Thursday, July 13, 2017

Two Little Savages by Ernest Thompson Seton (1903)

Really wonderful book regarding the harsh up bringing of Yan, Sam, and Guy, it is almost exclusively a man-mentor world for the boys, if they survive each new lesson. (they all have moms and they are involved)
Seton is credited with setting the foundation for the Boy Scouts. After surviving his own cruel up bringing he desperately wanted to provide young men with compassionate guidance, not abuse.
This should be mandatory reading for some boys at the age of 10.
My 1927 copy seams to be much like the first ed. it's bespeckled with lots of Seton's little sketches throughout.

This Puritan upbringing has its good points and its bad, toughness has to be experienced and there is only one way to do that... experience it! The discussion currently floating questions how much coddling is too much, and how to prepare young people to be adults. Since we seem to be drifting toward a world where conflict is more likely than not, should we not consider mandatory conscription?
Don't confuse toughness with conservative a-holiness; it is possible to be a compassionate tough person.  

"Don't Hurt People and Don't Take Their Stuff"

Because it is part "how to" part "old guy telling stories" and part "remember the stupid shit we did" it takes a while longer to "set the stage."

Sam drives me crazy; I hate people like this; they revel in being a-holes. In the beginning Sam is not a good friend and is not a good person, he sets the tone for everything and it is only Yan's internal fortitude that steers himself away (most of the time) from Sam's evil influence.At the end he becomes a more trustworthy friend.
This "I'm better than you" false bravado it eerily familiar; it sounds exactly like millennial/donald speak. "I'm the greatest," "if you even show me what your doing you must be challenging me," if you show me what your doing I need to belittle it... you know the type.
Guy too is a lying little coward with the low esteem that only a mean father can produce. His bragging and lying about what he's done are nearly unreadable, an annoying little twit.
Ultimately Yan is "the better man" being a kind of Renaissance man he is interested in learning, art, manly pursuits, and is compassionate.He makes plenty mistakes but learns the better lesson from them. Following Yan's internal dialog as he learns the ways of the wild, what it means to be impulsive and the consequences is very rewarding.

The drawings are not the best and the printings are worse but a person could get a long way thru the woods with the information within these covers.

So now I know:
How to make moccasins
How to make a  TeePee
How to make a Bow and arrow
How to make an album
How to make a signal fire
How to make a no-kill-trap

Caleb's rant regarding trapping and hunting is/was the primary argument made by humane hunters around the world and thru the centuries. He is describing pure Survival Compassion.
Caleb is my favorite character being a most sober, thoughtful, and compassionate person.

What I always wondered (and found out in Riders of the Purple Sage) was what people did BCP to remember something wholly visual; the Indians created a challenge game to sharpen pattern a  young'uns recognition
BUT the ending is Great; our hero is shown to have courage, and concur his fears. We see everyone come together.
This book ends with a tender moment and a back to reality finish.
Only a man that has lived with a dog could have written such.

I thought it was going to be a ho-hum story but Seton made it a real page turner at the end.

No comments:

Post a Comment