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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 13 Oct 1997 20:25:10 -0400
text/plain (27 lines)
Was switched identies a preoccupation with Twain or, was it a reflection of
parts of society.  I'll explain with a personal note.  My father was from
Kentucky.  Nothing odd in that and no generalizations can be drawn from one
man.  His family lived in the eastern part of Applacia--coal mining and
scratching out a living in poor soil were the occupations.

I had to go to visit my cousins for many years of my childhood -- sometimes
hating it and sometimes loving it.  I had the chance to observe some of my
father's family and their society.  What I did notice was that at times, for
various reasons, they would say they were someone else.  For example, when
complaining to the "law" about someone when using the telephone I heard one
of my relatives say: "Who am I?  Well, I'm John Henry Hatfield!" -- A
complete lie.

I saw this type of thing several times.  It would happen when a person did
not want to reveal his identity either because of fear of authorities or of
retribution of some kind.  [Revenge is a strong motivator in some of the
society I am talking about.]

My father's family can not be used as a generalization at all, but I did
notice some of the same behavior in other families as well.  There is a view
that to have someone's name is to have some power over the person.   Do any
of you think that this type of behavior is some part of the Tennessee,
Kentucky, and maybe Missouri culture?

Jerry O'Brien