Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Sister Years revisted

In honor of New Year's Eve I read "The Sister Years" again. I am mulling over the paragraph about the opening of the railroad and considering Nathaniel Hawthorne's word choice. Old Year calls day trippers a transitory diurnal multitude. I guess she expects any lurking about will not understand her. She predicts - An immense accumulation of musty prejudices will be carried off by the free circulation of society. Many musty prejudices have been carried off over the years, but some run so deep the process of erosion continues. At the end of the paragraph Old Year posits, there will be a probable diminution of the moral influence wealth, and the sway of an aristocratic class. Again, I look back and see that we keep moving forward but never getting there. Still this push and pull between immigrant and native continues to play out here in New England in the 21st century.

Which brings me back to transitory diurnal multitude. I believe Nathaniel Hawthorne chose those words to clearly identify the speaker as one of the aristocratic class aiming to speak above the understanding of the ignorant masses. I am reminded of an elderly aunt who discouraged shopping at the local supermarket, in a loud stage whisper, "because the demographics have changed."

Transitory diurnal multitude - can you hear the disdain?

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