s u p p o r t s . To be examined here a r e the t r a d i t i o n s o f the T h e a t r e o f the A b s u r d , t h e Grotesque and Parody. Chapter One w i l l d e a l w i t h two e a r l y p l a y s , Ambush a t T e t h e r ' s End and Bagdad  Saloon and t h e i r p o s i t i o n w i t h i n t h e canon o f " a b s u r d i s t " p l a y s . Chapter Two w i l l examine Beyond Mozambique as a p i e c e o f g r o t e s q u e l i t e r a t u r e and Chapter Three w i l l a n a l y z e T h e a t r e of the F i l m N o i r as an example of b l a c k humour parody These d i s c u s s i o n s w i l l c o n s i d e r why b l a c k humour i s e s s e n t i a l t o the p l a y ' s s t r u c t u r e s and t o what e x t e n t i t shapes t h e i r v i s i o n . TABLE OF CONTENTS Page ABSTRACT i i INTRODUCTION . 1 Notes 15 CHAPTER I Ambush a t T e t h e r ' s End and Bagdad Sa loon 18 Notes 4 6 CHAPTER II Beyond Mozambique 48 Notes 68 CHAPTER III Theat re o f the F i l m N o i r 70 Notes. 88 CONCLUSION 90 BIBLIOGRAPHY 96 i v 1 INTRODUCTION The p l a y s o f George F. Walker, a l t h o u g h v a r i e d i n form and s t y l e , s h a r e the same p h i l o s o p h i c a l p r e m i s e . Each o f h i s p l a y s p o s i t s a w o r l d t h a t i s p r i m a r i l y c h a o t i c and u n i n t e l l i g i b l e . D evoid o f a b s o l u t e s and c e r t a i n t i e s , t h i s u n i v e r s e d e f i e s a l l s t r u c t u r e s which man t r i e s t o impose on i t . The i n d i v i d u a l i n Walker's p l a y s i s i n v a r i a b l y p i t t e d against the overwhelming power o f a c a p r i c i o u s cosmos. " I am the absence o f God," Rocco o f Beyond Mozambique s t a t e s the God which i s l a c k i n g i n Walker's u n i v e r s e i s one o f o r d e r , p r e d i c t a b i l i t y and s a l v a t i o n . S i l e n t and c r u e l b e f o r e a l l c r i e s f o r c l a r i f i c a t i o n , t he " v a s t i r r a t i o n a l " v/hich s u r r o u n d s Walker's c h a r a c t e r s i s s i m i l a r t o the one evoked by Camus i n The Myth o f S i s y p h u s . Walker's t h e a t r i c a l i z a t i o n o f t h i s Camusian sense o f a b s u r d i t y t a k e s many shapes. L i k e the p l a y w r i g h t s whom M a r t i n E s s l i n c l a s s e d as " a b s u r d i s t , " Walker s t r i v e s t o e x p r e s s "the s e n s e l e s s n e s s o f t h e human c o n d i t i o n and t h e inadequacy o f t h e r a t i o n a l : " ' ' " P h i l i p Thomson i n h i s book The Grotesque o b s e r v e s t h a t "the f o r m a l means o f p r e s e n t i n g i t (the absurd) are many and v a r i e d : " t h e The a t r e o f the Absurd b e i n g but one mani-2 t e s t a t i o n o f the p e r c e i v e d phenomenon. Thomson f u r t h e r s u g g e s t s t h a t " c o n s i s t e n t p e r c e p t i o n o f the g r o t e s q u e , o r t h e p e r c e p t i o n o f g r o t e s q u e n e s s on a grand s c a l e can l e a d t o the 2 n o t i o n o f u n i v e r s a l a b s u r d i t y ' • " Walker's p l a y Beyond  Mozambique i s perhaps t h e b e s t example o f "grotesqueness on a grand s c a l e " . E v o k i n g b o t h "the comic and the t e r r i f y i n g " i t p r e s e n t s a w o r l d c o m p l e t e l y o u t o f j o i n t . T h i s " r e j e c t i o n o f r a t i o n a l d e v i c e s " which t y p i f i e s b o t h the absurd and the g r o t e s q u e most n a t u r a l l y i n c l u d e s a r e v i s i o n o f form. T r a d i t i o n a l forms such as the well-made p l a y , t r a g e d y , comedy and melodrama which a t t e m p t t o o r g a n i z e t h e chaos, a r e r e j e c t e d by p r a c t i t i o n e r s o f the s e s t y l e s . I n t h e i r p l a c e i s found a s t r u c t u r e w h i c h a t t e m p t s i n s t e a d t o m i r r o r and r e f l e c t t h i s chaos. Parody i s o f t e n t h e c o n s t r u c t chosen t o e f f e c t t h i s . By u n d e r m i n i n g the v a l u e system i m p l i c i t i n the a r t form w h i c h he i s i m i t a t i n g the w r i t e r w i l l i n e v i t a b l y d i s c r e d i t the form as w e l l . E x p e r i m e n t a t i o n w i t h genre i s t y p i c a l o f many o f Walker's p l a y s . Walker, h i m s e l f , admits t h i s ; " I l i k e w r i t i n g i n genre because i t i m p l i e s a d i s c i p l i n e t h a t you e i t h e r have t o break o u t o f o r work w i t h o r use i n some o t h e r way'."".^ Absurd c h a r a c t e r s , g r o t e s q u e happenings and p a r o d i c s t y l e a r e a l l h a l l m a r k s o f Walker's work. Each i s used i n such a way as t o s u p p o r t the o v e r a l l p r e s e n t a t i o n o f an i r r a t i o n a l u n i v e r s e w h i c h s t r i p s man o f h i s autonomy. Though Walker's v i s i o n i s b l e a k , h i s t e c h n i q u e i s u n r e m i t t i n g l y comic. T h i s m i x t u r e o f "the s e r i o u s and t h e comic" p l a c e s Walker f i r m l y i n the t r a d i t i o n o f b l a c k humour. As a b l a c k h u m o u r i s t , Walker e x p l o i t s the l i t e r a t u r e s o f the a b s u r d , the g r o t e s q u e and parody t o t h e a t r i c a l i z e and e n e r g i z e h i s p a r t i c u l a r 3 p e r c e p t i o n o f the human c o n d i t i o n . D u r i n g the l a t e s i x t i e s and e a r l y s e v e n t i e s many c r i t i c s were a t t e m p t i n g t o d e f i n e and s p e c i f y the b o u n d a r i e s o f t h e l a t e s t o f l i t e r a r y terms: b l a c k humour. I t s l i t e r a r y o r i g i n s , t h e s t y l e o f i t s p r a c t i t i o n e r s , and the p h i l o s o p h i c a l v i s i o n a t i t s c o r e were a v i d l y d e b a t e d . P r e d i c t a b l y , w i t h each new i n t e r p r e t e r the d e m a r c a t i o n s expanded o r c o n t r a c t e d t o s u i t the argument. Some, l i k e Max S c h u l z f e l t t h a t the movement was s o c i o l o g i c a l and c o u l d c o n s e q u e n t l y be r e g a r d e d as a 5 " p r e d o m i n a n t l y American phenomenon o f t h e s i x t i e s . " O t h e r s , l i k e R o b e r t S c h o l e s w h i l e a c k n o w l e d g i n g the movement as modern f e l t t h a t i t was n o n e t h e l e s s "a development i n a c o n t i n u i n g t r a d i t i o n . " K o j i Numasawa c l a s s e d b l a c k humour as a f u l l - f l e d g e d " l i t e r a r y genre" w h i l e Mathew Winston p r e -7 f e r r e d t o d e f i n e i t as m e r e l y "a t o n e . " The s o c i o l o g i c a l i m p l i c a t i o n s o f b l a c k humour were a l s o d i s p u t e d . B u r t o n Feldman c l a i m e d t h a t " i t w ishes t o r e f o r m " and f e l t i t s enemy t o be "American c u l t u r e i n a l l i t s p e r m i s s i v e r e s t r i c t i o n s and 8 g l o s s y e m p t i n e s s . " Hamlin H i l l w h i l e a g r e e i n g t h a t the b l a c k h u m o u r i s t wanted t o " a s s a u l t " "shock" and " o u t r a g e " h i s a u d i e n c e m a i n t a i n e d n o n e t h e l e s s t h a t the works m a n i f e s t e d an 9 "obvious i n d i f f e r e n c e t o r e f o r m . " Bruce J a n o f f extended t h e c r i t i c i s m o f b l a c k humour "beyond s o c i a l s a t i r e " t o i n -c l u d e the chaos o f a " v a s t , i n d i f f e r e n t u n i v e r s e . T h e most c a n d i d and amusing assessment o f b l a c k humour, however, 4 r e s t s w i t h Bruce Friedman whose a n t h o l o g y , B l a c k Humor.:, h e l p e d t o p o p u l a r i z e t h e term i n A m e r i c a : " I t i s c a l l e d b l a c k humor and I t h i n k I would have more l u c k d e f i n i n g an elbow o r corned-beef sandwich. 1 1 1 1 B l a c k humour r e s i s t s r i g i d d e f i n i t i o n s and c l a s s i f i c a t i o n p a r t l y because o f the d i v e r s i t y amongst the a r t i s t s who a r e p r o c l a i m e d as i t s champions. Stand-up c o m i c s , c a r t o o n i s t s , p l a y w r i g h t s and n o v e l i s t s o f t e n use the t e c h n i q u e s and trademarks o f b l a c k humour. Lenny B r u c e , Howard Shoemaker, Edward A l b e e , and Joseph H e l l e r have a l l been h e r a l d e d as p r a c t i t i o n e r s o f the a r t . A l t h o u g h employing d i f f e r e n t media, th e y s hare a s i m i l a r v i s i o n and s t y l e . Each sees t h e w o r l d and man's p l a c e w i t h i n i t as u n r e l e n t i n g l y h o s t i l e and u n p r e d i c t -a b l e . Man i s p e r c e i v e d as an " i n s e n s i b l e o b j e c t o f manipu-12 l a t i o n " who i s f o r e v e r " r o o t e d i n a r o o t l e s s w o r l d . " Y e t the p r e s e n t a t i o n o f t h i s g r i m p r e d i c a m e n t i s always comic; t h e mood thus "combines h o r r o r and f u n , t h e u n s e t t l i n g and the 13 amusing." The uniqueness and e l u s i v e n e s s o f b l a c k humour perhaps l i e s i n t h i s s i m u l t a n e o u s m a n i p u l a t i o n o f d i s p a r a t e and o p p o s i n g moods. As the t h r u s t o f b l a c k humour i s i n -h e r e n t l y c o n t r a d i c t o r y , i t i s t h e r e f o r e n o t s u r p r i s i n g t h a t c o n t r a d i c t i o n s a r i s e a l s o i n i t s d e f i n i t i o n . B l a c k humour as a term was f i r s t i n t r o d u c e d i n 1939 by the-'French s u r r e a l i s t Andre B r e t o n i n h i s A n t h o l o g i e 1 de 14 1'humour n o i r . The works chosen by B r e t o n as r e p r e s e n t a t i v e 5 examples o f "humour n o i r " a r e v a r i e d i n form and genre. I n c l u d e d i n the a n t h o l o g y a r e l e t t e r s o f Jacques Vache, poems o f A r t h u r Rimbaud, e x c e r p t s from Lewis C a r r o l l ' s A l i c e i n Wonderland and a passage from Poe's "The A n g e l o f t h e Oddi" T r a n s l a t i o n s o f S w i f t , K a f k a , N i e t z s c h e and Synge appear a l o n g s i d e t h e works o f de Sade, J a r r y , A p o l l i n a i r e and P i c a s s o . T h i s s m a l l s a m p l i n g o f the f o r t y - f i v e a u t h o r s r e p r e s e n t e d i n B r e t o n ' s a n t h o l o g y make i t q u i t e c l e a r t h a t "humour n o i r " 15 was not i n t e n d e d " t o d e s i g n a t e a genre." J.H. Matthews i n h i s a r t i c l e " I n t e l l i g e n c e a t t h e S e r v i c e o f S u r r e a l i s m " e l u c i d a t e s B r e t o n ' s n o t i o n o f "une i n t e l l i g e n c e * 16 s u p e r i e u r e " and i t s r e l a t i o n t o "humour n o i r . " B r e t o n ' s h i g h e r i n t e l l i g e n c e i s one w h i c h abandons the w o r l d o f r a t i o n a l t h ought and t h e l i m i t s o f r e a s o n i n f a v o u r o f the u n e x p l o r e d p o t e n t i a l i t y o f t h e s u b c o n s c i o u s . T h i s i n t e l l i g e n c e t h e n f u n c t i o n s i n b l a c k humour as a guide "through two s t a g e s o f e x p e r i e n c e , f i r s t by c a s t i n g doubt upon the i m m u t a b i l i t y o f the r e a l , then by a f f i r m i n g , o r a t l e a s t t e s t i f y i n g t o , the e x i s t e n c e o f something beyond th e c o n t r o l o f c o n t i n g e n t 17 r e a l i t y . " Winston d e s c r i b e s t h i s use o f i n t e l l i g e n c e as an a t t a c k on " s e n t i m e n t a l i t y , s o c i a l c o n v e n t i o n ( i n c l u d i n g 18 l i t e r a r y c o n v e n t i o n ) , , and an a p p a r e n t l y a b s u r d u n i v e r s e . " I t was n o t u n t i l t w e n t y - f i v e y e a r s a f t e r B r e t o n ' s c o i n a g e t h a t an American c r i t i c f i r s t used the term t o c l a s s i f y the new breed o f post-war American n o v e l t h a t was emerging: 6 Joseph H e l l e r , T e r r y S o u t h e r n , J.P. Donleavy and Thomas Pynchon b e i n g the b e s t examples. Conrad K n i c k e r b o c k e r w r i t i n g f o r the New York Times Book Review, d e s c r i b e d t h e movement i n t h e f o l l o w i n g terms: B i t t e r , p e r v e r s e and s i c k - as t h e r i g h t e o u s d e f e n d e r s o f a s i c k s o c i e t y a v e r - the new humor i s b l a c k i n i t s p e s s i m i s m , i t s r e f u s a l of compromise and i t s m o r t a l s t i n g . I t s a d h e r e n t s a r e few as y e t but i n -c r e a s i n g . Bored beyond t e a r s by s o l e m n i t y and pap, an i n c r e a s i n g a u d i e n c e f i n d s i n b l a c k humor no t o n i c , b u t the g a l l o f t r u t h . There--.are no more happy e n d i n g s . A c h e e r y wave and a f a s t s h u f f l e no l o n g e r l e a v e them l a u g h i n g . New f o r u s , b l a c k humor has been a p a r t o f t h e response o f w i s e r p e o p l e s i n o t h e r t i m e s . I t s appearance i n American ^» f i c t i o n may s i g n a l the end o f c e r t a i n i n n o c e n c e s . One y e a r l a t e r i n 1965, Friedman's B l a c k Humor.,- appeared. W i t h the e x c e p t i o n o f L o u i s - F e r d i n a n d C e l i n e , a l l the a u t h o r s r e p r e s e n t e d were post-war American n o v e l i s t s o r as i n the case o f Edward A l b e e , d r a m a t i s t s . A l t h o u g h , Friedman r e a d i l y admits t h a t the w r i t e r s chosen p o s s e s s " c o m p l e t e l y p r i v a t e and unique v i s i o n s , " he s t i l l f i n d s a r e c u r r e n t theme i n each o f t h e i r works: There i s a f a d i n g l i n e between f a n t a s y and r e a l i t y , a v e r y f a d i n g l i n e , a God-damned a l m o s t i n v i n c i b l e l i n e and you w i l l f i n d t h a t n o t i o n r i d i n g t h r o u g h much o f the work under d i s c u s s i o n . ^ T h i s l o s s o f " c e r t a i n i n n o c e n c e s " t y p i f i e d by the. upsurge o f American b l a c k humour has been a t t r i b u t e d t o t h e many f o r c e s w h i c h have c o n t r i b u t e d t o the decay o f the American dream. Post-war America w i t h i t s i n c r e a s i n g c o m m e r c i a l i z a t i o n and d e c r e a s i n g s p i r i t u a l i t y , i t s m i l i t a r y 7 and p o l i t i c a l f a i l u r e s , i t s u r b a n i z a t i o n and i t s a l i e n a t i n g m e c h a n i z a t i o n c o u l d no l o n g e r house the happy o p t i m i s m o f "a c h e e r y wave and a f a s t s h u f f l e . " Alarmed by t h e r a p i d i t y w i t h w h i c h t h e i r s o c i e t y was d i s i n t e g r a t i n g , the American b l a c k humour n o v e l i s t s s e a r c h e d f o r a new form t o m i r r o r t h i s d i s i n t e g r a t i o n . A b l u r r i n g o f t h e b o u n d a r i e s between f a n t a s y and r e a l i t y and the comic and t h e t e r r i f y i n g became, t h u s , the stamp o f t h e i r work. Mathew W i n s t o n , however, argues - and r i g h t l y s o , I b e l i e v e - t h a t " i t seems u n n e c e s s a r i l y p r o v i n c i a l t o a p p l y 21 t h e c o n c e p t o f b l a c k humor o n l y t o American f i c t i o n . " R o b e r t S c h o l e s t r a c e s b l a c k humour's l i n e a g e t o "the i n t e l l e c t u a l comedy o f A r i s t o p h a n e s , t h e f l o u r i s h i n g s a t i r e o f I m p e r i a l Rome, the h u m a n i s t i c a l l e g o r i e s and anatomies o f t h e l a t e r M i d d l e Ages, th e p i c a r e s q u e n a r r a t i v e s o f t h e R e n a i s s a n c e , the m e t a p h y s i c a l poems and s a t i r e s o f the sev-enteenth"; c e n t u r y and the g r e a t s a t i r i c f i c t i o n s o f the Age o f 22 Reason." More r e c e n t , however, and perhaps more p e r t i n e n t i s the i n f l u e n c e o f t h e T h e a t r e o f the A b s u r d . M a r t i n E s s l i n c i t e s t h e a b s u r d i s t s c h o o l o f drama as "the l a t e s t - - e x a m p l e " 2 3 o f the "humour n o i r " o f w o r l d l i t e r a t u r e . " The p h i l o s o p h i c a l premise'.of E s s l i n ' s T h e a t r e o f the Absurd and b l a c k humour as d e s c r i b e d by W i n s t o n , and t o a l e s s e r degree S c h u l z and J a n o f f , i s a s h a r e d one. Both p e r c e i v e the u n i v e r s e as b e i n g random and a r b i t r a r y , t o t a l l y w i t h o u t p l a n o r s i g n i f i -8 cance; i t i s an u n r e l e n t i n g l y e q u i v o c a l cosmos which a l l o w s f o r no a b s o l u t e s and no t r u t h s . The r e s u l t a n t chaos i s the f o r c e w h i c h makes man's s i t u a t i o n so u n p r e d i c t a b l e and so f u t i l e . A l l b e l i e f systems, a l l m o r a l p o s t u r e s and a l l h i e r a r c h a l s t r u c t u r e s - be t h e y s o c i e t a l , p o l i t i c a l o r f a m i l i a l - a r e mer e l y r e f l e c t i o n s o f man's need t o impose o r d e r s ; they f i n d no r e v e r b e r a t i o n s i n t h e l a r g e r cosmos. R e c o g n i z i n g the a r t i f i c i a l i t y o f a l l s t r u c t u r e s , the a b s u r d i s t p l a y w r i g h t and the b l a c k h u m o u r i s t f i n d s h i m s e l f i n t h e p a r o d o x i c a l p o s i t i o n o f h a v i n g t o c r e a t e a form c a p a b l e o f e v o k i n g a f o r m l e s s w o r l d . T h i s dilemma i s f u r t h e r c o m p l i c a t e d by t h e i r awareness o f the i r r a t i o n a l i t y w hich i s r e p r e s e n t a t i v e o f t h e human c o n d i t i o n . E s s l i n c l a i m s t h a t t h e t h e a t r e o f S a r t r e and Camus - a l t h o u g h i t p o s i t s a s i m i l a r u n i v e r s e as a b s u r d i s t d r a m a t i s t s such as B e c k e t t and Ionesco -does:.not f i t under the r u b r i c o f T h e a t r e o f the Absurd because i t s t i l l c l i n g s t o the c o n v e n t i o n s o f d i s c u s s i o n drama. T h e a t r e o f the A b s u r d , E s s l i n s u g g e s t s "has renounced a r g u i n g about t h e a b s u r d i t y o f the human c o n d i t i o n ; i t m e r e l y p r e s e n t s 24 i t i n b e i n g - t h a t i s , i n terms o f s t a g e images." Mathew Winston a g r e e s , " b l a c k humor does n o t t r y t o r a t i o n a l l y e x p l a i n t o us t h a t the w o r l d i s c h a o t i c and unknowable... 25 r a t h e r i t e n a b l e s us t o e x p e r i e n c e something v i c a r i o u s l y . " W i t h r e g a r d s t o the form o f a b s u r d i s t drama, E s s l i n d e s c r i b e s the momentum o f the p l a y as d e r i v i n g from the g r a d u a l a c c u m u l a t i o n o f the "complex p a t t e r n s o f t h e p o e t i c image 9 t h a t t h e p l a y e x p r e s s e s . " The d r a m a t i c s t r u c t u r e o f t h e a b s u r d i s t p l a y s o f t e n e x i s t s i n d e p e n d e n t l y o f p l o t ; i t f u n c t i o n s as r e f l e c t i o n s o f the l a r g e r amorphous u n i v e r s e and n o t as props f o r c h a r a c t e r development o r r e v e l a t i o n . Because o f t h i s "many o f the p l a y s o f t h e T h e a t r e o f t h e A b surd have a c i r c u l a r s t r u c t u r e , e n d i n g e x a c t l y as they began; o t h e r s p r o g r e s s merely by a growing i n t e n s i f i c a t i o n o f the i n i t i a l 27 s i t u a t i o n . " Winston d e s c r i b e s a s i m i l a r s t r u c t u r i n g i n b l a c k humour; 2 8 "the work does end, but i t i s u n l i k e l y t o have a c o n c l u s i o n . " A k i n t o t h e " p o e t i c image" o f which E s s l i n s p e a k s , a r e t h e p a t t e r n s and m o t i f s n o t e d by Winston w h i c h p r e v e n t s t h e s e p l o t s from r e t r e a t i n g i n t o t o t a l chaos. The s t r u c t u r a l r e -j e c t i o n i n b l a c k humour o f c l e a r c a u s a l r e l a t i o n s h i p s i s p r e d i c a t e d by the p h i l o s o p h i c a l v i s i o n o f t h e mode: But b l a c k humor c l a i m s t h a t l i v i n g does n o t d i v i d e i n t o n e a t , s e p a r a b l e segments, t h a t the p a t t e r n s one may p e r c e i v e a r e a r b i t r a r y , t h a t our s e l e c t i o n o f what i s i m p o r t a n t and what i s not has no i n h e r e n t v a l i d i t y , t h a t the f o l l o w i n g o f c l u e s and g a t h e r i n g o f e v i d e n c e o f any k i n d i s no more t h a n p l a y i n g a m e a n i n g l e s s game, t h a t the c r u c i a l q u e s t i o n s have no answers, and t h a t mystery i s not a p a r t i c u l a r o b s c u r i t y i n an o t h e r w i s e known and o r d e r e d w o r l d TO b u t i s the v e r y n a t u r e o f e x i s t e n c e . 3 Winston a l s o c i t e s language as a t o o l w h i c h the b l a c k h u m o u r i s t s use f o r r e f l e c t i n g the chaos. I f the w o r l d p o s i t e d i n b l a c k humour i s one o f anarchy and d i s o r d e r , then language can be m a n i p u l a t e d and d i s t o r t e d t o r e f l e c t t h i s . Winston 10 c l a i m s t h a t v e r b a l p l a y " i s one o f the elements t h a t shows 30 b l a c k humor's a f f i n i t y w i t h comedy." But i t i s a l s o y e t a n o t h e r l i n k w i t h the T h e a t r e o f t h e Absurd. Ionesco and P i n t e r a r e examples o f p l a y w r i g h t s who m a n i p u l a t e language t o r e f l e c t t h e i r v e r s i o n o f man's dilemma. The drama o f I o n e s c o , a t i t s most p o t e n t , i s a t h e a t r i c a l l y e l o q u e n t s t a t e m e n t o f man's i s o l a t i o n w i t h i n the v o i d o f h i s e x i s t e n c e , The C h a i r s b e i n g perhaps the most p o i g n a n t r e p r e -s e n t a t i o n o f t h i s . Language i n Ionesco's hands becomes b o t h the symbol and the cause o f man's i n a b i l t y t o communicate. Words become c l i c h e s - empty c o n s t r u c t s , h o p e l e s s l y i n a d e q u a t e i n t h e i r a t t e mpt t o r e n d e r meaning. P i n t e r uses language s i m i l a r l y . E s s l i n l i n k s P i n t e r ' s use o f language w i t h t h e 31 " d e s i r e f o r v e r i f i c a t i o n . " Communication i n P i n t e r ' s p l a y s i s c o n s t a n t l y f o i l e d ; v e r i f i c a t i o n i s u l t i m a t e l y d e n i e d . " M i s u n d e r s t a n d i n g s " , " m i s h e a r i n g s " and " f a l s e a n t i c i p a t i o n s " a r e a c c o r d i n g t o E s s l i n , c h a r a c t e r i s t i c o f P i n t e r ' s d i a l o g u e : " I n s t e a d o f p r o c e e d i n g l o g i c a l l y , P i n t e r ' s d i a l o g u e f o l l o w s a l i n e o f a s s o c i a t i v e t h i n k i n g i n wh i c h sound r e g u l a r l y p r e v a i l s 32 o v e r sense." The m o t i v e l e s s c h a r a c t e r s , the i n c o n c l u s i v e p l o t s , and th e i n e f f e c t i v e n e s s o f language are trademarks o f b o t h absurd drama and b l a c k humour. L i n k i n g the two f u r t h e r i s t h e i r use o f humour. Both forms r e l y on f a r c e and s l a p s t i c k t o c r e a t e and m a i n t a i n the comedy; n o n s e n s i c a l language and f l a t c h a r a c t e r s 11 c o n t r i b u t e t o t h i s f a r c i a l mood. Winston, r e c o g n i z i n g the c l o s e l i n k s between absurd drama and much of black humour c l a s s e s as "absurd black humor" those forms of b l a c k humour which p l a c e d the "emphasis on the humor." For the modes which s t r e s s e d the blackness he attached the t a g "grotesque." Winston d e s c r i b e s black humour as "a tone i n drama and f i c t i o n which i s si m u l t a n e o u s l y f r i g h t e n i n g or t h r e a t e n i n g 34 and f a r c i c a l o r amusing." P h i l i p Thompson, d e s c r i b i n g b l a c k humour as "a t r a d i t i o n which continues t o produce some of the best examples o f the grotesquei". uses the same dichotomous terms to d e f i n e the grotesque: the grotesque i s " e s s e n t i a l l y a mixture i n some way or other of both the comic and the t e r r i f y i n g (or the d i s g u s t i n g , r e p u l s i v e , e t c . ) i n a 35 p r o b l e m a t i c ( i . e . not r e a d i l y r e s o l v a b l e ) way." The "un-r e s o l v e d nature of the grotesque c o n f l i c t " i s of paramount importance t o Thompson's d e f i n i t i o n s , f o r i t "helps t o mark o f f the grotesque from o t h e r mode's or c a t e g o r i e s of l i t e r a r y 3 6 d i s c o u r s e . " Lee Byron Jennings, quoted by Winston, c i t e s the f u n c t i o n o f t h i s c o n f l i c t as the simultaneous a r o u s a l 37 of " f e a r and amusements i n the o b s e r v e r . " Winston p l a c e s grotesque and absurd black humour on a continuum and acknowledges t h a t r i g i d l i n e s of demarcation between the two are i m p o s s i b l e t o graph. Grotesque b l a c k humour, a c c o r d i n g to Winston, maintains the "same b a s i c treatment of c h a r a c t e r m o t i v a t i o n and p l o t as the absurd, 12 i s s i m i l a r l y c o n c erned w i t h t h e breakdown o f normal communication and p l a y s w i t h i t s own form, and i m p l i c a t e s t h e 38 r e a d e r i n a s i m i l a r f a s h i o n . " I t i s a macabre o b s e s s i o n w i t h the body, however, which d i s t i n g u i s h e s g r o t e s q u e b l a c k humour from a b s u r d b l a c k humour. The human body i s e x a g g e r a t e d , deformed and m u t i l a t e d t h r o u g h o u t much o f g r o t e s q u e b l a c k humour. Of t h i s o b s e s s i o n w i t h t h e body, Winston s t a t e s , "The t h r e a t t o the body i s p a r t o f t h e o m n i p r e s e n t t h r e a t o f d e a t h i n g r o t e s q u e b l a c k humor. Death do m i n a t e s , but 39 i t o c c u r s i n a r i d i c u l o u s manner and i s never d i g n i f i e d . " I n o r d e r t o m a i n t a i n the t e n s i o n between t h e "comic and t h e t e r r i f y i n g " so e s s e n t i a l t o b o t h g r o t e s q u e and a b s u r d b l a c k humour the a u t h o r must c o n t i n u a l l y s h i f t t h e p e r s p e c t i v e o f the r e a d e r . The s p e c t a t o r must never be a l l o w e d t o empathize t o o s t r o n g l y o r f o r t o o l o n g w i t h any o f t h e c h a r -a c t e r s . One way w h i c h t h e b l a c k h u m o u r i s t a c c o m p l i s h e s t h i s i s t o r e m i n d the v i e w e r o f t h e a r t i f i c e o f the work. T h i s i s done t h r o u g h v e r b a l p l a y , t h r o u g h s t y l i z a t i o n and i n the c a se o f drama t h r o u g h d i r e c t r e f e r e n c e t o the a u d i e n c e . A n o t h e r t e c h n i q u e f o r t h i s i s t h e use o f parody. A h i g h l y s e l f -c o n s c i o u s form, parody never p e r m i t s the r e a d e r t o s t e p com-p l e t e l y i n t o the work. M a i n t a i n i n g a frame o f r e f e r e n c e t h a t i s e x t r a - t e x t u a l , parody "makes us i n t o a c t i v e p a r t i c i p a n t s 4 0 n t h e work i n s t e a d o f p a s s i v  s p e c t a r s o f i t . " 13 Parody, l i k e t he t e c h n i q u e s o f the absurd and the g r o t e s q u e , may be used t o s u p p o r t the p h i l o s o p h i c a l p remise o f b l a c k humour. The form p a r o d i e d , and the v i s i o n i n h e r e n t i n t h a t form, become now "the t a r g e t o f the a u t h o r ' s s a l l i e s o f 41 w i t . " T h i s t e c h n i q u e i s t h e b l a c k h u m o u r i s t s answer t o B e c k e t t ' s c r y f o r a "new form . . . o f such a type t h a t i t admits the chaos and does n o t t r y t o say t h a t t h e chaos i s r e a l l y 42 something e l s e . " By s u p e r i m p o s i n g a form w h i c h presupposes a s e t o f v a l u e s a g a i n s t a t h e m a t i c v i s i o n w h i c h negates t h o s e same v a l u e s , the b l a c k h u m o u r i s t succeeds i n u n d e r m i n i n g the c r e d i b i l i t y o f the form i t s e l f . As Max S c h u l z so r i g h t l y p o i n t s o u t , f o r "the b l a c k h u m o r i s t even t h i s l i m i t e d a s s e n t t o the t r a d i t i o n a l arrangement o f human e x p e r i e n c e has become 43 i m p o s s i b l e . " L i t e r a r y c o n s t r u c t s now are as l a u g h a b l e and as f u t i l e as any o f man's o t h e r a t t e m p t s a t o r d e r i n g . B l a c k humour t h e n appears t o be as much a v i s i o n as a form, as much a theme as a s t y l e . I t c r e a t e s t h i s d u a l i t y o f " b l a c k n e s s " and "humour" by c o n t i n u a l l y s h i f t i n g the p e r s p e c t i v e and the d i s t a n c e from w h i c h t h e v i e w e r r e g a r d s the c h a r a c t e r s . I t s h a r e s w i t h the T h e a t r e o f the Absurd a d e s i r e f o r a form w h i c h r e f l e c t s and merges w i t h the chaos i t p r e s e n t s . I t m a n i p u l a t e s p l o t s , c h a r a c t e r s and language i n an e f f o r t t o c r e a t e t h i s form. L i k e t h e w o r l d o f t h e gr o t e s q u e i t p r e s e n t s t h e a t r i c a l and v i s u a l images of the h o r r i f i c ; i t c o n c e r n s i t -s e l f w i t h o ur m u t a b i l i t y and v u l n e r a b i l i t y and a t t e m p t s t o 14 m i n i m i z e death's dominion t h r o u g h r i d i c u l e . I t s m a n i p u l a t i o n o f parody a l l o w s i t t o mimic d r a m a t i c and l i t e r a r y s t r u c t u r e s , w h i l e a t the same time undermining them by u n d e r c u t t i n g the moral o r d e r i n g w h i c h a l l o w s them v a l i d i t y . W alker, h i m s e l f , i s aware o f the j u x t a p o s i t i o n o f the l u d i c r o u s and the h o r r i f y i n g i n h i s p l a y s : I'm t r y i n g i n a l l my work t o walk t h a t f i n e l i n e between the s e r i o u s and t h e comic. That's when I f e e l t h a t I'm t r y i n g t o do something. When I put the work o u t t h e r e on t h a t e d g e . ^ Walker's p l a y s a r e i n d e e d "out t h e r e on t h a t edgei'V Murder, m u t i l a t i o n , r ape and i n c e s t f i g u r e f r e q u e n t l y i n h i s works, y e t t h e y a r e p e r p e t u a l l y m i n i m i z e d and m i t i g a t e d t h r o u g h a s t y l e w h i c h p r e v e n t s e m p a t h e t i c i d e n t i f i c a t i o n . The g r i m r e a l i t y b e h i n d t h e s e gruesome a c t s i s o n l y f e l t when the d i s t a n c e between the v i e w e r and t h e c h a r a c t e r i s r e d u c e d . I t i s Walker's a d r o i t m a n i p u l a t i o n o f t h a t d i s t a n c e w h i c h a l l o w s him " t o walk t h a t f i n e l i n e " and a l l o w s the s p e c t a t o r t o f e e l e i t h e r s i m u l t a n e o u s l y o r a l t e r n a t e l y the combined h o r r o r and humour o f h i s a b s u r d p r e d i c a m e n t . NOTES INTRODUCTION 1. M a r t i n E s s l i n , The T h e a t r e o f the Absurd ( M i d d l e s e x : Penguin Books, 1961), p. 24. 2. P h i l i p Thomson, The Grotesque (London: Methuen, 1972), p. 32. 3. Thomson, p. 32. 4. C h r i s H a l l g r e n , "George Walker: the s e r i o u s and the comic," Scene Changes, 7, No. 2 (1979), p. 23. 5. Max S c h u l z , B l a c k Humor F i c t i o n i n the S i x t i e s (Ohio: Ohio U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1973), p. 15-6. R o b e r t S c h o l e s , The F a b u l a t o r s (New York: Oxford U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1967), p. 38. 7. K o j i Numasawa, " B l a c k Humor: An American A s p e c t , " S t u d i e s i n E n g l i s h L i t e r a t u r e , 44, No. 1 (1967), p. 177. Mathew W i n s t o n , " B l a c k Humor: To Weep w i t h L a u g h t e r " i n Comedy: New P e r s p e c t i v e s , ed. M a u r i c e Charney (New York: New York L i t e r a r y Forum, 1978), p. 32. 8. B u r t o n Feldman, "Anatomy o f B l a c k Humor," D i s s e n t , 15, (1968), p. 159. 9. Hamlin H i l l , " B l a c k Humor: i t s cause and c u r e , " C o l o r a d o Q u a r t e r l y , 17, No. 1 (1968), p. 62. 10. Bruce J a n o f f , " B l a c k Humor: Beyond S a t i r e , " Ohio Review, 14, (1972), p. 11. 11. Bruce Friedman, "Those Clowns o f C o n s c i e n c e , " Book Week, 18 J u l y , 1965, p. 5. 12. R o b e r t Barshay, " B l a c k Humor i n the Modern C a r t o o n , i n I t ' s a Funny T h i n g , Humour, ed. Antony J . Chapman and Hugh C. F o o t (Oxford: Pergamon P r e s s , 1977), p. 57. 13. W i n s t o n , p. 33-14. Andre B r e t o n , A n t h o l o g i e de 1'humour n o i r ( P a r i s : Jean-Jacques P a u v e r t , 1966). 15. Mathew W i n s t o n , "Humour n o i r and B l a c k Humor," i n V e i n s o f Humor, ed. Harry L e v i n (Cambridge: Harvard U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1972), p. 270. 16. J . H . Matthews, " I n t e l l i g e n c e a t the S e r v i c e o f S u r r e a l i s m , " Books Abroad, 41, No. 2 (1967), p. 268. 17. Matthews, p. 271. 18. Wins ton, "Humour N o i r ; " p. 27 0. 19. Conrad K n i c k e r b o c k e r , "Humor With a M o r t a l S t i n g , " New York Times Book Review, 27 S e p t . , 1964, p. 3. 20. F r iedman, p. 5. 21. Wins ton, "Humour n o i r , " p. 273. 22. S c h o l e s , p. 38. 23. E s s l i n , p. 404-24. E s s l i n , P. 25-25. Mathew Wins ton, "The E t h i c s of Contemporary B lack Humor," Co lorado Q u a r t e r l y , 24, (1976), p. 285. 26. E s s l i n , p. 406. 27. E s s l i n , pp. 405-406. 28. Winston , " B l a ck Humor, " P- 41. 29. Winston , "The E t h i c s , " P- 285 . 30. Winston , " B l ack Humor, " p. 39 . 31. E s s l i n , p. 274. 32. E s s l i n , p. 274. 33. Winston , "Humour n o i r , " p. 277 . 34. Winston , "Humour n o i r , " P- 273 . 35. Thomson , p. 16, 21. 36. Thomson , p. 21 . 37. Quoted i n Wins ton, "Humour n o i r , " p. 38 . Winston , "Humour n o i r , " P- 282 . 17 39. Wins ton, "Humour n o i r , " p. 283-40. Winston, "B l ack Humor," p. 42-41. S c h u l z , p. 66-42. Quoted i n Winston, "B l ack Humor," p. 42. 43. S c h u l z , p. 67. 44. H a l l g r e n , p. 24. 18 CHAPTER ONE AMBUSH AT TETHER'S END  AND BAGDAD SALOON A l b e r t Camus i n The Myth o f S i s y p h u s d e s c r i b e s the f e e l i n g o f a b s u r d i t y i n t h e f o l l o w i n g way: I s a i d t h a t the w o r l d was a b s u r d , b u t I was t o o h a s t y . T h i s w o r l d i n i t s e l f i s n o t r e a s o n a b l e , t h a t i s a l l t h a t can be s a i d . But what i s a b s u r d i s the c o n f r o n t a t i o n o f t h i s i r r a t i o n a l and the w i l d l o n g i n g f o r c l a r i t y whose c a l l echoes i n the human h e a r t . The a b s u r d depends as much on man as on the w o r l d . 1 The c o l l i s i o n between man's unquenchable need t o u n d e r s t a n d and the u n i n t e l l i g i b l e , i n d e c i p h e r a b l e w o r l d i n which he-f i n d s h i m s e l f c o n s t i t u t e s a b s u r d i t y f o r Camus. The " v a s t i r r a t i o n a l " w h i c h e n v e l o p e s man i s f u n d a m e n t a l l y amorphous and f l u i d ; i t c o n t a i n s no cosmic key t o h a p p i n e s s o r know-l e d g e . U n p r e d i c t a b l e and a r b i t r a r y i n d e s i g n i t can o f f e r t o man no p a t t e r n w i t h which t o s t r u c t u r e h i s l i f e . Thought i s n e c e s s a r i l y l i m i t e d i n such a w o r l d , and r e a s o n i s i n e f f e c t i v e when f a c e d w i t h an u n i n t e l l i g i b l e u n i v e r s e . Camus d e s c r i b e s the absurd as " l u c i d r e a s o n n o t i n g i t s l i m i t s , " and f u r t h e r d e l i n e a t e s t h e s e l i m i t s as "those w a t e r -2 l e s s d e s e r t s where thought r e a c h e s i t s c o n f i n e s . " The a b s u r d mind - l u c i d , aware and c o n s c i o u s - f i n d s i t s m e t a p h o r i c a l home i n a " d e s e r t where a l l c e r t a i n t i e s have 3 become s t o n e s . " The image o f the d e s e r t becomes the n i n 19 Camus' hands the s y m b o l i c b a t t l e f i e l d on wh i c h man's " w i l d l o n g i n g f o r c l a r i t y " and the "unreasonable s i l e n c e " o f h i s m e a n i n g l e s s u n i v e r s e c o n f r o n t each o t h e r . Both p l a y s under d i s c u s s i o n here - Ambush a t T e t h e r ' s 4 End and Bagdad S a l o o n - e x p l o r e l i f e i n t h i s d e s e r t . The p l o t o f Ambush a t T e t h e r ' s End, however, i s o f a much s i m p l e r s t r u c t u r e t h a n t h a t o f Bagdad S a l o o n . A two-act p l a y , i t has o n l y f i v e c h a r a c t e r s . S h a r i n g the stage w i t h them i s the c o r p s e o f t h e i r f r i e n d o r son, Max. Max, a p h i l o s o p h i c a l r e c l u s e d u r i n g h i s l i f e t i m e , has hanged h i m s e l f i n a f i n a l a t t e m p t t o p e r f o r m the " d e f i n i t i v e act."' F r u s t r a t e d by the complacency o f h i s f r i e n d s Bush and G a i t he has p l a n n e d h i s s u i c i d e as an e x p e r c i s e i n p h i l o s o p h i c a l e n l i g h t e n m e n t . A i d e d by Jobeo, a f e l l o w p h i l o s o p h e r , he p l o t t e d the s t r a t e g i e s which would e v e n t u a l l y expose the f a l s i t y and v a c u i t y o f t h e i r o f t h e i r l i f e s t y l e s . L e t t e r s d e c l a r i n g Bush and G a i t as f i n -a n c i a l and s e x u a l f r a u d s have been m a i l e d t o t h e i r f a m i l i e s , f r i e n d s and b u s i n e s s a s s o c i a t e s p r i o r t o Max's s u i c i d e . Max's i n t e r f e r e n c e i n t h e i r l i v e s , however, does n o t s t o p w i t h h i s d e a t h ; h a v i n g s t u f f e d h i s c l o t h e s w i t h n o t e s and diagrams he c o n t i n u e s t o send posthumous messages and t h e r e b y i n f l u e n c e e v e n t s . Bush, G a i t and Jobeo a r e a l s o j o i n e d on s t a g e -a l b e i t b r i e f l y - by Max's p a r e n t s , Mr. and Mrs. Crane. L i k e Jobeo, t h e y e n t e r and e x i t t h r o u g h a m y s t e r i o u s c l o s e t w h i c h appears t o l e a d nowhere. I t i s o n l y Bush and G a i t who remain 20 t rapped w i t h i n the warehouse. No l onger a b l e to r e l y on the f i c t i o n s o f t h e i r former l i v e s they must now c o n f r o n t the r e a l i t y o f t h e i r naked s e l v e s . Much about the p l a y i s r e d o l e n t o f B e c k e t t ' s Wa i t i n g  f o r Godot and consequent l y prompted the f o l l o w i n g c r i t i c i s m from Edward M u l l a l y : Rather the q u e s t i o n unanswered i s why Walker has spent h i s t ime on a s c r i p t t h a t Becke t t had a l -ready w r i t t e n w i t h much g r e a t e r d i s c i p l i n e , i n t e l l i g e n c e and s k i l l . 5 As C h r i s Johnson p o i n t s o u t , however, Walker does avo id " s l a v i s h i m i t a t i o n . " ^ Godot remains throughout B e c k e t t ' s p l a y a mys tery . Max, however, i n expos ing Bush and G a i t , a l s o exposes h i m s e l f . H i s " p e t t y r i v a l r y " w i th Jobeo, h i s scheming revenge a g a i n s t Bush and G a i t and h i s p r e -t e n t i o u s p o s t u r i n g t r i v i a l i z e h i s s t ance . A l though the s t a c c a t o language, the v a u d e v i l l i a n a n t i c s , the hanging m o t i f , and Bush and G a i t ' s s t a tu s as " l i t t l e men", l i n k the p l a y w i t h Wa i t ing f o r Godot, another of B e c k e t t ' s p l a y s , Endgame, o f f e r s perhaps more p a r a l l e l s . The vaca ted \ warehouse o f Ambush a t T e t h e r ' s End and the i n h o s p i t a b l e wor ld o u t s i d e i t a re s t r o n g l y e v o c a t i v e o f Endgame's d e s o l a t e was te l and . L i k e Hamm and C l o v , Bush and G a i t l i v e i n complementary i n te rdependence . Bush has poor e a r s ; G a i t has poor eye s . Bush ' s prowess and p a s s i o n a re spent on making money; G a i t ' s a re spent on making women. The w o r l d o u t s i d e t h e warehouse i s as h o s t i l e t o Bush and G a i t as i s the l i f e l e s s t e r r a i n o f Endgame t o Hamm and C l o v . Unable t o e x i s t beyond the c o n f i n e s of t h e i r s u f f o c a t i n g rooms they a r e f o r c e d i n t o an i n e s c a p a b l e c o - e x i s t e n c e . Bush and G a i t , l i k e t h e i r B e c k e t t i a n c o u n t e r p a r t s f i n d such a s i t u -a t i o n i n t o l e r a b l e . Having f a i l e d a t a s i m u l t a n e o u s s u i c i d e a t t e m p t , a l l t h a t i s l e f t them i s mutual contempt. The p l a y ' s f i n a l t a b l e a u x - Bush and G a i t i n s e p a r a t e c o r n e r s each w a r n i n g t h e o t h e r t o "keep away" - i s an e f f e c t i v e t h e a t r i c a l -i z a t i o n o f t h e i r p r e d i c a m e n t . T h i s i n t o l e r a b l e nexus o f mutual need and l o a t h i n g sug-g e s t s a l s o the S a r t r e a n h e l l o f Huis C l o s . The t h r e e c h a r -a c t e r s i n S a r t r e ' s p l a y - G a r c i n , Inez and E s t e l l e - a r e mere s h a d e s . l i v i n g out e t e r n i t y i n i n s u f f e r a b l e c o - h a b i t a t i o n . Rendered s t a t i c by t h e i r d e a t h s they no l o n g e r c o n t a i n the p o t e n t i a l f o r change. " I ' v e l e f t my f a t e i n t h e i r h a n d s j " 7 G a r c i n says o f h i s co-workers on e a r t h . F o r e v e r a coward i n the eyes of t h e l i v i n g he must now t u r n t o the dead f o r e x o n e r a t i o n and r e d e f i n i t i o n . Y e t i t i s u l t i m a t e l y t h e i r gaze w h i c h p r o v e s u n b e a r a b l e t o him: GARCIN: . . . I won't l e t m y s e l f g e t bogged i n your eyes. You're s o f t and s l i m y . Ugh! (bangs on the door a g a i n ) L i k e an o c t o p u s . L i k e a quagmire. (p. 16 0) I n e z , aware o f G a r c i n ' s v u l n e r a b i l i t y , t a u n t s him w i t h her p r e s e n c e : 22 INEZ : ...I'm w a t c h i n g you, everybody's w a t c h i n g , I'm a crowd a l l by m y s e l f . Do you hear the crowd? Do you hear them m u t t e r i n g , G a r c i n ? Mumbling and m u t t e r i n g ; ''Coward! Coward! Coward! Coward! 1 (p. 165) D e s p i t e the h o r r o r o f h i s p r e d i c a m e n t , however, G a r c i n chooses t o remain i n h i s h e l l , f o r w i t h o u t the c r i t i c a l gaze o f the o t h e r s he ce a s e s t o e x i s t . R e c o g n i z i n g t h e dichotomy i n h e r e n t i n t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p he t e l l s I n e z , " I f y o u ' l l have f a i t h i n me I'm saved." (p. 162) These same m o t i f s a l s o appear i n Walker's p l a y . Bush and G a i t , a l o n e in".the warehouse w i t h Max's c o r p s e a r e unable t o escape. L i k e G a r c i n who r e f u s e s t o e n t e r the passage and a l l o w s Inez the s a t i s f a c t i o n o f a d e f e a t , Bush and G a i t choose t o remain and a v o i d the c e n s u r e o f t h e i r p e e r s . "There's no way o u t , " Cp- 157) G a i t c r i e s t o Bush when he becomes aware o f t h e eyes s t a r i n g i n a t them. F o r Bush and G a i t , t h e s e g a z e s , t o o , prove u n b e a r a b l e . (p. 174) The a c c u s a t i o n s and j i b e s o f Huis C l o s appear a l s o i n 7Ambush a t T e t h e r ' s End: GALT: Yeah. I don't l i k e t o be s t a r e d a t e i t h e r . And I hate b e i n g watched up c l o s e . E s p e c i a l l y by p e o p l e who know me. BUSH: You don't g e t a chance t o f i g h t back o r get o u t o f the way. I t ' s l i k e b e i n g a t t a c k e d i n a s m a l l room. GALT: They 'd c a l l us cowards. BUSH: They're c a l l i n g us cowards now. 23 . GALT: But i t ' d go on and on. They'd g e t t o g e t h e r j u s t t o t a l k about us. And I don't l i k e t h e thought o f t h a t v e r y much. Do you? (p. 174) As i n Huis C l o s the i n s u l t s from the o u t s i d e e v e n t u a l l y become absorbed by t h e e n t r a p p e d c h a r a c t e r s . " I f you weren't such a bloody coward," (p. 182) G a i t screams a t Bush. L i k e w i s e , Max's e a r l i e r condemnation o f Bush and G a i t as a "c o u p l e o f s t a g n a n t ponds" i s echoed by the two men: GALT: But nobody b e l i e v e s what you say! You s t a g n a n t pond! BUSH: Swamp! GALT: Quagmire! (p. 182) The n o - e x i t w o r l d o f S a r t r e ' s p l a y i s thus r e c r e a t e d here by Walker. The i r r a t i o n a l i t y o f a u n i v e r s e which o f f e r s d e a t h as i t s o n l y c e r t a i n t y i s t h e a t r i c a l i z e d i n Ambush a t T e t h e r ' s End by the i n e s c a p a b l e warehouse and the p u t r i f y i n g c o r p s e which i t houses. Bush and G a i t , how-e v e r , a r e as much t r a p p e d by t h e i r own p e t t y f a i l i n g s as t h e y are by the a b s u r d i t y o f t h e i r u n a v o i d a b l e f a t e . L i k e G a r c i n , Inez and E s t e l l e , t h ey w i l l remain f o r e v e r stamped by t h e i r a c t i o n s , f o r e v e r immured i n u n b e a r a b l e s t a t i s . " K n i v e s , p o i s o n s , ropes - a l l u s e l e s s , " (p. 166) Inez s t a t e s i n Huis C l o s . The same i n e f f e c t u a l i t y i s p r e s e n t e d i n Ambush 24 a t T e t h e r ' s End. The attem p t e d murder o f Jobeo w i t h a machete, Bush's c o n s t a n t p i l l - p o p p i n g and t h e f i n a l a b o r t i v e a ttempt a t a s i m u l t a n e o u s s t r a n g l i n g a l l prove f u t i l e . T h e i r p r e d i c a m e n t i s i n e s c a p a b l e ; "There's no way o u t . " Awareness o f t h e a b s u r d , argues Camus can be sudden and unexpected; " a t any s t r e e t c o r n e r the f e e l i n g o f a b s u r d i t y g can s t r i k e any man i n t h e f a c e . " F o r Bush and G a i t t h i s i s c e r t a i n l y t r u e . U s i n g the p a r a b l e o f a t e t h e r e d cow Jobeo d i s c u s s e s Bush and G a i t ' s r e l u c t a n c e f o r i n t e l l e c t u a l ad-v e n t u r e s . JOBEO: ...The human mind i s l i k e a w e l l - f e d cow. A cow w i t h a t e t h e r t i e d ..around i t s neck w h i c h i s a t t a c h e d t o a f e n c e . I f i t s t r a y s from the fence t h e rope becomes t a u t . I f i t g r a z e s near t h e fence i t s t a y s l o o s e and c o m f o r t a b l e . Now when t h e g r a s s near t h e fe n c e be-comes s p a r s e , t h e t e m p t a t i o n t o s t r a y out becomes i r r e s i s t a b l e . But when the noose t i g h t e n s o u t a t the p e r i m e t e r the cow, o r the mind, l o s e s i t s a p p e t i t e and r e t r e a t s t o t h e fe n c e and spends the r e s t o f i t s l i f e e a t i n g d u s t . (p. 134) L i k e t h e cows who remai n c l o s e t o the f e n c e , " l o o s e and c o m f o r t a b l e " each has spent h i s t h i n k i n g l i f e " e a t i n g d u s t " . Trapped, however, i n the warehouse, a t t h e " t e t h e r ' s end" where "thought r e a c h e s i t s c o n f i n e s , " r e t r e a t i s no l o n g e r p o s s i b l e . Ambushed and i m p r i s o n e d , t h e f e e l i n g o f a b s u r d i t y i s now i n e s c a p a b l e . Walker r e i n f o r c e s the i n c o m p r e h e n s i b i l i t y o f the s i t u a -25 t i o n by h a v i n g the c o n f u s e d Bush and G a i t c o n t i n u a l l y moan, " I ' d l i k e t o t h i n k t h e r e ' s a p o i n t t o a l l t h i s . " (p. 171) T h i s r e f r a i n echoes Camus' " w i l d l o n g i n g f o r c l a r i t y " and s i g n i f i e s Bush and G a i t ' s e n t r y i n t o t h e " w a t e r l e s s d e s e r t . " Camus s t a t e s i n The Myth o f S i s y p h u s t h a t b o t h p h y s i c a l s u i c i d e and t h e p h i l o s o p h i c a l " l e a p o f f a i t h " a r e i n a d e q u a t e r e s p o n s e s t o the a b s u r d . He argues i n s t e a d t h a t "the r e a l e f f o r t i s t o s t a y t h e r e " i n the d e s e r t t h a t "we must n o t 9 l e a v e b e h i n d . " I n Camusian terms t h e n b o t h Max and Jobeo a r e f a l s e p h i l o s o p h e r s f o r each a d v o c a t e s a r e j e c t i o n o f the d e s e r t . T h e i r m o t i v e s a r e p r e s e n t e d as p e t t y and t r i v i a l and t h e i r p h i l o s o p h i e s a r e subsumed by p r o f e s s i o n a l r i v a l r y . Jobeo, angry a t Max's posthumous s l u r s on h i s i n t e g r i t y , p l o t s h i s revenge by a t t e m p t i n g t o i n c i t e h i s own murder. Through s p e c i o u s argument he t r i e s t o c o n v i n c e t h e w i t l e s s Bush and G a i t t o do the deed: JOBEO: Now i n b i b l i c a l t i m e s , a s t e p beyond the l i m i t i n v o l v e d w i t h d r a w a l i n t o t h e n e a r -e s t d e s e r t . A man l i v e d on h i s j u i c e s w h i l e he d r i e d up under the sun l i k e a f i g . Some w a i t e d f o r r e v e l a t i o n but most j u s t d r i e d up. Anyway, t h e d e s e r t ' s the t h i n g . BUSH: Times have changed. JOBEO: I t ' s good t h a t you've n o t i c e d . GALT: B e s i d e s , t h e r e a r e n ' t any d e s e r t s around h e r e . 2 6 JOBEO: Oh, you're j u s t as sharp as he i s . . . So, as you've a l r e a d y o b s e r v e d - a l b e i t somewhat awkwardly - w i t h d r a w a l i s out o f the q u e s t i o n . There's no p l a c e t o go. (p. 162) "There's no p l a c e t o go" f o r Bush and G a i t because t h e y have a l r e a d y t a k e n "a s t e p beyond the l i m i t . " The d e s e r t w hich they i n h a b i t i s a c o m b i n a t i o n o f Camusian m e t a p h y s i c s and S a r t r e a n entrapment. Jobeo, however, t h r o u g h l i n g u i s t i c m a n i p u l a t i o n t r i e s t o move Bush and G a i t toward " r a t i o n a l homocide." Death, though, i s i r r e v o c a b l y r e j e c t e d by Bush and G a i t . "But I don't want t o get used t o the s m e l l , " Bush says o f t h e decomposing body. (p. 16 9) L i f e i n the d e s e r t i s a s t a t e o f permanent r e v o l t a g a i n s t the f u t i l i t y o f one's p r e d i c a m e n t ; t o embrace d e a t h o r t o a c c l i m a t i z e o n e s e l f t o i t s s t e n c h i s t o l e a v e t h e d e s e r t b e h i n d . Faced w i t h the l i m i t s o f t h e i r r a p i d l y en-c l o s i n g w o r l d , and s t r i p p e d of a l l f a c a d e s which p r e t e n d t h i n g s a r e o t h e r w i s e , Bush and G a i t must now c o n f r o n t t h e a b s u r d i t y o f t h e i r i s o l a t i o n . T h e i r entrapment i n an un-i n t e l l i g i b l e u n i v e r s e v o i d o f j u s t i f i c a t i o n s and pungent w i t h d e a t h has e f f e c t i v e l y robbed them o f a l l e v a s i o n s . U n l i k e the Cranes who choose t o deny d e a t h , Bush and G a i t , s u r rounded by i t s maladorous p r e s e n c e , l i v e i n p e r p e t u a l r e c o g n i t i o n o f i t s powe r . A s i m i l a r p r e - o c c u p a t i o n w i t h d e a t h and man's r o l e w i t h i n 27 the u n i v e r s e i s found i n Bagdad S a l o o n . Here, however, the d e s e r t i s l i t e r a l as w e l l as m e t a p h y s i c a l . T h i s time Walker has s e t h i s p l a y on t h e s p r a w l i n g t e r r a i n o f t h e A r a b i a n D e s e r t . The image now i s no l o n g e r the e n t r a p p e d w o r l d o f Max's ware-house b u t , r a t h e r , t h e i n t e r m i n a b l e a r i d i t y of t h e d e s e r t waste-l a n d . C o r r e s p o n d i n g t o the s p r a w l i n g v i s u a l image i s the l o o s e meandering s t r u c t u r e o f the p l a y i t s e l f . O r g a n i z e d i n t o seven-t e e n scenes of v a r y i n g l e n g t h s i t s h i f t s i t s f o c u s between f o u r t e e n c h a r a c t e r s . And as w i t h Ambush a t T e t h e r ' s End, the impending f a t e o f an i n e v i t a b l e d e a t h i s t h e a t r i c a l i z e d by the on-stage p r e s e n c e o f a c o r p s e . A l l u s i o n s t o the d e s e r t - b o t h e a s t e r n and w e s t e r n - are numerous i n Bagdad S a l o o n . The t i t l e s u g g e s t s , o f c o u r s e , t h e f a b l e d Bagdad o f the l e g e n d a r y A r a b i a n N i g h t s . But P e r s i a i s not t h e o n l y d e s e r t w h i c h b o a s t s a Bagdad. More o b s c u r e , p e r -haps, t h a n i t s A r a b i a n c o u n t e r p a r t , b u t not c o m p l e t e l y w i t h o u t s i g n i f i c a n c e g i v e n the c o n t e x t o f t h e p l a y i s t h e d e s e r t hamlet of Bagdad, A r i z o n a . The c o n n e c t i o n between the two Bagdads i s perhaps n o t as tenuous as i t might f i r s t appear. The c r e a t i o n o f myths and legends - p a r t i c u l a r l y American myths -i s a major c o n c e r n o f t h e p l a y . A r i z o n a as a f r o n t i e r s t a t e i s t h e p e r f e c t embodiment o f t h e mythos of the w i l d west and the men who tamed i t . Home t o Tombstone, the s i g h t o f the now l e g e n d a r y g u n f i g h t a t the O.K. C o r r a l , i t i s c l o s e l y l i n k e d w i t h one o f Walker's c h a r a c t e r s , Doc. M o d e l l e d a f t e r Doc 28 K o l l i d a y , who a l o n g w i t h Wyatt E a r p , made h i s t o r y a t Tombstone, Walker's Doc i s the a r c h e t y p a l w e s t e r n hero. L i k e w i s e , h i s one-time paramour, D o l l y S t i l l e t o , whose "home i s i n A r i z o n a " p e r s o n i f i e s the image o f t h e l u s t y , l o u d s a l o o n g i r l . W alker's m a n i p u l a t i o n o f the d e s e r t c o n n e c t s the p l a y w i t h b o t h American myth and Camusian m e t a p h y s i c s . Y et t h e l i v i n g dead who i n h a b i t h i s d e s e r t - Doc, Kenry ( M i l l e r ) and S t e i n -a l s o l i n k i t t o t h e t h e a t r e o f Eugene Ionesco. I n Notes;and  C o u n t e r - N o t e s , Ionesco makes the f o l l o w i n g comment: To e x p l a i n t h e end o f The C h a i r s : '...the w o r l d i s a d e s e r t . P e o p l e d by phantoms w i t h p l a i n t i v e v o i c e s , i t w h i s p e r s l o v e songs o v e r the g a p i n g r u i n s o f my em p t i n e s s ! But g e n t l e g h o s t s , r e t u r n ! ' (Gerard de N e r v a l , Promenades e t s o u v e n i r s . ) I t c o u l d perhaps be t h a t , w i t h o u t t h e g e n t l e n e s s . 1 0 These " c u l t u r a l t i d b i t s " e t c h e d i n t o t h e American psyche and engraved w i t h i n t h e i r l e g e n ds a r e i n d e e d the p l a i n t i v e phantoms o f Bagdad S a l o o n . L i k e S a r t r e ' s t r i o i n Hui s C l o s t h e i r p e t r i f i c a t i o n r e duces them t o an incommunicable s t a t i s . Yet i t i s p r e c i s e l y t h e i r m u m m i f i c a t i o n w h i c h a p p e a l s t o Ahrun - t h e mastermind b e h i n d the Bagdad S a l o o n . P a i n f u l l y aware o f t h e i r r a t i o n a l s u r r o u n d i n g him, Ahrun t r i e s t o c i r -cumvent h i s m o r t a l i t y and h i s c o n t i n g e n c y by s e a r c h i n g f o r fame and g l o r y . To t h i s end he has brought Doc, Henry M i l l e r and Ge r t r u d e S t e i n t o h i s s a l o o n f o r o b s e r v a t i o n . A i d e d by h i s 29 servant, his daughter, Sara, and his friend Aladdin, he scrutinizes his guests. Other intruders and v i s i t o r s to t h i s scene include Dolly and her son by Doc, Ivanhoe, Mitch a chameleonic American who wants to restore the "museum pieces" to America, and the Masonettes, three mannequin-like show g i r l s who dance and sing to the accompaniment of the piano. It i s Ahrun's "wild longing for c l a r i t y " which places him i n the desert and which w i l l not allow him to acquiesce i n the unknowable. Faced with an i n d i f f e r e n t heaven he invents and imposes his own cosmic interpretation of events: AHRUN: P r o f i l e s of ancestors on the moon. Di r e c t l y preceding great achievements. A family omen. SARA: What p r o f i l e ? That's a f u l l moon. AHRUN: You aren't looking cl o s e l y enough. AHRUN: (Notices that she has l e f t . ) Sighs A pathetic f a l l a c y . A conspiracy to make me seem constantly mediocre, (looking up) Just the hint of a p r o f i l e would have been enough. Why i s i t that I cannot be anything more than mundane. (p. 22) Doc and Stein, however, provide an a n t i t h e t i c a l viewpoint of their universe. The whys and wherefores of t h e i r existence provide no interest to them. Dumbfounded, Ahrun protests against such indifference, "But I have theories... And a few b e l i e f s . " (p. 55) To t h i s Stein and Doc can only 30 repeat, "poor old man." (p. 55) Theories, b e l i e f s and interpretations must a l l prove i n e f f e c t u a l within the confines of the u n i n t e l l i g i b l e . Ahrun's l a s t refuge against the absurd i s a b e l i e f i n the immortalizing power of fame. "And i f i t s guided i n the ri g h t d i r e c t i o n , i t can create things. Purpose- Glamour.. Mystique." (p. 55) he t e l l s his apathetic captives. Stein, however, exposes the vanity of such a pursuit with her penetrating question, "What happens then?" (p. 55) Fame i s not only " f i c k l e " but also f u t i l e , and by the play's close even Ahrun acknowledges t h i s . His f i n a l l i n e of the play, "Chaos", t e s t i f i e s to his new awareness. No longer hopeful of finding order i n the unorderable Ahrun perceives, with a newly found l u c i d i t y , the ar b i t r a r i n e s s of his world. This obsession with fame, however, i s not r e s t r i c t e d to Ahrun. Mitch, the multi-disguised American i s also seeking his "big chance for the lime l i g h t . " His approach, though, d i f f e r s from Ahrun's. Not content with studying the per-s o n a l i t i e s of others he a c t i v e l y adopts th e i r c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s . Throughout the play he appears i n numerous guises: an emcee; an undertaker; a diplomatic-courier; an Arab; Lawrence of Arabia; and f i n a l l y a caddy. Such character transformations are redolent of many of the role-reversals and al t e r a t i o n s i n the plays of Genet and Ionesco. Martin E s s l i n , using Sartrean philosophy sums up the many metamorphoses of Choubert, 31 a c e n t r a l c h a r a c t e r o f I o n e s c o ' s V i c t i m s o f Duty: Man i s n o t h i n g because he has t h e l i b e r t y o f c h o i c e and t h e r e f o r e i s always t h a t w hich he i s i n the p r o c e s s o f c h o o s i n g h i m s e l f t o be, a permanent p o t e n t i a l i t y r a t h e r t h a n a c t u a l b e i n g . ^ The n o t i o n o f man as n o t h i n g i s p a r t i c u l a r l y s i g n i f i c a n t w i t h r e g a r d s t o M i t c h . When Henry f i r s t asks M i t c h , "Who a r e you," M i t c h a p p r o p r i a t e l y r e p l i e s , "Nobody." (p. 25) And l a t e r a l o n e on s t a g e he c o n f i d e s t o the a u d i e n c e "I'm a l l grown up and I s t i l l don't know what I want t o be." (p. 36) L i v i n g i n the d e s e r t , c r a v i n g the l i m e l i g h t and o b s e s s e d w i t h r o l e - p l a y i n g , M i t c h a l s o c a l l s t o mind (Camus' i n t e r p r e t a t -i o n o f the a c t o r as "l'homme a b s u r d . " He a b u n d a n t l y i l l u s t r a t e s e v e r y month o r e v e r y day t h a t so s u g g e s t i v e t r u t h t h a t t h e r e i s no f r o n t i e r between what a man wants t o be and what he i s . Always concerned w i t h b e t t e r r e p r e s e n t i n g he d emonstrates t o what a degree a p p e a r i n g c r e a t e s b e i n g . F o r t h a t i s h i s a r t -t o s i m u l a t e a b s o l u t e l y t o p r o j e c t h i m s e l f as d e e p l y as p o s s i b l e i n t o l i v e s t h a t a r e not h i s own. A t the end o f h i s e f f o r t h i s v o c a t i o n becomes c l e a r : t o a p p l y h i m s e l f w h o l e h e a r t e d l y t o b e i n g n o t h i n g o r t o b e i n g s e v e r a l . ^ 2 Though each o f h i s l i v e s may l a s t b u t a few h o u r s , t h e y a r e no l e s s s i g n i f i c a n t t h a n h i s own l a r g e r l i f e w h i c h e n v e l o p e s them. Assuming a f o r e i g n mask the a c t o r " t r a v e l s the whole c o u r s e o f the dead end p a t h t h a t the man i n t h e 13 a u d i e n c e t a k e s a l i f e t i m e t o c o v e r . " M i t c h , l i k e Camus' 32 a c t o r , t h e n , e n a c t s t h e absu r d end t o l i f e each time he d i s c a r d s h i s assumed p o s t u r e . I n such a s t a n c e , he i s a man f u l l y l u c i d b e f o r e h i s f a t e , w i t h o u t e v a s i o n o r d e n i a l . Doc, Henry and S t e i n , a l r e a d y dead and w i t h o u t p o t e n t i a l i t y , a r e n o t con c e r n e d w i t h the r e v o l t s o f M i t c h and Ahrun: AHRUN: I haven't heard any o f you ask why you've been brought h e r e . Or what's g o i n g t o be done w i t h you. Or how l o n g you're g o i n g t o s t a y . Why? DOC: None o f your b u s i n e s s . STEIN: That's r i g h t . AHRUN: But don't any o f you f e e l s t r a n g e a t not b e i n g where you s h o u l d be. Or w i t h who you want t o be w i t h . DOC: Where s h o u l d we be? STEIN: Who do we want t o be w i t h ? STEIN: Do you know where we a r e ? DOC: No. STEIN: Do you c a r e ? DOC: No. Do you? STEIN: Not i n t h e l e a s t . (pp. 55-56) The paradox o f t h e i r p o s i t i o n , however, l i e s i n t h e i r l e g e n d a r y m y s t i q u e . As p a r t o f American h i s t o r y - p o l i t i c a l and l i t e r a r y - t h e i r l i v e s a r e c o n t i n u a l l y re-examined and r e - i n t e r p r e t e d . "You s h o u l d never have c o n s e n t e d t o a l l those b i o g r a p h i e s , " (p. 49) Henry t e l l s S t e i n . W i t h each 33 new b i o g r a p h y , a new l i f e i s p r e s e n t e d , a new p o t e n t i a l i t y i s e n a c t e d . S t e i n i s c o n t i n u a l l y b e i n g made anew. Her r e b i r t h , however, i s not i n d i c a t i v e o f e x e r c i s e d p e r s o n a l freedom, but r a t h e r o f the power o f o t h e r s t o g i v e d e f i n i t i o n t o the s e l f . L i k e S a r t r e ' s d e f u n c t t r i o , S t e i n e x i s t s o n l y because the o t h e r s choose t o g r a n t h e r form. Henry's r e b i r t h i s a l s o l i t e r a r y . A g u r u - l i k e f i g u r e o f the m i d - t w e n t i e t h c e n t u r y , h i s o b s e s s i o n w i t h mass r e c o g n i t i o n ( t y p i f i e d by t h e P u l i t z e r P r i c e he i s c h a s i n g ) d r i v e s him t o i n s a n i t y . C l a i m -i n g t o be a " l i t e r a r y r e i n c a r n a t e " he e n a c t s the l i v e s o f Herman M e l v i l l e ' a n d John Donne as w e l l as h i s own. M e l v i l l e , t h e A merican l i t e r a r y g i a n t who d i e d i n o b s c u r i t y o n l y t o be r e - d i s c o v e r e d t h i r t y y e a r s l a t e r , i s a n o t h e r example o f r e s u r -r e c t i o n t h r o u g h fame. The most i n t e r e s t i n g i n s t a n c e o f t h i s phenomenon, however, i s the w e s t e r n h e r o , Doc H o l l i d a y . I n h i s c a s e , l e g e n d and myth have t o t a l l y e c l i p s e d the man who spanned them. "There's a r e a l man b e h i n d t h i s l e g e n d , " (p. 32) D o l l y reminds her son. The t r a g e d y , though, i s t h a t he i s no l o n g e r d i s c e r n i b l e . "How i s i t t h a t e v e r y t i m e you open your mouth you s a t i r i z e y o u r s e l f , " (p. 54) S t e i n a s k s Doc. L i o n i z e d i n numerous f i l m s and books Doc becomes a p a s s i v e r e c i p i e n t o f h i s l i f e r a t h e r than an a c t i v e c r e a t o r . "What d i d i t say i n the books," (p. 62) Doc a s ks Sara when q u e s t i o n e d about h i s a c t i o n s . The "perman-e n t p o t e n t i a l i t y " t h a t was once Doc H o l l i d a y now l i e s i n the hands o f f i l m makers and w r i t e r s . W i t h each new i n t e r p r e t a t i o n Doc i s - r e s u r r e c t e d and r e v i v e d ; h i s s t o r y , c o n t i n u a l l y r e w r i t t e n , 34 w i l l not die. Doc, Stein and Henry, however, are f i n a l l y rejected by Ahrun as fals e f i c t i o n s . "They're concerned only with being legendary," (p. 57) the concerns of the desert are not t h e i r s . Communication i s denied them because they can relate only in prescribed formulas. Their l i v e s are only the manipulations of others, who l i k e Ahrun, want to fin d i n t h e i r fame a theorem which w i l l explain the inescapable. Camus describes recognition of the absurd as "revolt 14 devoid of future." The posterity offered by fame and legend i s a fals e promise which only obscures the r e a l i t y of an immutable death. This absence of future and of hope i s further t h e a t r i c a l i z e d i n the play by i t s treatment of children. In the f i n a l scene Henry rejects Dolly's mothering: HENRY: Don't give me that. Your kind of s i l l y maternal i n s t i n c t s are never s a t i s f i e d . You want to expand the family. And I'm not having any part of i t . You hear? (p. 84) Likewise, Ahrun expresses no joy i n his daughter's pregnancy; "take her to the tent. She's going to give b i r t h to a monster." (p. 82) Like the Cranes who denied Max i n Ambush at Tether's End, Ahrun considers his poten t i a l grandchild to be "embarrassing". Rejection of children i s a common motif i n many plays which deal with the implications of the human condition - E s t e l l e , i n Huis Clos, for example, i s an infantcide. The small boy 35 s i g h t e d i n Endgame causes o n l y dismay; c h i l d r e n s i g n i f y the p e r p e t u a t i o n o f an i n t o l e r a b l e p r e d i c a m e n t and as such a r e viewed w i t h f e a r . However unwelcome c h i l d r e n may be, though, a b o r t i o n i s c o n s i d e r e d even more r e p r e h e n s i b l e . Walker's s t a g e d i r e c t i o n i n d i c a t e s t h i s : " A b o r t i o n i s a bad word i n t h i s p l a y f o r some r e a s o n . Everyone g r o a n s , m u t t e r s o r s h o u t s t h e i r d i s -a p p r o v a l . " (p- 77) R e d o l e n t o f B e c k e t t ' s " b i r t h a s t r i d e a g r a v e " i n W a i t i n g f o r Godot, a b o r t i o n r e p r e s e n t s s i m u l t a n e o u s l y t h e p o t e n t i a l f o r l i f e and t h e i n e s c a p a b l e d e a t h w h i c h w i l l 15 s n u f f t h a t l i f e o u t . The most p e r v e r s e r e p r e s e n t a t i o n o f c h i l d h o o d i n t h e p l a y , however, i s found i n t h e p a t h e t i c f i g u r e o f the deformed Ivanhoe. The o f f s p r i n g o f a f r a u d u l e n t l e g e n d he i s m u t i l a t e d , s c a r r e d and u n i n t e l l i g i b l e . L i k e the dismembered i n f a n t o f A l b e e ' s American Dream, Ivanhoe p e r s o n i f i e s the decay o f a f o u n d i n g mythos. "Dust has s e t t l e d on the American dream," (p. 23) M i t c h says a t the p l a y ' s o p e n i n g . Ahrun's v i s i o n , however, i s more g r o t e s q u e and p e s s i m i s t i c : AHRUN: . . . I a s k e d : What r i v e r i s t h i s ? I was t o l d t h a t i t was t h e r i v e r o f t e a r s t h a t men shed i n l a m e n t a t i o n f o r t h e i r dead. I found a l s o t h a t e v e r y t h i n g was p r o p o r t i o n a t e and t h a t those who s t o o d l o n g e r and were more decayed were t h e sons of the more wasted and v i l e who had d i e d . And t h o s e who shed but a few t e a r s and then passed on were the sons o f the dead who were c l o s e r t o goodness or c r e a t i o n . I s a t a w h i l e . Then I n o t i c e d a c l u s t e r o f men i n the background who seemed r o o t e d t o the e a r t h by d u s t and who were by f a r the most h i d e o u s o f a l l ; and whose s k i n s were f u l l o f g a p i n g f i l t h y b l o t c h e s and whose l i m b s were b o n e - t h i n and c r o o k e d . Who a r e the men i n t h a t u n f o r t u n a t e c l u s t e r , I a s k e d . And was t o l d - they a r e the sons o f the west. (p. 21) Ivanhoe i s d e s c r i b e d as " i m m e d i a t e l y h i d e o u s . A s h o r t s p r a w l i n g man w i t h a deformed f a c e . (A v i c t i m o f f i r e ) A p a r t i a l hunchback w i t h an o v e r s i z e d head." (p. 79) F o r D o l l y , though, he i s t h e embodiment o f the American s p i r i t . Having changed h i s name t o J o n e s , Ivanhoe s e t s out t o be t h e a i l - A m e r i c a n h e r o ; swimming Lake E r i e , c l i m b i n g Mount F u j i , i n v a d i n g K o r e a , he p e r p e t u a t e s t h e myth o f America as i n -v i n c i b l e . H i s h e r o i c a c t i o n s , and the myth which i n s p i r e s them, however, a r e u l t i m a t e l y undermined by the d i s f i g u r e d r e a l i t y o f h i s p h y s i c a l b e i n g . Unable t o bear h i s p u r u l e n t p r e s e n c e , the o t h e r s shoot him; y e t each s u p p l i e s a d i f f e r e n t m o tive f o r h i s a c t i o n . Do h i s f a t h e r , j u s t i f i e s h i m s e l f by s a y i n g , "He l o o k e d l i k e me when I'm o l d , u g l y and v e r y s h o r t . " (p. 22) D o l l y , "the mother who wanted a b e a u t i f u l baby" k i l l s o u t o f d i s g u s t e d d i s a p p o i n t m e n t , (p. 83) S t e i n , obsessed w i t h s t y l e , k i l l s because h i s "form was n o t c l e a r " and Henry u n l o v e d and "exed r i g h t o u t o f e x i s t e n c e " c l a i m s he would " k i l l anyone f o r a b s o l u t e l y no r e a s o n a t a l l . " (pp. 82-83) A c c u r a t e l y d e f i n e 37 by M i t c h as " c u l t u r a l t i d b i t s " t h e s e f i g u r e s , whose e x i s t e n c e i s dependent upon the c o n t i n u a t i o n o f the same c u l t u r a l e t h o s w hich Ivanhoe r e p r e s e n t s , must i n e v i t a b l y r e s i s t a l l d e n i g r a -t i o n s o f the l e g e n d . As the son o f a d e c a y i n g west, Ivanhoe r e p r e s e n t s t h e r e a l i t y o f a myth t u r n e d s o u r ; f e s t e r i n g and r a n c i d , he i s , l i k e Max, t h e s m e l l t h a t no-one wants " t o get used t o . " Bagdad's d e s e r t i s m u l t i f u n c t i o n a l i n Walker's p l a y ; i t i s s i m u l t a n e o u s l y the Camusian d e s e r t o f l u c i d awareness, the l o c a l e o f myth-making e v e n t s and f i n a l l y the s y m b o l i c r e p r e -s e n t a t i o n o f the a r i d i t y o f t h o s e myths. " I n the d e s e r t no-one can a f f o r d t o be B r i t i s h , " (p. 69) M i t c h t e l l s A l a d d i n . The same can be s a i d o f A m e r i c a . N a t i o n a l myth-making and p a t r i o t i c f e r v o r p a l e b e f o r e t h e i r r a t i o n a l o f a s i l e n t u n i -v e r s e . S e l f - i m p o s e d d e f i n i t i o n s and c l a s s i f i c a t i o n s o n l y o b s c u r e t h e p a i n o f one's i n e s c a p a b l e i s o l a t i o n w i t h i n the l a r g e r u n i n t e l l i g i b l e v o i d . R e l i g i o n i s a l s o r e j e c t e d as an answer t o man's p a i n f u l p r e d i c a m e n t . By making the s u n - c r a z e d S t e i n champion of s p i r i t u a l d o c t r i n e , Walker e f f e c t i v e l y d i m i n i s h e s any v a l i d i t y i t may p o s s e s s : STEIN: S i l e n c e . I've j u s t come from the d e s e r t . No, I wasn't w a i t i n g f o r God o r the Son o f God, or the nephew o r the s e -cond c o u s i n o f God. I was w a i t i n g f o r the u n i v e r s e t o s t r a i g h t e n up i t s a c t . I was w a i t i n g f o r t h e i r r a t i o n a l t o be-come r a t i o n a l and the c o n t r a and p r o q u i d , p r o factem of a l l t h a t t o become f i n a l l y and c r y s t a l l y c l e a r . 38 D i d i t ? ( D o l l y goes t o Ivanhoe, s t r a i g h t e n s h i s c l o t h i n g . Smoothes h i s h a i r . ) I was v i s i t e d by a f a m i l y o f gophers. We c o n v e r s e d . They i n v i t e d r e l a t i v e s . ...Much d i a l o g u e and i n t e r a c t i o n between me and t h e gophers. Good news.' The /world i s n o t a r b i t r a r y . E v e r y t h i n g i s m o t i v a t e d . They have a d o c t r i n e . Those gophers a r e Moslems. (p. 85) The f i n a l t a b l e a u o f the p l a y , f u r t h e r c o u n t e r s S t e i n ' s a s s e r t i o n t h a t "the w o r l d i s n o t a r b i t r a r y . " A hrun, A l a d d i n and t h e i r s e r v a n t a l l s i t " m o t i o n l e s s " and "d u s t y " t h r o u g h o u t the f i n a l scene w h i l e s t e i n d e c l a r e s t h a t she i s " g o i n g back i n t o the d e s e r t t o d i e and be r e b o r n . " (p. 85) The p l a y then r e v e r s e s i t s e l f , t o end w i t h S t e i n r e p e a t i n g , " I f I r e t u r n y o u ' l l know I've f a i l e d . " (p. 86) Caught i n a r e v o l v i n g door o f e n t r a n c e s and e x i t s r e - b i r t h becomes i m p o s s i b l e . S t e i n i s now t h o r o u g h l y immured i n her s t a s i s . Walker has s u b t i t l e d h i s p l a y "A C a r t o o n " and i t s f a s t pace and l i v e l y a c t i o n s u p p o r t t h i s c l a s s i f i c a t i o n . M. Thomas Inge i n h i s a r t i c l e "The A e s t h e t i c s o f t h e Comic S t r i p " de-s c r i b e s the c a r t o o n as the f o l l o w i n g : I t i s a n a r r a t i v e o f words and p i c t u r e s b o t h v e r b a l and v i s u a l i n which . . . n e i t h e r words n o r p i c t u r e s a r e q u i t e s a t i s f a c t o r y a l o n e w i t h o u t the o t h e r . I t i s the i n t e r d e p e n d e n c e o f word and p i c t u r e t h a t g i v e s t o the comics t h e i r most unique and d i s t i n g u i s h i n g c h a r a c t e r i s t i c . - ^ HENRY: STEIN: T h i s i n t e r r e l a t i o n s h i p between word and image f i n d s a home a l s o i n E s s l i n ' s T h e a t r e o f t h e Absurd where " c o n c r e t e stage 3 9 images" t a k e t h e p l a c e o f r a t i o n a l d i s c u r s i v e speech. Language, though a v i t a l p a r t o f the a b s u r d i s t t h e a t r e , never f u n c t i o n s w i t h o u t a c o r r e s p o n d i n g v i s u a l image. The same i s t r u e o f Bagdad S a l o o n . The M a s o n e t t e s , the c o r p s e , the s a l o o n as w e l l as the many costumes and p o s t u r e s o f the c h a r a c t e r s a l l complement i n some f a s h i o n o r o t h e r t h e p l a y ' s d i a l o g u e . R o b e r t Barshay's a r t i c l e " B l a c k Humour i n the Modern C a r t o o n " o b s e r v e s t h a t "Perhaps one common c h a r -a c t e r i s t i c o f b l a c k humour a p p l i c a b l e t o a l l the genres i n whi c h i t i s found i s the t r a n s f o r m a t i o n o f the i n v i s i b l e t o 17 the s t a r k l y v i s i b l e . " Walker's s t a g e imagery, l i k e t h a t o f the p l a y w r i g h t s whom E s s l i n has c l a s s e d as " a b s u r d i s t " i s a p h y s i c a l i z a t i o n o f t h e mood or tone o f the p l a y . The Masonettes a r e r e p r e s e n t a t i v e o f man as h e l p l e s s puppet, a b e i n g c o n t i n u a l l y m a n i p u l a t e d and manoeuvred. The c o r p s e , l i k e t h e morbid Max o f Ambush a t T e t h e r ' s End, i s an e v e r p r e s e n t r e m i n d e r o f the f a t e w h i c h a w a i t s a l l . The s a l o o n i s r e d o l e n t o f the m y t h i c west. As V i r g i l ' s A e n e i d d i d f o r I m p e r i a l Rome w e s t e r n movies and comic books have p r o -po g a n d i z e d and l e g i t i m i z e d American p r o s p e r i t y and dominance. And f i n a l l y , t h e l a r g e r image o f the e n v e l o p i n g d e s e r t combines a l l t h e s e symbols; the i n d i v i d u a l , f a c e d w i t h b o t h the a r i d i t y o f h i s s o c i e t y and the i r r a t i o n a l i t y o f h i s u n i v e r s e e x i s t s i n i s o l a t i o n . " I n such a l a r g e d e s e r t a man s h o u l d be a b l e t o d i e a l o n e , " (p. 6 8 ) A l a d d i n s t a t e s . The i r o n i c t r a g e d y i s , 40 o f c o u r s e , t h a t i n such a d e s e r t one has no c h o i c e but to d i e a l o n e . Imagery, however, i s not the s o l e l i n k between Wa l ke r ' s p l a y and the Thea t re of the Absurd . Mathew Winston d e f i n e s the c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n o f absurd b l a ck humour as the f o l l o w i n g : Absurd b l a ck humor tends to p r e s e n t c h a r a c t e r s who seem to be long to the wor ld of comedy. They are i g n o b l e wretches w i t h p e t t y prob lems, l i m i t e d r e s p o n s e s , and l i t t l e p s y c h o l o g i c a l d e p t h . Such c h a r a c t e r s do not deve lop i n the cour se o f a work; they are t h e i r own dilemma and w i l l f o r e v e r be so . In most comedy they would be the excep t i on s to an o therw i se h e a l t h y and f u n c t i o n i n g s o c i e t y , but i n absurd b l ack humor t h e r e i s no o ther k i n d of c h a r a c t e r . Without the c o n t r a s t o f ' n o r m a l ' c h a r a c t e r s , we cannot be c e r t a i n t h a t the i n d i v i d u a l s we see a re a b e r r a t i o n s , and so we do not know what to expect o r how to judge.17 T h i s d e f i n i t i o n a p p l i e s not on l y to Bagdad Saloon but a l s o to Ambush a t T e t h e r ' s End. Bush and G a i t w i thout d i f f i c u l t y , c o u l d be d e s c r i b e d as " i g n o b l e " " p e t t y " and p o s s e s s i n g " l i t t l e p s y c h o l o g i c a l d e p t h . " The same ho lds t r u e f o r Doc, S t e i n and Henry. "Why are you always a r gu ing about the p e t t i e s t o f t h i n g s ? " (p. 54) Ahrun asks o f them. The a c c o r d i o n - l i k e end ing of the p l a y , however, u n i t e s a l l the c h a r a c t e r s , not j u s t the t h r e e legends i n a n o - e x i t t u n n e l . L i k e Bush and G a i t , the pa t rons o f the Bagdad Sa loon w i l l be f o r e v e r l o cked i n t h e i r common di lemma. Communication i s a l s o impos s i b l e f o r the c h a r a c t e r s o f absurd b l a c k humour. Winston s t a t e s t h a t "words become c l i c h e , 41 b a b e l o r a r e f u g e from e x p e r i e n c e . " S t e i n ' s c o n v e r s a t i o n i s , t h r o u g h o u t the p l a y , u n i n t e l l i g i b l e . Ahrun c o n t i n u a l l y p r o t e s t s a g a i n s t h er e v a s i o n s : " I don't u n d e r s t a n d ; " "No I don't f o l l o w you S t e i n ; " "Don't co n f u s e me S t e i n , " (pp. 70-71) become h i s c o n t i n u a l r e f r a i n . S i m i l a r l y S t e i n accuses Henry o f u s i n g " k i n d e r g a r t e n r h e t o r i c " w h i l e Doc s t r u g g l e s w i t h a p r i m a r y r e a d e r . I t i s f i n a l l y , though, the g a r b l e d speech o f t h e deformed Ivanhoe which u n d e r l i n e s the i m p o s s i b i l i t y o f communication. Knowing o n l y s i x words - and each o f the s e n o n s e n s i c a l - Ivanhoe can o n l y communicate t h r o u g h an i n t e r -p r e t e r . Ambush a t T e t h e r ' s End a l s o exposes the e q u i v o c a l n a t u r e of language. I v a n h o e 1 s g i b b e r i s h i n Bagdad S a l o o n i s a g r a p h i c r e p r e s e n t a t i o n o f the i n e f f e c t i v e n e s s o f language i n a d e s e r t which houses o n l y the i r r a t i o n a l . Walker's t e c h n i q u e i n Ambush a t T e t h e r ' s End, however, v a r i e s from t h i s . Language, h e r e , i s p r e s e n t e d as e q u i v o c a l and p u r p o s e f u l l y ambiguous; i n such a s t a n c e i t m i r r o r s t h e l a r g e r a r b i t r a r y and u n p r e d i c t -a b l e w o r l d . G a i t , a f t e r r e a d i n g Max's note s t a t i n g , " I t e l e -phoned my dear f r i e n d s Bush and G a i t and th e y b o t h t o l d me t o go hang m y s e l f " r e p l i e s i n e x a s p e r a t i o n , " I t was o n l y a f i g u r e o f speech." (p. 99) G a i t may have been s p e a k i n g f i g u r a t i v e l y t o Max b u t the b i n a r y n a t u r e o f h i s message a l -lowed i t a second i n t e r p r e t a t i o n . L a t e r when Bush o f f e r s G a i t "a synonym f o r s t a g n a n t ponds," G a i t can o n l y say "why b o t h e r ? " (p. 103) Language, l i k e e v e r y t h i n g e l s e i n t h e i r 42 c a p r i c i o u s w o r l d , i s too e l u s i v e t o be d e f i n e d . I n a n o t h e r a r t i c l e Winston d e s c r i b e s "the d i s p a r i t y 20 between c o n t e n t and form" as the " h a l l m a r k o f b l a c k humor." He c o n t i n u e s , "The c o n t e n t s p r o v i d e the b l a c k n e s s and the 21 s t y l e m i t i g a t e s t h a t b l a c k n e s s w i t h humor." T h i s i n c o n g r u i t y w hich t y p i f i e s b l a c k humour i s p r e s e n t i n b o t h p l a y s d i s c u s s e d h e r e . The s u i c i d e i n Ambush a t T e t h e r ' s End i s t r e a t e d w i t h a nonchalance and i n d i f f e r e n c e . t h a t b e l i e s t h e h o r r o r o f the e v e n t . As Max r o t s and d e c a y s , Bush and G a i t c o n c e r n themselves w i t h p e t t y i n s u l t s and w o r r i e s . F e a r i n g o n l y the exposure w h i c h Max has p r e p a r e d f o r them they remain unconcerned about h i s d e a t h . L i k e w i s e t h e n o t e s which c o n t i n u a l l y drop from Max's c o r p s e m i n i m i z e the s i g n i f i c a n c e o f t h e s i t u a t i o n . A b l e t o i n f l u e n c e e v e n t s he remains a p a r t i c i p a n t i n t h e i r l i v e s and as such i s t r e a t e d by Bush and G a i t as a t h i r d p a r t y . BUSH: You've g o t t h e same problem I have. GALT: What's t h a t ? BUSH: Don't know whether t o t a l k about him i n the p a s t o r the p r e s e n t t e n s e . GALT: I t ' s a l l t h e s e memos and i n s t r u c t i o n s . BUSH: I say i t ' s v e r y unorthodox b e h a v i o u r f o r a c o r p s e . He'd never have made a go o f i t i n the b u s i n e s s w o r l d . (pp. 125-126) H i g h l y u n o r t h o d o x , a l s o , i s the b e h a v i o u r o f Max's p a r e n t s . A n a l y t i c a l l y and w i t h o u t emotion, they s c r u t i n i z e the d e a t h mask o f t h e i r son: 43 MRS. CRANE: There doesn't seem t o be one. MR. CRANE: That's r i g h t . Not e x a c t l y a s i g n o f s i n c e r i t y , i s i t ? To d i e w i t h o u t a t w i s t o f emotion. MRS. CRANE: Not a l i n e o ut o f p l a c e . MR. CRANE: S l a c k - j a w e d and i n d i f f e r e n t . (p. 148) Though we may l a u g h a t t h e Crane's t r e a t m e n t of t h e i r son's c o r p s e we do so i n f u l l awareness of the r e p r e h e n s i b i l i t y o f t h e i r a c t i o n s . P a r e n t a l i n d i f f e r e n c e t o o f f s p r i n g , c h a r -a c t e r i s t i c o f many a b s u r d i s t p l a y s , i s p r e s e n t e d here as m a t e r i a l f o r s t a g e comedy. As w i t h the a b s u r d i s t p l a y w r i g h t s t h i s comic i n d i f f e r e n c e masks a b l a c k e r t r u t h ; t r a p p e d i n a c h a o t i c and e q u i v o c a l u n i v e r s e t h e l u c i d man r e j e c t s a l l p r o -mises of a f a l s e f u t u r e : c h i l d r e n , as symbols o f r e j u v e n a t i o n and c o n t i n u a n c e , w i l l then a l s o be r e j e c t e d . I n c o n g r u i t y i s a l s o p r e s e n t i n Bagdad S a l o o n . Walker's c a v a l i e r p r e s e n t a t i o n o f Doc, S t e i n and Henry r u n s c o n t r a r y t o a u d i e n c e e x p e c t a t i o n . L i k e the famous personnages o f Tom S toppard's T r a v e s t i e s , t h e s e f i g u r e s a r e t r i v i a l i z e d and ex-p l o i t e d f o r a u t h o r i a l p u r p o s e s . P h y s i c a l v i o l e n c e i s a l s o t r e a t e d w i t h apathy and unconcern i n the p l a y ; Henry s l a s h e s h i s w r i s t s ; D o l l y s l i c e s Doc's neck; A l a d d i n runs e l e c t r i c a l c u r r e n t s t h r o u g h S t e i n . None of t h i s v i o l e n c e , however, has any s e r i o u s consequences and the o t h e r c h a r a c t e r s b a r e l y pass comment upon i t . 44 The most o b v i o u s m i x t u r e o f b l a c k n e s s and humour i s once a g a i n found i n .the d i s f i g u r e d p r e s ence o f Ivanhoe. H i d e o u s , deformed and v e r y , v e r y o l d , the hunchback whom D o l l y r e f e r s t o as "a s i g h t f o r s o r e eyes" s t e p s i n t o the l i m e l i g h t t o l i p - s y n c "The Good Life'.:" Winston c l a i m s t h a t the s u c c e s s o f b l a c k humour l i e s i n i t s a b i l i t y t o d i s o r i e n t the a u d i e n c e ; the s p e c t a t o r ' s p e r s p e c t i v e and d i s t a n c e from the work must con-s t a n t l y be s h i f t e d : "Often we a r e made t o l a u g h a t a c h a r -a c t e r then s u d d e n l y t o r e c o g n i z e t h a t we share h i s dilemma and 22 t h e r e f o r e have been l a u g h i n g a t o u r s e l v e s a l l a l o n g . " T h i s i s s u r e l y the case w i t h Walker's Ivanhoe. Our l a u g h t e r a r i s e s from t h e i n a p p r o p r i a t e n e s s o f t h e responses o f the o t h e r c h a r -a c t e r s t o him. D o l l y ' s terms of endearment, " s u g a r " , "honey", and " d a r l i n g " o n l y h i g h l i g h t the d i s p a r i t y between the h o r r o r o f Ivanhoe's p h y s i c a l i t y and t h e image which such e x p r e s s i o n s n o r m a l l y s u g g e s t . E q u a l l y l u d i c r o u s are the r e a c t i o n s o f S t e i n and Henry. S t e i n screams n o n s e n s i c a l l y , "Mother! I t ' s my mother" w h i l e Henry madly shou t s "Get back. I t ' s t h e demon whale! My lampoon, Mr. S t a r b u c k . " (p. 79) Our compassion, however, i s evoked when Ahrun e n t e r s and a c c u r a t e l y d e c l a r e s Ivanhoe, "A poor wretch....A sad s t o r y . " (p. 81) Ivanhoe's f i n a l g r a s p a t "The Good L i f e " b e f o r e c o l l a p s i n g from h i s b u l l e t wound, a l t h o u g h somewhat o v e r s t a t e d as an image, succeeds n o n e t h e l e s s i n r e m i n d i n g us o f the r e a l i t y o f our p r e d i c a m e n t . The m e t a p h o r i c a l d e s e r t p o s i t e d by Walker i n Bagdad S a l o o n i s one w h i c h must i n e v i t a b l y e x c l u d e any p o s s i b i l i t y o f "the good l i f e . " L i k e Ivanhoe, however, our l i f e i n t h e d e s e r t i s e q u a l l y f u t i l e ; a g i n g ..every day our b o d i e s r a c e towards decay, y e t d e s p i t e t h e i n e v i t a b i l i t y o f such a f a t e , we con-t i n u e t o t r y t o communicate t o make c o n t a c t , and t o b e l i e v e i n the p o t e n t i a l i t y o f a "good l i f e . " I n t h i s r e s p e c t , we i d e n t i f y w i t h Ivanhoe; h i s s t r u g g l e t o a s s i m i l a t e i n a w o r l d w hich c o n t i n u a l l y r e j e c t s him p a r a l l e l s our p e r s i s t a n c e i n s e e k i n g meaning i n a u n i v e r s e w h i c h p o s s e s s e s none. R o b e r t Barshay says o f t h e b l a c k h u m o u r i s t / c a r t o o n i s t : He r e v e a l s t h e p r e c a r i o u s s i t u a t i o n i n which modern man i s r o o t e d i n a r o o t l e s s w o r l d , exposes the un-c o n t r o l l a b l e f o r c e s a g a i n s t which man i s i g n o r a n t l y p i t t e d , m a g n i f i e s t h e impotence of man's w i l l a g a i n s t a r b i t r a r y change and c o n c e r t e d h o s t i l i t y , and hopes to e x o r c i s e h i s a l l t o o f r e q u e n t s h r i n k a g e from a b e i n g with„dignity t o an i n s e n s i b l e o b j e c t of mani-p u l a t i o n . T h i s i s c l e a r l y the p o s i t i o n o f Walker i n Bagdad Saloon and Ambush a t T e t h e r ' s End where c h a r a c t e r s a r e seen as pawns i n games th e y don't u n d e r s t a n d ; where m y t h o l o g i c a l and r e l i g i o u s b e l i e f systems a r e exposed as f a u l t y and f u t i l e b e f o r e t h e " v a s t i r r a t i o n a l " o f an amorphous cosmos and where man i s s t r i p p e d o f any d i g n i t y o r grandeur t h a t might ennoble h i s p o s i t i o n . 46 NOTES CHAPTER ONE 1. A l b e r t Camus, The Myth o f Sysyphus t r a n s . J u s t i n O ' B r i e n (New York: A l f r e d A. K n o f f , 1969), p. 21-2. Camus, p. 9. 3 . Camus , p. 25 . .-4. A l l r e f e r e n c e s w i l l be to the f o l l o w i n g e d i t i o n s : George F . Walker, Ambush a t T e t h e r ' s End i n The F a c t o r y Lab  Antho logy ed. Connie B r i s s enden , (Vancouve r : Ta lonbooks , 1974) George F. Walker , Bagdad Sa loon i n Three P l ay s . (Toronto: Coach House P r e s s , 1978). 5. Edward M u l l a l y , "Wa i t i n g f o r L e f t y , Godot and Canadian T h e a t r e , " The F i d d l e h e a d , No. 104, (1975), p. 53. 6. C h r i s Johnson, "George F. Wa lker : B-Movies Beyond the A b s u r d , " Canadian L i t e r a t u r e , No. 85 (1980), p. 91-7. J e a n - P a u l S a r t r e , In Camera, t r a n s . S t u a r t G i l b e r t (London: Hamish Hami l ton , 1946), p. 157. A l l f u r t h e r r e f e r e n c e s w i l l be to t h i s e d i t i o n . 8. Camus, p. 11. 9. Camus, p. 27. 10. Eugene Ionesco, Notes and Counter No tes , t r a n s . Donald Watson (New York: Grove P r e s s , 1964), p. 193. 11. M a r t i n E s s l i n , The Theat re o f the Absu rd . (M idd lesex: Penguin Books, 1961), p. 153. 12. Camus, pp. 79-80. 13. Camus, p. 80. 14. Camus, p. 66. 15. Samuel B e c k e t t , Wa i t i n g f o r Godot (New York : Grove P r e s s , 1954), p. 57. 16. M. Thomas Inge, "The A e s t h e t i c s o f the Comic S t r i p " J o u r n a l of Popu lar C u l t u r e , 12, No. 4 (1979), p. 641-47 17. Robert Barshay, "B l ack Humour i n the Modern C a r t o o n " i n I t ' s a Funny T h i n g , Humour e d . Antony J . Chapman and Hugh C. Foot (Oxford: Pergamon P r e s s , 1977), p. 57. 18. Mathew Winston, "Humour n o i r and B lack Humor," i n Ve in s o f Humor ed Harry L e v i n (Cambridge: Harvard U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1972), p. 278. 19. Winston, p. 2 79. 20. Mathew Winston, " B l a c k Humor: To Weep w i t h Laugh ing " i n Comedy: New P e r s p e c t i v e s e d . Maur ice Charney (New York : New York L i t e r a r y Forum, 1978), p. 33. 21. Winston, "B l ack Humor" p. 33. '22. Winston, "Humour n o i r , " p. 276-23. Bar shay, p. 57-48 CHAPTER TWO BEYOND MOZAMBIQUE P h i l i p Thomson i n h i s book The Grotesque d e l i n e a t e s the r e l a t i o n o f the g r o t e s q u e t o the ab s u r d ( i . e . the ab s u r d as a t h e m a t i c r a t h e r than t h e a t r i c a l r e p r e s e n t a t i o n ) as the f o l l o w i n g : We have seen t h a t t h e g r o t e s q u e can be reduced t o a c e r t a i n f o r m a l p a t t e r n . But t h e r e i s no f o r m a l p a t t e r n , no s t r u c t u r a l c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s p e c u l i a r t o the a b s u r d : i t can o n l y be p e r c e i v e d as c o n t e n t , as a q u a l i t y , a f e e l i n g o r atmosphere, an a t t i t u d e o r w o r l d - v i e w . The f o r m a l means o f p r e s e n t i n g i t are many and v a r i e d : the ab s u r d can be e x p r e s s e d t h r o u g h i r o n y , o r t h r o u g h p h i l o s o p h i c argument, o r th r o u g h the g r o t e s q u e i t s e l f . I n c o n n e c t i o n w i t h t h e l a t t e r p o s s i b i l i t y , we s h o u l d note t h a t c o n s i s t e n t p e r c e p t i o n o f the g r o t e s q u e , o r t h e p e r c e p t i o n o f g r o t e s q u e on a grand s c a l e , can l e a d t o the n o t i o n o f u n i v e r s a l a b s u r d i t y . 1 Camus d e s c r i b e s t h i s c o n c e p t o f a b s u r d i t y as estrangement: " i n a u n i v e r s e s u d d e n l y d i v e s t e d o f i l l u s i o n s and l i g h t s , 2 man f e e l s an a l i e n , a s t r a n g e r . " The a l i e n a t e d and the e s t r a n g e d a r e p r e c i s e l y the c h a r a c t e r s who comprise Walker's 3 f i f t h p l a y Beyond Mozambique. F u g i t i v e s from an i n e s c a p a b l e p a s t , t h e s e e x i l e s l i v e i s o l a t e d and a f r a i d i n a h o s t i l e j u n g l e . T h i s no-man's-land w h i c h t h e y i n h a b i t w i l l a l l o w n e i t h e r r e t r e a t nor advancement f o r i n t e g r a t i o n i n t o t h e chaos o f the j u n g l e i n e v i t a b l y p r oves as i m p o s s i b l e as does r e - e n t r y i n t o t h e i r abandoned homelands. Of the a l i e n a t e d 49 man Camus s t a t e s , "His e x i l e i s w i t h o u t remedy s i n c e he i s d e p r i v e d o f t h e memory of a l o s t home o r the hope o f a 4 promised l a n d . " Such i s t h e p o s i t i o n o f Walker's c h a r -a c t e r s . The " u n i v e r s a l a b s u r d i t y " which d e f i n e s t h e i r c o n d i t i o n f i n d s i t s e x p r e s s i o n i n t h e i r combined a l i e n a t i o n and i s o l a -t i o n w i t h i n a c h a o t i c and u n p r e d i c t a b l e w o r l d . The v i s i o n o f Beyond Mozambique i s i n d e e d " g r o t e s q u e n e s s on a grand s c a l e . " Thomson s i t u a t e s w i t h i n the g r o t e s q u e the "co-presence o f t h e l a u g h a b l e and something which i s incom-5 p a t i b l e w i t h the l a u g h a b l e . " Mathew Winston n o t e s t h a t i t " i s o b s e s s e d w i t h t h e human body, w i t h the ways i n which i t can be d i s t o r t e d , s e p a r a t e d i n t o i t s component p a r t s , m u t i l a t e d and abused."^ Lee Byron J e n n i n g s o b s e r v e s the i n c l u s i o n i n the g r o t e s q u e o f a " f i g u r e imagined i n terms o f human form but d e v o i d o f r e a l humanity" and adds t h a t t h i s g r o t e s q u e f i g u r e "always d i s p l a y s a c o m b i n a t i o n o f fearsome and l u d i -7 c r o u s q u a l i t i e s . " F o r Thomson the " u n r e s o l v e d n a t u r e o f the g r o t e s q u e c o n f l i c t " - i . e . , t h e t e n s i o n i n h e r e n t i n such a c o m b i n a t i o n - i s t h e " d i s t i n g u i s h i n g f e a t u r e o f the g r o t e s q u e . " I n Winston's words the r e a d e r must be kept " u n e a s i l y suspended 9 between the two r e s p o n s e s . " I t i s t h i s s u s p e n s i o n w h i c h c r e a t e s i n t h e r e a d e r the same c o n f u s i o n - and hence th e same a l i e n a t i o n - w h i c h t h e c h a r a c t e r s a r e e x p e r i e n c i n g . The h o r r o r s o f Beyond Mozambique, i t s m u t i l a t i o n s , r a p e s and deaths 50 i n j e c t i n t o t h e p l a y the n e c e s s a r y mood of f e a r and t e r r o r . Y et t h i s t e r r i f y i n g q u a l i t y i s c o n t i n u a l l y u n d e r c u t by t h e c h a r a c t e r s l a c k o f c o n c e r n and the p l a y ' s comic s t y l e . I t i s t h i s comic m i t i g a t i o n o f t h e p l a y ' s h o r r i f i c e v e n t s w h i c h s i t u a t e s Walker i n t h e t r a d i t i o n o f b l a c k humour - "a t r a d i t i o n w hich combines t o produce some o f the b e s t examples o f the ..10 g r o t e s q u e . The o p e n i n g t a b l e a u o f Beyond Mozambique s u g g e s t s immediate-l y the c o - p r e s e n c e o f o p p o s i t e s f o r f l a n k i n g e i t h e r s i d e o f the s t e p s a r e a p i c n i c t a b l e and an o p e r a t i n g t a b l e . More s t r o n g l y f e l t though i s t h e sense o f i s o l a t i o n . The " o l d p o o r l y main-t a i n e d c o l o n i a l house" i s c o m p l e t e l y "surrounded by j u n g l e . " S c a t t e r e d around i t a r e " o l d t i r e s ; machine p a r t s , magazines and newspapers." Most s i g n i f i c a n t perhaps i s the " b a t t e r e d t e l e p h o n e p o l e " w h i c h r e s t s a g a i n s t the house, i t s " w i r e s hanging t o t h e ground." As communication w i t h the w o r l d be-yond the j u n g l e i s i m p o s s i b l e , the i n h a b i t a n t s here must s u r v i v e w i t h i n the c o n f i n e s o f t h e i r own environment; y e t as the s t a g e s u g g e s t s i t i s a w o r l d i n d i s a r r a y and decay. Technology has been d i s m a n t l e d and the c o n q u e r i n g s p i r i t o f i m p e r i a l i s m i s w i t h e r i n g from n e g l e c t . The p l a y i s t i g h t l y c o n s t r u c t e d h a v i n g o n l y s i x c h a r -a c t e r s and s i x scenes and t h r o u g h o u t i t the menance o f the e n v e l o p i n g j u n g l e i s s t r e s s e d ; i n c o h e r e n t mumblings, p i e r c i n g screams and r h y t h m i c drums p u n c t u a t e th e c o n v e r s a t i o n on the 51 p o r c h . L i v i n g i n t h e c o l o n i a l house a r e Dr. E n r i c o Rocco and h i s w i f e 01ga. Rocco i s an I t a l i a n d o c t o r h i d i n g from j u s t i c e - h i s h i s t o r y i n c l u d e s a s t i n t i n the N a z i l a b o r a t o r i e s e x p e r i m e n t i n g on human g u i n e a p i g s . H i s w i f e Olga l i k e w i s e i s h i d i n g ; h er f l i g h t , however, i s from r e a l i t y and she t a k e s r e f u g e i n b e i n g " c l a s s i c a l l y d e l u d e d . " B e l i e v i n g h e r s e l f t o be Olga from Chekhov's Three S i s t e r s , she hums P o l o v t s i a n Dances and f a n t a s i z e s a s i s t e r named Masha. Rocco and Olga are a i d e d i n t h e i r c h o r e s by a Greek named Tomas. As Rocco's l a b o r a t o r y a s s i s t a n t he r o b s t h e l o c a l graves f o r c a d a v e r s w i t h which Rocco can e x p e r i m e n t . H i s d u t i e s towards O l g a , however, a r e o f a d o m e s t i c n a t u r e and i n c l u d e b o t h t h e k i t c h e n and t h e bedroom. The l o c a l law o f f i c e r i s an ex-Mountie s e n t by h i s s u p e r i o r s t o p r o v e h i m s e l f . C o r r u p t , d e l i r i o u s w i t h f e v e r and v i o l e n t l y p s y c h o t i c , the C o r p o r a l , however, i s more r e p r e s e n t a t i v e o f chaos t h a n o f o r d e r . L i d u c , the p a r i s h p r i e s t , l i k e w i s e , has been e x i l e d t o the j u n g l e i n t h e hope t h a t he " w i l l never be he a r d o f a g a i n ; " a p e d e r a s t and a j u n k i e he has been r e j e c t e d by h i s c h u r c h as an embarrassment. The f i n a l i n h a b i t a n t , R i t a , i n f l i g h t from a p a s t w h i c h i n c l u d e s p o r n f i l m s and a p h y s i c a l l y a b u s i v e b o y f r i e n d , p asses her time i n c i n e m a t i c r e v e r i e : RITA: Sometimes I j u s t pour m y s e l f a s t i f f g i n and l e a n a g a i n s t t h a t b i g t r e e o u t s i d e my t e n t and j u s t l e t t h a t sun s i n k s l o w l y down i n t o the ground w h i l e I shake the i c e cubes around i n the g l a s s . And when I do t h a t I get so d e e p l y i n t o R i t a Hayworth I c o u l d j u s t about d i e . (p. 107) 52 Obsessed w i t h f i l m i c f a n t a s y , R i t a dreams o f the movie which w i l l l e g i t i m i z e h e r c a r e e r . I n s e l f - m o c k e r y she d e s c r i b e s her f i c t i o n a l r o l e ; " I p l a y a s t u p i d s l u t who always wanted t o be an a c t r e s s . " (p. 106) The p l a y ' s l i n k t o Holl y w o o d , however, goes beyond R i t a ' s c i n e m a t i c a l l u s i o n s . The s t e r e o t y p e d c h a r a c t e r s and s e t t i n g o f Beyond Mozambique i m m e d i a t e l y suggest t o an audience r a i s e d on l a t e n i g h t t e l e v i s i o n , t h e b i z a r r e w o r l d o f the f i f t i e s ' B-movie, as C h r i s Johnson p o i n t s o u t . However, " w h i l e i t s mode i s t h a t o f the B-movie, i t s c o n t e n t i s not."^" 1 The m a n i a c a l schemes o f a p e r v e r s e s c i e n t i s t and h i s d i m - w i t t e d a s s i s t a n t were common f a r e among the f i f t i e s h o r r o r f l i c s , Dr. F r a n k e n s t e i n and h i s c r e a t i o n b e i n g the p r o t o t y p e f o r t h i s g enre., The t h r e a t o f e v i l i n h e r e n t i n thes e c o u p l e s , however, was u s u a l l y viewed as temporary; the f r e n z y which they p e r p e t r a t e d was i n e v i t a b l y conquered. Here i n Beyond  Mozambique, however, the chaos w h i c h e n v e l o p e s the c h a r a c t e r s does n o t a l l o w t h i s t h r e a t t o be p e r c e i v e d as f o r e i g n ; e v i l i s p r e s e n t e d r a t h e r as endemic t o the environment. An i n t r i n s i c p a r t o f the u n i v e r s e i t can never be e r a d i c a t e d . The r e l a t i o n s h i p between Rocco and Tomas a l s o v a r i e s from i t s c i n e m a t i c c o u n t e r p a r t s . Tomas, found " i n t h e d e s e r t s urrounded by a p l a t o o n o f dead s o l d i e r s , " w i t h "a b u l l e t i n h i s b r a i n " i s l i k e so many o f the r e c o n s t r u c t e d l a b o r a t o r y monsters o f the movies, (p. 120) R e s u r r e c t e d by Rocco, he 53 becomes t h e b u t c h e r b e h i n d the d o c t o r ' s e x p e r i m e n t s - o f t e n r e s o r t i n g t o murder i n h i s q u e s t f o r c a d a v e r s . O l g a , l i k e -w i s e , c l a i m s him as her " l a c k e y . " C l o t h e d i n an apron when the c r a z e d c o u p l e found him, Tomas becomes Olga's homemaker. Un-l i k e h i s f i l m i c a n c e s t o r s , however, Tomas i s not a n n i h i l a t e d . R a t h e r , h i s f a t e i s t h e e x a c t r e v e r s e f o r n o t o n l y does he s u r v i v e the e n t i r e l e n g t h o f the p l a y , b u t he does so a t the expense o f the o t h e r s . Johnson sees i n t h i s r e v e r s a l , a b a t t l e between the r a c e s and a r e j e c t i o n o f i m p e r i a l i s t i c a r r o g a n c e and Walker h i m s e l f would appear t o endorse t h i s v i e w : Beyond Mozambique e x p r e s s e s what I t h i n k t h o s e j u n g l e movies were r e a l l y a l l about - t h e u g l i n e s s , t h e i m p e r i a l i s t q u a l i t y , the d e s p e r a - ^ t i o n o f the c h a r a c t e r s i n a t h e a t r i c a l s e t t i n g . M e t a p h o r i c a l l y , the p l i g h t o f t h e w e s t e r n c h a r a c t e r s can e a s i l y be i n t e r p r e t e d as a comment on the c o r r u p t i o n of t h e i r c u l t u r e . R e presented i n t h e s e f i v e c h a r a c t e r s a r e the i n s t i t u t i o n s o f m e d i c i n e , l a w, r e l i g i o n , a r t and sex. Each o f t h e s e i n s t i t u -t i o n s , however, proves i m p o t e n t b e f o r e the s u r r o u n d i n g chaos and i s u l t i m a t e l y p r e s e n t e d as p e r v e r s e . Indeed, none o f the s e r o u t e s p r o v e s c a p a b l e o f p r o v i n g the redemption f o r w h i c h the c h a r a c t e r s a r e s e a r c h i n g . Rocco's m e d i c i n e i s s a d i s t i c ; C o r p o r a l Lance's law i s v i o l e n t ; L i d u c ' s r e l i g i o n i s e s c a p i s t ; Olga's a r t i s d e l u s o r y and R i t a ' s sex i s d e g r a d i n g . To v i e w -Tomas as an a l t e r n a t i v e t o t h i s s o c i e t y , however, 54 i s perhaps s i m p l i s t i c . He, t o o , i s e s t r a n g e d and i s o l a t e d . The n a t i v e s who drum i n the j u n g l e a r e not h i s c o m p a t r i o t s and h i s b r u t a l murders o f t h e i r e l d e r s m a n i f e s t s h i s i n -d i f f e r e n c e t o them. H i s v i o l e n c e and s e x u a l a g g r e s s i o n a r e as u g l y and as d e s p e r a t e as the i m p e r i a l i s m and o p p r e s s i o n p r o f e s s e d by the w h i t e s . H i s ascendancy i s n o t an a c t o f v i n d i c a t i o n b u t r a t h e r one o f i n h e r i t a n c e . Brought t o l i f e by Rocco and Olga (who themselves embody the extreme p o l e s o f w e s t e r n c i v i l i z a t i o n - s a d i s t i c b r u t a l power on the one hand and a l y r i c a l l o v e o f the r e f i n e d and b e a u t i f u l on the o t h e r ) he i s a t home i n the j u n g l e . U n l i k e t h e o t h e r s , Tomas never speaks n o s t a l g i c a l l y o f the p a s t o r h o p e f u l l y o f the f u t u r e . R a i s e d i n c h aos, he a c c e p t s the p r e s e n t as the o n l y r e a l i t y . A c c o r d i n g t o Bruce J a n o f f , b l a c k humour o f t e n p r e s e n t s two c o n f l i c t i n g s o c i e t i e s . He c a u t i o n s though, t h a t " i n t h e w o r l d o f b l a c k humour t h e r e i s f r e q u e n t l y g r e a t c o n f u s i o n as t o which s o c i e t y i s t h e norm and which i s a b s u r d and what 13 c h a r a c t e r s f i t where." T h i s c o n f u s i o n between norms e x i s t s on many l e v e l s i n Beyond Mozambique. The f i r s t o n-stage appearances o f Rocco and h i s w i f e a r e d e c e p t i v e l y d o m e s t i c . Rocco, i n a l a b c o a t and " c a r r y i n g h i s m e d i c a l bag" r u s h e s on s t a g e t o answer a w h i s t l e from the j u n g l e . Immediately we imagine the h e r o i c s and d e d i c a t i o n o f a m i s s i o n a r y d o c t o r . A s i m i l a r r e a c t i o n o c c u r s w i t h Olga's e n t r a n c e . " C a r r y i n g l i n e n and a b a s k e t f u l o f s i l v e r w a r e , p l a t e s , e t c . . . ." Olga 55 s u g g e s t s t h e devo t e d and d u t i f u l w i f e . These o p i n i o n s , a l -though q u i c k l y d e s t r o y e d a r e n o n e t h e l e s s i n g r e a t c o n t r a s t t o the ones formed by the e n t r a n c e s o f the o t h e r c h a r a c t e r s . L i d u c ' s a r r i v a l , i m m e d i a t e l y s u g g e s t s a man u n c o m f o r t a b l e w i t h h i s environment. "Covered w i t h mud up t o h i s c h e s t , " we a r e j t o l d t h a t he i s "a b i t myopic," has been chased by a w i l d p i g and has j u s t "spent two e n t i r e days c l i n g i n g t o a v i n e . " (p. 1 0 1 ) H i s a l i e n a t i o n , though c o m i c a l l y p r e s e n t e d , i s m a n i f e s t e d a t once t o the a u d i e n c e . More g h a s t l y , though s t i l l e n a c t e d i n a comic s t y l e , a r e the e n t r a n c e s o f Tomas, R i t a and C o r p o r a l Lance; each e n t e r s c a r r y i n g e i t h e r an e n t i r e c o r p s e o r i t s dismembered p i e c e s . Tomas, back from h i s gruesome c h o r e s , a r r i v e s w i t h a c o r p s e over h i s s h o u l d e r . Rocco i m m e d i a t e l y r e c o g n i z e s i t as O l d Jos e p h , t h e man he t a u g h t t o p l a y dominoes: ROCCO: No. The k n i f e was o n l y f o r c u t t i n g open the c o r p s e ' s s a c k s . To check f o r de-c o m p o s i t i o n . You've murdered O l d Joseph. Look a t him l y i n g t h e r e . I t a u g h t t h a t o l d man how t o p l a y dominoes. Oh God, he's m i s s i n g a f o o t . Where's h i s f o o t ? (Tomas shrugs.) Rocco p o i n t s t o h i s own f o o t . Where's O l d Joseph's f o o t ? (Tomas nods.;, Undoes h i s c o a t . The f o o t i s s t r u n g around h i s neck.) TOMAS: Good l u c k . ROCCO: What's wrong w i t h you? (Yanks i t o f f . ) Have you no r e s p e c t f o r human l i f e ? (Throws the f o o t i n t o the bushes.') I'm v e r y sad, 5 6 M i n u t e s l a t e r , however, t h e f o o t r e t u r n s t o the s t a g e , t h i s time wrapped around the b l a d e o f C o r p o r a l Lance's machete, S h a r i n g the s t a g e now w i t h the C o r p o r a l a r e R i t a , Olga and the se v e r e d head o f F a t h e r R i c c i . R i t a , h a v i n g awoken t o f i n d the head o u t s i d e her t e n t has a r r i v e d a t the Rocco's home w i t h i t i n a shopping bag. B l o o d c o v e r i n g her hands and arms she " f i n g e r s her h a i r back:" OLGA: Not so much a c t i v i t y p l e a s e . Y o u ' l l s t i r up t h e mo s q u i t o e s . RITA: Goddamnit. Have you seen t h e C o r p o r a l . I c a n ' t f i n d him anywhere. OLGA: No. What's t h a t you're c o v e r e d w i t h ? RITA: B l o o d . OLTA: From where? RITA: H i s head. OLGA: Whose head? RITA: The p r i e s t . F a t h e r R i c c i . Someone took an axe t o him. I found h i s head o u t s i d e my t e n t . I t ' s i n t h i s bag. And I don't know what I'm supposed t o do • w i t h i t . I mean I c a n ' t c a r r y i t around f o r e v e r . I t ' s s t u p i d . OLGA: T h i s j o k e i s i n poor t a s t e , S h i r l e y . RITA: The name's R i t a . Not S h i r l e y . R i t a . And i t ' s no j o k e . Look. (She drops the head from the bag.) OLGA: Yes. That's F a t h e r R i c c i a l l r i g h t . I r e c o g n i z e t h e d i s a p p r o v i n g l o o k . (p. 92) Olga's nonchalance and and complacency b e f o r e t h e s e gruesome e v e n t s b e l i e her f i r s t a l m o s t suburban appearance. U n p e r t u r b e d 57 by the head a t her f e e t she t e l l s R i t a , "My dreams a r e much worse. Much worse. When I see b l o o d i n one o f my dreams i t s l i k e comic r e l i e f . " (p. 92) B u r i e d below the s u r f a c e o f t h i s woman's calm i s an i m a g i n a t i o n o f b r u t a l p r o p o r t i o n s . Rocco's f i r s t s t a g e e n t r a n c e i s a l s o a s t u d y i n c o n t r a s t s . C o m p l e t e l y unconcerned w i t h the l i v i n g he c o n c e n t r a t e s on t h e dead. H i s q u e s t f o r a c u r e f o r c a n c e r , l i k e w i s e , i s prompted no t by a l t r u i s m b u t r a t h e r by s e l f - s e r v i n g a m b i t i o n . Towards Tomas, he m a n i f e s t s a b r u t a l sadism. "The s e c r e t i s t o a p p l y p r e s s u r e t o h i s head. A t the p o i n t where the b l o o d s t a i n i s the b r i g h t e s t , " he a d v i s e s Olga when she c o m p l a i n s t h a t Tomas i s s l e e p i n g , (p. 104) The b i z a r r e w o r l d o f Beyond Mozambique i s one t h a t i s a t odds w i t h i t s e l f . Y et t o t h i s d i s o r d e r e d mess, Walker o f f e r s no a l t e r n a t i v e s . W i n s t o n , t a l k i n g o f b l a c k humour, s t a t e s t h a t " i t does not assume a s e t o f norms, e i t h e r i m p l i c i t o r e x p l i c i t a g a i n s t which one may c o n t r a s t the a b s u r d o r g r o t e s q u e w o r l d 14 o f the a u t h o r . " T h i s i s c e r t a i n l y t r u e o f Walker's p l a y . The o n l y w o r l d s which e x i s t s e p a r a t e l y from the i s o l a t e d d w e l l i n g d e p i c t e d i n the p l a y a r e the s u r r o u n d i n g j u n g l e , w h i c h i s i n h a b i t a b l e and h o s t i l e , and the s o c i e t i e s from which t h e c h a r a c t e r s have f l e d . I t soon becomes a p p a r e n t , though, t h a t t h e s e t h r e e w o r l d s a r e i n e x t r i c a b l y l i n k e d . The i n -c r e a s i n g drumming t h r o u g h o u t the p l a y h i g h l i g h t s t h e j u n g l e ' s p r o x i m i t y and s u g g e s t s a t h r e a t o f i n v a s i o n . S i m i l a r l y the 58 demented a c t i o n s o f the c h a r a c t e r s a r e q u i c k l y r e v e a l e d t o be mere c o n t i n u a t i o n s o f p a s t a t r o c i t i e s and h a b i t s . The new l i f e w h i c h the c h a r a c t e r s have e s t a b l i s h e d i n the j u n g l e v a r i e s l i t t l e from t h e i r p r e v i o u s p a t t e r n s . L i d u c i n t h e j u n g l e i s s t i l l d r u g - c r a z e d and l i k e w i s e the C o r p o r a l i s s t i l l "haunted." Having s h o t a f a r m e r ' s cow i n Canada because "the e x p r e s s i o n i n t h e i r eyes made him f e e l t h ey were i n e t e r n a l m i s e r y , " Cp. 121) he e n a c t s i n t h e j u n g l e t h e same remedy on d e f e n s e l e s s e l e v e n y e a r o l d n a t i v e g i r l s . R i t a , t o o , c a n n o t escape the p e r s e c u t i o n s o f her p a s t ; beaten by her b o y f r i e n d and e x p l o i t e d by p o r n o g r a p h e r s she l i v e d i n New York a s e r v i l e e x i s t e n c e . I n the j u n g l e , t o o , she i s ex-p l o i t e d ; d o u b l e - c r o s s e d by Tomas and raped by the n a t i v e s f o r whom she smuggled, R i t a i s u n a b l e t o break the p a t t e r n . O l g a i s s i m i l a r l y t r a p p e d . Her p r i s o n , though, i s her mind and the h o r r i f y i n g dreams and d e l u s i o n s which i t p r o d u c e s . A new l o c a l e would change n o t h i n g f o r h e r . Most f r i g h t e n i n g , though, a r e the m a n i a c a l e x p e r i m e n t s o f Rocco. As a d o c t o r t o the N a z i ' s , he a i d e d and performed e x p e r i m e n t s on l i v e humans. T h i s monstrous a c t , r o o t e d i n h i s t o r y and m i r r o r e d i n Rocco's i n s a n e o p e r a t i o n s i n the j u n g l e p r o v i d e s t h e most g r i s l y l i n k between Walker's f i c t i o n a l chaos and r e c e n t w e s t e r n h i s t o r y . Thomson o b s e r v e s t h a t i t i s " p r e c i s e l y the c o n v i c t i o n t h a t the g r o t e s q u e w o r l d , however s t r a n g e , i s y e t our w o r l d , r e a l and immediate which makes t h e 59 g r o t e s q u e so p o w e r f u l . " I n t h e a t r i c a l terms the " r e a l and immediate" i s evoked t h r o u g h a r e a l i s t i c s e t which a v o i d s s t y l i z a t i o n . Walker, comparing h i s p r o d u c t i o n o f the p l a y t o an e a r l i e r one d i s c u s s e s the t e c h n i q u e . He d i d i t i n b l a c k and w h i t e , f o r example. But i t o c c u r r e d t o me t h a t t h e r e was a n o t h e r way to do i t . I don't know i f i t was b e t t e r o r worse. I t h i n k t h e b a s i c d i f f e r e n c e , b e s i d e s the d e s i g n w hich I d i d i n c o l o u r , was t h a t I had the a c t o r s go f o r a v e r y r e a l i s t i c base. E r i c ' s p r o d u c t i o n was much more s t y l i z e d . What I wanted t o see and v e r i f y was whether t h e s c r i p t would h o l d i f the a c t o r s went f o r a r e a l i s t i c approach. I t h i n k i t d i d . 1 6 As the gr o t e s q u e i s e s s e n t i a l t o Walker's s t y l e a r e a l i s t i c p r e s e n t a t i o n becomes mandatory. Thomson r i g h t l y c l a i m s t h a t i n a f i c t i o n a l w o r l d " w i t h no p r e t e n s i o n s t o a c o n n e c t i o n w i t h 17 r e a l i t y , t he g r o t e s q u e i s alm o s t o ut of the q u e s t i o n . " The e v o c a t i o n o f Walker's w o r l d as our w o r l d i s f u r t h e r c r e a t e d by the i n d i v i d u a l a c t i o n s o f h i s c h a r a c t e r s ; however deviant they may be, th e y a r e s t i l l n o t w i t h o u t r e a l - l i f e models. N a z i p s y c h o p a t h s , c h i l d a b u s e r s , and drug a d d i c t s are a l l p a r t o f t h e w o r l d ' s r e c e n t h i s t o r y . The s o c i a l chaos w h i c h haunts t h e s e c h a r a c t e r s i s but a r e f l e c t i o n o f the s o c i e t y w h i c h has shaped them. B l a c k humour, though, i s n o t s a t i r e and Walker's aim i n Beyond Mozambique i s n o t s a t i r i c a l . Winston h i g h l i g h t s t h e d i f f e r e n c e : But they (black h u m o r i s t s ) view s o c i a l and i n d i v i d u a l chaos as a s p e c t s o f u n i v e r s a l chaos and t h e r e f o r e h o l d o u t no hope o f r e f o r m o r c o r r e c t i o n . U n l i k e s a t i r e , b l a c k humor has no i d e a l s . 1 8 6 0 We have a l r e a d y seen t h a t b o t h the c h a r a c t e r s and the s o c i e t i e s p r e s e n t e d i n the p l a y p r o v i d e n e i t h e r an a l t e r n a t i v e t o the chaos nor a p o t e n t i a l f o r r e d e m p t i o n . Redemption i n immediate terms i s d e f i n e d d i f f e r e n t l y by each of the c h a r a c t e r s . F o r Rocco, redemption i s a Nobel P r i z e ; f o r the C o r p o r a l i t i s a p r o m o t i o n ; f o r R i t a i t i s a l e g i t i -mate movie; f o r L i d u c i t i s c o n g r e g a t i o n and f o r Olga i t i s Moscow. L i k e Chekhov's Moscow, however, t h e s e dreams w i l l r emain u n r e a l i z e d and the c h a r a c t e r s w i l l remain t r a p p e d i n a no-man's l a n d ; "No hope o f r e f o r m " can be h e l d o u t as t h e f u t u r e o f f e r s no a l t e r n a t i v e t o the p a s t . I n t h e l a r g e r m e t a p h y s i c a l sense, however, hope i s a l s o d e n i e d . V i r t u a l l y a l l o f the c h a r a c t e r s make r e f e r e n c e t o God - a l b e i t some more f r e q u e n t l y t h a n o t h e r s - y e t none has a c l e a r i d e a o f what God r e p r e s e n t s . O l g a , w h i l e a d m i t t i n g t h a t God might be a r e a l i t y c o m p l a i n s t h a t he i s n o n e t h e l e s s "not a c c e s s i b l e . " (p. 123) L i d u c , who as a p r i e s t would be e x p e c t e d t o have the c l e a r e s t i d e a o f God i s a c t u a l l y the most c o n f u s e d . LIDUC: ...But the s t r a n g e s t t h i n g . I n the m i d d l e o f a l l t h a t and even now, my o c c a s i o n a l r e l a p s e i n t o t o t a l c a t a t o n i a n o t w i t h s t a n d i n g , I s t i l l have a r e l a t i o n -s h i p w i t h God. I l o v e him. And I t r u s t him. And u n t i l I am done away w i t h I w i l l endeavour t o b r i n g him and h i s word t o o t h e r s . (pp. 122-123) L i d u c ' s God might be a r e a l i t y b u t he i s s t i l l l i k e Olga's 61 i n a c c e s s i b l e . Whi le " i n the p roces s o f shoo t ing up" he e x p l a i n s t o Rocco, "Okay. Sure. But f i r s t I have to get c l o s e r to God. I have the f e e l i n g we've been out o f t o u c h . " (p. 132) God f o r L i d u c i s e v e n t u a l l y reduced to a drug i nduced dream. C o r p o r a l Lance and R i t a t r e a t God more c a v a l i e r l y . Fo r them he i s an exc l amat i on - a s tatement o f d e s p a i r and anger . "Oh my God, " (p. 133) the C o r p o r a l screams when he r e a l i z e s he i s wh in i ng . Unable to bear h i s own " e x t e r n a l m i s e r y " he begs to be k i l l e d . R i t a ' s opening l i n e s i n c l u d e two o u t -b u r s t s o f "Goddamnit . " Damned by God i s an a p p r o p r i a t e sum-mat ion o f her p red i cament . L i v i n g i n chaos she i s den ied the o r d e r i n g and meaning t h a t a God would a l l o w . The most s i g n i f i c a n t s tatements on God come perhaps from Tomas and Rocco. A t the p l a y ' s c l o s e Tomas e n t e r s i n p r i e s t ' s c l o t h e s wear ing the two c r u c i f i x e s o f the murdered p r i e s t s , F a t h e r R i c c i and F a t h e r Ca r son . When q u e s t i o n e d by L i d u c as to where he had o b t a i n e d these a r t i c l e s , Tomas r e p l i e s tw ice "God . " G iven t h a t Tomas has become the embodiment of chaos and t h a t chaos i s the r e i g n i n g f o r c e , Tomas' d e s c r i p t i o n o f h i m s e l f as God i s a p p r o p r i a t e . God as a f o r c e , however, i s e q u i v o c a l and i n d e f i n a b l e . D e s c r i b i n g h i s own i n n e r chaos as " t h e absence o f God , " (p. 113) Rocco s u p p l i e s another i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f God. For Tomas, God i s the power - whatever i t may be - t h a t r u l e s f o r L i d u c , God 62 i s the drug t h a t numbs. F o r O l g a , God i s s t i l l Moscow - the i n a c c e s s i b l e , t h e u n a t t a i n a b l e . For Rocco, however, God i s pur p o s e , meaning and re d e m p t i o n . " T h i s i s the t r u t h , " Rocco s t a t e s " I t ' s n o t g l o r y I'm a f t e r i t ' s r e d e m p t i o n . " (p. 126) As !'.the absence o f God" he does i n d e e d embody the a r b i t -r a r y and g r a t u i t o u s v i o l e n c e o f an i r r a t i o n a l and i n d i f f e r e n t u n i v e r s e . H i s p a s t h i s t o r y and h i s t r e a t m e n t o f Tomas i n d i c a t e h i s d i s r e g a r d f o r human l i f e . Winston s t a t e s t h a t "the gr o t e s q u e i s apt t o p r e s e n t an i n f l i c t o r o f t o r m e n t s , an 19 a g g r e s s o r i n a w o r l d o f v i c t i m s . " Rocco's r o l e as d o c t o r / mad s c i e n t i s t g r a n t s him immediate c o n t r o l over t h e l i v e s o f many. In such a s t a n c e he resembles Camus' d r a m a t i c p o r t r a y a l o f t h e c r a z e d Roman Emperor, C a l i g u l a . L i k e C a l i g u l a he p l a c e s h i m s e l f on par w i t h t h e Gods: ROCCO: I have f i n a l l y d e s t r o y e d t h a t f u c k i n g tower and now t h e r e a r e o n l y t h r e e f o r c e s i n t h e w o r l d . God. Ign o r a n c e . And me. (p. 127) Rocco's s e a r c h f o r t h e c u r e f o r c a n c e r - s y m b o l i c o f a d e s i r e t o c h e a t d e a t h - i s r e d o l e n t a l s o o f C a l i g u l a ' s mania: ROCCO: My e x p e r i m e n t s . I'm s e a r c h i n g f o r the c u r e t o c a n c e r . LIDUC ROCCO LIDUC ROCCO Which one? A l l o f them. I t seems l i k e an i m p o s s i b l e g o a l . That's why I chose i t . (p. 112) 63 I n Camus' p l a y C a l i g u l a , C a l i g u l a i s m o t i v a t e d by a s i m i l a r l o n g i n g : SCIPIO: But C a i u s , i t ' s . . . i t ' s i m p o s s i b l e ! CALIGULA: That's the whole p o i n t . SCIPIO: I don't f o l l o w . CALIGULA: I r e p e a t - t h a t i s my p o i n t . I'm e x p l o i t i n g the i m p o s s i b l e . Or, more a c c u r a t e l y , i t ' s a q u e s t i o n o f making the i m p o s s i b l e p o s s i b l e . SCIPIO: But t h a t game may l e a d t o - t o 2 Q a n y t h i n g ! I t ' s a l u n a t i c ' s p a s t i m e . C a l i g u l a d e s c r i b e s h i m s e l f as " l u c i d " and d e c l a r e s t h a t " t h i s 21 w o r l d has no i m p o r t a n c e . " C o n s c i o u s b e f o r e t h e a b s u r d i t y o f 22 a u n i v e r s e where "men d i e ; and they a r e n o t happy," C a l i g u l a 2 d e c i d e s t o f o r c e h i s s u b j e c t s " t o l i v e by t h e l i g h t o f t r u t h . " To t h i s end he a r b i t r a r i l y and randomly condemns men t o d e a t h . Under C a l i g u l a ' s regime t h e Roman s e n a t o r s and p a t r i c i a n s can no l o n g e r a v o i d r e c o g n i t i o n o f the a b s u r d . H i s l i v i n g p r e s e nce has become i t s p h y s i c a l m a n i f e s t a t i o n . Rocco j u s t i f i e s h i s c r u e l t i e s and t y r a n n i e s w i t h t h e same p h i l o s o p h y . ROCCO: Because t h e r e ' s something about c o m m i t t i n g c r i m e s a g a i n s t humanity t h a t p u t s you i n t o u c h w i t h the purpose o f t h e u n i v e r s e . (p. 126) O f f e r i n g a h a r s h , u n j u s t cosmos as h i s model, Rocco, l i k e C a l i g u l a , t r i e s t o embody i t s c r u e l t y . 64 As w i t h C a l i g u l a , though, Rocco makes a c r u c i a l e r r o r . Camus i n programme n o t e s t o t h e p l a y o b s e r v e s : But i f C a l i g u l a i s r i g h t t o deny the e x i s t e n c e o f the Gods, he i s wrong t o deny the importance o f men. 4 R o c c o 1 s d e n i a l o f h i s f e l l o w men i n c r e a s e s h i s i s o l a t i o n . Impotent w i t h h i s w i f e and u n a b l e t o l o v e " w i t h such h e l l i n my h e a r t , " Rocco succeeds i n d e s t r o y i n g h i s own humanity and f u r t h e r i n g h i s a l i e n a t i o n . The sense o f a l i e n a t i o n and disharmony w h i c h permeates the p l a y i s t h e a t r i c a l i z e d t h r o u g h g r o t e s q u e imagery. Mad-ness and m u t i l a t i o n a r e the two m o t i f s w h i c h e x t e r n a l i z e the estrangement o f man from h i s u n i v e r s e and o f man from h i m s e l f . E v e r y c h a r a c t e r can be d e s c r i b e d as "unhinged:" C o r p o r a l Lance by h i s f e v e r ; L i d u c by h i s d r u g s , Tomas by h i s o p e r a t i o n s and Rocco, O l g a and R i t a by t h e i r r e v e r i e s . T h i s s e p a r a t i o n o f mind from body, t y p i c a l t o t h e g r o t e s q u e , d r a m a t i z e s the fundamental i s o l a t i o n o f t h e i n d i v i d u a l . D i s j o i n t e d even from h i m s e l f , he can never hope t o make c o n t a c t w i t h a n o t h e r . M u t i l a t i o n i s another approach t o the same c o n c e p t . Winston o b s e r v e s t h a t "the t h r e a t t o t h e body i s p a r t o f t h e 25 omnipresent t h r e a t o f d e a t h i n g r o t e s q u e b l a c k humor." As the " f i n a l d i v o r c e between body and s p i r i t " d e a t h i s t h e u l t i -mate symbol o f a l i e n a t i o n . Beyond Mozambique i s a v i r t u a l c a t a l o g u e o f m u t i l a t e d l i m b s and m u s c l e s : Old Joseph's f o o t , F a t h e r R i c c i ' s head and Old P e t e r ' s i n t e s t i n e s a r e thrown 65 and bounced across the set. Throughout the p l a y the human body i s t r e a t e d w i t h i r r e v e r a n c e . Winston l i n k s t h i s treatment w i t h the technique of grotesque black humour: The t h r e a t becomes stronger when a character i s m u t i l a t e d , but a comic element i s added i f the character i s untroubled by h i s mishaps or i f the m u t i l a t i o n i s acted or narrated f a r c i c a l l y "Change your bandage, Tomas. You're bleeding on the c r o i s -sants," (p. 122) Olga calmly t e l l s Tomas. The j u x t a p o s i t i o n of the image of Tomas1 hideous wound beside the r e f i n e d elegance of tea and c r o i s s a n t s increases the sense of i n -c o n g r u i t y . Olga's matter of f a c t order s u p p l i e s the comic tone. S i m i l a r l y , Corporal Lance's f i r s t r e a c t i o n to h i s missing arm i s unexpected: "Then i t ' s gone. They r e a l l y took i t o f f . F a i l e d again, (looks up) Sorry Sarge." (p. 133) The bewil d e r i n g note " E n t e r t a i n us" which i s pinned to h i s sleeve s u p p l i e s the f a r c i c a l mood and prevents the spectator from empathizing too s t r o n g l y . The t r i v i a l i z a t i o n of death i n the grotesque provides a dual purpose. Death on stage allows a t h e a t r i c a l i z a t i o n of the t h r e a t which has been present throughout the p l a y . An i r r e v e r e n t approach to t h i s same death serves - however b r i e f l y - to minimize i t s awesome power. In Winston's words, "death dominates but i t occurs i n a r i d i c u l o u s manner and i s 27 never d i g n i f i e d . " 66 Olga's d e a t h a t t h e p l a y ' s end i s an example o f such an i n d i g n i t y . A f t e r h a v i n g p a i n t e d w i t h l i p s t i c k "two t e a r s and a hugh obscene s m i l e " on t h e dead Olga's f a c e , Rocco then m a n i p u l a t e s h e r v o c a l c o r d s and g i v e s her the p l a y ' s c l o s i n g speech. Walker's t r e a t m e n t of Olga's c o r p s e c o r -responds t o the o b j e c t i f i c a t i o n o f the body which Winston h a i l s as t y p i c a l o f g r o t e s q u e b l a c k humour: P e o p l e become a n i m a l s o r o b j e c t s , o r share t h e i r t r a i t s o r a r e l i k e n e d t o them. B o d i l y p a r t s a r e e x a g g e r a t e d o r d i s t o r t e d . 2 8 O b j e c t i f i e d t h e human body i s a mere puppet and r e p r e s e n t s a r e d u c t i o n o f man t o a h e l p l e s s pawn and d e n y i n g t o him any a u t h o r i t y i n h i s u n i v e r s e . Olga's f i n a l speech - as m a n i p u l a t e d by Rocco - i s the same c l o s i n g speech o f Chekhov's Olga i n the Three S i s t e r s : OLGA: ...We s h a l l l i v e ! The music i s so gay, so j o y f u l , and i t seems as though a l i t t l e more and we s h a l l know what we a r e l i v i n g f o r , why we a r e s u f f e r i n g ...oh. I f o n l y we c o u l d know. I f o n l y we c o u l d know. (p. 135) T h i s i s a g a i n Camus' d e s e r t o f l u c i d awareness where the c r y f o r c l a r i f i c a t i o n w i l l always go unanswered f o r Olga's d e s p e r a t e d e s i r e t o know w i l l remain as e l u s i v e as her be-l o v e d Moscow. F u r t h e r m o r e , the music which c l o s e s t h i s p l a y i s f a r from b e i n g j o y f u l . A t the sound o f e x p l o d i n g drums, 67 t h e r e i s a "sudden v i o l e n c e and a c t i v i t y from t h e bushes, g e t t i n g c l o s e r and l o u d e r . " (p. 135) Chaos has now f u l l y u n l e a s h e d i t s e l f . The i n h a b i t a n t s o f t h i s u n i v e r s e f i n d t hemselves a b r u p t l y i n a w o r l d " d i v e s t e d o f I l l u s i o n s . " " I t sounds l i k e a n a r c h y , " (p. 100) the C o r p o r a l r i g h t l y o b s e r v e s . A n a r c h i c and i r r a t i o n a l , the u n i v e r s e o f Beyond Mozambique i s f o r e v e r i n c o m p r e h e n s i b l e . The w o r l d p o s i t e d here by Walker i s s t i l l one which a l l o w s no a b s o l u t e s and no t r u t h s o t h e r than d e a t h . E q u i v o c a l and a r b i t r a r y i t p r o v i d e s no s o l a c e f o r the i s o l a t e d i n d i v i -d u a l . The g r o t e s q u e which h a r b o u r s i n i t s s t r u c t u r e a ten s e c o n f l i c t o f i n c o n g r u i t i e s and i n c o m p a t i b l e s v i v i d l y evokes the n a t u r e o f a u n i v e r s e t h a t w i l l g i v e precedence t o no system o f b e l i e f o r s t r u c t u r i n g . Wolfgang Kayser d e s c r i b e s t h e g r o -tesque as a game: The g r o t e s q u e i s a game w i t h the a b s u r d , i n the sense t h a t the g r o t e s q u e a r t i s t p l a y s , h a l f l a u g h i n g l y , h a l f h o r r i f i e d w i t h the deep a b s u r d -i t i e s o f e x i s t e n c e . " H a l f l a u g h i n g l y and h a l f h o r r i f i e d " Walker i n Beyond  Mozambique w a l k s the " f i n e l i n e between the s e r i o u s and the comic." 68 NOTES CHAPTER TWO 1. P h i l i p Thomson, The Grotesque (London: Methuen, 1972) , pp. 31-32. 2. A l b e r t Camus, The Myth o f S i s yphus , t r a n s . J u s t i n O ' B r i e n (New York : A l b r e d A. Knopf, 1969), p. 6. 3. A l l r e f e r e n c e s w i l l be to the f o l l o w i n g e d i t i o n : George F. Wa lker , Beyond Mozambique i n Three P l ay s (Toronto: Coach House P r e s s , 1978). 4. Camus, p. 6. 5. Thomson, p. 3. 6. Mathew Winson, "Humour n o i r and B lack Humor," i n Ve in s o f Humor, e d . Harry L e v i n (Cambridge: Harvard U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1972) , p. 282. 7. Lee Byron J e n n i n g s , The L u d i c r o u s Demon: Aspec t s  o f The Grotesque i n German Post -Romant ic Prose , (Berke ley : U n i v e r s i t y of C a l i f o r n i a P r e s s , 1963), pp. 9-10. 8. Thomson, p. 21. 9. Wins ton , p. 284. 10. Thomson, p. 16. 11. C h r i s Johnson, "George F. Walker : B-Movies Beyond the A b s u r d , " Canadian L i t e r a t u r e , No. 85, (1980), p. 94. 12. Robert W a l l a c e , "George Walker : I n te rv iew" i n The Work, e d . Robert Wa l lace and Cyn th i a Zimmerman (Toronto: Coach House P r e s s , 1982), p. 218. 13. Bruce J a n o f f , " B l a ck Humor: Beyond S a t i r e , " Ohio  Review, 14, (1972), p. 17. 14. Mathew Winston, "The E t h i c s o f Contemporary B lack Humor," Co lo rado Q u a r t e r l y , 24 (1976), p. 278. 69 15. Thomson, P. 23. 16. Wa l l a ce , p. 215. 17. Thomson, p. 23. 18. Wins ton, " E t h i c s , " p. 278. 19. Winston, "Humour n o i r , " p. 283. 20. A l b e r t Camus, C a l i g u l a , t r an s S t u a r t G i l b e r t , (New York: A l f r e d A. Knopf, 1958) , p. 13. 21. Camus, C a l i g u l a , p. 14. 22. Camus, C a l i g u l a , p. 8. 23. Camus, C a l i g u l a , p. 9. 24. Quoted i n P h i l i p Thody, A l b e r t Camus, (London: Hamish Hami l ton , 1961), p. 74. 25. Wins ton, "Humour n o i r / P- 283. 26. Wins ton, "Humour n o i r / " P- 283 . 27. Wins ton, "Humour n o i r P. 283 . 28. Winston, "Humour n o i r P. 282. 29. Quoted i n Thomson, p. 18 . 70 CHAPTER THREE THEATRE OF THE FILM NOIR D i s c u s s i n g the r e l a t i o n o f form t o c o n t e n t , Mathew Winston o b s e r v e s "the shape o f any p l o t has an i m p l i c i t c o r r e s p o n d e n c e w i t h what i s b e l i e v e d o r hoped t o be t h e shape of t h e w o r l d and the way i t operates.""'" T h i s i s i m m e d i a t e l y e v i d e n t i n such t r a d i t i o n a l s t r u c t u r e s as t r a g e d y , comedy and melodrama. I n h e r e n t i n t h e s e d r a m a t i c genres i s a p h i l o -s o p h i c a l cosmic o r d e r i n g . The b l a c k h u m o u r i s t , however, b e l i e v i n g " r e a l i t y t o be f o r m l e s s , " "experiments w i t h form 2 and m u t i l a t e s i t . " V i e w i n g the u n i v e r s e as u n p r e d i c t a b l e and w i t h o u t d e s i g n , b l a c k humour r e j e c t s a l l l i t e r a r y c o n v e n t i o n s w h i c h p o s i t - e i t h e r i m p l i c i t l y o r e x p l i c i t l y - an o r d e r e d w o r l d , f o r " w i t h t h e b l a c k h u m o r i s t even t h i s l i m i t e d a s s e n t t o the t r a d i t i o n a l arrangements o f human e x p e r i e n c e has be-3 come i m p o s s i b l e . " As Max S c h u l z p o i n t s out b l a c k humour o f t e n uses parody t o c a s t doubt on "these frames o f r e f e r e n c e - t h e s e c a t e g o r i -4 c a l i m p e r a t i v e s - by means o f which we o r g a n i z e the chaos." Parody, as a p l a y f u l approach t o form, a r o u s e s r e a d e r e x p e c t a -t i o n w i t h the i n t e n t i o n o f l a t e r s u b v e r t i n g i t . Through c o u n t e r f e i t i t e s t a b l i s h e s a r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h the o r i g i n a l -s t y l e , language and s i t u a t i o n b e i n g a s s i d u o u s l y r e c r e a t e d . 71 A sense o f i n c o n g r u i t y , however, a r i s e s when d i s c r e p a n c i e s between e x p e c t a t i o n and outcome a r e i n t r o d u c e d i n t o the p a r o d i c t e x t and i t i s t h i s i n c o n g r u i t y which g i v e s the parody i t s comic e f f e c t . O r i g i n a l l y d e f i n e d as "the h i g h b u r l e s q u e o f a p a r t i c u l a r work (or a u t h o r ) a c h i e v e d by a p p l y i n g the s t y l e o f t h a t work (or a u t h o r ) t o a l e s s worthy s u b j e c t , " 5 parody i s now viewed i n a b r o a d e r c o n t e x t . D i s t i n c t i o n s between e l e v a t e d and l o w l y s u b j e c t m a t e r i a l have been a-bandoned and the f o c u s l i e s i n s t e a d on the c o n t r a s t . Parody i s a l i t e r a r y form, w h i c h i s c r e a t e d by i n c o r p o r a t i n g elements o f an a l r e a d y e x i s t i n g form i n a manner c r e a t i n g a c o n s c i o u s c o n t r a s t . These i m i t a t i v e c o n t r a s t s r e s u l t from the j u x t a - _ p o s i t i o n o f two u n l i k e approaches t o the same f o r m . 6 B l a c k humour - i t s e l f a j u x t a p o s i t i o n o f o p p o s i t e s - i s t h u s a n a t u r a l p a r t n e r t o the p a r o d i c and the u n c e r t a i n t i e s and i n c o n g r u i t i e s w h i c h i i t evokes. B e c k e t t ' s c a l l f o r a form which w i l l "admit the chaos" f i n d s a p a r t i a l r e s p onse i n t h i s m i x t u r e o f parody and b l a c k humour. By u p s e t t i n g the modes o f thought b e h i n d the i m i t a t e d model, the b l a c k humour p a r o d i s t weakens the s t r u c t u r e o f t h e form as w e l l . I t s own i n t e r n a l o r d e r i n g shaken, t h e work can no l o n g e r p o s i t a l a r g e r cosmic o r d e r i n g . The u n c e r -t a i n t y i n t r o d u c e d by parody i s a f i r s t s t e p towards a d m i t t i n g the chaos. Walker's p l a y T h e a t r e o f the F i l m N o i r uses p r e c i s e l y 7 t h i s t e c h n i q u e . Combining the s t r u c t u r e o f d e t e c t i v e f i c t i o n 72 w i t h t h e s t y l i s t i c s o f " f i l m n o i r " he c r e a t e s i n t h e a u d i e n c e a sense o f f a m i l i a r i t y . The e x p e c t a t i o n s aroused by t h i s f a m i l i a r i t y , however, a r e soon s u b v e r t e d . Through m a n i p u l a -t i o n o f the c h a r a c t e r t y p e s , p l o t developments, and p h i l o -s o p h i c a l p r e m i s e s which form the h a l l m a r k s o f d e t e c t i v e f i c t i o n , Walker manages t o t u r n the form a g a i n s t i t s e l f . George G r e l l a i n h i s essay "The H a r d - B o i l e d D e t e c t i v e N o v e l " d e s c r i b e s t h e a c t i o n o f t h e s e n o v e l s as a " q u e s t , both g a s e a r c h f o r t r u t h and an a t t empt t o e r a d i c a t e e v i l . " Edward M a r g o l i e s p e r c e i v e s the d e t e c t i v e i n s i m i l a r t e rms: The h a r d - b o i l e d d i c k s , on the o t h e r hand, however c r a s s , c y n i c a l o r i l l i t e r a t e t h ey may sound, f r e q u e n t l y p e r c e i v e t h e m s e l v e s as engaged i n some k i n d o f m o r a l i f n o t m e t a p h y s i c a l q u e s t ...the t e s t o f t h e i r i n t e g r i t y i s t h a t they g e t t o the bottom o f t h i n g s - the t r u t h . The d e t e c t i v e ' s i n t e g r i t y - a l o n g w i t h h i s s o l i t u d e and h i s independence - i s what d i s t i n g u i s h e s him from the o t h e r s who i n h a b i t h i s w o r l d . D r e s s e d t y p i c a l l y i n t r e n c h c o a t and f e d o r a , a c o n s t a n t smoker and a heavy d r i n k e r , t h e h a r d - b o i l e d hero was a man o f the c i t y , u s u a l l y though n o t always engaged i n c r i m i n a l d e t e c t i o n , a cop or a gumshoe. Moving t h r o u g h t h e c r i m i n a l u n d e r w o r l d w i t h a s h i e l d o f i r o n i c and wary detachment, t h i s s e l f - c o n s c i o u s he-man f i g u r e used v i o l e n c e t o c o n t a i n v i o l e n c e ; he t w i s t e d or c i r c u m v e n t e d the law i n o r d e r t o u p h o l d the law. H i s m o r a l i t y was f l e x i b l e and u t i l i t a r i a n . Though he might r e s o r t t o d e v i o u s means t o g e t the j o b done, he was n o t f o r s a l e ; he had a fundamental i n t e g r i t y . 1 0 73 Sam Spade o f The M a l t e s e F a l c o n and P h i l i p Marlowe o f t h e Ch a n d l e r m y s t e r i e s t y p i f y the h a r d - b o i l e d d e t e c t i v e . T h e i r language i s t e r s e and c o n c r e t e , d e v o i d o f e i t h e r s e n t i m e n t a l i t y o r s e l f - i n d u l g e n c e . D e s p i t e enormous p e r s o n a l r i s k , t h ey proceed u n a i d e d i n t h e i r quest f o r t r u t h . I n v a r i a b l y t h e d e t e c t i v e i s tempted by t h e a l l u r e s o f a s e d u c t i v e b u t dangerous woman. B r i g i d 0 1Shaughnessy i n The M a l t e s e F a l c o n murders Spade's p a r t n e r and t r i e s t o i m p l i c a t e Spade i n her c r i m i n a l a c t i v i t y . Spade's i n t e g r i t y , though, t r i u m p h s o v e r h i s p e r s o n a l d e s i r e s . Q u o t i n g h i s d u t y ("When a man's p a r t n e r i s k i l l e d he's supposed t o do something about 11 i t " ) he t u r n s B r i g i d over t o the p o l i c e . When the h a r d - b o i l e d n o v e l s were t r a n s f e r r e d t o the s c r e e n they n a t u r a l l y found e x p r e s s i o n i n the shadowy and c l a u s t r o p h o b i c s t y l i s t i c s o f t h e " f i l m n o i r . " The a l i e n a -t i o n o f the d e t e c t i v e and the chaos o f the w o r l d i n which he l i v e d demanded a f i l m i c e q u i v a l e n t . " F i l m n o i r " as cinema was more o f a mood tha n a genre; g a n g s t e r f i l m s , h o r r o r movies, and melodramas might a l l q u a l i f y as " n o i r " works. The q u i n t e s s e n t i a l f i l m n o i r c o u l d d e r i v e i t s p l o t from a v a r i e t y o f s o u r c e s . I t s u n i q u e n e s s , however, l a y i n i t s c i n e m a t i c m a n i p u l a t i o n o f theme and c h a r a c t e r . A p a r t from a shared b l a c k n e s s o f mood and c y n i c i s m o f to n e , the most o b v i o u s and predominant f e a t u r e o f t h e s e f i l m s i s t h e i r use o f l i g h t i n g . Tenebrous shadows and m i s t y scenes 74 g i v e the f i l m a vague, i n d i s t i n c t l o o k . L i g h t was used more t o i n t e r s e c t the frame than t o i r r a d i a t e i t . The e f f e c t was o f t e n fragmented and d i s j o i n t e d and was used as a v i s u a l e q u i v a l e n t t o the c h a r a c t e r s ' s t a t e o f mind. A s i m i l a r fragmented atmosphere i s c r e a t e d i n T h e a t r e o f the F i l m N o i r . By d i v i d i n g the a c t i o n i n t o t w e l v e s h o r t scenes and by abandoning the t r a d i t i o n a l c o n t a i n e d s e t s , Walker evokes a d i s j o i n t e d , d i s c o n n e c t e d w o r l d . A l s o l i n k i n g t h e p l a y t o the " f i l m n o i r " p o r t r a y a l s o f d e t e c t i v e f i c t i o n a r e the n a r r a t i v e form, t h e p r e o c c u p a t i o n w i t h a c e n t r a l m y s t e r y , t h e s e x u a l i n t r i g u e s and the p r e d a t o r y p o r t r a y a l o f L i l l i a n e . Walker's p l a y , however, d e v i a t e s from t h e " f i l m n o i r " p r o t o t y p e i n a s i g n i f i c a n t manner. U n l i k e Spade and Marlowe, I n s p e c t o r C l a i r does n o t "get t o the bottom o f t h i n g s ; " the f o r c e b e h i n d t h e mystery i s never r e v e a l e d . The d e s i r e f o r the t r u t h w h i c h so s t r o n g l y m o t i v a t e d the h a r d - b o i l e d de-t e c t i v e s i s a l l but abandoned h e r e . Of t h e t w e l v e scenes w h i c h d i v i d e T h e a t r e o f the F i l m N o i r Scenes One and Twelve f u n c t i o n as a s o r t o f p r o l o g u e and e p i l o g u e . Both scenes s p o t l i g h t the d e t e c t i v e a l o n e under a s t r e e t lamp and b o t h s e r v e as commentaries on the a c t i o n w i t h i n . Of the t e n scenes w h i c h t h e s e two frame, f i v e o c c u r i n a g r a v e y a r d , two i n a b i s t r o and t h r e e i n L i l l i a n e ' s apartment. The main p r o t a g o n i s t s are B e r n a r d , the murdered Jean's homo-75 s e x u a l l o v e r ; L i l l i a n e , Jean's s i s t e r ; E r i c , her N a z i b o y f r i e n d ; Hank, a soon t o be c o u r t - m a r t i a l l e d /American s o l d i e r ; and f i n a l l y I n s p e c t o r C l a i r . The t ime i s P a r i s , 1944, s h o r t l y a f t e r the l i b e r a t i o n . J e a n , a n i n e t e e n y e a r o l d member o f the Communist P a r t y has been murdered and I n s p e c t o r C l a i r has been a s s i g n e d t o the c a s e . A second i n t r i g u e , however, i s i n t r o d u c e d i n Scene Four when B e r n a r d and L i l l i a n e meet i n t h e g r a v e y a r d . B e r n a r d i s drunk and has dug up Jean's body f o r r e a s o n s t h a t a r e never e x p l a i n e d . B e r n a r d , aware t h a t L i l l i a n e has been h a r b o u r i n g a N a z i s o l d i e r i n her apartment, t r i e s t o b l a c k -m a i l her i n t o m a r r y i n g him. A s e l f - d e s c r i b e d " a g i n g n e u r o t i c , " he i s too f r i g h t e n e d t o s u r f a c e as a homosexual and wants m a r r i a g e as p r o t e c t i o n . L i l l i a n e r e f u s e s and i n f o r m s E r i c t h a t B e r n a r d knows o f h i s e x i s t e n c e . The i n t r i g u e becomes the n one o f b i z a r r e e v e n t s , m a n i p u l a t i o n and u l t i m a t e l y s u r -v i v a l . B e f o r e t h e p l a y c l o s e s , however, E r i c , Hank and B e r n a r d a l l l i e dead i n the g r a v e y a r d . The s u r v i v o r s a r e L i l l i a n e , who goes on t o be one o f " t h i s c o u n t r y ' s more s u c c e s s f u l f i l m a c t r e s s e s , " and I n s p e c t o r C l a i r . The murder o f Jean remains an enigma. I n s p e c t o r C l a i r and L i l l i a n e a r e the most r e c o g n i z a b l y " n o i r " c h a r a c t e r s o f t h e p l a y - i . e . , t h e i r f u n c t i o n s a r e t y p i c a l o f the d e t e c t i v e genre. E r i c and Hank, as s o l d i e r s o f t h e Second World War, a l s o f i n d a n t e c e d e n t s i n the post-war 7 6 " f i l m s n o i r s . " The r e t u r n i n g v e t e r a n i n f i l m n o i r i s always p o r t r a y e d as an o u t s i d e r . He i s s h e l l - s h o c k e d and v i o l e n t ( W i l l i a m Bendix i n The B l u e D a h l i a , R o b e r t Ryan i n C r o s s f i r e ) , r e - e n t e r i n g a w o r l d whose laws he doesn't under-s t a n d . (Burt L a n c a s t e r i n C r i s s C r o s s , A l a n Ladd i n The Bl u e D a h l i a ) . When he s u r f a c e s i n n o i r , the r e t u r n i n g s o l d i e r has the d i s c o n n e c t e d -ness o f an ex-con.12 E r i c and Hank, however, u n l i k e t h e i r n o i r c o u n t e r p a r t s can never r e t u r n home. E r i c , an AWOL N a z i s o l d i e r i n h i d i n g from the l i b e r a t o r s , would be as much a f u g i t i v e In Germany as he i s i n F r a n c e . Hank, t o o , has been o s t r a c i z e d by h i s compa-t r i o t s ; "conduct d e t r i m e n t a l " has earned f o r him an i n e v i t -a b l e c o u r t m a r t i a l . T h e i r a l i e n a t i o n i s f u r t h e r suggested by t h e i r l i n g u i s t i c i s o l a t i o n . "You speak my language," B e r n a r d t e l l s Hank, "But you have an a c c e n t . " (p. 13) Moments b e f o r e h i s d e a t h , how-e v e r , even t h i s a c c e n t e d attempt a t communication f a i l s . Reduced t o h y s t e r i a , Hank r e p e a t e d l y screams, " I don't c a r e . " BERNARD: ...He has a v e r y l i m i t e d v o c a b u l a r y . These a r e complex i s s u e s we're d e a l i n g w i t h . How i s he g o i n g t o manage w i t h so few words. (p. 44) E r i c ' s l i n g u i s t i c problems a r e o f a d i f f e r e n t v a r i e t y . Be-l i e v i n g h i m s e l f t o be t r a p p e d w i t h i n a c l i c h e he y e l l s , " J u s t because I am a German doesn't mean I am v i o l e n t , r i g i d 77 and h e a r t l e s s . T h a t ' s a c l i c h e . " (p. 3 9) And h i s f i n a l l i n e b e f o r e d e a t h i s a b i t t e r " I h a t e c l i c h e s . " C l i c h e s l i k e l i m i t e d v o c a b u l a r y , o b s c u r e complex i s s u e s and r e d u c e . c o m m u n i c a t i o n t o t h e b a n a l . B o t h E r i c and Hank a r e e x a g g e r a t i o n s o f t h e i r f i l m i c c o u n t e r p a r t s . The " A m e r i c a n e s s " o f Hank - t y p i f i e d by h i s f o l k s y s o n g and f r i e n d l y manner - and t h e t e u t o n i c r i g i d i t y o f E r i c a r e made more e x t r e m e and more r i d i c u l o u s by W a l k e r . T h i s e x a g g e r a t i o n r e d u c e s them t o t y p e s and r e n d e r s them f l a t . U n i - d i m e n s i o n a l and u n d e v e l o p e d , t h e y p r o h i b i t a u d i e n c e em-p a t h y and e n c o u r a g e a c o m i c r e s p o n s e . L i l l i a n e i s a l s o a f l a t c h a r a c t e r , b u t u n l i k e Hank and E r i c , h e r r o l e i s n o t c o m i c . L i k e B r i g i d 0'Shaughnessy o f The M a l t e s e F a l c o n and P h y l l i s D i e t r i c h s o n o f D o u b l e I n d e m n i t y , L i l l i a n e r e p r e s e n t s a t h r e a t t o b o t h male i n t e g r i t y and h a p p i n e s s . A t y p i c a l l y " n o i r " h e r o i n e , L i l l i a n e , however, do e s n o t s u f f e r t h e " n o i r " f a t e . D e f i n e d by t h e i r s e x u a l i t y , w h i c h i s p r e s e n t e d a s d e s i r a b l e b u t d a n g e r o u s t o men, t h e women f u n c t i o n as t h e o b s t a c l e t o t h e male q u e s t . The h e r o ' s s u c c e s s o r n o t de p e n d s on t h e d e g r e e t o w h i c h he c a n e x t r i c a t e h i m s e l f f r o m t h e woman's m a n i p u l a t i o n s . A l t h o u g h t h e man i s sometimes s i m p l y d e s t r o y e d b e c a u s e he c a n n o t r e s i s t t h e women's l u r e s (Double  I n d e m n i t y i s t h e b e s t e x a m p l e ) , o f t e n t h e . work o f t h e f i l m i s t h e a t t e m p t e d r e s t o r a t i o n o f o r d e r t h r o u g h t h e e x p o s u r e and t h e n d e s t r u c t i o n o f t h e s e x u a l , m a n i p u l a t i n g woman. 78 R a t h e r t h a n d e s t r o y i n g the " s e x u a l , m a n i p u l a t i n g woman," Theat r e o f t h e F i l m N o i r chooses i n s t e a d t o g l o r i f y h e r . " L i l l i a n e w i l l go on t o be one o f t h i s c o u n t r y ' s more s u c c e s s f u l f i l m a c t r e s s e s , " (p. 50) s t a t e s I n s p e c t o r C l a i r . H a v i n g s u r v i v e d the war and her two l o v e r s L i l l i a n e ' s p o s s i b l e c o m p l i c i t y i n murder goes u n i n v e s t i g a t e d and unpunished. Her sense o f estrangement i s perhaps more i m m e d i a t e l y f e l t than t h a t o f E r i c and Hank. LILLIANE: . . . I t ' s p o l i t i c s . E v e r y t h i n g i s p o l i t i c s . I'm a v i c t i m o f o t h e r p e o p l e ' s b e l i e f s . I'm a s t r a n g e r i n my own c o u n t r y . I don't under-s t a n d t h e s e new i n f l u e n c e s . The r a d i o p l a y s American j a z z . That's p o l i t i c a l . I'm j u s t t r y i n g t o s u r v i v e . (p. 31) J a z z on t h e r a d i o and b l u e s i n the b i s t r o s ; P a r i s i s becoming A m e r i c a n i z e d . A f t e r f o u r y e a r s o f German occupa-t i o n the i n f l u e n c e s have changed. S u r v i v a l now demands chame l e o n i c t a l e n t s . " I s u r v i v e d w i t h o u t a f f i l i a t i o n s , " (p. 5) L i l l i a n e b o a s t s t o I n s p e c t o r C l a i r . L i l l i a n e ' s l a c k o f a f f i l i a t i o n s , w h i l e i t p e r m i t s s u r v i v a l , does so a t the expense o f any form o f s e l f - d e f i n i t i o n . L i l l i a n e i s as u n d e f i n a b l e as the c i g a r e t t e s and c h o c o l a t e s w h i c h a r e c o n t i n u a l l y showered upon h e r . The l i s t o f d r a m a t i c personae i d e n t i f i e s h e r s o l e l y as a "former s h o p - g i r l ; " her s e l f - d e f i n i t i o n - i f i t .79 e v e r e x i s t e d - l i e s o n l y i n t h e p a s t . L i l l i a n e , h e r s e l f , i s aware o f the u n r e a l q u a l i t y o f her l i f e . L I L LIANE: I'd l i k e t o be i n f i l m s . I r e a l l y would. I saw one l a s t week. American. No. E n g l i s h . . . Anyway, I would have l i k e d t o be i n i t . I s a t t h e r e t h i n k i n g t h a t I would l i k e t o l i v e i n a f i l m . J u s t be a l i v e i n a f i l m and nowhere e l s e . I'd l i k e t h a t . I t h i n k somehow t h a t would be b e t t e r . (p. 49) "She l i v e s an a b s t r a c t l i f e " we a r e t o l d t h r o u g h o u t the p l a y and i t i s a p p r o p r i a t e t h a t t h i s " a b s t r a c t l i f e " s h o u l d f i n d e x p r e s s i o n w i t h i n the c e l l u l o i d frame. L i l l i a n e ' s s u c c e s s f u l e n t r y i n t o f i l m d o m i s a r r a n g e d by I n s p e c t o r C l a i r . C l a i r ' s t r e a t m e n t o f L i l l i a n e , however, i s i n d i c a t i v e o f one o f the ways i n w h i c h h i s c h a r a c t e r d i f f e r s from the h a r d - b o i l e d v a r i e t y . The t y p i c a l h a r d - b o i l e d de-t e c t i v e would have r e j e c t e d L i l l i a n e b o t h f o r her a m o r a l i t y and f o r h e r s e x u a l i t y . The d e t e c t i v e ' s p e r s o n a l code w i l l i n e v i t a b l y make him an o u t s i d e r ; n e i t h e r f r i e n d s nor l o v e r s can p e n e t r a t e h i s r i g i d e x t e r i o r . P h i l i p Marlowe r e j e c t s h i s f r i e n d T e r r y Lennox f o r f a i l u r e t o m a i n t a i n a code. ...You had s t a n d a r d s and you l i v e d up t o them, but they were p e r s o n a l . They had no r e l a t i o n t o any k i n d o f e t h i c s o r s c r u p l e s . You were a n i c e guy because you had a n i c e n a t u r e . But you were j u s t as happy w i t h mugs o r hoodlums as w i t h honest men...You're a m o r a l d e f e a t i s t . L i l l i a n e ' s a m o r a l i t y and d u p l i c i t y p r o v i d e the g r e a t e s t 80 t h r e a t t o the I n s p e c t o r ' s q u e s t f o r t r u t h . Y e t , c o n t r a r y t o " n o i r " t r a d i t i o n , C l a i r does n o t t r y t o e l i m i n a t e h e r . H i s a p proach i s the o p p o s i t e ; i n s t e a d he e l i m i n a t e s a l l o b s t a c l e s t o her d e s i r e s and c l o s e s the case when the messy ends o f h e r l i f e a r e sewn up. M o r a l l y ambiguous and p r o f e s s i o n a l l y u n e t h i c a l , I n s p e c t o r C l a i r i s a c o n t r a d i c t i o n o f t y p e . I t i s n o t , however, o n l y h i s c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n w h i c h runs c o n t r a r y t o genre i n the p l a y b u t a l s o h i s s t a t u s w i t h i n the p l a y . In most d e t e c t i v e f i c t i o n , the i n v e s t i g a t o r i s the f o c u s o f a l l a c t i o n ; i n d e e d he i s o f t e n the eyes t h r o u g h which the r e a d e r sees the e v e n t s . H i s d u a l s t a t u s as n a r r a t o r and c h a r a c t e r makes him t h e r e f e r e n c e p o i n t f o r t h e work. A l l o t h e r c h a r a c t e r s and a c t i o n s are judged a c c o r d i n g t o h i s s t a n d a r d s . I s o l a t e d w i t h i n t h e p u r i t y o f h i s code and consumed by the need t o d i s c o v e r the t r u t h , t h e h a r d - b o i l e d d e t e c t i v e i s viewed as a l i e n a t e d and o b s e s s i v e . I n s p e c t o r C l a i r , however, whose p e r s o n a l code i s as f l u i d as t h e w o r l d around him and whose p a s s i o n f o r the t r u t h i s sub-merged w i t h i n a l a r g e r d e s i r e t o make t h i n g s complete f i t s n e i t h e r o f t h e s e c a t e g o r i e s . F i l m n o i r p r o t a g o n i s t s i n v a r i a b l y e x p e r i e n c e some form o f estrangement and " f i l m n o i r " d e t e c t i v e s t o r i e s w i t h the emphasis on the i n v e s t i g a t o r , h i g h l i g h t e d the l o n e l i n e s s o f the s o l i t a r y q u e s t . A l a i n S i l v e r , i n h i s d i s c u s s i o n o f " f i l m n o i r " o b s e r v e s t h e f o l l o w i n g : 81 I f a u s u a l d e f i n i t i o n o f the n o i r p r o t a g o n i s t i s t o be f o r m u l a t e d i t must encompass two key c h a r a c t e r m o t i f s . 1 5 For S i l v e r t h e s e two m o t i f s a r e a l i e n a t i o n and o b s e s s i o n . A l t h o u g h he f e e l s a l i e n a t i o n t o be "the more i n t r i n s i c " t o the form he does g r a n t o b s e s s i o n an imporant r o l e i n the " n o i r u n i v e r s e . " I n t r a d i t i o n a l d e t e c t i v e f i c t i o n t h e a l i e n a t e d , o b s e s s i v e hero s t a n d s a p a r t from the chaos which i s e n v e l o p i n g a l l the o t h e r s . Though l o n e l y and i s o l a t e d , he r e p r e s e n t s n o n e t h e l e s s the p o s s i b i l i t y o f an a l t e r n a t i v e . The w o r l d o f " f i l m n o i r " may be u n r e m i t t i n g l y b l a c k and c l a u s t r o p h o b i c , but i t s o v e r -a l l c o n c l u s i o n s always s u p p o r t s the s t a t u s quo. I d e a l s such as f r i e n d s h i p , l o y a l t y , and honour were u p h e l d i n " f i l m n o i r . " W a l t e r N e f f i n Double Indemnity may have committed murder and b e t r a y e d h i s company, but h i s d y i n g c o n f e s s i o n i n h i s f r i e n d ' s arms, s u g g e s t s an a c q u i e s c e n c e i n s o c i a l v a l u e s . L i k e w i s e , Sam Spade, d e s p i t e h i s l o v e f o r B r i g i d 0'Shaughnessy a f f i r m s h i s l o y a l t y t o h i s dead p a r t n e r by b r i n g i n g j u s t i c e t o h i s murderer. T h e a t r e o f the F i l m N o i r rewards none o f t h e s e v i r t u e s . Each c h a r a c t e r , obsessed w i t h s u r v i v a l and " g e t t i n g by," con-t i n u a l l y c h e a t s and b e t r a y s the o t h e r . B e r n a r d , Hank and E r i c d i e ; L i l l i a n e and I n s p e c t o r C l a i r l i v e . Yet n e i t h e r r e t r i b u t i o n nor j u s t i c e appear t o p l a y a r o l e i n t h e i r f a t e s . George G r e l l a o b s e r v e s the f o l l o w i n g o f the h a r d - b o i l e d d e t e c t i v e : 82 Though t h e d e t e c t i v e i s c o m p e l l e d t o work i n t h i s c h a o t i c and s i n f u l s o c i e t y he does no t s hare i t s v a l u e s ; i n s t e a d he i s always i n c o n f l i c t w i t h o r i n f l i g h t from c i v i l i z a -t i o n . He f i n d s no f r u i t f u l human r e l a t i o n s h i p p o s s i b l e . H i s condemnation o r r e j e c t i o n o f o t h e r human b e i n g s u n i t e s him w i t h t h e a l i e n a t -ed and l o s s o f American f i c t i o n . - ' - 6 I n s p e c t o r C l a i r , as the murderer o f B e r n a r d , does ind e e d s h are the v a l u e s o f the murky environment o f T h e a t r e o f the F i l m N o i r . H i s c o m p l i c i t y i n the cover-up o f Jean's murder and h i s i n d i f f e r e n c e towards L i l l i a n e ' s a m o r a l i t y b i n d him w i t h t h e o t h e r depraved c h a r a c t e r s . S i l v e r ' s d e f i n i t i o n o f the " n o i r " p r o t a g o n i s t as a l i e n a t e d and o b s e s s i v e seems more a p p r o p r i a t e t o Be r n a r d than t o C l a i r . A p a r t from b e i n g more c e n t r a l t o the p l a y ' s a c t i o n s t h a n i s t h e I n s p e c t o r , B e r n a r d i s a l s o a more e l o q u e n t spokesman f o r the a l i e n a t e d . B e f o r e b e g i n n i n g an a n a l y s i s o f B e r n a r d , however, i t might be u s e f u l t o examine d i c t i o n a r y d e f i n i t i o n s o f the terms " a l i e n a t i o n " and 17 " o b s e s s i o n . " W i t h i n the p s y c h o l o g i c a l r e a l m , a l i e n a t i o n i s d e f i n e d as a " s t a t e o f estrangement between the s e l f and the o b j e c t i v e w o r l d , o r between d i f f e r e n t p a r t s o f the p e r s o n a l i t y . " O b s e s s i o n , however, has b o t h a modern and an a r c h a i c meaning. Contemporary usage i m p l i e s " c o m p u l s i v e p r e o c c u p a t i o n w i t h a f i x e d i d e a o r unwanted f e e l i n g o r emotion, o f t e n w i t h symptoms o f a n x i e t y . " The a r c h a i c c o n n o t a t i o n , however, i n v o l v e s the s u p e r n a t u r a l : "the s t a t e o f b e i n g b e s e t 83 or actuated by the d e v i l or an e v i l s p i r i t . " Both these d e f i n i t i o n s appear central to a discussion of Bernard. His a l i e n a t i o n i s acutely experienced through his homosexuality. L i f e under the Communists, F a s c i s t s , or Democrats i s equally frightening for him; i n any m i l i t a r i s t i c , assertive society he w i l l remain an outsider. As for Hank and E r i c , conformity for Bernard also means a l i n g u i s t i c transformation. "I've been hiding i n basements for years, learning how to speak english so I could i n g r a t i a t e myself with the l i b e r a t i o n army," Bernard t e l l s L i l l i a n e . (p. 11) Bernard's paranoia prevents him from functioning "above ground." He quits work because "There were always people on the street who were h o s t i l e towards me." Cp• 22) The estrange-ment Bernard feels from the world around him, however, i s not as frightening as the one he feels from himself. The fragment-ation of Bernard's thoughts suggests a psychological a l i e n a -t i o n . L i l l i a n e t e l l s E r i c that Bernard was "talking l i k e his brain was exploding." It i s Bernard himself, though, who most c l e a r l y a r t i c u l a t e s t h i s segmentation. BERNARD: I did understand him. I d i d . I saw into his brain. I t was broken into l i t t l e pieces. And the pieces were t a l k i n g to each other. Just l i k e mine. Exactly l i k e mine. (He looks at L i l l i a n e . Smiles.) In my darker moments, of course. (p. 45) 84 A l i e n a t e d , underground and w i t h o u t a f f i l i a t i o n , B e r n a r d , t o o , becomes obsessed w i t h s u r v i v a l . The " f i x e d i d e a " o f Ber n a r d ' s c o m p u l s i o n i s s u r f a c i n g . T i r e d o f l i v i n g on the f r i n g e he goes t o extreme l e n g t h s t o t r y t o b l a c k m a i l L i l l i a n e i n t o m a r r i a g e . The a n x i e t y which accompanies o b s e s s i o n i s a l s o p r e s e n t i n B e r n a r d . Throughout the p l a y he c o n t i n u a l l y d e s c r i b e s h i m s e l f as s c a r e d and f r i g h t e n e d : BERNARD: That u n i f o r m has made me behave s t r a n g e l y i n p u b l i c . And earned me many a n x i o u s moments. I don't l i k e i t . I don't l i k e u n i f o r m s i n g e n e r a l . They s h o u l d n ' t be a l l o w e d . They always show up un-i n v i t e d and cause a n x i e t y . (p. 2) Yet i n h e r e n t a l s o i n Bernard's o b s e s s i v e b e h a v i o u r i s a s u g g e s t i o n o f the s u p e r n a t u r a l . I n Scene Two, Bernard d e s c r i b e s h i s i n s p i r a t i o n from God: BERNARD: I found t h a t c o i n the day t h e N a z i ' s i n v a d e d . God w h i s p e r e d : s t r a n g e l y i n my e a r . Here's a l i t t l e two-headed c o i n f o r you, B e r n a r d . A l i t t l e t o k e n o f my a f f e c t i o n t o see you t h r o u g h the da r k t i m e s ahead. (p. 2) R a t h e r than c o n n o t i n g the C h r i s t i a n Holy Ghost, however, the s p i r i t which i n v a d e s B e r n a r d s u g g e s t s i n s t e a d the f o l k -l o r i c g h o u l . As e v i l demons o f the n i g h t , Ghouls o c c u p i e d themselves by p l u n d e r i n g graves and f e e d i n g on c o r p s e s . 85 W h i l e B e r n a r d does n o t a c t u a l l y chew on the dead J e a n , he does, however, exhume h i s c o r p s e and k i s s h i s l i p s . The c o f f i n , once u n e a r t h e d , i s t h e n used by B e r n a r d as a f o o d l o c k e r - h o u s i n g b o t h wine and c h o c o l a t e . The c h a r a c t e r o f B e r n a r d , a l t h o u g h t h e m a t i c a l l y c o n -s i s t e n t w i t h the t r a d i t i o n s o f d e t e c t i v e f i c t i o n , i s i n i t s e l f n o t t y p i c a l t o the genre. He i s t o o h y s t e r i c a l , t oo e x a g g e r a t e d . H i s f r e n e t i c and e m o t i o n a l language i s i n d i r e c t c o n t r a s t t o the t i g h t , t e r s e and c o n c r e t e language o f t h e h a r d - b o i l e d n o v e l s . H i s estrangement and i s o l a t i o n , however, p l a c e him f i r m l y i n the n o i r u n i v e r s e . " I am the m o r a l c o n s c i e n c e o f the day," Cp• 15) Bernard t e l l s L i l l i a n e . I n t h e t y p i c a l d e t e c t i v e n o v e l he would have been merely a temporary a b e r r a t i o n and h i s d e a t h would have s i g n a l l e d a r e s t o r a t i o n o f o r d e r . I n Walker's w o r l d , however, chaos r e i g n s . I n a w o r l d where " M o r a l i t y i s a q u e s t i o n o f c i r c u m -s t a n c e ...and c i r c u m s t a n c e depends on f o r t u n e , " (pp. 1, 51) t h e o p p o r t u n i s t i c , c o w a r d l y B e r n a r d i s i n d e e d p a r a d i g m a t i c of the p r e v a i l i n g e t h o s . Walker's i n c l u s i o n o f B ernard i n t h e p l a y g i v e s i t a g r o t e s q u e f l a v o u r t h a t i s r a r e l y found i n " f i l m n o i r . " As w i t h Walker's o t h e r p l a y s the v u l n e r a b i l i t y and m u t a b i l i t y o f t h e body a r e o v e r t l y t h e a t r i c a l i z e d . Over h a l f the p l a y t a k e s p l a c e i n a g r a v e y a r d and t h r e e on-stage murders o c c u r b e f o r e i t s c l o s e . T y p i c a l o f the g r o t e s q u e , d e a t h i s t r e a t e d 86 i n an u n d i g n i f i e d and i r r e v e r e n t manner; E r i c a c c i d e n t a l l y shoots h i m s e l f i n the m i d d l e o f a s e x u a l encounter w i t h B e r n a r d . S i m i l a r l y , the u n e a r t h e d c o r p s e of Jean i s g r a n t e d no r e s p e c t ; Bernard n o t o n l y k i s s e s t h e c a d a v e r bu t a l s o b a l a n c e s h i s f o o d on i t . The g r o t e s q u e imagery, the i n c o n g r u o u s a c t i o n s and the p a r o d i c c o n t r a s t s s i t u a t e t h e p l a y w i t h i n the t r a d i t i o n o f b l a c k humour. I t i s the p r e s e n c e of t h i s b l a c k humour which p r e v e n t s t h e p l a y from a c q u i e s c i n g i n " f i l i m n o i r " v a l u e s . As Winston o b s e r v e s b l a c k humour c l a i m s " t h a t mystery i s not a p a r t i c u l a r o b s c u r i t y i n an o t h e r w i s e known and o r d e r e d w o r l d 18 b u t i s the v e r y n a t u r e o f e x i s t e n c e . " M y s t e r y i s endemic t o t h e b l a c k h u m o u r i s t ' s w o r l d . The h a r d - b o i l e d d e t e c t i v e ' s q u e s t f o r t r u t h cannot be accommodated i n a w o r l d where " p r e c i s e d e f i n i t i o n s , " " p a t t e r n s o f b e h a v i o u r , " and "a c l e a r consensus o f m o r a l i t y and a b e l i e f i n a b s o l u t e g u i l t " have d i s a p p e a r e d . I n s p e c t o r C l a i r ' s t a s k o f "making t h i n g s c l e a r " i s an i m p o s s i b l e g o a l . L i k e t h e " w i l d l o n g i n g f o r c l a r i t y " w hich "echoes i n t h e human h e a r t " t h i s need t o know w i l l go un-answered. T r u t h i s an a b s o l u t e i n d e t e c t i v e f i c t i o n ; i n T h e a t r e o f the F i l m N o i r i t i s a r e l a t i v e v a l u e . J . H i l l i s M i l l e r s t a t e s t h a t "A g r a v e s t o n e i s the s i g n 19 o f an absence." Over h a l f o f T h e a t r e of the F i l m N o i r o c c u r s i n a g r a v e y a r d b e s i d e t h e c o f f i n o f the dead Jean but the sense o f absence c o n t i n u e s t hroughout the e n t i r e p l a y . 87 Absent from the l i v e s o f Wa l ke r ' s c h a r a c t e r s i s , o f c o u r s e , the murdered Jean . Gone a l s o i s a sense o f i d e n t i t y , o f pa t r imony , o f n a t i o n a l i t y and o f b e l o n g i n g . More s i g n i f i c a n t to t h e i r l i v e s , pe rhaps , i s " t he absence o f God. " Depr i ved of an o r d e r e d , comprehens ib le u n i v e r s e , the c h a r a c t e r s f i n d themselves w i thout any g u i d i n g a b s o l u t e s . " I f one c o u l d o n l y say j u s t once: ' t h i s i s c l e a r ' , a l l would be s a v e d , " Camus 20 ob se rve s . The foggy m i s ty wor ld of Theat re o f the F i l m N o i r a s s e r t s t h a t no th ing can ever be made c l e a r ; the w o r l d ' s m y s t e r i e s a re u l t i m a t e l y i m p e n e t r a b l e . 88 . NOTES CHAPTER THREE 1. Mathew W i n s t o n , "The E t h i c s o f C o n t e m p o r a r y B l a c k Humor," C o l o r a d o Q u a r t e r l y , 24, (1976), p . 284. 2. W i n s t o n , p. 287. 3. Max S c h u l z , B l a c k Humor F i c t i o n i n t h e S i x t i e s ( O h i o : O h i o U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1973) , p. 67. 4. S c h u l z , p. 66. 5. J o h n D. Jump, B u r l e s q u e (London: Methuen, 1972) , p. 2. 6. S a n d e r L. G i l m a n , The P a r o d i c Sermon i n E u r o p e a n  P e r s p e c t i v e (Wiesbaden: F r a n z S t e i n e r s V e r l a g GMBH, 1974) , p. 3. 7. A l l r e f e r e n c e s w i l l be t o t h e f o l l o w i n g e d i t i o n : G e o r g e F. W a l k e r , T h e a t r e o f t h e F i l m N o i r ( T o r o n t o : P l a y w r i g h t s Canada, 1981) . 8. George G r e l l a , "The H a r d - B o i l e d D e t e c t i v e N o v e l " i n D e t e c t i v e F i c t i o n : A C o l l e c t i o n o f C r i t i c a l E s s a y s , e d . R o b i n W. Winks (New J e r s e y : P r e n t i c e - H a l l , 1980) , p . 104. 9. Edward M a r g o l i e s "The A m e r i c a n D e t e c t i v e T h r i l l e r and t h e I d e a o f S o c i e t y , " i n D i m e n s i o n s o f D e t e c t i v e F i c t i o n , e d . L a r r y N. Landrum, P a t Browne and Ray B. Browne, (n.p.: P o p u l a r P r e s s , 1976) , p. 84. 10. F o s t e r H i r s c h , The Dar k S i d e o f th e S c r e e n : F i l m N o i r (San D i e g o : A.S. B a r n e s and Company, I n c . , 1981) , p. 24. 11. D a s h i e l l Hammett, The M a l t e s e F a l c o n , e d . R i c h a r d J . A n o b i l e (London: M a c M i l l a n , 1974) , p. 246. 12. H i r s c h , p. 21. 13. E. Ann K a p l a n , Women i n F i l m N o i r (London: B r i t i s h F i l m I n s t i t u t e , 1978) , pp. 2 -3 . 89 14. Quoted i n G r e l l a , p. 109. 15. Alain S i l v e r and Elizabeth Ward ed. An  Encyclopedic Reference to the American Style. Film Noir-(New York: Overlook Press, 1979), p. 4. 16. G r e l l a , pp. 110-111. 17. A l l d e f i n i t i o n s w i l l be taken from the following source: William Morris, ed. The Houghton M i f f l i n  Canadian Dictionary of the English Language. (Ontario: Houghton M i f f l i n , 1969) 18. Winston, p. 283. 19. J. H i l l i s M i l l e r . F i c t i o n and Repetition: Seven  English Novels- (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1982), p. 59. 20. Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus trans. Justin O'Brien- (New York: A l f r e d A. Knopf, 1969), p. 27. 90 CONCLUSION Descri b i n g the black humourist as one "enraged by the a b s u r d i t y of h i s i r r a t i o n a l metaphysical," Bruce Janoff concludes: In the b l a c k e s t of black-humor novels a f f i r m a t i o n simply means con t i n u i n g to l i v e r a t h e r than committing s u i c i d e , and optimism i s nothing more than laughing d a r k l y at a t r a g i c a l l y i n s e n s i t i v e en-vironment where u n c e r t a i n t y and anxiety have become a way of l i f e . The laughter evoked i n the plays discussed here i s indeed "dark." The " i r r a t i o n a l i s t metaphysic" which envelopes Walker's characters provides n e i t h e r j u s t i c e nor s a l v a t i o n as solace. Fate i s a r b i t r a r y and g r a t u i t o u s ; each i n d i v i -dual's f u t u r e i s f o r e v e r contingent upon the workings of a cosmos th a t i s at best c a p r i c i o u s . Anxious, a l i e n a t e d and i s o l a t e d the characters of Walker's world are i n c o n t i n u a l c o n f l i c t w i t h t h e i r environment. Although Walker p o s i t s a s i m i l a r universe to the one evoked by Camus i n The Myth of Sisyphus he does not o f f e r the same response. For Camus "happiness and the absurd are 2 two sons of the same ear t h . They are inseparable." Once the Gods have been s i l e n c e d man becomes master of h i s world. 91 A l l S i s y p h u s ' s i l e n t j o y i s c o n t a i n e d t h e r e i n . H i s f a t e b e l o n g s t o him. H i s r o c k i s h i s t h i n g . L i k e w i s e , the absurd man, when he c o n t e m p l a t e s h i s t orment, s i l e n c e s a l l t h e i d o l s . I n the u n i v e r s e suddenly r e s t o r e d t o i t s s i l e n c e , the m y r i a d wondering l i t t l e l i t t l e v o i c e s o f the e a r t h r i s e up. U n c o n s c i o u s , s e c r e t c a l l s , i n v i t a t i o n s from a l l the f a c e s , they a r e the n e c e s s a r y r e -v e r s e and p r i c e o f v i c t o r y . There i s no sun w i t h o u t shadow, and i t i s e s s e n t i a l t o know the n i g h t . The a b s u r d man says yes and h i s e f f o r t w i l l h e n c e f o r t h be u n c e a s i n g . I f t h e r e i s a p e r s o n a l f a t e , t h e r e i s no h i g h e r d e s t i n y , o r a t l e a s t t h e r e i s b u t one w h i c h he c o n c l u d e s i s i n e v i t a b l e and d e s p i c a b l e . F o r the r e s t , ^ he knows h i m s e l f t o be the master o f h i s days. W i t h i n the c o n f i n e o f h i s r o c k , S i s y p h u s w i l l c r e a t e h i s i n d i v i d u a l w o r l d and d e s t i n y . I t i s t h i s c o n f r o n t a t i o n w i t h h i s r o c k w h i c h g i v e s h i s l i f e p u rpose. Walker's c h a r a c t e r s , however, remain d e v o i d o f purpose. T h i s i s n o t t o say t h a t they have abandoned the s e a r c h f o r meaning but r a t h e r t h a t meaning i t s e l f i s e l u s i v e . Ahrun i n Bagdad S a l o o n b e l i e v e s t h a t fame can c r e a t e p urpose. Rocco o f Beyond Mozambique b e l i e v e s t h a t a n o b l e p u r s u i t w i l l negate a l l h a r s h e r r e a l i t i e s . B e r n a r d o f T h e a t r e o f the F i l m  N o i r b e l i e v e s t h a t a s s i m i l a t i o n w i t h i n t h e l a r g e r s o c i e t y w i l l e r a d i c a t e h i s i s o l a t i o n . Yet none o f t h e s e c h a r a c t e r s i s r e s c u e d from h i s m a l a i s e o r h i s a n x i e t y : none f i n d s the S i s y p h e a n l i b e r t y w h i c h Camus a d v o c a t e s . K o j i Numasawa sees i n b l a c k humour a d e l i b e r a t e r e n u n c i -a t i o n o f t h i s s t a n c e . 92 I f , i t m ight be s a i d , t h e whole a t t e m p t s o f e x i s t e n t i a l i s t s have c e n t e r e d on c r e a t i n g something p o s i t i v e out o f the o m n i p r e s e n t . N e g a t i v e , on f i n d i n g a way t o l i v e i n t h e m i d s t o f i r r a t i o n a l , i n c o h e r e n t chaos which i s our u n i v e r s e , o r , f a i l i n g i t , on a t l e a s t e s t a b l i s h i n g a semblance o f v a l u e i n the v e r y S i s y p h e a n p r o c e s s , the new b l a c k h u m o r i s t s s e t up shop on mocking the f u t i l i t y o f such p r o c e s s e s i n a I - t o l d - y o u - i t ' s - n o - g o o d s p i r i t . 4 "The b e s t t h a t the b l a c k h u m o r i s t can hope f o r i s a f o r m u l a 5 f o r p e r s o n a l s u r v i v a l , " J a n o f f s t a t e s . S u r v i v a l i s a major theme i n Walker's p l a y s . The s t a k e s a r e n o t always the same but the game i s n o n e t h e l e s s " g e t t i n g by." Bush and G a i t want t o s u r v i v e s c a n d a l ; Ahrun wants t o t r a n s c e n d anonymity. The j u n g l e e x i l e s o f Beyond Mozambique want t o s u r v i v e the i n v a d i n g chaos w h i c h drums i n the bushes. The s o c i a l l y vague m i l i e u o f T h e a t r e o f the F i l m N o i r makes s u r v i v a l a p o l i t i c a l c o n c e r n . Y e t on a n o t h e r l e v e l , s u r v i v a l assumes a m e t a p h y s i c a l d i m e n s i o n . S u r v i v a l w i t h i n the l i m i t s o f an e q u i v o c a l and f o r m l e s s u n i v e r s e becomes f o r t h e b l a c k h u m o u r i s t s a major c o n c e r n . Eugene Ionesco advocates humour as a means o f t r a n s c e n d -i n g the t r a g i c . There i s o n l y one t r u e way o f d e m y s t i f y i n g : by means o f humor e s p e c i a l l y i f i t i s ' b l a c k ' ...the comic a l o n e i s a b l e t o g i v e us the ^ s t r e n g t h t o bear the t r a g e d y o f e x i s t e n c e . 93 Walker's m a n i p u l a t i o n o f the comic i n h i s p l a y s i s what saves them from t o t a l n i h i l i s m . Maintenance of the t e n s i o n between the comic and "the t r a g e d y o f e x i s t e n c e , " however, i s n e c e s s a r y f o r a s u c c e s s f u l e v o c a t i o n o f t h e two. Walker f r a n k l y d i s c u s s the d i f f i c u l t y o f t h i s : We l i v e i n chaos and i t ' s d i f f i c u l t t o d i f f e r e n t i a t e between the two. The s e r i o u s i,z and the comic i s somehow on t h i s spooky, funny l i n e , and i t s hard t o f i n d o u t t h e d i v i s i o n . That's why the w r i t i n g w alks an odd l i n e sometimes and o c c a s i o n a l l y f a l l s o v e r one way o r a n o t h e r . I t s a m a t t e r o f c o n t r o l and d i s c i p l i n e . I d e a l l y , what I want t o be i s r i g h t on t h a t l i n e . The t e c h n i q u e s w h i c h Walker uses t o remain " r i g h t on t h a t l i n e " have been d i s c u s s e d e a r l i e r . M e r g i n g the t r a d i t i o n s o f t h e T h e a t r e o f t h e Absurd w i t h t h o s e o f the g r o t e s q u e and parody, Walker c r e a t e s an i n c o n g r o u s and u n c e r t a i n w o r l d . A l -though each p l a y i s dominated by o n l y one o f t h e s e s t y l e s , e v i d e n c e o f a l l t h r e e can be found i n each. The deformed Ivanhoe o f Bagdad S a l o o n i s more r e d o l e n t o f t h e b i z a r r e c h a r a c t e r s o f the g r o t e s q u e t h a n o f the a b s u r d . L i k e w i s e , the v i o l e n t w o r l d o f Beyond Mozambique, a l t h o u g h s t e e p e d i n g r o t e s q u e imagery, a l s o c o n t a i n s elements o f parody. The me l o d r a m a t i c w o r l d of the low budget t h r i l l e r w i t h i t s n a i v e d i v i s i o n s i n t o good and e v i l a r e here e x p l o r e d . E v i l i n Beyond  Mozambique i s endemic t o the environment; no one c h a r a c t e r i s f r e e o f i t . T h e a t r e o f the F i l m N o i r , c l e a r l y a p a r o d y , a l s o 94 c o n t a i n s elements o f the g r o t e s q u e . The g r a v e y a r d , the unearthed c o r p s e , the u n d i g n i f i e d dea'ths and the g e n e r a l d e l i r i u m a re h a l l m a r k s o f g r o t e s q u e l i t e r a t u r e . The b l a c k n e s s o f Walker's humour i s dependent upon the t e n s i o n i n h e r e n t i n the j u x t a p o s i t i o n o f o p p o s i t e s . The p o l a r i z e d w o r l d which he c r e a t e s can accommodate no a b s o l u t e s , no i d e o l o g i e s , no f o r m u l a s and no s t r u c t u r e s . I t i s i n s t e a d t o t a l l y e q u i v o c a l . W h i l e a c k n o w l e d g i n g the b l e a k n e s s o f the human c o n d i t i o n Walker s t i l l a f f i r m s the uniqueness o f the o i n d i v i d u a l . "Humor i s l i b e r y , " Ionesco s t a t e s . Humour such as Walker's w h i c h a l l o w s l a u g h t e r i n the f a c e o f the h o r r i f i c o f f e r s t o i t s r e a d e r s a form o f l i b e r a t i o n . M i t i g a t e d by humour, the " t r a g e d y o f e x i s t e n c e " can be t e m p o r a r i l y t r a n s c e n d e d . 95 NOTES CONCLUSION 1. Bruce Janoff, "Black Humor: Beyond S a t i r e , " Ohio Review, 14, (1972), p. 19. 2. Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus trans. Justin O'Brien, (New York"! A l f r e d A. Knopf, 1969), p. 122. 3. Camus, p. 123. 4. Koji Numasawa, "Black Humor: An American Aspect," Studies i n English L i t e r a t u r e , 44, No. 1 (1967), p. 181. 5. Janoff, P. 15. 6. Eugene Ionesco, Notes and Counter Notes. trans. Donald Watson (New York: Grove Press, 1964), p. 14 4... 7. Chris Hallgren, "George Walker: the serious and the comic," Scene Changes, 7, No. 2 (1979), p. 23. 8. Ionesco, p. 142. 96 BIBLIOGRAPHY Works by George F. Walker Ambush a t T e t h e r ' s End. I n The F a c t o r y Lab A n t h o l o g y . ed. Connie B r i s s e n d e n . Vancouver: T a l o n b o o k s , 1974. The A r t o f War. To r o n t o : P l a y w r i g h t s Canada, 198 2. Bagdad S a l o o n . I n Three P l a y s by George F. Walker. T o r o n t o : Coach House, 1978. Beyond Mozambique. I n Three P l a y s . F i l t h y R i c h . T o r o n t o : P l a y w r i g h t s Canada, 1981. G o s s i p • T o r o n t o : P l a y w r i g h t s Canada, 1981. P r i n c e o f N a p l e s . T o r o n t o : P l a y w r i g h t s Co-op, 1973. Ramona and t h e White S l a v e s . I n Three P l a y s . Rumours o f Our Death. I n Canadian T h e a t r e Review 25 (Winter 1980), pp. 43-72. Sacktown Rag. T o r o n t o : P l a y w r i g h t s Co-op, 197 2. S c i e n c e and Madness. T o r o n t o : P l a y w r i g h t s Canada, 198 2. Th e a t r e o f the F i l m N o i r . T o r o n t o : P l a y w r i g h t s Canada, 1981. Z a s t r o z z i : The M a s t e r o f D i s c i p l i n e . T o r o n t o : P l a y w r i g h t s Co-op, 1977. WORKS CONSULTED A r t i c l e s : B a rshay, R o b e r t . " B l a c k Humour i n the Modern C a r t o o n . " I n I t ' s A Funny T h i n g , Humour. Ed. Antony J . Chapman and Hugh C. F o o t . O x f o r d : Pergamon P r e s s , 1977, 57-59. Feldman, B u r t o n . "Anatomy o f B l a c k Humor." D i s s e n t , 15, (1968), 158-160. 97 F r i e d m a n , B r u c e J a y . "Those Clowns o f C o n s c i e n c e . " Book Week, 18 J u l y 1965, 5-7. H a l l g r e n , C h r i s . "George W a l k e r : t h e s e r i o u s and t h e c o m i c . " Scene Changes, 7, No. 2 (19 7 9 ) , 23-25. H i l l , H a m l i n . " B l a c k Humor: i t s c a u s e and c u r e . " C o l o r a d o Q u a r t e r l y , 17, No. 1 (19 6 8 ) , 57-64. Inge M. Thomas. "The A e s t h e t i c s o f t h e Comic S t r i p . " J o u r n a l o f P o p u l a r C u l t u r e , 12, No. 4, (19 7 9 ) , 640-645. J a n o f f , B r u c e . " B l a c k Humor: Beyond S a t i r e . " O h i o Review, 14 (1972), 5-20. J o h n s o n , C h r i s . "George F. W a l k e r : B-movies Beyond t h e A b s u r d . " C a n a d i a n L i t e r a t u r e , No. 85 (Summer 1 9 8 0 ) , 87-103. K n i c k e r b o c k e r , C o n r a d . "Humor w i t h a M o r t a l S t i n g . " New Y o r k  Times Book Review, 27 S e p t . 1964, 3, 60. Matthews J.H. " I n t e l l i g e n c e a t t h e S e r v i c e o f S u r r e a l i s m : B r e t o n ' s A n t h o l o g i e de 1'humour n o i r . " Books A b r o a d , 41, No. 2 (1967) 267-273. M u l l a l y , Edward. " W a i t i n g F o r L e f t y , G odot and C a n a d i a n T h e a t r e . " The F i d d l e h e a d , No. 104 (19 7 5 ) , 51-54. Numasawa, K o j i . " B l a c k Humor: An A m e r i c a n A s p e c t . " S t u d i e s  i n E n g l i s h L i t e r a t u r e , 44, No. 1 (19 6 7 ) , 177-193. W a l l a c e , R o b e r t . "George F. W a l k e r . " I n The Work..Ed. R o b e r t W a l l a c e and C y n t h i a Zimmerman. T o r o n t o : C o a c h House P r e s s , 1982, 213-223. W i n s t o n , Mathew. " B l a c k Humor: To Weep W i t h L a u g h i n g . " I n Comedy: New P e r s p e c t i v e s . E d . M a u r i c e C h a r n e y , New Y o r k : New Y o r k L i t e r a r y Forum, 1978, 31-43. W i n s t o n , Mathew. "The E t h i c s o f C o n t e m p o r a r y B l a c k Humor." C o l o r a d o Q u a r t e r l y , 24 ( W i n t e r 1 9 7 6 ) , 275-288. W i n s t o n , Mathew. "Humour n o i r and B l a c k Humor." I n V e i n s o f Humor. E d . H a r r y L e v i n . C a m b r i d g e : H a r v a r d U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1972, 269-284. 98 Books B e c k e t t , Samuel. W a i t i n g f o r Godot. New York: Grove P r e s s , 1 9 5 4 . B r e t o n , Andre. A n t h o l o g i e de 1 'humour n o i r . P a r i s : Jean-Jacques P a u v e r t , 1 9 6 6 . Camus, A l b e r t . C a l i g u l a . Trans. S t u a r t G i l b e r t . New York: A l f r e d A. Knopf, 1 9 5 8 . Camus, A l b e r t . The Myth o f S i s y p h u s . T r a n s . J u s t i n O ' B r i e n . New York: A l f r e d A. Knopf, 1 9 6 9 . E s s l i n , M a r t i n . The T h e a t r e o f the Absurd. M i d d l e s e x : Penguin Books, 1 9 6 1 . G i l m a n , Sander L. The P a r o d i c Sermon i n European P e r s p e c t i v e . Wiesbaden: Franz S t e i n e r V e r l a g GMBH, 1 9 7 4 . Hammett, D a s h i e l , The M a l t e s e F a l c o n . Ed. R i c h a r d J . A n o b i l e . London: M a c M i l l a n , 1 9 7 4 . H i r s c h , F o s t e r . The Dark S i d e o f the S c r e e n : F i l m N o i r . New York: A.S. Barnes and Co., I n c . , 1 9 8 1 . I o n e s c o , Eugene. Notes and Counter Notes. T r a n s . Donald Watson. New York: Grove P r e s s , 1 9 6 4 . J e n n i n g s , Lee Byron. The L u d i c r o u s Demon: A s p e c t s o f the  Grotesque i n Post-Romantic P r o s e . B e r k e l e y : U n i v e r s i t y o f C a l i f o r n i a P r e s s , 1 9 6 3 . Jump, John D. B u r l e s q u e . London: Methuen, 1 9 7 2 . K a p l a n , E. Ann, ed. Women i n F i l m N o i r . London: B r i t i s h F i l m I n s t i t u t e , 1 9 8 0 . Landrum, L a r r y N., P a t Browne, and Ray B. Browne, eds. Dim e n s i o n s o f D e t e c t i v e F i c t i o n . n.p.: P o p u l a r P r e s s , 1 9 7 6 . M i l l e r , J . H i l l i s . F i c t i o n and R e p e t i t i o n : Seven E n g l i s h N o v e l s . Cambridge: Harvard U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1 9 8 2 . 99 S a r t r e , J e a n - P a u l . I n Camera. T r a n s . S t u a r t G i l b e r t . L o n don: Hamish H a m i l t o n , 1946. S c h o l e s , R o b e r t . The F a b u l a t o r s . New Y o r k : O x f o r d U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1967. S c h u l z , Max. B l a c k Humor F i c t i o n i n t h e S i x t i e s . O h i o : O h i o U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1973. S i l v e r A l a i n and E l i z a b e t h Ward, e d s . An E n c y c l o p e d i c  Reference t o t h e A m e r i c a n S t y l e . F i l m N o i r . New Y o r k : O v e r l o o k P r e s s , 1979. Thomson, P h i l i p . The G r o t e s q u e . L o n d o n : Methuen, 1972. Winks, R o b i n W. , e d . D e t e c t i v e F i c t i o n : A C o l l e c t i o n o f  C r i t i c a l E s s a y s . New J e r s e y : P r e n t i c e - H a l l , 1980. 

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