You would think a poet would likely be a man or woman accustomed to nuance. Would he also be unlikely to see moral issues in absolute terms? Would he see more shades of rightness instead of someone or something being absolutely right or absolutely wrong?
For instance, Finn is a captain in the Union Army, part of the occupying force in New Orleans, 1862. He likes to write poetry, is attuned to beauty, likes word play. Is it also credible that he retains a rather naïve moral sense?
He’s young. He believes in abolition. He voted for Lincoln. He deplores his cousins’ decision to join the Confederacy. Makes no allowance for the cousins’ being native Carolinians who might justifiably argue for preserving their home. He’d likewise be totally intolerant of deceit.
Can a poet be that sure of what’s right and wrong? Maybe I just have a romanticized view of poets. Could a poet be mean? Oh – Ezra Pound was reputedly quite a stinker. Was even implicated in Nazism. That was certainly an absolutist stance.
I think ol’ Finn is coming together. He’s bookish and naïve. He loves words, ideas, beauty. He deplores any deviation from what’s Right. His journey through the novel (Evermore – I’m nearly finished, just trying to make Finn more interesting) will be to a more mature understanding of the world. Not all blacks and whites. Lots of extenuating circumstances need to be paid heed to. Still uphold his principles, like abolition, but maybe be forgiving of what he’d have once seen as unacceptable.
Thanks for thinking it through with me. I think you’re going to like Evermore.