The Origin Of Woke

How do you get a guy to stand in a closet, while you seal him in by bricking up the door??

Strictly a hypothetical question!  That odd-shaped portion on my basement wall is where the electrical panel used to be…. and I have no idea where that irritating neighbor got to.

And Google is no damned help.  I hate that auto-complete!  I type in How do you…. and I get back
….do the Hokey-Pokey?
….get picked up at a gay bar?
….serve curried Iguana?

I believe I found the birth of Woke, and it’s further back than you might think.  I woke from a refreshing afternoon nap, wondering how the narrator in Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado, kept his victim from just breaking out.  It turns out that he chained the loathed sot to the back wall, tightly enough so that he could not get loose.

I studied the tale in Grade 12 English – old enough to deal with some of the darker themes.  Living out in the boondocks, the teacher only explained a bit of the story motivation, and being an Anglophone-Canadian, managed to mispronounce the Spanish name.  He spoke ah-mon-tee-yad-oh like ah-mon-till-lay-doh.

I re-read the tale on the Internet recently, and was discussing it with the son.  Poe’s works have always been classified as horror.  That’s how my teacher presented it.  Like Romeo and Juliet, this was a valid story of Renaissance, upper-class hatred and competition between families and commercial groups – possible, even likely to happen, given the opportunity.

The son said that, when he studied it, approximately 1988, his (female) English teacher explained that it was all allegory.  The story-teller was just an alcoholic, who was symbolically imprisoning his weakness, and getting sober.  So I guess, no AA back then??!  The dark horror story had been changed into a bright, kind, redemptive one of rehabilitation and personal triumph.

Personally, I find that interpretation to be ridiculous, but I wonder if any of you were presented with it.  😕   😳

There’s always tomorrow.  CU then.

6 thoughts on “The Origin Of Woke

  1. 1jaded1 says:

    As I was reading your post, it reminded me of one of those late night shows my dad and I used to watch. I think I was 10 years old or so. This woman was building a wall while her husband sat in a chair. If I remember, she was reciting the story as she built the prison. After the last brick was sealed and the story was completed, the husband rose from his chair and walked up the stairs. My mind was blown.

    When I read the story in class, many years later, I asked about the show’s version. Did the man make his wife lock herself in? Did she realize her guilt for something? Did they just get it wrong? The teacher clearly didn’t want to answer those questions.

    To answer your question, her lesson plan wasn’t woke. It didn’t mention alcoholism or try to downplay the revenge tale. She also wasn’t prepared to deviate from the lesson plan with answers to silly questions about a different interpretation of the story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Archon's Den says:

      It is always good to have our assumptions questioned. I took a problem-solving course at one place where I worked. They demonstrated that a group approach was almost always better than individual opinions. Even if the one person was correct, it forced them to consider other options, and justify their decision. 🙂


  2. Rivergirl says:

    I didn’t find many bright and redemptive properties in that story, but I suppose literature can be as subjective as art. What you find in it may be determined by personal experience…


    • Archon's Den says:

      So true! Many artists have been told that their book – movie – painting represents something totally different from what its creator intended. 😯 Some artists leave their works open to interpretation.
      The son says that he does not know whether his teacher’s version was merely her personal viewpoint, or the official Dept. of Education fiat. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. shimoniac says:

    I’ve heard, and firmly believe, that you get out of a story, what you bring in. That is, you interpret it through the lens of your own experience.

    Liked by 1 person

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