I’ve finished Daschiell Hammett’s Red Harvest and I have to say that it was a very disturbing read. Peope were dying left and right and the flow of insubordination and crime never stopped. I had my own ideas about the novel, but after Professor Groom’s lecture yesterday I have changed my opinion.
At first I’d thought that it was just a book about slaughter-you know, something like the Raid Redemption (www.imdb.com/title/tt1899353/) of novels. However, now it seems that the mass murder has a deeper meaning to it. In particular, the scene where the Op and Dinah lament his loss of conscience. Perhaps this novel isn’t about killing sprees, but rather about the psychological effect that they can have on a person. Think about it; are ANY of these characters completely “normal” or “sane”? Poisonville was made into the tragedy that it is by the inherent violence of a worker’s strike. Violence is what shaped the community, and so it is violence that has shaped these people. That the town is in such a perfect location for bootlegging is also important-at least half of the characters are drunk, all the time! These two things, bootlegging and the constant threat of violence are what shaped the characters in Personville. They go hand in hand-murder and a gin to “get away from it all.”