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The Harm of "Swedening": Anxieties of Nativism in Katherine Anne Porter's "Noon Wine"

The Harm of "Swedening": Anxieties of Nativism in Katherine Anne Porter's "Noon Wine" The Harm of “Swedening”: Anxieties of Nativism in Katherine Anne Porter’s “Noon Wine” by David Yost “Yes, sir, Homer T. Hatch is my name,” the bounty hunter of Katherine Anne Porter’s 1937 “Noon Wine” declares, “and America is my nation” (86). While this introduction is clearly part of Hatch’s stock pat- ter — he also asks to buy a horse, then reveals that it’s “an old joke” of his designed to put people at ease (85) — his emphatic foregrounding of his nationality reveals a key anxiety of the novella’s characters: who, exactly, can be considered an American? Though Mr. Thompson and his fam- ily at first see their Swedish- descended hired man purely and explicitly as a “forriner” (65), just as they view other American minorities (63), Olaf Helton’s helpfulness and work ethic gradually persuade them to see him as a “man” first and a “Swede” second. The villainous Hatch, in con - trast, exploits nativist anxieties to attack the “Americanness” not only of Helton but also of the third- o r fourth- generation Irish American Mr. Thompson. By demonstrating both the hypocrisies of nativist reasoning as well as the violence that it inexorably creates, “Noon Wine” forms http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Southern Literary Journal University of North Carolina Press

The Harm of "Swedening": Anxieties of Nativism in Katherine Anne Porter's "Noon Wine"

The Southern Literary Journal , Volume 43 (2) – May 26, 2011

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 the Southern Literary Journal and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Department of English.
ISSN
1534-1461

Abstract

The Harm of “Swedening”: Anxieties of Nativism in Katherine Anne Porter’s “Noon Wine” by David Yost “Yes, sir, Homer T. Hatch is my name,” the bounty hunter of Katherine Anne Porter’s 1937 “Noon Wine” declares, “and America is my nation” (86). While this introduction is clearly part of Hatch’s stock pat- ter — he also asks to buy a horse, then reveals that it’s “an old joke” of his designed to put people at ease (85) — his emphatic foregrounding of his nationality reveals a key anxiety of the novella’s characters: who, exactly, can be considered an American? Though Mr. Thompson and his fam- ily at first see their Swedish- descended hired man purely and explicitly as a “forriner” (65), just as they view other American minorities (63), Olaf Helton’s helpfulness and work ethic gradually persuade them to see him as a “man” first and a “Swede” second. The villainous Hatch, in con - trast, exploits nativist anxieties to attack the “Americanness” not only of Helton but also of the third- o r fourth- generation Irish American Mr. Thompson. By demonstrating both the hypocrisies of nativist reasoning as well as the violence that it inexorably creates, “Noon Wine” forms

Journal

The Southern Literary JournalUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: May 26, 2011

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