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Jonah Hex


Some notes on soul & freedom

At the end of the Civil War, what it was to be American was decided. The North won – citizenship in the republic won. This bloodiest of American wars, somewhat like that most dangerous war of 1776, is not a subject of movies in America. How could the greatest motions & the origins of the nation fail to inspire poets?

Jonah Hex is the hero of this story. He fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War. When his superior officers asked him to kill civilians, he refused. This seems to have taught him that justice & obedience to laws & orders are quite different things. He almost died, his family was murdered; & he came back to judge among the living. He punishes evil with dispatch & very little sentiment. He is a man wholly man – an embodiment of life & death, but mostly death – & knows justice to be mostly punishment. Jonah returns evil unto the evil, but he has no friends.

He seems fond of a prostitute, but this merely suggests he is not puritanic. A man who walks with death does not look to love. Or is love a passion mixed with death? – Jonah hunts the Confederate general who killed his family: Revenge is the defender of family & therefore carries a divine mandate, but family is founded on family love. His tormentor mutilated Jonah’s face, so that the darkness of his designs shows.

Jonah is undoubtedly a man of war, who sees beauty in weapons & nobility in pursuing a cause. But he has learned that the good & the just are hardly the same thing. He does not even have much affection for his faithful animals, although they are similarly spirited. He is, above all, un-Christian – pagan Indians heal him when he nears death. He does not worry about the state of his soul & has no burning need to accept Christ as his Saviour.

He wants revenge, so he fights for the Union against the Confederate general who killed his family & branded his face as if he were an animal. No more impressive common good than a common enemy emerges, but it is enough to persuade Jonah to serve the president, the great general U.S.Grant.

The fight takes place on the nation’s centennial anniversary – we learn America was born from the day of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776 – between a man who uses scientific power to acquire complete control over nature & man & a man who has recourse to resurrection. Both are parts of the art of war. But we must remember that the soul’s immortality, man’s power to withstand being moved, is the ground of his freedom.

For fans of exciting fights, explosions, & attractive prostitutes