The Railroad Tramp and the American Cultural Imaginary

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0045250/00001

Material Information

Title: The Railroad Tramp and the American Cultural Imaginary
Physical Description: 1 online resource (401 p.)
Language: english
Creator: Lenz, Christopher W
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2013


Subjects / Keywords: american -- film -- hobo -- labor -- literature -- mobility -- railroad -- tramp -- utopia -- work
English -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: English thesis, Ph.D.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation


Abstract: “The Railroad Tramp and the American Cultural Imaginary”argues that competing representations of the railroad tramp reveal submergedcultural contradictions attendant to valuations of work, mobility, technology, domesticity,and citizenship. The tramp figure traverses multiple forms and genres, emergingas a trope in the wake of the Civil War and persisting to the present day.Thus, I build my argument on an analysis of a wide variety of texts by JackLondon, Upton Sinclair, John Dos Passos, and Frank Capra, as well aslesser-known figures such as Edward Anderson, Tom Kromer, Ben Reitman, CharlesAshleigh, and William Wellman, and even anonymous cultural producers. Suchtexts situate the tramp around the edges of the national picaro and isolatonarrative traditions, implicating the figure in on-going, ideologically diverseprojects that seek to define the American character. While R.W.B. Lewis hasargued that an Adamic conception of this character—with its insistence on aself-invented hero, free from the weight of European history, imbued withEmersonian optimism and innocence—prevailed in the literary and philosophicaldiscourse of the antebellum period, I present the railroad tramp as a vitalfiguration through which to interpret America’s postbellum, postlapsarian condition,and I use this figuration to theorize utopian and pedagogical models thatimagine alternative subjectivities. Steadfastly unconvinced, unreconstructed,and undomesticated, the tramp defamiliarizes modernity’s promise oftechnological and economic progress even while deriving his extralegal agencyby repurposing that definitive technology of American capitalist enterprise,the railroad. Whether portrayed positively or negatively, the figurearticulates the profound ambivalence that accompanies the ascendancy of thefree labor ideal, demanding a critical reconsideration of the notion thatcitizenship should be framed exclusively in terms of productivity. In sum, thetramp functions to “decenter wage labor in our conception of life undercapitalism,” to borrow Michael Denning’s phrase. This function remains asrelevant to the current moment of economic and political crisis as to those ofthe Gilded Age or Great Depression.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by Christopher W Lenz.
Thesis: Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2013.
Local: Adviser: Hegeman, Susan Elizabeth.

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2013
System ID: UFE0045250:00001

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0045250/00001

Material Information

Title: The Railroad Tramp and the American Cultural Imaginary
Physical Description: 1 online resource (401 p.)
Language: english
Creator: Lenz, Christopher W
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2013


Subjects / Keywords: american -- film -- hobo -- labor -- literature -- mobility -- railroad -- tramp -- utopia -- work
English -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: English thesis, Ph.D.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation


Abstract: “The Railroad Tramp and the American Cultural Imaginary”argues that competing representations of the railroad tramp reveal submergedcultural contradictions attendant to valuations of work, mobility, technology, domesticity,and citizenship. The tramp figure traverses multiple forms and genres, emergingas a trope in the wake of the Civil War and persisting to the present day.Thus, I build my argument on an analysis of a wide variety of texts by JackLondon, Upton Sinclair, John Dos Passos, and Frank Capra, as well aslesser-known figures such as Edward Anderson, Tom Kromer, Ben Reitman, CharlesAshleigh, and William Wellman, and even anonymous cultural producers. Suchtexts situate the tramp around the edges of the national picaro and isolatonarrative traditions, implicating the figure in on-going, ideologically diverseprojects that seek to define the American character. While R.W.B. Lewis hasargued that an Adamic conception of this character—with its insistence on aself-invented hero, free from the weight of European history, imbued withEmersonian optimism and innocence—prevailed in the literary and philosophicaldiscourse of the antebellum period, I present the railroad tramp as a vitalfiguration through which to interpret America’s postbellum, postlapsarian condition,and I use this figuration to theorize utopian and pedagogical models thatimagine alternative subjectivities. Steadfastly unconvinced, unreconstructed,and undomesticated, the tramp defamiliarizes modernity’s promise oftechnological and economic progress even while deriving his extralegal agencyby repurposing that definitive technology of American capitalist enterprise,the railroad. Whether portrayed positively or negatively, the figurearticulates the profound ambivalence that accompanies the ascendancy of thefree labor ideal, demanding a critical reconsideration of the notion thatcitizenship should be framed exclusively in terms of productivity. In sum, thetramp functions to “decenter wage labor in our conception of life undercapitalism,” to borrow Michael Denning’s phrase. This function remains asrelevant to the current moment of economic and political crisis as to those ofthe Gilded Age or Great Depression.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by Christopher W Lenz.
Thesis: Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2013.
Local: Adviser: Hegeman, Susan Elizabeth.

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2013
System ID: UFE0045250:00001

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2 2013 Christopher Wylie Lenz


3 To my parents


4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I owe gratitude to numerous people who have given me invaluable advice and encouragement thr oughout this endeavor. I first want to thank my director, Susan Hegeman, for her guidance, insight, and patience. The members of my committeePhil Wegner, Kenneth Kidd, and Jack Davis similarly offered feedback that helped shape my project. Other members o f the English Department faculty contributed to my scholarly and professional development in various ways, as well: Ral Snchez, Robert Ray, Terry Harpold, Marsha Bryant, Leah Rosenberg, and Brandy Kershner. I count myself fortunate to have encountered so many wise and generous peers at the University of Florida. Nicole LaRose, Mike Mayne, Patrick McHenry, Christina Van Houten, Wes Beal, Regina Martin, Emily McCann, Mark Tabone and others most of them associated with the Marxist Reading Groupworked to mai ntain and nurture a vibrant intellectual community, and I am the better for my association with them In particular, Steph Boluk has been a cherished colleague, collaborator, and friend since I began my doctoral studies. Away from UF, the Society for Utopi an Studies provided a stimulating and supportive forum in which to work through my ideas. Throughout my graduate career I benefited directly from the labor of those who ensure that things happen as they should. Graduate Assistants Uniteds tireless effort s have made UF a better place for graduate employees to work and study. Without the English Departments tolerant staff Melissa Davis, Kathy Williams, Carla Blount, Janet Mo ore, and Megan Amos I doubt I would have managed to negotiate the myriad bureaucrat ic obstacles I encountered along the way. Most crucially, I have been sustained by my loved ones. My family my parents, Bette and Don, and my brother Andrew has consistently maintained faith in my


5 abilities, even when I tried to argue that such faith was m isplaced. Of course I cannot imagine having seen this thing through to the end without Rachels day to day love, companionship, and support.


6 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS .................................................................................................. 4 ABSTRACT ..................................................................................................................... 7 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ...................................................................................................... 9 2 THE SAVAGE TRAMP ........................................................................................... 43 3 THE AMERICANA HOBO ..................................................................................... 132 4 THE CRITICAL TRAMP ........................................................................................ 221 5 THE UTOPIAN TRAMP ........................................................................................ 307 6 CODA: TOWARD A TRAMP PEDAGOGY ........................................................... 358 WORKS CITED ........................................................................................................... 385 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .......................................................................................... 401


7 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the Unive rsity of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy THE RAILROAD TRAMP AND THE AMERICAN CULTURAL IMAGINARY By Christopher Wylie Lenz May 2013 Chair: Susan Hegeman Major: English The Railr oad Tramp and the American Cultural Imaginary argues that competing representations of the railroad tramp reveal submerged cultural contradictions attendant to valuations of work, mobility, technology, domesticity and citizenship. The tramp figure traver ses multiple forms and genres, emerging as a trope in the wake of the Civil War and persisting to the present day. Thus, I build my argument on an analysis of a wide variety of texts by Jack London, Upton Sinclair, John Dos Passos, and Frank Capra, as well as lesser known figures such as Edward Anderson, Tom Kromer, Ben Reitman, Charles Ashleigh, and William Wellman, and even anonymous cultural producers. Such texts situate the tramp around the edges of the national picaro and isolato narrative traditions, implicating the figure in ongoing, ideologically diverse projects that seek to define the American character. While R.W.B. Lewis has argued that an Adamic conception of this character with its insistence on a self invented hero, free from the weight of European history, imbued with Emersonian optimism and innocenceprevailed in the literary and philosophical discourse of the antebellum period, I present the railroad tramp as a vital figuration through which to interpret Americas postbellum, postlapsarian condition, and I use this figuration to


8 theorize utopian and pedagogical models that imagine alternative subjectivities. Steadfastly unconvinced, unreconstructed, and undomesticated, the tramp defamiliarizes modernitys promise of technological and economi c progress even while deriving his extralegal agency by repurposing that definitive technology of American capitalist enterprise, the railroad. Whether portrayed positively or negatively, the figure articulates the profound ambivalence that accompanies the ascendancy of the free labor ideal, demanding a critical reconsideration of the notion that citizenship should be framed exclusively in terms of productivity. In sum, the tramp functions to decenter wage labor in our conception of life under capitalism, to borrow Michael Dennings phrase. This function remains as relevant to the current moment of economic and political crisis as to those of the Gilded Age or Great Depression.


9 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Freight train rides are parables. William T. Vollmann Riding Toward Everywhere The title of an article published in Vice magazine in October of 2012 announced the Death of the American Hobo, thus eulogizing a figure that many had likely presumed long since interred. The author, Aaron Lake Smith, a young and hip New Yorker who also serves as the publications senior editor, begins the piece by rhapsodizing about the mysterious allure of the railroad, asserting that as the last truly American place, untainted by the regrets of modern progress, it embodies several hundred years of Americas daring and rugged spirit (112). He goes on to imagine that in his isolation at Walden Pond Henry David Thoreau (whom Smith labels a protohobo) must have taken comfort in the sound of the train whistle echoing throug h the woods in the dead of night, and that the presence of near by tracks steeled his will to the task at hand and reminded him that while he was alone, he was still a part of humanity (113, 112). Of course, this speculation ignores the fact that Walden contains passages explicitly decrying the railroads negative impact on the nation and its peopleWe do not ride on the railroad; it rides upon us (60) but it still makes good rhetorical sense to call upon such a paragon of American romanticism and authenticity in service of a tribute to a technology that Smith now finds so archaic, uncomplicated, and pure. Smith then recounts the details of his own trainhopping journey to the 2012 National Hobo Convention in Britt, Iowa, an event first held in that loc ation in 1900 and recurring there moreor less annually since 1933.1 Starting in the late 1880s, a loose association of itinerant workers half jokingly dubbed Tourist Union No. 63 by its


10 members had organized a yearly reunion and, in an effort to generate publicity, a group of city boosters from Britt offered to host the event in their tiny young town at the turn of the century. Since its revival during the Depression, the event has drawn at times thousands of vagabonds and onlookers to Britt every year. As new generations discover the thrill and financial advantage of stealing rides on freight trains, younger riders continue to attend the event, hoping to connect with hobo history and mingle amongst surviving examples of a dying breed. On arrival, however they likely take notice of what Smith, with palpable disappointment, describes as something more akin to the ambiance of a hippie craft fair than a Depressionera Hooverville featuring a conspicuous absence of people who looked like real hoboes who had spent any considerable amount of time on the tracks (117). Smith came looking for a bona fide manifestation of an iconic and impoverished American figure, but found only a simulacrum in the form of hobos at heart (a euphemism faux hobos invoke to des cribe themselves) who seemed to have commandeered the convention, having arrived in their RVs and driven away almost all of the authentic hobos (119). The Convention had gone mainstream, he complains, using much the same language that a music fan mi ght when a favorite indie band signs to a major label after having been completely sanitized (118). Following the arrest of one of the few satisfactorily genuine transient attendees for the crime of urinating on a fence, Smith decides that he has had enough. Disgusted by the petty paternalism of Britt and with the convention, it was time to leave. With apparently unintended irony, he follows his dangling modifier by announcing that he and his friends, all of them repulsed by the dearth of authentic trai n hopping hoboes, flew back to New York. The conclusion of the article finds its


11 author back at his desk, crying for all the gone people and gone ways of life, and the great American hobo, disappearing down the westbound track, never to return again (1 19). Others have previously lamented the disappearance of the real hobo. In 1993, almost two decades before Smith found only artifice at the Hobo Convention, photographer Michael Williamson and journalist Dale Maharidge collaborated on a book titled The Last Great American Hobo. They met their titular subject, who goes by the moniker Blackie, in the late 1980s when he was living in a shanty he had built on the shore of the river in West Sacramento, during the months before an urban renewal project led to a series of police sweeps to evict the homeless men and women who had settled in the area. In his essay, Maharidge speculates that Blackie may have been the oldest active hobo le ft, although he deliberately refrains from explaining succinctly the implic ations of this pronouncement (vi). Indeed, he quite blatantly rejects the possibility of arriving at precise definitions. It is a matter of epistemology, and trying to explain the hobos experience and understanding of reality will prove as fruitless as trying to tell you about a planet in which hydrogen instead of oxygen is the element that fuels life and in which gravity is half that of earth (32). So, provided only with descriptions accompanied by minimal and inconclusive gestures toward any sort of explanation, the reader alone must puzzle out what it means to be a hobo, let alone a great hobo, or even the last hobo. We do get a few clues, at least: we learn that a hobo is one kind of dreamer, and on an ontological level they differ from citiz ens, those regular people who work regular jobs and have regular homes (1, 9). But it is more than that. To be sure, not all who lack jobs and permanent residences can claim to be hoboes, as then


12 no one would be declaring their imminent extinction. On thi s point, Blackie argues that the morally neutral term homeless applied to an entirely different category of person, that [h]e was a hobo, not a homeless man (21). Mobility, rather than mere precarity, appears to have something to do with it specifically, the mobility obtained by stealing rides on trains. But trains still run, and people still ride them illegally and they will continue to do so long after Blackie stops Although he hopped his first train in 1928, even Blackie acknowledges this continuit y when he insists that [a]s far as hoboin goes, its the same as it used to be in the days of the steam engine. Still the same old tracks. Same units [i.e., engines]. Same goddamn road, clickety clack on down the line. Really nothin has changed over t he years. Simultaneously, however, he notes that [t]he old bindle stiffs are gone. A few around like myself (10). One must account for the difference between the verb hoboing designating the act of train hopping and the noun hobo, as hoboing alone d oes not a hobo make. Maharidge admits, apparently to his frustration, [N]o matter how many freight trains I ride or how long I live on the edge of the homeless world, there will always remain something about hobo subjectivity that I, with my middle clas s indoctrination, can never possibly understand (73). For the hobo, mobility means leaving, getting there, until there gets to be a burden, and you repeat the process, and being a hobo means something far beyond dropping out (45, 73). It means adopting an alternative perspective from that of citizens who insist their world constitutes the one true reality, a reality so thoroughly naturalized as to appear free of any ideological ramification. It means confronting or at least fleeing the hegemonic order and those basic rules and assumptions that forbid most of us from understanding or even accepting other realities, those prescribed


13 ways to live, be it working, what we purchase, how we spend our leisure time, who we associate with, what we perceive t o be the in thing to do (29). From the hobos perspective, the reality in which citizens dwell rests on an essentially irrational premise. Its like my friends, Blackie explains, who work forty years at the same fucking job, then they retire and six months later, theyre dead. So he works forty years to pay for the fucking house. Hasnt been no further than the fucking county line all his life. You think everything is right, and all of a sudden its fucking wrong. By contrast, he says, Im happy. Hey, this is my life. Fuck them people man, I dont need no nineto five shit. Free. Thats what I mean. Thats all I want (17). And here, perhaps, is the most crucial point. With a combination of sadness and anger, Maharidge hints that the reproduction of citizen subjectivity has been rendered so effective and total as to preclude the further development of an alternative perspective from which one might challenge the assumed goods of employment, consumerism, and domesticity. More than thirty years before Williamson and Maharidge documented what they see as Blackies valiant but ultimately doomed struggle to remain free in a homogenizing, hegemonic modern world, Jack Kerouac similarly mourned The Vanishing American Hobo in the concluding essay of his 1960 nonfiction collection Lonesome Traveler Like Blackie, Kerouacs ideal hobo pursues his own version of freedom, stubbornly asserting his individual autonomy even as the disciplinary society continues to extend its reach. This hobo resol utely sets himself apart, wanting nothing to do with a community but with himself and other hobos (176). As always, authenticity remains a central concern. Kerouac himself may have once wandered, but he admits quite frankly that he was not a real hobo because he alway s anticipated an end to his


14 wanderings and a return to the social protection afforded by participation in sanctioned meaning commercially productiveactivities (173). Moreover, we must distinguish hoboes from mere bums, who may have once been hoboes who now no longer held their pride (177). In his riffing on iterations of the vagabond in different times and places, Kerouac seeks to expose the hypocrisy of contemporary societys reaction to the hobo, tossing out examples of the ways in which America puni shes any excessive display of the traits it claims to value: In America camping is considered a healthy sport for Boy Scouts but a crime for mature men who have made it their vocation (174). In vilifying the hobo, America has betrayed its core principles its historical mission, the heroes and legends that made it great. The essay claims Walt Whitman, Benjamin Franklin, John Muir, Teddy Roosevelt, and many others as prototypical hoboes (much as Smiths article namechecked Thoreau), in effect pointing tow ard the argument that the only problem with the hobo is that his heroism and creative genius have not been recognized and legitimated. The American characters basic impulse toward freedom and independence warrants celebration only if relegated to the past or so long as it finds expression in small, well regulated doses at appropriate junctures Meanwhile, the contemporary hobo falls subject to the increase in police surveillance of highways, railroad yards, sea shores, river bottoms, embankments and the thousandandone hiding holes of industrial night that make it so you cant [ sic ] even be alone any more in the primitive wilderness (172, 182). With the elimination of the uncharted territory that had only been settled with self reliance and self determ ination, society cannot allow the flourishing of such potentially destabilizing traits, so the media recasts the hobo as a monster of almost mythic proportions, the


15 rapist, the strangler, child eater (174). Perhaps his greatest crime is his rejection of consumer capitalisms bounty: The Jet Age is crucifying the hobo because how he can hop a freight jet, rather than paying a fare (175). Even Kerouacs prediction of the hobos disappearance replicated similar observations made forty years earlier. In the introduction to his groundbreaking study The Hobo: The Sociology of the Homeless Man (1923), sociologis t Nels Anderson (himself a former trainriding itinerant worker ) speaks of his subject in the past tense. According to Anderson, this figure began to d isappear following the increasing availability of the automobile, with which the mobility once afforded only by the train took another form, making it possible for more people to become mobile (xix). In 1903, thirty four years after the completion of the first transcontinental railroad and three years after the first annual automotive trade show in New York, Dr. Horatio Nelson Jacksons unprecedented and seemingly eccentric cross country drive proved that far from being an unreliable novelty, the horseless carriage provided a tenable means by which to bridge the continent (Hill 7). The potential of the automobile thus confirmed, the fervor with which tracks had been put down in the last half of the nineteenth century would be refocused toward the goal of constructing a national highway system over the course of the twentieth century. In Autophobia: Love and Hate in the Automotive Age, Brian Ladd summarizes the essential and unprecedented appeal of the automobile thusly : The car combines the promise of thrills with sovereign assurance of mobility. Mobility is freedom freedom is mobility and before the car, mobility was unavailable, or slow, or (as with trains) dependent on the whim or goodwill of others (1). Furthermore, t his new form of mobility heral ded the Fordist turn, the arrival of mass production and the


16 accompanying reproduction of consumerist consciousness. Mobility was now fully commodified for the individual purchaser. What the hobo had once taken from the railroad, committing theft in order to secure access to the far flung movement he saw as his birthright, the consumer could now simply and easily buy. Under such circumstances, asks societys implied question, why would anyone choose to become a hobo? (This question, of course, problematical ly presumes individual choice as the only factor in the production of the tramp.) Yet, the purchase of an individual automobile, that symbol of individual autonomy, effectively pulls the purchaser into an ever widening network of interdependency and enforc es perpetual spending, which in turn requires perpetual income. So, in order to obtain unlimited freedom, the individual must necessarily forfeit a portion of that freedom to the system of waged labor. Here lies the crux of Andersons assertion that this n ew mobility differs from that of the hobo, illuminating his implicit claim that the railroad hobos particular exclusive brand of mobility constitutes a form of privilege. This last point begins to suggest answers to a pair of questions motivating my proj ect: W hy have observers have spent almost a century mournfully yet unsuccessfully attempting to bury what they insist is a moribund national figure who once sparked panic throughout the Gilded Age, and who appears so closely related to those members of the homeless population that many view as a blight on Americas cities and towns? Why does this figure continue to command attention, alternately inspiring over the course of its career harsh condemnation and enthusiastic celebration? The premise that those w ho live on societys fringes while traversing the country by way of stolen train rides have something special about them, whether that something be good or bad, has


17 informed representations of the hobo or tramp since the historical appearance of a mass f loating population after the end of the Civil War. However often declared dead, banished to a distant national past, the trainriding tramp continues to surface in various modes of cultural productionincluding film, televisio n, literature, and other media portrayed alternately as a hero, a villain, both, or neither. A notably consistent set of associations and assumptions has emerged and remains easily cited. For example, the 2008 economic downturn inspired commentators across the political spectrum to evoke anxiously the 1930s and that decades multitudes of impoverished wanderers ; e ven if the tramp has played a major role in American discourse since the economic crises of the 1870s and 1890s, any allusion to the Great Depression calls forth collectively shared images of freight trains mobbed with jobless transients A March 25, 2009 article in the New York Times for example, addresses the unhappy dj vu of modernday Hoovervilles springing up in a dozen or so cities across the nation (McKinley). Such readily legible signifiers illustrate that, i n refusing to die once and for all, t he figure still continues to permeate the American cultural imaginary, what Graham Dawson defines as those vast networks of interlinking discursive themes, images, moti fs and narrative forms that are publicly available within a culture at any one time, that furnish public forms which both organize knowledge of the social world and give shape to phantasies within the apparently internal domain of psychic life (48). I n order t o frame my discussion of the ways in which representations of this figure play an important role in organizing knowledge and shaping ideas, it is important to define two related and key terms Although the word s are often used interchangeably, suf ficient variances exist to distinguish the hobo from the tramp and consequently the


18 manner in which those two figures (if not the appellations) have been culturally deployed. Observers both sympathetic and antagonistic have sought to demarcate rigid boundaries between them to better separate the worthy from the unworthy, hero from menace. Such taxonomical gestures comprise a rhetorical inheritance from England in the sixteenth century, when the sharp increase in masterless men so threatened the social or der. Attitudes toward poverty, a state once understood as virtuous and even holy in the Middle Ages, had started to shift by the fourteenth century, accelerating with the spread of the Renaissances humanist ideals, which celebrated the value of worldly a ctivity and success (Beier 4). According to A.L. Beiers landmark Masterless Men: The Vagrancy Problem in England, 15601640, English literature of roguery, which claimed to offer accurate accounts of vagabonds based on first hand observation, contributed to the cultural and legal concept of vagabondage by insisting on the distinction between the ablebodied and the impotent poor (9). The disciplinary laws intended to contain the spread of the former class punished those people who left their masters refused official wages, or worked as casual laborers while ostensibly allowing for charity toward those unable to help themselves. Such a moral delineation, contingent on the subjects perceived attitude toward work, informs the ideology that insists on an ontological gap between the hobo and the tramp, however much that differentiation might have faded since those labels first acquired their particular meaning in the American context. In his study, Anderson quotes the influential formulation o ften attri buted to Ben Reitman, who notes that [t]here are three types of the genus vagrant: the hobo, the tramp, and the bum. The hobo works and wanders, the tramp dreams and wanders, and the bum drinks and


19 wanders (87). Subsequent definitions would assign the bu m to a stationary position, so exiling him from the scope of the present discussion, and leaving the particular mode of mobility Anderson cites as the prerogative of tramps and hoboes. As may be readily apparent, the line between these two remaining categories can easily become blurred in practice such that the observer may find it difficult to file all trainhopping transients into one of these two discrete groupings A tramp may not be primarily motivated in his travels by a pursuit of work, but he still might be willing to work should the opportunity arise, while a hobo might deliberately (or not) go months between jobs. Moreover, these terms have undergone further transmutation in popular discourse, so that tramp is often used pejoratively to signify a woman perceived to deviate from prevailing sexual mores (thus enacting another form of unbounded mobility), while hobo applies generically to any homeles s person. Over time, even these more recent ideologically loaded uses have acquired a somewhat arch aic quality their use implying a degree of affectation Given that it still maintains a perceptible connection with that which it once signified, many observers including Anderson, Kerouac, Maharidge, and Smithhave tended to default to hobo when discus sing the railroad vagabond, regardless of the designees relationship to labor. Yet, in what follows, I will deliberately privilege t he term tramp in an effort to draw critical attention to the naturalization of the implicit moral hierarchy that situates the hobo in a superior position relative to the tramp because of a purportedly uniqueamong the transient population, at least eagerness to work In other words, I wish to distance my analysis from those that seek to recuperate the figure according to the terms of the dominant ideology by giving priority to its redemptive aspects vis vis the work ethic The railroad tramp, whatever label one uses, remains


20 compelling in a manner suggested by the panegyrics quoted previously precisely because of his deviat ion from socially legitimated modes of behavior not because of his conformity to them (Even so, I must acknowledge that I do at times resort to using the two term s with some ambiguity, which only further reflects the instability of the categories.) The c ompeting narratives of the tramp suggested by the tension between these two categories illuminate the broader cultural endeavor to define the American character an endeavor that carries both descriptive and disciplinary functions At least since the revol utionary era, voices internal and external to the body politic have sought to articulate or imposethose trai ts that reveal the uniqueness of this country and its people, motivated by the implicit belief that doing so might demonstrate the nations singula r mission, sanctioned by history and by God. This sport continues unabated into the contemporary era. Campaigning in 2008, Sarah Palin claimed that the real America could be located in the rural areas of the United States, and Bill OReilly blamed President Obamas 2012 reelection on what he termed the erosion of tradit ional America (Layton). Paul Krugman in turn, responded by calling this vision of a real America popul ated by nonurban white people an artificial construction, and provided in its place the real real America made up of a racially and ethnically diverse, and increasingly tolerant population. This particular instance of the ongoing definitional debate superficially focuses on demographics, largely leaving unstated what other effor ts which at least since the Jeffersonian vision of the yeoman farmer, have often simply assumed a white, Christian, provincial male as the default American subject make overt in seeking to identify fundamental and even exclusive moral and


21 behavioral national attributes. Portraits painted by those with a view from outside the stillyoung country might not always flatter the national self image, as when Alexis de Tocqueville worries about American democracys potential to produce a tyranny of the majority or (more personally, perhaps) D.H. Lawrence claims that [t]he essential American soul is hard, isolate, and a killer, but among those proffering a self generated interpretation a generally positive consensus emerged between independence and the Civil War ( 65). They saw in the American a protean individual, a self directed citizen determined less by past inheritance and more by future ambitions, one who heeded the Emersonian dictum, Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist (Self Reliance 260). Such c onsensus leads R.W.B. Lewis to argue that an Adamic conception of the American character prevailed in the literary and philosophical discourse of the antebellum period, positing a self invented hero, free from the weight of European history and personal ancestry, imbued with optimism and potentiality and, above all, a profound sense of innocence. However much that innocence may have existed more as a discursive construction than a historical condition, the trauma of the C ivil War signaled its loss, so that the figure of the American Adam no longer obtains in a postbellum, postlapsarian era. If the quintessential American character has always been understood as coming into being rather than definitively established, at this historical moment it appeared espec ially unstable and its values open to modification. With slavery now constitutionally banished, the outcome of the conflict positioned an emergent Northern corporate industrialism politically and rhetorically as a new national ideal to supplant not only S outhern feudalism and the system of forced labor on which it depended, but also


22 the increasingly untenable vision of the yeoman farmer and independent owner producer.2 During the Reconstruction era, Radical Republicans in Washington sought to import this m odel of a free labor economy, which valorized employment at will labor relations and fostered a networked infrastructure, to the rest of the country and its Western territories as a matter of policy. An increasingly industrialized economic system depended on laborers who worked for wages, accelerating the adaptation of the work ethic to a new, post artisanal mode of a production. This process had begun during the first half of the nineteenth century, as court decisions and legislation accumulated to codify as legal doctrine the free labor ideology. Whereas Americans of the Revolutionary era had envisioned a continuum extending from voluntary wage labor to voluntary indentured servitude to slavery, [o]ver a number of decades, a consensus emerged that traditi onal practices in the employment relationship violated the basic equality promised by the American Revolution (Steinfeld 159). According to the resulting binary logic, Eric Foner explains, the definition of free labor depended on juxtaposition with its i deological opposite, slave labor, even while this dichotomy masked the fact that free labor itself referred to two distinct economic conditions the wage laborer seeking employment in the marketplace, and the property owning small producer enjoying a modicum of economic independence (x xi). In other words, the freedom afforded by American citizenship increasingly entailed contractual autonomy, not necessarily economic autonomy (xvi). This contractual freedom provided workers with a formal independence t hat allowed them to seek out more beneficial waged positions, while employers no longer carried the burden of a paternal model that previously obligated them to maintain their employees.


23 Instead of relying on physical compulsion to ensure the industriousness of the nations work force, free labors proponents promulgated and adapted as necessary the morality of the work ethic, what Kathi Weeks describes as that complex of shifting claims, ideals, and values that continues to legitimate the structure of t he work society (38). As Daniel T. Rodgers explains, the work ethic may not have been indigenous to the United States, but here, as nowhere else in the Western European orbit, the middle classes set the tone and standards for society as a whole. They did so through their hold over the strategic institutions of economics and culture (1516). Through its presence and influence in the realms of business, religion, education, and publishing, the bourgeoisie established a culturally pervasive ideological agenda that inextricably yoked labor to the individuals moral worth. Neither the idleness of the Southern aristocracy nor the irregular habits of a rambunctious working class had a place in the post War society. As industrialisms rise remade and rationalized the material processes of work, the discourse of the work ethic extolled labors extraeconomic impact the way it cleared away doubts and vanquished despair; it curbed the animal instincts to violence; it distracted the laborer from the siren call of radicalism; it redeemed the convict prisoner. It did all this in part by character building, by ingraining habits of fortitude, self control, and perseverance, and in part by systematic exhaustion (Rodgers 1112). Mobility plays a central role i n the coalesc ence of the free labor economy. A traditional ( yet not uncontested) means of establishing American identity, mobility in the United States has long inspired contradictory attitudes both culturally and legally. National discourse celebrates it as a fundamental freedom that allows for the


24 expression of the nations pioneer spirit, purposefully drawing attention to the fact that America exists in its present form only because settlers dared to cross vast expanses of ocean and then thousands of miles of land in fulfillment of their manifest destiny. In turn, the experience of mobility reinforces this particularly American exceptionalism. Frederick Jackson Turner influentially describes this self perpetuating process in his Frontier Thesis: To the frontier the Am erican intellect owes its striking characteristics. That coarseness and strength combined with acuteness and inquisitiveness; that practical, inventive turn of mind, quick to find expedients; that masterful grasp of material things, lacking in artistic but powerful to effect great ends; that restless, nervous energy; that dominant individualism, working for good and for evil; and withal that buoyancy and exuberance which comes with freedom these are traits of the frontier, or traits called out elsewhere bec ause of the existence of the frontier. (37) I n practice, however, many found (and continue to find) their individual mobility discouraged or restricted. Indeed, the right to travel receives no explicit mention in the Constitution, and today it exists accor ding to a historical rather than a doctrinal basis, and still required the reaffirmation of the Supreme Court almost two hundred years following independence. On behalf of the Court in the 1966 case of United States v. Guest Justice Potter Stewart acknowledged this ambiguity, admitting that [a] lthough there have been recurring differences in emphasis within the Court as to the source of the constitutional right to travel, [a] ll have agreed that the right exists (Karst 2275 ). In terms of the national nar ratives that demarcate the limits of acceptable action, it often seems that celebration applies only when a certain seg ments of the population uproots and throws off those forces that would fix them in place. While nominally the subject of unqualified affi rmation, mobility receives endorsement primarily when practiced for the benefit of the nationbuilding project by those recognized for their embodiment of


25 American ideals. This sort of sanctioned movement might entail pressing into the wilderness on a civi lizing mission that accelerates the exploitation of resources and the expansion of markets, or relocating to an urban center in service of increased industrial production. The tramps ambiguous role in these sorts of projects helps explain the conflicted n ature of his legal position. This ambiguity manifests in the impossibility of reconciling the need for a large casual labor force with the municipal and state vagrancy laws, which criminalized a persons status rather than any particular act. These laws persisted until 1972, when the Supreme Court finally struck them down in its ruling in Papachristou v. City of Jacksonville (Asperger 2774). In particular, e mployers have had an ambivalent reaction to the mobility of the labor pool. A certain degree of mobil ity proves beneficial to the factory owner who, in a tight labor market, seeks to pilfer away a r ivals employees. As well, the W estern farmer whose intensive production requires large numbers of extra hands for brief periods during the harvest welcomes th e itinerant worker. Yet, these interests conflicted with the factory owners desire for the latitude to take persuasive measures to retain their own employees. Similarly, a farming communitys disenchantment with transient workers after the completion of t he harvest typically produced calls to punish the very mobility from which it had only recently benefitted. Such conflicting interests parallel the larger ambivalence regarding expressions of mobility that alternately received social endorsement and condem nation. Robert J. Steinfeld argues that, in the end, the advantages of worker mobility to the employing class outweighed it demerits, and an emerging consensus that the collective good was better served by not allowing individuals to lock up economic reso urces in the traditional way (170). Still, the tension


26 remained, and the tramp, in his radical interpretation and exploitation of mobility, poses a threat to the uneasy balance that supports the cost benefit analysis Steinfeld describes. The rapid expansi on of the railroad broadened the scope of this mobility in ways previously impossible to imagine. The construction of a continent spanning infrastructure had a crucial nationalizing effect, demarcating physical and discursive boundaries while integrating f ar flung population centers and rural areas into a domestic marketplace, an effect anticipated and deliberately invoked by advocates of construction. Asa Whitney, a tireless early supporter of A Project for a Railroad to the Pacific (1849), envisioned both the economic benefit to the nation and the civilizing effect on the individual of a transcontinental transportation network twenty years before a lin e linked the coasts. He observes that the western settler who now pays for his land to the government get s no benefit from the sum paid beyond his title to, and possession of the land. Unconnected to the market, he has no opportunity to sell either his labor or his crops. Thus, Whitney continues, you see him in the wilderness, remote from civilization, destitute of comforts, and nearly a demi savage; his labor, it is true, produces food from the earth; but he cannot exchange with the different branches of industry, and is not a source of wealth or power to the nation (12). In other words, the spread of the railroad would perform a disciplinary function, bringing the individual into the economic and political fold, thereby cocreating the American character. N ot only would railroad technology have a profound impact on how the American people experienced, understood, and interacted with their world, the railroad indust ry essentially transformed the c onstitutional definition of personhood, further complicating


27 any theoretical attempts to isol ate those traits that define a national character. Prefiguring the Citizens Untied decision by well over a century, Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad (1886) affirmed the legal personhood of corporations, bringing them under the purview of the Fourteenth Amendment, which was adopted in 1868 in part to extend ci tizenship and equal protection to African Americans. According to the headnote for the case, [t]he court does not want to hear argument on the question whether the provision in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids a state to deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, applies to these corporations. We are all of the opinion that it does (qtd. in Beatty 110).3 In a further loss of the innocence previously essential to the American character, a provision for the protection of civil rights became primarily a legal means by which to safeguard property. America, characterized as a pristine, Edenic new world of infinite possibility by everyone from the earliest European explorers to Emerson, had become sullied by the strife, violence, and the juggernaut of corporate capitalism transforming into a society in which the individual, everyday citizen no matter how rhetorically veneratedseemed no longer to play a central role. The mobility and work ethic celebrated in the national narrative seems to benefit an ever narrower portion of the population The representation of the American characters self determination and optimism seems less and less connected to the experience of actual Americans. It is p recisely beca use of this disconnect that literary and cultural representations of the railroad tramp provide a vital framework through which to comprehend and elaborate the submerged tensions if not the outright contradictions embedded in the practices and discourses attending mobility and work, and, by extension, domesticity


28 and citizenship. Analyzing these representations synchronically and diachronically facilitate s an understanding of the superstructure underpinning hegemonys operations. Stepping into a volatile ec onomic and ideological context, a period when the United States was in the throes of intensive and complicated instability that accompanied the processes of self definition, the railroad tramp embodies the potential both to reinforce and to challenge exist ing narratives of national identity.4 A multivalent figure, he (for he is, as we will see, most frequently constructed as male) has been variously characterized as either quintessentially American or fundamentally unAmerican, an embodiment of this nation s spirit of independence and adventure or an existential threat to all of our most cherished institutions. Although European rogues and vagabonds may serve as his antecedent, the railroad tramps appearance necessarily coincides with the maturation of Ame rican industrial modernity. The suffusion of the free labor economy, the relentless westward geographic expansion of both infrastructure and population, and the recurrent cycles of economic (and moral) crisis that accompanied this maturation led to and rel ied on the untethering of a once stationary work force for the benefit of an increasingly rationalized system of wage d labor relations The tramp, who first appeared in recognizable form during the last decades of the nineteenth century seemingly without native precedent may even be considered the quintessential figure of the era, in that the development of such conditions contributed directly to the production of the railroad tramp as a material and as a cultural figure even as these figures both perpetuate and react against those conditions. Henry George identified and articulated this interdependent relationship during the Gilded Age, noting that The tramp comes with the locomotive, and


2 9 almshouses and prisons are as surely the mark of material progress as are costly dwellings, rich warehouses, and magnificent churches (7). Jack London expanded on this idea in his essay The Tramp (London used tramp and hobo interchangeably), arguing that the tramp is only personally undesirable; that he is negativ ely desirable; that the function he performs in society is a negative function; and that he is the by product of economic necessity (475476). The tramp emerges from the ranks of surplus labor, which accommodates fluctuation in production, irregular an d periodic demands for labor (477), and acts as a check upon all employed labor (478). The tramp has discovered that he can periodically leave and reenter this system, and so takes to the road, one of the safety valves through which the waste of the social organism is given off. And being given off constitutes the negative function of the tramp (486). The socioeconomic functions of the actually existing t ramp point to, even if they do not precisely parallel, the rhetorical functions of tramps cultural representations. My goal is to draw attention to the cultural work performedthe social meaning produced by these representations. While the figures details differ little between various textual construct ions, the tramp has been deployed in the service o f a remarkable range of ideological goals. Indeed, beginning with his earliest narratives in the 1870s, there has been something of a battle for discursive control of the figure, a battle tied to the larger struggle to determine national narratives surrounding work and mobility. An analysis of the differing characterizations of the tramp has the potential to illuminate the contours and contradictions of the ideologies motivating these characterizations. Alternately disciplinary and oppositional, c ompeting c haracterizations of the tramp reveal national ambivalence about the triumph of free labor, about the intensive market integration


30 enabled by the railroad, and so finally about capitalism itself. Perhaps it is not surprising for example, that the tramps r estless mobility prompted observers and many tramps themselves to equate the figure with the frontier settler posited by Turner .5 And perhaps it is equally unsurprising that such an equation between the semi legendary pioneer character and the tramp still proves controversial even virtually sacrilegious As a self directed wanderer, the tramp lurks around the edges of American narrative traditions of the picaro and the isolato the latter term coined by Melville to describe that self reliant character w ho has the willingness and the capacity to persist in a private vision, no matter what the effect his pursuit will have on others (Cahir 36). Indeed, t he tramps story participates in a fundamental narrative tradition, necessarily comprising a subspecies of what Bakhtin identifies as [t]he chronotope of the road that has played an important rol e in the history of the novel (243, 244). Yet, because of the tramps indeterminate moral and ontological status, he and his story resist full absorption into the pantheon of literary character types and narrative genres This equivocal status does not imply textual scarcity. Although the actual, material figure has all but disappeared in his most recognizable form (replaced in part by homeless veterans, punks, activists andperhaps most pertinently undocumented workers from south of the bor der), the railroad tramp maintains an iconographic presence across the culture imaginary .6 Even if we do not know the specifics of either his material or his cultural hi story we are able to conjure a general image of the railroad tramp. Perhaps we visualize someone akin to Emmett Kellys weary clown, dressed in tattered clothes, a bindle on a stick over his shoulder, a corncob pipe in the corner of his mouth, his legs dangling from the open door of a boxcar. Once in town, he might knock


31 on a back door to ask for food, or he might swipe a pie cooling on a window sill. In either case, he manages to remain independent and on the move. Roger Bruns summarizes the predominant iconog raphy in his informal history of the tramp, Knights of the Road: In cartoons, articles, plays and motion pictures the image emerged the forlorn wayfarer in a losing war against lifes vicissitudes, the shaggy demeanor, the slapstick bouts with railroad dic ks and fierce dogs, the determination to plunge ahead against all manner of slings and arrows lying in wait. The figure was usually unshaven and crimsonnosed. He sometimes carried from his shoulder a redb andana bundle tied to a stick. ( 102) He still surf aces in forums as disparate as fiction, memoir cinema, and prime time television. He even appears in restaurant chain logos ( families can choose between The Hungry Hobo and Hobo Joes) and internet memes (mocking updates of hobo names and signs) with re markably stable, yet simultaneously contradictory, semiotic implications. But he persists most vigorously through his linear narrative written or cinematic, self generated or externally prescribed a mixture of fact and fiction comprising the lovehate, respect disgust attitudes of the American populace regarding the figure (Bruns, Knights 123). This conflicted attitude motivat es what Kenneth Allsop characterizes as the respectable citizens muddle of guilt and envy a complicated response that allows th e onlooker to see in the tramp both a folk and a culture hero and a betrayer of the open economy. The tramp has rejected the opportunity to advance his position, yet the tr ueblue citizen also suspect[s] with covetous resentment, that the hobo had by unfair thaumaturgical means retained an independence which had somehow drained out of his own successful career. So in his more sentiment al moods he indulge[s] himself with wistful yearning for the vagabond contentment he erratically projects onto the tramp figure (49).


32 In fact, the tramp does not rely on thaumaturgy to effect this freedom that so many have come to find so elusive, but rather a means symbolizing the very mechanizing, industrializing, rationalizing processes that have in many ways circum scribed and disciplined the citizenworkers activities However conflicted the responses the tramps image inspires, in the popular imagination the tramp remains inextricably linked to the railroad, that great emblem of capitalist expansion and, paradoxic ally, the vehicle by which the tramp achieves his intermittent freedo m from the demands of modernity Even if it also brought horror and pain, the railroad serves as the tramps life fo rce, provide the source of his identity and style of life (Bruns 47; Allsop 49). If anything, the link between the tramp and the train has only grown more profound with time. In writing about the subculture in the late twentieth century, author and journalist Lucius Shepard observed that for the tramp the freight train is the sole object worthy of deification, a quasi mythological, sentient godbeast embodying a romantic menace deserving of respect (xi). Wh en speaking of their experiences railroading tramps in fiction and memoir frequently lapse into a kind of rever ie: Riding the rails more or less gets in your blood. I think hoboing to a great extent is excitement. A lot of young guys get on it more or less for kicks. You ride enough and by God you get hooked! And the same thing applies to the older heads. Its j ust like taking marijuana, its habit forming, its a disease. Put it this way: you piss out of a boxcar once, youre hooked. (qtd. in Mathers 126) It is also the train that enables tramps placelessness and thus transforms him into a national figure, depl eted of regional associations While observer s (such as Anderson) have noted that Chicago came to serve as the unofficial headquarters of the nations floating population, the tramp as both a historical figure and a representation ceases to exist if he cea ses to wander.7 When Leland Stanford ceremoniously drove the final,


33 golden spike to connect the Central Pacific and Union Pacific lines and thus the east coast of the United States with the west in 1869, the tramp achieved the freedom to travel clear acros s the country in order to evade the dictates of rationalized wage labor By using the railroad in this way the tramp further demonstrates the almost schizophrenic inconsistencies that render him as a distinct and compelling figure of modernity. In popular culture, the figure has come to signify a generalized resistance to things as they are, even if the specific details of what he resists at times remain amorphous. As one of free labors discontents, he pushes back against the disciplinary regime imposed by clocktime rationality, bureaucracy, Fordism, Taylorism against the disenchantment of the world, what Max Weber calls the Spirit of Capitalism. His acts of resistance manifest the sort of reaction against the way of life in capitalist societies that characterizes a romantic worldview ( Lwy and Sayre 17). Yet the tramp embodies a contradictory romanticism, eschewing nostalgia for technology of a premodern age, embracing the industrial technology of mobility even while refusing ever to commit fully t o a participation in the mode of rationalized labor that produces and promulgates that technology R ather than escaping modernity in nature, like Wordsworths vagabonds the tramp practices a pa radoxically modern pastoralism To this end, representations o f the tramp tend to repurpose the railroad as a space for preindustrial adventure and physical testing (Photinos, Tracking 180) Like any modern subject, he experiences the alienation accompanying the conditions and instruments of modernity, yet in a n aively utopian gesture he exploits and manipulates those instruments in order to oppose their ramifications Consequently, in textual representation, tramps are typically depicted as what Evan Watkins calls relics, throwaways, isolated groups of the


34 popul ation who havent moved with the times, and who now litter the social landscape and require the moral attention of cleanup crews, the containing apparatus of police and prison, the financial drain of safety nets, the immense maintenance bureaucracies of the state (3). Depending on the ideological positions of the particular text, the trampas throwaway may warrant indignation, nostalgia, pity, or celebration, producing in aggregate a dialectic of containment and subversion. After decades of relative negl ect, the tramp has been the object of s everal recent compelling studies, including Tim Creswells The Tramp in America (2001) Todd DePastinos Citizen Hobo (2003), Frank Tobias Higbies Indispensable Outcasts (2003), and Mark Wymans Hoboes (2010) all of which bring a scholarly rigor to the subject of the previously cited popular histories by Allsop (1967) and Bruns (1980) Creswell explores the ways in which sociology, American Vaudeville, eugenics, documentary photography and silent film are linked by the figure of the tramp (10). DePastino argues that the hobo signaled a crisis of home that is always also one of nationhood and citizenship, race and gender (xix). Higbie seeks to reorient the discussion of Progressive Era history around the conflic ts [hoboes] symbolized and experiences they embodied (3). Despite its title Wyman s book discusses the railroad tramp as just one factor in the development of the Western system of intensive agricultural production While these authors concern themselves primarily with the historical tramp (and I draw on their insights), I seek to focus narrowly on the cultural work performed by representations of the figure by investigating a series of exemplary texts. Although many these texts have been cataloged, subs t antial work remains to be done in order to analyze the figures persistent significance. As will become apparent, a study of the


35 railroad tramp in popular culture prompts a focus on moments of economic and political crisis or transition, meaning that I concentrate primarily on texts produced during the Gilded Age, the Progressive Era, and the Great Depression, with several forays into the more recent era of globalization Some previous studies have, in fact, addressed the cultural construction of the tramp figure. Frederick Feieds No Pie in the Sky: The Hobo as American Cultural Hero in the Works of Jack London, John Dos Passos, and Jack Kerouac (1964) situates the tramp in a rebellious narrative tradition, as his title implies but often leaves its politic al and theoretical implications underexplored John Seelye, analyz ing the figure in his seminal essay The American Tramp: A Version of the Picaresque (1963), goes further, arguing that representations fall on one or the other end of a heroic versus comic binary, according to the historical context of textual production This approach, however sharply delimits possible ideological readings of the character Only in recent years has a handful of literary scholars begun to revisit the representations of the figure. I n an effort to counter the general scholarly neg lect of works by tramp memoirists John Allen devotes a chapter of his Homelessness in American Literature ( 2004 ) to the deluge of tramp autobiographies that appeared between 1890 and 1940. Citing t he disparity between the experiences of the textually constructed tramp and those of actual homeless transients, h e broadly concludes that these texts end up sanitizing and rom anticizing the tramp experience, and thus offer no real criticism of the domi nant order while performing detrimental cultural work (95). Although his assessment rings true to some degree, Allen fails to acknowledge that this very romanticism can in fact serve as the basis for criticism if one sees the work of these texts as being a critique of


36 social relations under capitalism rather than a narrowly defined contribution to the cultural and ideological discourse of homelessness in America (4). My own approach has more affinity with work by Christine Photinos and John Lennon, who have each published articles that offer ideological readings of Jack Londons tramp writings. I begin my discussion with a description and analysis of what I call the Savage Tramp representational tradition, which has its origins in a broad cultural anxiety regarding the acceleration of change in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Tramps exploited the radical mobility afforded by the railroad while refusing the discipline of rationalized labor, so becoming a social and political threat. In respo nse, the dominant rhetoric tended to pathologize the tramp, locating the (negative) causes of tramping within the individual tramp, to the exclusion of other external factors. To emphasize the tramps depravity, commentators often employed the kind of logi c and language found in stereotypical portrayals of Native Americans and recently emancipated African Americans. While debate about the tramp often appeared in political discourse, iterations of the Savage Tramp found their way into fiction as well. Lee O. Harriss 1878 novel The Man Who Tramps responds to the uprising of the Paris Communards abroad and the spread of labor agitation at home by blaming social disorder on the anarchist tramp Published the same year, Frank Bellews The Tramp: His Tricks, Tall ies, and TellTales, with all His Signs, Countersigns, Grips, Pass words and Villainies Exposed similarly offers descriptions of a vast conspiracy of revolutionary transients. While Harris proposes brutal eradication and Bellew endorses liberal reform, bot h demonstrate their debt to the English rogue literature of the early modern era, replicating that genres preoccupation with distinguishing the unworthy from the worthy poor. Although the


37 rhetoric had dampened by the Great Depression, in the 1990s anxiety about the railroad tramp reemerged in sensationalist coverage of serial killers Robert Joseph Sidetrack Silveria, Jr. and ngel Maturino Resndiz. Once again, the unbounded and invisible mobility of the unassimilated tramp comes to represent internal and external threats to the American way of life, a boogeyman that appears in crime dramas, tabloid programs, and truecrime books. Representations of the Americana Hobo, by contrast, offer a figure that reinforces rather than challenges the bourgeois liberal subject position. First appearing along with the earliest Savage Tramp portraits, this tradition would achieve primacy as attitudes regarding the railroad vagabond shifted. These shifts reflected a growing awareness that the rapid growth of the western agricultural industry, enabled by the construction of a transportation infrastructure, required an unfixed labor force capable of following seasonal demands. T he dominant discourse rehabilitates the parasitic tramp as the self reliant hobo in an effort to absorb and assimilate into the national narrative what it cannot purge. His nonconformity safely circumscribed, his veneration helps to normalize precarity by ennobling it. Representations of the Americana Hobo find a parallel in imagery of the indigenous N oble Savage, in that both figures serve as exemplars of natural independence, wisdom, and authenticity untainted by the effects of excessive civilization. As a successor to the pioneer, the hobo becomes an emblematic of a particular brand of freedom loving rugged individualism. Once again, Harriss novel The Man Who Tramps presents an early rendering of this archetype, well before the term hobo had achieved common usage. Amongst all the evil, radical tramps, a single vagabond rejects political involvement entirely, refuses to beg or steal, and attributes his


38 peregrinations to some innate compulsion rather than larger forces. A similar character plays a central role in Frank Capras 1941 film Meet John Doe seeing through the false populism of the media and politicians while recoiling from every offer of aid with suspicion. Edward Andersons Depressionera novel Hungry Men (1935) has as its protagonist a more nuanced version of the Americana Hobo who nonetheless ultimately rejects collectivist politics in fa vor of an individualist approach, for which he is rewarded. Each of these narratives seeks to contain the hobos oppositional potential through a repeatable formula: the figure represents American individualism, but his life ultimately lacks the attractive stability of a middle class life. By the end of the narrative, either the hobo himself reforms, or he functions as a negative example, so that the characters who interact with him are able to embrace the domesticity they had temporarily r ejecting in takin g to the road. Representations of the Critical Tramp, by contrast, present an undiluted critique of the dominant order. This version of the railroad vagabond shares several traits and behavior patterns with the Savage Tramp: exploiting radical mobility, fr equently eschewing waged labor, rejecting bourgeois morality, and disrupting heteronormative domesticity. Yet, like the Americana Hobo, the figure receives a sympathetic portrayal. In other words, the tramp is critical if his power to disrupt is seen as a positive element within (or outside of) the narrative. The tramp is savage if his power to disrupt is threatening to a social order or institution that the narrative portrays as legitimate. Three works of autobiographical fiction serve as exemplary texts. The protagonist of Tom Kromers Waiting for Nothing (1935) does not actively protest, but his degradation facilitates an implicit critique of a society that demands that its members work but fails to


39 provide the means to do so. Charles Ashleighs The Rambl ing Kid (1930) takes much more aggressive approach in its sympathetic portrayal of a young mans journey from disaffected worker to revolutionary agitator. Ben Reitmans Sister of the Road: The Autobiography of Boxcar Bertha (1937) deploys the rarely seen female tramp in order to subvert not only the gender conventions of the dominant culture, but of the tramps subculture, as well. In my next chapter, I elaborate on the tramp utopics implied by narratives of the Critical Tramp. The first wave of railroad t ramp texts coincided with a period of intensive production of utopian narratives, exemplified by Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward (1888). While the formal narrative utopia typically relies on an unfamiliar setting an undiscovered land or a future worldto mount its critique of the current order, utopian tramp texts offer models of alternative life practices in the present. Such a utopian gesture appears in most tramp narratives, which characterize the radical mobility of the railroad as an enclave into whi ch the tramp may venture. This enclave becomes a site of evasion, a place free from the enforcement of the capitalist ethos within capitalist society. Jack Londons short story The Apostate (1906) presents a tramp origin story, portraying life and labor under laissez faire principles as a nightmarish dystopia, which the young protagonist exits when he quits his job and climbs aboard a freight train. Upton Sinclairs The Jungle (1906) builds on this idea, situating the tramps enclave as a means by which one might eventually arrive at a socialist consciousness. John Dos Passoss U.S.A. Trilogy (19301936) also sees the revolutionary potential of the tramp enclave, but acknowledges that this potential is historically contingent. Finally, Nelson


40 Algrens Some body in Boots (1935) offers a critique of the tramp enclaves allure, demonstrating the roads enduring mythological power while recognizing its limits. By way of a coda I propose a model of tramp pedagogy that builds on insight gleaned from the tramp in his various guises. Through the pedagogical strategies typically embedded within its narrative, the figure of the tramp negatively defines the dominant discourse in America, thereby acting as a figure of resistance. The tramp acts as a pedagogue, seeking t o reproduce himself by fostering in an apprentice a subject position that runs counter to the subjectivity prescribed by what Louis Althusser has termed ideological state apparatuses: most particularly, the school. This function becomes especially apparent in an analysis of hobo memoirs by Jack London and Leon Ray Livingston (writing as A No. 1) and subsequent tramp how to manuals. In their descriptions of their own tramp training, both writers provide an alternative to the bourgeois, liberal humanist mod el of education. Because didacticism is central to tramp discourse, a tramp text remains free to make explicit pedantic moves without violating the formal aesthetic contract between author and reader; these two positions, after all, have already been const ructed as analogues for teacher and student. Consequently, London and Livingston, intentionally (in the case of the former) or not (in the case of the latter), necessarily instruct readers in an alternative mode of social and economic organization. I want to conclude this introduction with a caveat in the form of a brief personal note. In the interest of full disclosure I must acknowledge that I do not come to this project as a disinterested observer. Rather, it has been inspired by my own limited tramping experiences as has my entire graduate career, in a way. For the bulk of a


41 four year period beginning in 1998, I crisscrossed the continent on freight trains, slept outdoors and in squatted buildings, and ate food salvaged from dumpsters. I had made the dec ision to take to the road after more than five years of working in a warehouse for little more than minimum wage and intermittently taking classes at a local university that primarily served a commuter student body. To be sure, rationalized wage labor had lost what little appeal it might have once held for me well before I actually hopped my first train Unlike many of the people I met on the road, I had the privilege of romanticizing my experiences as they unfolded, for I was transient by choice, a part of a critical dropout culture that sought to disengage from the prevailing order. (Of course, this means I also had the luxury of coming off the road after growing tired of the precariousness inherent to a criminalized mode of living.) Along the way, Id kept a record of what I viewed as adventures worth recounting, and this record eventually formed the basis of the few issues of a zine I published. In other words, as it does for so many people, tramping provided me with an impetus to write, and I continued t o write even after my adventures assumed a more mundane form. Bit s of that writing got me into an MFA program, and from there I decided to pursue a PhD. Writing this dissertation has allowed me the opportunity to return to many of the concerns that prompte d the first of many train rides. I cannot say whether the present work benefits or suffers as a result of my intimate connection to the topic, but I can say that it very likely would not exist at all in the absence of that connection. 1 According to a documentary history of the town assembled by the Britt Centennial Committee, the second National Hobo Convention took place in August 1933, and [w]ith the exception of a period during World War II, the Hobo Day Convention has since been an annual event (201). Smith erroneously claims Britt had hosted the convention for 112 years; the Wikipedia entry titled National Hobo Convention makes the same mistake.


42 2 Of course, Jim Crows laws in the South, as well as de facto segregation in the N orth, undermined the full implementation of the free labor ideal in practice. 3 Beatty explains that the first headnote to the case in this instance written by court reporter Chandler Bancroft Davis reads, The defendant Corporations are persons within the intent of the clause in section I of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which forbids a state to deny any person equal protection of the laws (qtd. 171). In fact, only the dictum, neither the arguments before the Court nor the unanimous opinion on the case addressed the issue of corporate personhood. Beatty argues (citing Justice William O. Douglass) that it is the reporters headnote, not the actual opinion, that enshrined personhood status for corporations (173). 4 Even on the most basic level of political geography, the country underwent radical changes during the tramps heyday lasting roughly from 1870s through the 1930s with eleven Western states joining the Union between 1876 and 1912. 5 See DePastinos discussion of the hobo and the frontier myth in Citizen Hobo, 118121. 6 Structurally, the illegal immigrant is the truest inheritor of the hobo s tradition, insofar as they are both migratory laborers who frequently travel by freight train. Documentarian Rebecca Camm isa explains the process of traveling from Central America to the United States: Lets say you get to a southern city like Tapachula, theres a network of smugglers that may help you or help transport you north, maybe through buses or cars or vans. Lets s ay you dont have the money to pay them to take you you basically wait for freight trains. You cross the border at Tapachula, you walk eight to ten days to get to Arriaga and there you wait for the train. Now, once you get on a freight train, theres any number of things that could happen to you; you could have a relatively safe journey or you can fall under the train wheels and be decapitated, cut in half or have legs or arms cut off; you could be robbed from gangs or from corrupt police officials. There' s any number of pretty horrible experiences that one can have along the train route (HBO Documents) 7 Even here, the city represents an infrastructure set up to accommodate transience: flop houses, unemployment agencies, etc


43 CHAPTER 2 THE SAVAG E TRAMP Im a tramp, a bum, a hobo. Im a boxcar and a jug of wine. And a straight razor if you get close to me. Charles Manson1 In Catching Out, an episode from the 20082009 season of the CBS crime procedural Criminal Minds the FBIs Behavioral Analy sis Unit, headquartered at Quantico, investigates a series of connected burglary homicides committed throughout Californias central valley. Speaking in clipped, expositional fragments, Agent Spencer Reid explains during a briefing this killer of the week s modus operandi : Blunt force trauma with objects found at the home, multiple bashes to the head. This unsub (i.e., unknown subject) employs a crude and certainly savage method, made all the more horrific given that he uses the victims own possessions as his weapons, those objects accumulated over the course of a lifetime, rewards for hard work, signifiers of comfort and stability. The agents dialogue emphasizes the essential invasive nature of the crimes as much as their violence. Agent Aaron Hotchner notes that whats unique about this unsub is that after he kills them, apparently he sits down to dinner in their homes. Agent Jennifer Jareau continues, explaining, He stays there for hours. He eats their food, tries on their clothes, he showers, he even sleeps in their beds. To illustrate the point, the agents share projections of multiple crimescene photos of not only the victims, but also the bloodied trappings of domesticity: an unmade bed, a fully set dinner table. In violating the physical str ucture of a singlefamily dwelling the doors and windows that delineate a familys sanctuary from the rest of the worldand inhabiting it so intimately, as if he too belonged there, the criminal assaults not only these particular victims, but the very conc ept of the home.


44 In addition to his unusual behavior during the actual crime, the issue of the suspects movement between crime scenes presents the agents with a conundrum. Although he seems to have no car of his ownnone of the neighbors has spotted an u nfamiliar vehicle at any of the crimes scenes and he does not steal those belonging to the people he kills, he has left victims scattered across an atypically wide geographical range, over 400 miles, impelling one agent to muse, Big area. Are we sure its the same unsub? (Indeed, because regional authorities sometimes fail to share DNA information from crime scenes through national networks and the killer has traversed several jurisdictions, only gradually do investigators begin to connect the all the mur ders to a single suspect the panopticon can only function at its full potential if the currency of the evidentiary database is diligently maintained.) Before the agents solve this mystery of exceptional mobility, Agent Hotchner chastises an overly ambitious local investigator who has dubbed the suspect The Highway 99 Killer in the media: By calling him this, you are detrimentally influencing the investigation. The key to the puzzle arrives when, investigating the site of the latest murder, Agents David Rossi and Derek Morgan discover the unsub (unknown subject) habitually drapes his soiled clothing over the male victims body and begin constructing a speculative psychological profile from a distinctly classed foundation. AGENT ROSSI: This might be so me form of transference. By symbolically dressing Mr. Sullivan in his clothes, [the killer is] equalizing their status. AGENT MORGAN: Mr. Sullivan has all these things, and he doesnt. This guys got a problem with his station in life. AGENT ROSSI: He cant bring himself up on his own, so he makes himself feel better by destroying others and living their lives. He pretends this is all his


45 Following that last line delivered incredulously the camera pans the spacious room, which is filled with possessi ons that reveal the victims individuality, possessions properly earned by the victims hard, legitimate work. The killer is a usurper, one who seeks to circumvent the path of self discipline and labor in order to achieve what the victims (and, presumably, the viewers) gained only through an embrace of individual responsibility. After one murder, he even takes the female victims wedding band, the ultimate symbol of domesticity, and puts it on his pinky. The filthiness of the killers discarded clothing leads the agents to conclude that he must be homeless, to which a clueless local cop responds, So, how does a homeless man move about the state like this? At this point, Agent Rossi arrives at an inspired answer to the lingering question of mobility: the killer is hopping freight trains. The viewer, of course, already knows this: from the episodes opening shot, we have watched the shadowy figure occupying mobile spaces of boxcars, transported into generically familiar suburban neighborhoods, very definitely arriving from the wrong side of the tracks or rather, from the tracks themselves. The railroad technology that dominates much of the episode visually and aurally, often backlit and enshrouded in fog to underscore the cars cold, dark spaces and filmed thr oughout from defamiliarizing angles, almost takes on some kind of mechanical agency, suggesting that it operates in collusion with the killer. The rhythmic knocking of the wheels elides with the music scores propulsive bass line, while the shriek of metal on metal complements jarring synthesized strings. Whenever the killer leaves the scenes of his savage crimes, a train conveniently rolls into view as if to meet him by prearrangement; he appears unintimidated as he runs alongside this overwhelmingly huge and powerful industrial


46 machine, throwing his pack into a boxcar, and then swinging aboard. Cuts obscure some of this action, rendering portions of it merely implied, so that it seems to happen in one smooth feat of athletic motion, with none of the awkwar d, ungraceful movements actually involved in boarding a moving freight train, lending the killer a sense of almost superhuman prowess. Once he is aboard, the train rolls out of the frame and he disappears without a trace. Agent Reid, the units resident nerd, recites from memory a fact that maps the scope of the threat facilitated by this mode of travel: Theres over 140,000 miles of track in this country. He could be anywhere. As the investigators pursue their case, the episode reveals some of the habits and customs of the rail riding subculture. Once they discover their unsub travels by freight train, Agents Rossi and Morgan visit a yard, where a member of the railroad companys private police force explains that Bulls and boes dont usually cross paths, then defines this vocabulary for his apparently baffled audience: They call rail cops bulls, we call them boes, adding helpfully after a beat, as in hoboes. The killer, we come to understand, may be counted as a member of a distinct social group o f outcasts with its own alien customs, vocabulary, and iconography. After shaming the transients they encounter at a hobo jungle for not taking their questions seriously enough, the agents submit the tramps to an examination process, extracting the meaning of the symbols rail riders leave carved or painted on various surfaces in order communicate with each other all in exchange for a couple of candy bars, a rather low price for a group that the episode also portrays as secretive and aloof which they then share with both other investigators and the audience, rendering this unfamiliar world less opaque. One of these symbols, the code for friendly old lady, left at a rail yard mere blocks


47 from where the first victim lived, allowed the killer to identify a hom e at which he would likely encounter little resistance; the victim, it turns out, was known to provide food to transients in exchange for work, thus to some degree bringing about her grisly fate. The tramps at the jungle constitute a fairly repellent lot, but in the wake of his crimes the killer degrades himself much more severely, orgiastically huffing cleaning supplies he finds under the bathroom sink after he has dispatched his victims. The camera focuses in closeup on his tongue lolling in his mouth a nd the red sores that circle his lips, careful not to reveal his full face until midway through the episode. During a briefing with an assembled team of various law enforcement agencies, despite the fact that both the audience and the agents know the killer bathes and changes clothes at the scene of the crimewe even see him using a toothbrush, presumably belonging to a victim Agent Emily Prentiss assures her audience that If you get close to him, you wont miss him: he will smell like a combination of hum an filth and paint thinner. As if essential to his being, the stink cannot be scrubbed away. Once the FBI, largely through the use of networked information, identifies the unsub as Armando Luis Salinas, a thirty eight year old Mexican national, and subseq uently tracks down his much older half brother, Ruben Garcia, in a camp of migrant agricultural laborers, the agents confirm their earlier theories, exposing the killers true ontological center, of which the stink turns out to be only an accidental charac teristic. Ruben explains that his sibling had been in trouble before, serving time back in Mexico, so he took Armando with him on the agricultural circuit, implicitly understanding that the antisocial behavior stemmed from a lack of labor discipline. Howev er, at Armandos core, Hes not a good worker, and for this failure of character he found himself rejected by his brother and his


48 community and then the killings began. Ruben, in a hushed, quavering voice, explains obsequiously, Im grateful to work, but Armando hated work. Hated the camps. Always complained he never had a nice bed to sleep on. When he was a kid, he slept on the floor. In jail, he slept on the floor. All he ever talked about was having a house of his own. A bed to sleep on. The lesson is clear: threat arises and disorder results when an occupant of the lowest social strata aspires to the goods above his station while rejecting the dogma of work and crossing the boundaries of acceptable mobility. After Armando has been gunned down by Agent Hotchner at the conclusion of a dramatic chase along the top of a moving train, Ruben returns to work in lush green fields under bright blue skies, content with his lot, and the social order is restored. This pastoral image functions as an inversion of Adam and Eves condemnation to a life of toil for their transgressions: here, exile from Eden, punishment for hubris, manifests as the exclusion from work. Whereas Ruben and his fellow conscientious workers, united in a sort of modest ersatz family, contin ued to enact a responsible transience that plays out along prescribed routes in the service of sanctioned economic activity, Armando illegitimately exploited the radical, invisible mobility afforded him by the railroad. As mobilitys range expands and vel ocity accelerates, the tension regarding its appropriate use and potential abuse grows proportionately. Ever increasing opportunities for travel in the United States over the course of the nineteenth century held great promise for the American populace. Because it theoretically allowed laborers to negotiate the conditions of their employment they had the liberty, after all, to leave any job that provided insufficient compensationand perhaps then with their savings


49 relocate in order to initiate a small capi talist venture that would provide a product or service to a community that lacked it, freedom of movement came to occupy a central position in the narrative of the American Dream. Thus, people received active encouragement from the press, the government, and business interests to take advantage of this new freedom of movement, most succinctly encapsulated in the form of the dictum to Go West, young man (typically attributed to newspaper editor Horace Greeley). This was generally considered excellent advic e so long as it was followed by the right person: a single white man looking to join the effort to tame the Western wilderness, or a family seeking to homestead on the Plains. For other strata of society, however, this mobility, like other expressions of f reedom, was actively (and, quite often, legally) discouraged: Black Codes and then Jim Crow laws kept African Americans literally and figuratively in their place in the South, quotas limited immigration from anywhere other than Western Europe, and vagrancy laws targeted the homeless and transient. The technology of the railroad played an absolutely central role in enabling this new found mobility. Emerging in the 1820s, tripling in scope during the 1850s to reach 30,000 track miles by end of the decade, con necting the Atlantic and Pacific with the completion of the first transcontinental line in 1869, adding thousands of miles of tracks through the 1870s, and coalescing as a truly national system by the end of the century, the railroad, the ultimate symbol o f the triumph of industrial and monopoly capitalism in the United States, was one of the most important factors in shaping the social, cultural, environmental, legal, economic, and geographic character of the country during this era, not only allowing for territorial and expansion market integration at an exponential rate,


50 but also playing a crucial role in the dissolution and repair of the Union during the Civil War. Trains allowed for unprecedented movement of goods, money, and (most pertinently for this discussion) people as lines rapidly moved ahead of the frontier line and pulled millions of Americans into the western territory, often clearly preceding both extensive settlement and admission of new states to the Union (Stover 64, 65). Demographic data lends substance to this interpretation: in 1800, twothirds of all Americans lived within fifty miles of the Eastern seaboard, whereas by the end of the century, the Western frontier had been closed (Gordon 14). The railroad quickly proved to be far mor e efficient and reliable than had water routes and other traditional forms of travel in the U.S. Significantly, patterns of movement and settlement were no longer restricted by the dictates of nature. Whereas previous modes of transit suffered from the imp act of weather, geography, and topography, railroad technology adapted to varying conditions with relative ease. The railroad radically expanded what had previously been considered the boundaries of possible movement, as tracks could be put down virtually anywhere, so towns no longer needed to rely on rivers, lakes, or canals to remain accessible. Along with new communications technology such as the telegraph, it radically compressed time and space. Now, raw materials could be obtained from anywhere, finish ed goods could be shipped to anywhere, and people could travel and settle anywhere. The Federalist vision of national unity appeared to have been achieved, and the fulfillment of Manifest Destiny was eminently plausible. And yet, this new technology, which so rapidly altered every aspect of American society, frequently inspired an ambivalent reaction not acknowledged by the pronouncements of railroad boosters. For all the potentiality embedded in this new form


51 of transportation, it also served to disrupt an d often destroy traditional social relations and modes of living, engendering a discomfiting sense that something has been lost for what has been gained, and the exchange may not be worth it a sense that by midcentury induces Thoreau to exclaim in Walden t hat for all its so called internal improvement, the nation now lives too fast. He specifies the object of his critique, at first posing a series of ironic questions designed to highlight the cyclical logic behind the drive for perpetual economic expans ion: If we do not get out sleepers, and forge rails, and devote days and nights to the work, but go to tinkering upon our lives to improve them who will build the railroads? And if the railroads are not built, how shall we get to heaven in season? But if we stay home and mind our business, who will want the railroads? If answered honestly, Thoreau famously concludes, we have no choice but to acknowledge that We do not ride on the railroad; it rides on us. Did you ever think what those sleepers are that underlie the railroad? Each one is a man, an Irishman, or a Yankee man. The rails are laid on them, and they are covered with sand, and the cars run smoothly over them. They are sound sleepers, I assure you. And every few years a new lot is laid down and r un over; so that, if some have the pleasure of riding on a rail, others have the misfortune to be ridden upon. (60) While Thoreau (along with Hawthorne and Cooper) offered this assessment of the new technologys wider implications from a pastoral and romantic perspective, the loss of the pastoral experience initiated by ever increasing exposure to railroad travel rapidly facilitated the construction of a new, industrialized subjectivity. According to Wolfgang Schivelbusch, this exposure entailed a complex process of denaturalization, such that mechanization regularized the previously natural and erratic sources of power, which in turn literally and figuratively altered human consciousness (2, 3). Because of the accelerated velocity and strict regularizat ion of train travel in contrast to traditional


52 modes of transport, passengers find themselves alienated from the environment through which they pass, as landscape (which is contiguously relational) transmogrifies into geographic space (which is closed and systematized), affecting the travelers sensory perceptions sight, in particular producing a literally new way of seeing: panoramic perception, or the tendency to see the discrete indiscriminately (53, 60). Moreover, because the mode of transport by definition materially determines the travelers spacetime perception, any change in this technology disrupts the travelers understanding of time (36). Of course, an individuals valuation of these changes was contingent on ones economic and ideologic al position, so that representatives of industry and free enterprise saw transportations release from natures fetters as a gain, whereas others who benefited less directly saw the loss of a communicative relationship between man and nature (11). Not all skepticism centered around such arguably more esoteric concerns such as the loss through mechanization of a perception intimately bound up with movement through the natural world on its own terms. Necessarily, the technology of the train enabled a mor e concrete and entirely new constellation of fears that previously would have had no material basis: prior to the Industrial Revolution, nature provided the myriad sources of accident and catastrophe in the form of floods, storms, etc. which originated fro m outside of the mode of transport itself, whereas [a]fter the Industrial Revolution, destruction by technological accident came from the inside. The technological apparatuses destroyed themselves by means of their own power (Schivelbusch 131). As Paul V irilio explains, every innovation in transport technology multiplies the possibilities for new traumatic experiences, ensuring that no technical


53 object can be developed without in turn generating its specific accident: ship = ship wreck, train = train w reck, plane = plane crash, etc. The accident is thus the hidden face of technical and scientific progress (92). Indeed, the first railway accident in the United States in 1831 took the dramatic form of an explosion when a worker blocked an engines steam valve, causing pressure to build to the bursting point. The subsequent rapid increase in mileage initiated in the 1850s brought with it a commensurate increase in often spectacular accidents, a situation facilitated by the tendency of railroad directors to de prioritize safety and maintenance while emphasizing expansion above all other structural concerns, an attitude dispassionately summarized by Charles Francis Adams, Jr., a regulator with the Massachusetts Railroad Commission and later president of Union Pacific Railroad, who observed that A practically irresistible force crashing through the busy hive of modern civilization at a wild rate of speed, going hither and thither, across highways and by ways cannot be expected to work incessantly and yet never come in contact with the human frame (qtd. in Stover 168). He knew of what he spoke: in the state of Massachusetts alone, an average of eighty seven people were killed annually in rail accidents during the 1860s, with yearly averages reaching 143 for the 1870s and 208 for the 1880s (Stover 168). Sometimes dozens of passengers died in a single derailing, headon collision, bridge failure, or explosion, such as in 1876, when the trestle at Ashtabula, OH, collapsed and the resultant fire burned ninety two people to death (Burt 184). Such numbers were high, but not exceptional, and these sorts of accidents often motivated the composition of popular ballads and illustrated broadsheets that circulated widely and served both to instill and express the sort of general anxiety Harpers Weekly


54 captured in an 1858 column (under the subheading Nobodys Murders), which claims that every man who leaves a city by a train must cast a lingering look behind, in sober sadness, doubting whether the chances of safe arriv al are not entirely against him. Written in the wake of yet another disaster, this one on the Erie Railroad line (recounted in a formal journalistic mode in another section of the same issue, accompanied by two illustrations of the accident), the anonymously authored column frames the scope of the problem in epidemic terms, observing that Boilers are bursting all over the country railroad bridges breaking and rails snapping human life is sadly and foolishly squanderedbut nobody is to blame. Boilers burst themselves. Rails break themselves. Although adopting an ironic tone with the intention of emphasizing that neither the industry nor its individual representatives ever admit responsibility or suffer penalty for this loss of life, the column also draws f orth the sense that these machines have in fact achieved a kind of dangerous self reflexive agency (The Lounger). To accommodate the new technology in light of such readily available evidence required the passenger to engage in a repression of fear of its potential for harm (Schivelbusch 160). This sort of anxiety and repression might bloom into full fledged neurosis brought on by shock for those who actually survived an accident without severe physical trauma; the increased prevalence of such neuroses galvanized the rise in the second half of the Nineteenth Century of the medical investigation into the psychopathological impact of such mental trauma, which produced injuries as contemporary observers were forced to admit that differed in quality, not onl y frequency or severity, from more obvious physical injuries.2


55 So, if the radical new mobility offered freedom of movement on a previously unimaginable scale, it simultaneously destabilized subjectivity while posing a constant threat of injury or death. A cross the culture more broadly, it functioned to destabilize the familiar institutions of the family, the church, and the community, so that towns found they were no longer self sufficient, but instead thrust into a national economy in an interdependent relationship, willingly or not (Gordon 5). For the first time, the crowd became a significant social force across the country, and the technology of mobility ensured that these crowds were increasingly heterogeneous in character. The legal system lagged behi nd these material developments, inciting Thomas Cooley, head of the Interstate Commerce Commission, to warn that the police regulations of our trains are of the crudest sort, and but for that general common sense and native chivalry of the American man, o ur passenger trains moving rapidly from one criminal jurisdiction to another, would be safer places for malefactors than even the shady woods (qtd. in Gordon 262). Mobility expedites criminality. A generalized anxiety mounted, even for nonpassengers who found their surroundings and the structure and rhythm of their daily lives increasing affected by the railroad; there was no opting out. George Beard, in his 1883 book American Nervousness: Its Causes and Consequences coined the term neurasthenia to des cribe the previously unknown anxious disorder now experienced by individuals living in modern times and all the conditions of these modern times could all be traced back to the development of the railroad and the mobility it afforded (Beatty 5). This process of modernization advanced along multiple planes. While the passenger experienced the decrease in time required to travel an increased distance as


56 a mutation of what had hitherto been the limits of temporal and spatial subjectivity, the railroad wrought equally insidious and more extensive changes in the entire populaces relationship with chronology. In Keeping Time: A History of American Time, Michael OMalley traces the interwoven trajectories of the industrialization of travel and the industrializatio n of time, culminating on November 18, 1883, when, [w]ithout the benefit of federal law or public demand the railroad industry managed to rearrange the nations system of public timekeeping at a stroke, abruptly bringing dozens of widely varying local times into conformity with one of four meridian time zones, basically the same as those that exist today (100). Of course, time had already begun its process of rationalization during the antebellum period, with publicly displayed and privately owned clocks becoming less expensive and more common, a process facilitated by the emerging factory system of mass production, which itself benefited from the imposition of greater worker discipline afforded by this new clock time, in an interdependent, self perpetuating, and ever accelerating cyclical relationship. This unsettling transition entailed a general reconception of the definition of time, which previously had always been understood as a phenomenon essentially equivalent to the rhythms of the natural world the world as God made it whereas now it was progressively determined by the authority of the human made clock, a device that imposed a rigidity on the day, dividing it into neat, uniform segments. Now, rather than the sun, bosses and their clocks determined the hours of the working day. Yet, even as clocks played an ever greater role in the management of peoples time, those clocks were still set according to the solar conditions of particular localities. Although railroads had developed a workable (if exc eedingly complicated) system of timetables to accommodate these various local


57 times, when it became apparent that the world scientific communitys advocacy for a standardized global time might result in legislation on the matter to which the industry would have to adhere, the railroad corporations acted to preempt any such inconvenience and thus standardize time on their own terms. Although a vocal minority would continue to protest this seemingly arbitrary dictate of corporaterather than community interes ts well into the next century, business interests ensured that the establishment of Standard Time occurred with relative smoothness. As William F. Allen, the principal architect of the new scheme, remarked, railroad trains are the great educators and moni tors of the people in teaching and maintaining exact time (qtd. 115). In other words, the railroad itself became a technology of discipline. Another modern social conditionalong with the redefinition of space and time contributed to the ambivalence, if n ot outright antagonism, people had regarding this new networked transportation technology: the appearance on a scale previously unseen in America of the wandering tramp. The tramp phenomenon emerged after the Civil War, and there is some legitimacy to the claim that it was in fact directly produced by that conflict. Observers argued that the War had given many young men their first experiences outside the disciplined structures of home and work, thrusting them out on the road, where they traveled by train, camped outdoors, and pilfered supplies habits that they then carried into their careers as tramps (Kusmer 37). Once again, the railroad played a crucial role in the appearance of this phenomenon. Indeed, many felt that the train actually created the tramp. One commentator describes a slippery slope, whereby the railroad corrupts even those illegal riders genuinely in search of employment: out of works who beat their way on freight trains very easily degenerate into professional


58 vagabonds once they learn how easy it is to manage without working, so that, before long, they travel merely for travels sake. Worse, it presented a temptation for the romantic and adventuresome boy, who after only a ride or two would risk becoming a confirmed tramp (Flynt 310, 313). During the War, it had allowed for the mass deployment of soldiers and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people, and after the War it imported the tramp problem from urban centers into towns and rural areas. Tramps, in fact, misappropri ate this most potent symbol of industry for their own ends, which appear in many ways at odds with the goals of the industry that produced the technology. Response came quickly and harshly, soon coalescing in its construction of the figure of the Savage Tr amp. In 1875, a New York Times editorial announced that he was becoming too frequent, too troublesome, and even too dangerous to be ignored, so the process of elimination must be direct and specific, and should be begun speedily (The Tramp). Yale Law School Dean Francis Wayland, addressing the Conference of the Boards of Public Charities in 1877, offers a typical perspective when he describes the tramp as a lazy, shiftless, sauntering or swaggering, ill conditioned, irreclaimable, incorrigible, cowar dly, utterly depraved savage (qtd. in Kusmer 44). In general, the discourse took as a given that the tramps condition stemmed from an individual pathology, irrespective of prevailing socioeconomic conditions. These characterizations were well within the mainstream tendency to dehumanize completely the mass of homeless transients, so it comes as no surprise that the tramp was soon conflated in national imaginary with the recently freed AfricanAmerican and the displaced Indian in terms of the threat each o f these figures was perceived to pose. This


59 threat stemmed alternately from radical mobility, brute physicality, or lack of civilizing influence, but in any case the potential result was the same: members of all three groups carried the hint of potential s exual violence against pure white women, would remain idle if left to their own devices, carried themselves with an air of unearned arrogance, and had no scruples about engaging in criminal activity, if only they had the necessary intelligence to do so eff ectively (Kusmer 44). Headlines appearing in the New York Times from the 1870s to the 1890s served to confirm these fears: Stabbed by a Tramp; A Woman Beaten by a Tramp; Child Attacked by a Tramp; Burned by a Tramp; A Tramp Killed the Sheriff; A ssaulted by a Tramp; Shot by a Tramp; A Long Island Tramps Crime; Brutally Beaten by a Tramp. As this phenomenon appeared wholly unprecedented to most observers, it necessitated new terminology to capture its deviance. Historian Todd DePastino in Citizen Hobo, explains that the word tramp acquired its particular meaning in the American lexicon as a description of those who made up the legion of men traveling the nation with no visible means of support, breaking from the previous meaning of the word i.e., a long walk and supplanting terms like vagrant and vagabond in 1873, following the financial crash that rendered so many transient (5). According to DePastino, commentators saw the tramps homelessness and resultant immersion in a predominantly masculine social space in terms of a disassociation from the controlling feminine influence of the domestic sphere, which necessarily leads to a loss of sexual self government, so that the tramp became identified with the threat of rape ( Citizen 27). In this way, anxiety surrounding the tramp dovetails with the fear embedded in the stereotype Donald Bogle identifies as the brutal


60 black buck (notoriously codified in film by D.W. Griffiths Birth of a Nation), who is oversexed and savage, violent and frenzied as they lust for white flesh (14). Regarding the conflation of the tramp and the Indian, historian Richard Slotkin argues that after the crash of 1873, journalists and other observers often drew on the traditional American symbolism of class as an aspect of race, with the spectrum of class relations on a scale determined by the degree of likeness to the Indian at the lower end of the spectrum, and the AngloSaxon natural aristocrat at the other (301). In the 1870s and 1880s, books such as The Dangerous Classes of New York by Charles Loring Brace and Certain Dangerous Tendencies in American Life by Jonathan B. Harrison posted that, like the Indian, the tramp (as well as African Americans, immigrants, and the urban poor) was constitutionally dif ferent, weaker in character and therefore predisposed to degradation when insufficiently disciplined by labor, rendering them dependent in the moment and potentially violent in the future (308). Similarly, E.L. Godkin, editor of the Nation argues in an 1876 editorial that both Indians and tramps must be regarded as savages, musing on the policy option of extermination for the former (following calls for such in the wake of Custers Last Stand), as well as the degrading effects of philanthropy: But if the y are to be exterminated, why any longer pauperize them, and then arm them? What would be said if the city of New York, after lodging its thousand tramps in comfortable idleness during the winter, were to arm them on leaving the almshouse in the spring wit h a good revolver and knife to deliver them alive the animals they were to eat, and were to allow them to kill them themselves in mock chase with lances? But why should it be worse to do this thing to savage whites than to savage Indians? Fancy our tramps starting on the spring journey not only armed, but mounted, with saddlebags for their provisions and flowers in their buttonholes. (Qtd. in Slotkin 493)


61 It is worth noting that even after this sort of heightened rhetoric and accompanying vindictive calls for punishment and eradication of the tramp had been largely abandoned before the outbreak of World War I, ostensibly neutral observers still tended to replicate the pathologizing assumptions that served as the foundation for such commentary. Writing i n 1923, Robert E. Park, a founding figure of the Chicago School of sociology, speaks of the sort of man whose restless disposition made him a pioneer on the frontier tends to become a homeless man a hobo and a vagrant in the modern city, thus offering a confirmation of Turners Frontier Thesis by implying that a homesless persons condition may be located in his failure to keep up with changing American geography and social conditions (xxiii). While Park seeks to reverse the tone of distaste that permea tes statements by Wayland and his ilk by placing that transient figure in a tradition extending back to the national heroes who mapped and settled the West, he still insists that members of this category find themselves in their condition and mod e of livin g to the extent that they are subject to biological drives (even if Park simultaneously acknowledges that human nature is very largely a product of the environment) (xxv). Perhaps most offensively to the American imagination, regardless of the relati ve liberal or conservative nature of the individual Americans position on the solution to what everyone could agree was a problem, the tramp came to represent a rejection of the virtues of work, productivity, and self denial (Kusmer 47) the Protestant w ork ethic. If the Civil War had served to inculcate the habits of future tramps, many of the ideals behind the bloody saga also made their appearance all the more offensive; after all, the Union had nearly disintegrated, hundreds of thousands lives had bee n lost, and


62 billions of dollars of damage endured over the course of a conflict that confirmed the propagation of the Republican Partys ideology of free labor. According to the analysis of historian Eric Foner, the PreCivil War Party had been united by a commitment to a free labor ideology, grounded in the precepts that free labor was economically and socially superior to slave labor and that the distinctive quality of Northern society was the opportunity it offered wage earners to rise to property own ing independence (ix). In a discourse predicated on binary oppositions, free labors essence derived from its status as the opposite of slave labor, which in effect masked the fact that free labor itself referred to two distinct economic conditions the wage laborer seeking employment in the marketplace, and the property owning small producer enjoying a modicum of economic independence (x xi). Although the colonial ideal entailed a shift from the inherent dependency of wage labor in youth to eventual property ownership and independent production over the course of a lifetime, so that representative government necessarily remained contingent on such ownership, the expansion of wage labor from the immediate preRevolutionary period, the increasing integration of domestic and international markets as a result of improvements in transportation technology, and the rise of industrial manufacturing in the urban centers (especially in the northeastern region of the United States) all rendered that ideal less and less attainable. By 1860, immediately before the outbreak of the Civil War, the number of wage earners had surpassed that of the self employed, having already surpassed the number of slaves a decade prior (xv xvi). In response to these changing conditions changes in the law and its enforcement helped to institutionalize the wage relationship and legitimize it as an authentic expression of


63 freedom. During the first half of nineteenth century, American law adopted the definition of wage labor as the produc t of a voluntary agreement between autonomous individuals i.e., the legal doctrine of employment at will meaning that the concept of freedom now derived less from economic autonomy and more from contractual autonomy (xvi). (Or, American law now acknowledged circumstances were such that workers had nothing to sell to capitalist employers but their labor power, in exchange for wages.) Even as these material circumstances became subject to critique by those who made use of the metaphor of wage slavery, employers and owners insisted that wages produced by hard work in fact provided a pathway to proprietorship, rhetorically placing labor on a continuum with ownership, rather than in opposition to it thus elevating the status of labor from its previous degraded positioncreated an ideological link between the freedom of citizenship and waged work. This link manifested in concrete ways; as David Montgomery explains, Most of the states that had neither property nor poll tax qualification prohibited paupers from voting (21). In other words, work particularly with the expansion of white male suffrage in the Jacksonian eranow constituted the threshold for full access to the rights of citizenship. Abraham Lincoln, in an address delivered in 1859, speaks out ag ainst a version of the wage slavery conceit in this case, the mudsill theory that holds that whoever is once a hired laborer, is fatally fixed in that condition for life; and thence again, that his condition is as bad as, or worse than, that of a slave a nd upholds the vision of socioeconomic mobility that grants waged labor a kind of nobility due to its function as the first step toward the achievement of the Jeffersonian dream of independent production, albeit it in an altered form, according to which labor and capital operate in


64 unison, the first leading inevitably to the second, with cycle renewing again for each subsequent generation (249). The prudent, penniless beginner in the world labors for wages awhile, Lincoln explains, distilling the essence of free labor ideology, saves a surplus with which to buy tools or land for himself, then labors on his own account another while, and at length hires another new beginner to help him. This, say its advocates, is free labor the just, and generous, and prosperous system, which opens the way for all, gives hope to all, and energy, and progress, and improvement of condition to all (250251). Furthermore, this systemic justice cannot be in doubt: If any continue through life in the condition of the hired laborer, it is not the fault of the system, but because of either a dependent nature which prefers it, or improvidence, folly, or singular misfortune (251). While the free soil, free labor, free men slogan of the Republican Party as it emerged in the 1850s and achieved dominance with the conclusion of the Civil War incorporatedand fosteredabolitionist sentiments, yet it also spoke to the Northern, white, Protestant, probusiness position of the party. Even in opposing the institution of slavery as a threat to the ideology encapsulated in this slogan, party members still might variously oppose other perceived threats to business in America: Catholics, Mexicans, immigrants, indigenous people, and even white male landless labors. Yet, in many ways, the tramp re presents an even greater threat to this ideal/ideology, in being nativeborn, white, and male so they looked much like those who occupied the highest ranks of the social hierarchy and still failing to embrace free labor, potentially exposing the fundamental rift between employers and employees and so giving lie to the touted partnership between labor and capital (i.e., the producing classes) that the War was


65 supposed to have enabled (DePastino Citizen 19). This failure becomes even more complicated if it is interpreted not merely as passive neglect but rather as an active perversion of what it means to be free: tramps push beyond the demand for free labor and instead, by their very existence, demand to be free from labor. The tramp, in deliberately choosing idleness over work, was an affront to the memory of every life lost, every casualty suffered during the War. Of course, this view ignores the material reality of the Gilded Age and the cycles of unemployment caused by the economic recessions and depressions of the 1870s, 80s and 90s; Lincolns insistence on the flawlessness of the free labor system meant that those who failed to prosper could blame only themselves, and this notion had been thoroughly absorbed in laissez faire rhetoric. (The labor press was generally exceptional in noting that the issue might have something to do with prevailing economic conditions rather than personal character and initiative alone.) Tramps must be demonized because otherwise they might serve to remind others that downward economic mobility remains a real possibility, no matter how hard a person works; to locate fault in the systemic socioeconomic conditions rather than in the pathology of the individual would necessitate an admission that those conditions contain some flaw. In assuming such a defensive perspective, one has no choice but to conclude that the tramp was not only failing to contribute to the economy, but he was distinctly un American. Consequently, to his list of presumptive crimes was added that of political subversion. No wonder anti tramp laws, sometimes quite vicious in their effects, first appeared in 1876 and quickly spread from state to state (Kusmer 53). The tramp refused to adhere to any generally agreed upon balance between liberty and restraint. In Indispensible Outcasts a history of hobo labor, Frank Tobias


66 Higbie observes that [m]iddleand upper class observers believed that vagrants were a threat to the community because they undermined workers commitment to wage labor and along with i t normal sex, that is, monogamous heterosexuality (12). In essence, the rejection of work operates like a virus, infecting other parallel social institutions, such as the nuclear family, its attendant traditional sexual mores, and, ultimately, the very concept of the home itself all of which, again, offer their comfort and security only in exchange for reciprocal restrictions. In Civilization and Its Discontents Freud speaks directly to value and nature of this exchange (even if he relegates it to a foo tnote): No other technique for the conduct of life attaches the individual so firmly to reality as laying emphasis on work; for his work at least gives him a secure place in a portion of reality, in the human community. And yet, he acknowledges, as a path to happiness, work is not highly prized by men. They do not strive after it as they do after other possibilities of satisfaction. The great majority of people only work under the stress of necessity and this natural human aversion to work raises most di fficult social problems (49n5). Citizens who found themselves in increasing numbers beginning and ending their days according to the uniform clock time imposed across the country by railroad companies, the tramp remained unbounded by it for such temporal rigidity provides little apparent utility outside the realm of rationalized industrial work even while he makes use of the technology that played a crucial role in the enforcement of the disciplinary precision chronology for the rest of the countrys popul ace. Not only does the tramp appear to expect to the rights of citizenship while eschewing the responsibility of labor that competes the equation, but he manages to evade all related temporal and spatial restrictions. In his practice, he presents a mode of living that entails absolute mobility


67 in other words, absolute freedom. Any such interpretation of the figure entails a confrontation with ones own corresponding lack of freedom. How appropriate, then, that those who now labor under the authority of cloc k time would come to foster toward the tramp the nagging sense of Nietzschean ressentiment No wonder, by the end of the nineteenth century, all but four of the forty four states had adopted anti tramping acts that shifted the emphasis in the definition o f the crime from begging to wandering without work (Montgomery 87). The tramp was no longer punished for what he did, but criminalized for what he was: a transient nonworker. Societies have long understood, at least implicitly, that circumscribing mobi lity is crucial to the smooth functioning of social, political, and economic institutions. In his genealogy of the modern disciplinary society that arises partially in response to an increase in the floating population, Foucault demonstrates that one of the objects of discipline is to fix; it is an antinomadic technique (218). Through his embodiment of movement in its most extreme, unbounded form, the Savage Tramp functions as a metonymy for all the upheavals wrought by the railroads arrival. The tens ion between the tramps freedom and societys discipline reveals one of capitalisms central contradictions: in order to participate in the ideal relations prescribed by the doctrine of free labor, the individual must be rendered transient in so much as he or she is freed from subsistence living afforded by the land as well as traditional social relations, but absolutely must not interpret these new circumstances as the freedom to refuse waged labor through vagabondage. Put another way, the freedom the in dividual now possesses is the freedom to be disciplined by a contractual agreement with the employing class. Similarly, railroads offered a new kind of freedom, but like all


68 freedoms, it must be made available only to those who would use it appropriately, without taking the opportunities it offers to their logical ends. All of these arguments and attitudes surface in the rather stunning and ahistorical novel The Man Who Tramps: A Story of ToDay written by Lee O. Harris and published in 1878 in the wake o f the massive Pennsylvania Railroad strike of the previous year, an event which the story takes as its climax. The book functions as an urtext establishing an enduring taxonomy in its identification and articulation of the absolute dichotomy between two ontologically distinct categories of transients, which I identify as the Savage Tramp and the Americana Hobo (the latter of which is discussed in detail in the next chapter). The novels hero, the teenaged Harry Lawson, an orphan with a surname that summari zes all the reader need know about his incorruptibility and affinity for justice and the social order and who is destined to play out a drama worthy of any Horatio Alger protagonist, ends up on the road as a result of an elaborate convergence of various ci rcumstances and misunderstandings but, importantly, through no failure of character. Indeed, throughout the novel, Harris sharply distinguishes between a character like Harry and the mobility of the tramp (Photinos 1007). Once homeless, he encounters v arious tramps of various moral constitutions, but he consistently refuses their overtures to join them (I shall never be a tramp), insistently expressing his desire for a home, an education, and employment (88). The development of the plot hinges on furt her misunderstandings and coincidences a long lost rich uncle eventually enters the dramaas Harry becomes a prized object of interest for a Savage Tramp, an Americana Hobo, and a kindly doctor who recognizes the boys inherent goodness and even shepherds him toward education, career, heteronormativity, and domesticity. More


69 important for the present discussion than the details of its storyline is the novels rhetoric concerning the tramps essentially alien nature which, when combined with his mobility and collectivist behaviors, apparently establishes the potential to upend American society. Harris demonstrates no reluctance to abandon the narrative in order to offer intrusive chapter length authorial editorials regarding social, economic, and political re lations. In the novels second chapter, he presents his version of the genealogy of the tramp. Like other commentators, he traces the emergence of the figure to the Civil War, but claims that those who would become post war vagabonds joined the military al ready corrupted: many who enlisted were from a lower grade of society, from the slums of the cities and towns, and even from the jails and penitentiaries, who, tempted by the large bounties then offered and the chances of plunder, became soldiers in name, thought few of them were ever really soldiers in fact (17). The army, in turn, fostered their worst inborn tendencies, especially their attitudes toward work, so that they emerged from military service in their final, parasitic form. Harris explains that The reckless, free life of the army had given them a taste for wandering and a distaste for every species of labor, and following their natural instincts, directed by their acquired habits, they became professional tramps (18). Clearly, the issue stems from flaws of individual character, not the chaotic social and economic conditions following demobilization. As Christine Photonios observes, the tramps function in this and similar texts of the era is to convert economic uncertainty and social disorder into the more manageable form of individual villainy (995). Echoing the conversation on the subject as it played out in the national press, Harris goes on to assure the reader directly, using the second person, that any


70 sympathy for people less f ortunate is wasted on these meandering vagrants, who not only choose to be both jobless and homeless, but who also are adept at taking advantage of such indiscriminate charity, which is repeatedly coded throughout the novel as feminine and irrational, as is even the inclination to extend to tramps the benefits of judicial process (19). Although certain individuals who have suffered misfortune do improve as recipients of sympathy, Harris urges his readers to consider whether it is justice to suffering virtue to waste such sweetness on insensate clods, who, if they possess souls at all, have their immortality from the fiends? and invites them to approve after a mob drags a tramp from his jail cell and improvise[s] a gallows, by throwing a rope over the limb of a t ree, and, amid his howls and shrieks for mercy, hangs him up by the neck (163, 286). Once you dispense any charity, Your house is advertisedmarked upon the fence, the gate or in some other place, so that your home becomes a target of professional tra nsient beggars, and your wives and daughters [must] live in constant terror of assault by these unprincipled and desperate vagabonds (24, 269). The existence of such unworthy wretches alone would be sufficient cause for alarm, Harris asserts, but the pr oblem does not end there. The author sketches a rudimentary schema of the various subcategories of the Savage Tramp, distinguishing the easy going, indolent vagrant, beating his way through the world with no ambition but to live without labor who is merely a great nuisance from another grade, composed of criminals who eschew begging in favor of robbing and killing, while worst of all are the political tramps who teach their inflammable doctrines and threatened the very life of the nation. Despit e their differences, these divergent types are


71 combined in one great organization, with the last group striving to influence the former two, so that this fraternity of tramps will serve as front for dissemination of foreign, anti capitalist ideals (21) Explicitly influenced by the teachings of Voltaire, Jussieu, and Rousseau, political radicals of the failed Paris Commune of 1871 have made their way to American shores bent on fomenting a socialist uprising. Vicious agitators, who had tasted of the intoxication of anarchy and bloodshed, when driven from France found refuge here. With all the natural instincts of the American tramp, combined with the treachery of the serpent and the ferocity of the tiger, they carried with them a prestige and a power whic h soon made itself felt. Then the tramp ceased to be merely a nuisance; he became a terror. (1920) This tramp organization, regularly organized and officered along strict military lines, has a seditious agenda largely unknown to the public at large, or even all of its own members (112). Contrary to the notion that a tramp lives a free life, Harris makes it clear that within this fraternity individual dissent remains absolutely forbidden and personal autonomy nonexistent. At the top of the chain of command (at least in the district in which this story takes place, which consists primarily of Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania) stands Black Flynn, who is simultaneously lazy and ambitious, and whose physiognomy reveals his true nature: a man about forty year s old, a little above the medium height, with a very dark complexion, dark enough for a mulatto, but with long, straight black hair, and small, restless black eyes, sparkling beneath his projecting brows (25). (Not coincidentally, the lynched tramp discus sed above is described as being a black faced and ghastly apparition [286].) As if these racialized characteristics werent enough to earn him our contempt, the reader soon learns that he is in fact the worst class of vagrant: the political tramp, who spouts radical ideology and plots to stir up this strife between capital and labor (28). On his first meeting with Harry Lawson,


72 Black Flynn attempts to recruit the boy to this tramp conspiracy, while the boy, for his part, consistently endorses and upholds the values of domesticity, family, education, and honor. One of the most nefarious aspects of Flynns endeavors, however, is the fact that the tramps recitation of communist propaganda is not even genuine. (At the same time, labor organizers who advocat e for class conscious collective action appear to be little more than dishonest hypocrites who work harder in the efforts to instigate discontent than they do at their jobs; real laborers presumably have neither time for nor interest in politics.) Tramps, at heart, remain nothing more than thieves and murderers who, the fraternity notwithstanding, will not hesitate to betray one another. Harris forgives the honest laborer who might fall under the sway of political radicalism, acknowledging that such a cha racter is most likely sincere (if wrong headed) in his desire to bring about positive change, but the tramp only adopts such a posture for the chaos and as a way of avoiding honest work and, more execrably, of inverting the natural order, so that they wil l no longer be vagrants, but rulers in this land (43). How social chaos would benefit the tramp is not ever made entirely clear; Black Flynn repeatedly alludes to some master plan, some future new order of things, when tramps will become rulers in this land (43), but neither he nor Harris ever articulates any specific details. Still, in the most didactic passage in the novel, structured as a Socratic dialogue between the implied author and a supporter of communism, Harris directly addresses radicals both cynically manipulative and sincereand, most importantly, those readers who might hear radical doctrine with some sympathy for its veneer of egalitarianism thoroughly debunking both the premise and goals of socialism in a mere eight pages, which he prom ises is


73 laughed at and treated lightly by the majority of the intelligent people of our country, because only the rewards promised by a capitalist economy will motivate labor beyond that required for mere subsistence, so that only the hope of accumulati ng property drives the wheels of progress (53, 57). Moreover, the tramp who would endorse radical politics does so not because he is committed to the cause on an ideological level, but because the cause offers another scheme by which to avoid honest labor. Mere envy of the more fortunate motivates his beliefs and actions, when in fact neither any particular successful individual nor any structural condition deserves blame for those who have been so unfortunate as to be too late for the train of prog ress (51). To caution the reader, Harris uses the metaphor of the epidemic, facilitated by the new mobility, explaining that tramping spread like a disease (18). Appropriately, a kindly farmer warns Harry that to leave home is to put himself at risk, as transiencethe separation from domesticity in itself lowers ones immunity; boys leave comfortable homes and, nine times out of ten, they become worthless tramps (34). So, the farmer continues, Harry must inoculate himself against tramps, and Have nothing to do with them, or they will make you a vagabond like themselves, contaminating him with their habits and ideology; so insidious is the process that Many an unemployed man becomes a tramp before he is aware (35). According to the novels rhetoric tramping infects the individual, who cannot help but stay on the road, rejecting work and futurity. Harry temporarily suffers from the early stages of infection associated with mobility, with the exercise of traveling becoming a relief to him, reduci ng him to such a state that He had no plans for the future (153). This is how it happens: once mobile, a young man risks contact with established tramps, who have spread throughout the country,


74 uncontained and contagious, infecting the entire social/poli tical body. The metaphor then becomes a bit complicated: while tramping itself is a disease, tramps themselves also serve as carriers of political radicalism, which is likewise a pestilence which permeated society (21). Harris, in an effort to contain th e spread of infection, to quarantine the social/political body, explicitly calls for the formal disenfranchisement of the tramp of the entirety of the homeless and mobile populationessentially demanding the repeal of the citizenship of every member of thi s class.3 Part of the problem, Harris makes clear, lies in Americas permissive approach to the freedoms of speech and movement, along with the political ideals of plurality and representative democracy. He explains that In a society so mixed; a populatio n made up of all nationalities; of refugees from all the despotisms of the world; men who understood nothing and less about our government and our institutions; whose ideas of liberty and license were synonymous in such a society the specious doctrines of the commune soon took root, and began at once to bear fruit (22). As with the freedom of mobility, the freedom to entertain a multiplicity of views should be granted only to those who would exercise it within a narrowly defined set of parameters. Even Black Flynn explains that America, where the laws are weak and slow to act, offers him the opportunity to move about the country at will, gathering recruits all the while (44). As a result of this permissiveness, the tramp, Harris writes, has become a power in the land. His influence [is] felt in politics and in nearly all the social relations (20). The tramp, in other words, a member of one of the most disenfranchised segments of society, is fictionally afforded immense political power. Harris ascribes to tramps an agency they are, in reality, already largely prohibited from exercising. The problem is


75 that the tramp is placed on an equality, politically, with the best citizens of the country, despite his remove from the two interrelated pillars of civili zation: employment and domesticity (268). From this folly originates all threats to American society: It is the irresponsible floating populace, who have no home ties to bind them to society; the vicious, who seek to plunder and destroy; the outcasts of al l nations who drift upon our shores and fasten upon the industries of our country like barnacles to the bottom of a ship; in short, that great American institution The Man who Tramps, who, watching for every opportunity to profit by the contest between l abor and capital, commits deeds of violence in the name of workingmen only that he may plunder from the rich and poor alike. [A]ll must confess that it throws into our political economy an element of danger, when it places on as equality the real citizen, whose interests are indissolubly connected with the prosperity of the country, and those who have no part or concern in its welfare. (267268, emphasis added) With all the corruption of the Gilded Age, Harris makes the tramp the focus of what read like p aranoid fantasies. Tramps, comprising one of the more disenfranchised segments of society, are given immense political power rhetorically, in order to sway those who actually operate within the polity. Tramps are ascribed in fiction an agency they are prohibited from exercising in reality, and so in the climactic chapter of the novel, contrary to historical fact, they instigate the riots the erupted in Pittsburgh during the strikes of 1877. Harris demonstrates interwoven narratological and ideological imper atives to portray the tramp problem as foreign, necessarily originating externally to American polity and culture. As a closed system, in other words, America capitalism and American exceptionalism remains sound. The author was far from alone in his visions of an essentially good but perhaps easily swayed nativeborn working class coming under the destructive influence of foreignand particularly Frenchradicals. The spectacle of the Paris Commune had dominated national conversation only seven years


76 previously, when from March 18 to May 25, 1871 following a winter siege by the Prussian army, a humiliating unconditional surrender by France, and the election of a republican government imbued with monarchist sympathies socialist and anarchist radicals and workers took control of the city and established a municipal council, President Theirs having fled to Versailles. According to historian Philip M. Katz, just as expanding railroad and telegraph technology had seemingly eliminated space within the United States, it had also reduced the space between the U.S. and the rest of the world, meaning that Americans had access to an unprecedented flow of news about the [FrancoPrussian] war and the Commune, which was reported in periodicals with a total yearly circulat ion of more than 1.5 billion (61, 62). On a typical day, the New York Times might run six headlines under the general rubric The Civil War in France, while representations of the Commune would run the gamut of popular media, including short stories, n ovels, poetry, public lectures, plays, and cycloramas (67, 69). Because telegraphic reporting necessarily sacrificed analysis, news items tended to be fragmentary and even contradictory, obscuring (or aggressively dismissing) ideological nuances and generally framing the situation as a struggle between order, represented by the republican government, and disorder, embodied by the Commune. While by no means monolithic in character, coverage and editorial commentary skewed heavily toward condemnation of the C ommunards, speaking of them in terms we have already seen deployed toward tramps in America. While lionizing the peasantry of the countryside, in whom the hopes of France of the future must rest, an editorial from the June 1 edition of the Nation lambast s the Parisian proletariat as crazy and unclean charlatans, loafers, and apes 25,000 of whom had just been killed in the final days of


77 the civil war (The Assembly 379). Commentators often yoke the degenerate and savage nature of the Communards to their primitive politics and supposed refusal to work; for example, a dispatch on The Red Rising in Paris explains that their envy and dislike of the bourgeoisie become rapidly developed into a brutal communism, resting in the main on dislike of labor and a fondness for sensual indulgence (193). The Burlington Free Press goes further, insisting that [t]hey are simply idle vagabonds who foresee working for their living as soon as France settles down, and to avert that catastrophe are murdering the men who tried to protect France during the war, and plundering the Paris shops (qtd. in Dusenbury 12). This terminological coincidence in discussions of the domestic tramp and the foreign radical finds an analogue in commentary on the other side of the Atlantic In her book on Rimbaud and the Commune, Kristin Ross details the anxiety incited by the sharp increase in vagabondage in France during the nineteenth century. Much of this anxiety stems from vagabonds ambiguous status, as their way of life places t hem in a state that supposes the eventual violation of laws: vagabonds are always virtual, anticipatory (57). This anticipatory dread only becomes more acute following the insurgency of 1871, with the transient now embodying a political not only social an d economic threat. As illustration of this point of view, Ross quotes Thodore Homberg, who writes in 1880, Vagabonds are the most dangerous enemies of society they live among us as savage animals would; echoing Harriss claims about the tramps role d uring the railroad strikes, he concludes, for the vagabond, having nothing to lose in moments of social upheaval, desires such moments and helps out in the hopes of gaining something (58). The insistence that radicalized tramps in the U.S. must be, or


78 be under the direct influence of, Parisian socialists and anarchists demonstrates the predictive aspect of the process Katz describes as the Americanization of the Commune, by which what happened in France became a convenient reflection of what some people feared might happen in America (instead of what actually occurred in Paris ) (123). This displaced anxiety reached its apogee during the summer of 1877, when an unprecedented wave of spontaneous and only loosely affiliated strikes washed over the railr oad industry. Speculative private and public investment (the latter in the form of land grants and subsides from the federal government) in railway construction during the years immediately following the Civil War facilitated overexpansion, with track going down well in advance of demand. Such practices precipitated the collapse of Jay Cooke and Company, which in turn contributed to the financial panic of 1873 and ensuring depression of several years (Beatty 233). Dozens of railroad companies went bankrupt and those that remained began cutting laborers wages while demanding high productivity and longer hours in dangerous working conditions. Finally, in July of 1877, when the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad imposed a 10 percent pay reduction on its employees whi le still paying out dividends to its investors workers refused to allow freight and passenger trains to move through the yards in Martinsburg, West Virginia. From there, the strike spread to a dozen cities (and other industries) and eventually involved 100 ,000 workers. Elected officials, at the behest of railroad magnates, deployed local militias, but the troops proved unwilling to fire on strikers who came from the same communities. In many cases, President Hayes sent federal troops to quell the uprisings, while the Philadelphia militia arrived in Pittsburgh to confront strikers and their


79 sympathizers at the Pennsylvania Railroad. Met with resistance, the troops fired on the crowd, killing ten workers, although Harriss novel reverses the direction of the v iolence. In response, the crowd surrounded the troops, forcing their retreat into a roundhouse, and set fire to railroad cars, with the flames then spreading to the roundhouse, the Union Depot, a grain elevator, and several dozen other buildings; in the end, twenty workers and four soldiers were killed (Zinn 242243). Certainly, an invasion by foreign agents of chaos leading a vast subterranean organization of tramps despite the fact that tramps were noticeably absent from virtually all the sites of confl ict during July 1877 would be easier to accept than the prospect of nativeborn workers benefiting from the free labor system yet somehow remaining unsatisfied (DePastino, Citizen 24). Just as observers insisted that habits acquired during the War combine d with individual character flaws, and not the prevailing economic conditions, produced the tramp phenomenon, those commenting on the increasing labor unrest that culminated in the strikes of 1877 blamed refugees from the Commune and other foreignborn agi tators rather than the collapse of 1873 and its aftermath. Too much criticism of legitimate working people could suggest that flaws existed in the established economic relations through which they were employed, while testimony like that of the sheriff of Allegheny delivered to a Congressional investigative committee stressed that the strikers were not company employees, but the bad elements of society from all parts of the city, and from some parts of the county, in connection with thieves and blackguards from other parts of the country, thus confirming the danger posed by fraternities of those lying outside societies established boundaries ( Report 176 177). Not coincidentally, an organized antitramp movement


80 coalesced formally in July 1877 at a meeting at Bryn Mawr, where speakers expressed their anger not only against the tramps but also against those they saw as enabling the tramps to continue their parasitical way of life: generous liberals (Bellesiles 123). Even if the reader questions Harriss claims about the national origins and political positions of the transient population of the latenineteenthcentury United States in general which one finds oneself compelled to do when taking into account the available empirical data that suggests that French men and women immigrated at a yearly rate of about 6,000 during the 1870s, versus tens of thousands from Ireland and over onehundred thousand from Germany, and at best a few hundred migrs could really be called Communards and the causes and facts o f the violence in Pittsburgh in particular, one may still see the tramp in his Savage form as an essentially destabilizing and even seditious force (Katz 162). Even were the tramp never to attend a meeting of socialists or anarchists, let alone participate in labor riots, he poses a threat to society and the nation by virtue of his implicit violation of the social contract. If a persons status as a worker forms the basis of that persons status as a citizen, and citizenship entails the recognition that the state derives its power to govern through the collective consent of the people, the rejection of work may be read as a political act, as a rejection of the legitimacy of the state. In this sense, all tramps are indeed anarchists. Rather than consenting to governance by the state, the tramp opts out. More than that, the tramps behavior his voluntary and even hostile withdrawal from the labor force and thus citizenship, in effect choosing to reduce himself symbolically to the actual political status of women and the indigenous population functions as an implicit critique of a principle that justifies the validity of social contract theory. In other words,


81 his actions elicit the question, at what point did the people consent to grant the state its authority? In serving as an embodiment of this question, the tramp challenges the quasi anthropological narrative that at some point the people collectively decided in foresight of their own preservation that the protection provided by a commonwealth was preferable to the state of nature in which life was solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short (Hobbes 106, 76). Passed from Hobbes to Rousseau to Locke and apparently reaching full maturity and culminating in the ideas of Jefferson, Madison, et al, as codified in The Declaration and Constitution, this narrative serves as a critical philosophical underpinning to American political principles. Published in 1878, like The Man Who Tramps Frank Bellews thirty two page illustrated pamphlet The Tramp: His Tricks, Tallie s, and Tell Tales, with all His Signs, Countersigns, Grips, Pass words and Villainies Exposed (ostensibly written by an ex tramp and merely edited by Bellew) extends the audacious hyperbole on display in Harriss novel even further, even if it eventually reveals itself to have a more complex (or, at least, more confused) ideological agenda behind it. Divided into five chapters and narrated in the first person, it tells the story of Martin, a journeyman printer and former school teacher. At the outset of his tale, he explains that a series of economic downturns resulted in loss of employment, which initiated a cycle of loafing, drinking, and looking for work. Only occasionally could he secure a job, which he inevitably lost again, until he gave up the searc h entirely, leaving only more and more loafing, until finally [he had] become a Tramp (5). He begins the narration proper with his decision to venture into the countryside in a renewed search for employment. On the road, however, he must compete with the hordes of other tramps he encounters, and


82 manages only to find casual labor. After becoming despondent, Martin meets Loo West, a farmers daughter who helps him clean himself up (after which he notes, I felt more like a white man than I had done for mont hs), and who petitions her father for a job on Martins behalf (9). Unfortunately, although Martin proves a competent and industrious worker, the farmer exiles him after catching him wooing Loo, and so he returns to the road, this time falling in with a highly organized criminal gang of tramps. After learning their secrets and participating in their crimes for a period, he breaks from the gang and returns to the farm and, wearing stolen clothing in order to overcome the worlds prejudices, presents himself again to Loos father, this time convincing the old man of his worth. The subsequent courtship and marriage take place over the course of a few sentences, just before the storys conclusion, which finds Martin once more a respectable member of society, having reentered the fold of domesticity and legitimate labor (32). Chapter IV, the longest in the pamphlet, largely dispenses with the narrative mode thus far sustained, so that Martin as a character participating in the action gradually recedes to such a n extent that he comes to serve primarily as a conduit through which to offer an abundance of alarmist details about the organization and agenda of tramps in America. Like Harris, Bellew constructs a fantastical portrait of a nationwide, strictly hierarchi cal structure to which the transient homeless population belongs. After a brief scene in which Martin encounters Chivvy (the fellows nom de Tramp), an amiable Cockney he knew from his days living on the streets of New York City, the two encounter and un dergo initiation into The Red Ragged Rovers, one gang that comprises only a single faction of what Martin subsequently discovers is a


83 tremendous subterranean quasi Masonic organization of regional tramp gangs totaling altogether half a million members (13, 23). Bellew takes the reader deep into this unknown underworld of the tramp, describing scenarios that in many respects closely resemble those detailed by Harris, with one significant difference: aside from Chivvy the friendly Cockney, all of Bellews t ramps appear to be native born; French radicals receive no mention. Still, these tramps have a distinctly unfamiliar quality with their exotic, broadly pagan rituals of initiation and punishment for transgression. The verbal descriptions and illustrations paint a portrait of a distinctly unChristian world, filled with bizarre images and rites. In joining the group, Chivvy (and subsequently Martin, off the page) must submit to ceremony that involves the triple recitation of an oath, each time uttered while elaborately costumed Executioners their faces striped with black, red and white paint surround him poised alternately with clubs, knives, and nooses, to make it plain what fate awaits any who should betray the vow: I solemnly swear, by my bones, m y b lood and vitals, in the presence of these brothers now around me assembled, that I will never betray the brotherhood; that I will never tell anything that may occur in this or any other camp of the brotherhood; that I will never betray a brother; that I wi ll never lie to a brother; that I will never rob a brother, but that I will always aid, council and cheer a brother; that I will share with him when he is in need; I will comfort him when he is sick; I will aid him when he is in trouble, and will fight for him when he is in danger. If I fail in this my solemn oath, I hope the blood may dry in my veins, and my bones rot in my flesh; that I may tramp barefooted through New Jersey till I am a hundred years old; that every mans promise made to me may be broken; that everything I love may learn to hate me; that my food and drink may turn to muck in my mouth; that all children may curse me, and that I may die alone. I also swear that if any brother turns traitor, I will aid, to the utmost of my ability, in bringing him to punishment, and carry out, without shirking, all orders of the duly elected officers of the brotherhood, to that end, whether by fire or water, club, knife or halter. (16)


84 In taking this oath, the speaker necessarily supplants the tenets of th e nuclear family and capitalist enterprise: in joining the brotherhood, a tramp devotes himself to the organization before all else, making a commitment that sounds not unlike a wedding vow (I will comfort him when he is sick), while also binding himself to a protocommunist mode of living (I will always aid, council and cheer a brother). Unlike Harriss novel, The Tramp makes no specific reference to the 1877 railroad strikes and riots, but it does invoke the image of general labor unrest, explaining ( like The Man Who Tramps ) how tramps have planned to instigate and capitalize on the chaos created by such conflict, anticipating the moment when there would be a glorious scramble for the prizes (23). Much like Black Flynn and his cohorts the Rovers and their fellow tramp gangs do not support a socialist program, which at least venerates labor. By contrast, the Tramps object is, when any trouble takes place, to aid the revolutionary party, strikers or what not, and reap a large harvest of plunder with the expense of as little effort as possible (20). Although perhaps neither as nihilistic nor as inclined to betrayal as Harriss vagrants, these tramps still operate according to principles of deceit and opportunism. While waiting for the great upheaval, t his group supports itself via theft and beggary, moving about its assigned region with calculated efficiency to extract whatever resources might be available. Ominously, the leaders of this factor have maps of the area marking the location of every house for miles around, with annotations generated from the extensive reconnaissance conducted by members of the brotherhood. Each house is identified by a system of numbers and letters, which denote the individual characteristics of the inhabitants of each res idence. This code in turn informs elaborate instructions for successful begging: Ugly bull dog.


85 Family pious. Ask for reading matter; say your father was a minister. Dont ask, and you might get something (19). To facilitate the mendicant endeavors, the tramps don disguises, perhaps simulating a man recovering from the small pox or yellow fever or a disabled veteran to prey on the sympathies of strangers; they could counterfeit the most venomous looking boil and imitate scars and wounds of sham soldi ers (20). Bellew provides the reader with a verbal description and pictorial illustration of the various subcategories of tramps, each representing a different ruse intended to fool a gullible public into freely dispensing charity: The meek Tramp, with children, The bully Tramp, The ragged Tramp, The respectable Tramp, The Tramp who asks for work, The unwholesome Tramp, The lubberly Tramp, The abject Tramp, The jolly Tramp, Mrs. Tramp, And many others (20). When begging fails, the tramps readily resort to theft, having fashioned extendable hooks and other various implements useful in picking and stealing (20). Neither Bellew nor Harris offer explicit illustrations of tramps taking illegal rides on trains (although characters do buy tickets for passenger cars in The Man Who Tramps ), almost as if they simply cannot bear to grant these nonworkers access to the consummate technology of industry, yet they both create timelines that imply such rides must have been taken. In The Tramp at first without mentioni ng trains explicitly, the Perfessor assures Martin that the entirety of the brotherhoods membership can be summoned and concentrated at various points [throughout the country] in less than a week, which in 1878 would have been a superhuman feat, except via rail. He then


86 reveals explicitly the tactical value of this transportation technology, explaining that once workers call a general strike, the first step for the tramps will be to seize the railroads, as mobility will prove the decisive factor in the success of their campaign to spread disorder (23). The Perfessor sounds something like an American Fagin, commanding a band of Artful Dodgers with a far more extensive reach facilitated by railroad technology. Ultimately, despite The Tramp s rather preposterous insistence that a nationwide conspiracy of 500,000 seditious tramps to topple the United States government actually exists, Bellew appears to have a generally liberal agenda. The text allows ample space for the Perfessor, whose monologues provide most of the texts insight into the tramps social views, to expound at length about the conditions of economic injustice produced by laissez faire economic policies and the consequences the nation faces in letting those conditions fester unmitigated. Fantasizing about the imminent moment of great upheaval, he cynically remarks that the underclass should let those twaddlers who prate about things regulating themselves and about the holy capitalists, as though they were another race of being let them see whether it would not have been better to regulate things a little, rather than to left them to regulate themselves with lampposts and lead pills (23). The Perfessor here makes a point that the narrator later echoes, both of them in turn providing voi ce for the implied authors position on the governments role in the nations economic activity and the value of welfare. Like Harris, Bellew appears to think that tramps, in aggregate, could function as a revolutionary force. Unlike Harris, however, his analysis retreats from broad generalizations and rigorous prosecution. Instead, he proposes amelioration, anticipating in some ways the


87 programs and (arguably) the impact of the New Deal, as the result of failing to provide support for those who have most s everely endured the impact of the cycles of panics and depressions could well be bloody unrest on a mass scale. While the Perfessor eagerly anticipates a dismal future wrought by an unregulated economy in the absence of a social safety net, Martin offers an earnest plea to the reader in the narratives final chapter, decrying humanitys tendency to heap abuse on the most vulnerable members of society, those who lack power. Of course, the conventions of the narrative require that the narrator undergo a redem ption, so that he sees the error of his former tramping ways and embraces a life recognizable to the reader, and so he does indeed marry Miss Loo and take over the management of her ailing fathers farm, settling into the happily ever after of a clear, stable, honorable domestic scenario. Even this reassuring conventional ending a strikingly compressed conclusion, in that only a sentence or two from the end of the text does the narrator confirm that he has in fact become once more a respectable member of s ociety is preceded by a knotty analysis of the problems facing the country. To accomplish this goal, however, he is forced. In the end, Bellews condemnation of the tramp remains tempered and complicated in a way Harriss does not, betraying a tension bet ween an endorsement of the ideology of individualism and the work ethic and an acknowledgment that social conditions just might at times circumscribe an individuals options. According to this position, the tramp poses a threat to social and economic stabi lity and has the potential descend into anarchic savagery if neglected, but to some degree society bears a responsibility for his existence in the first place. Bellew allows the narrator to voice overt class based resentment in his description of the violent


88 fantasies he entertained during his time as a tramp, when he would take pleasure in imaging New York City burning, the rich rushing from their homes poor and helpless as myself (31). Even the narrator, who now seeks to expose the tramps evils for the good of society and apparently placing himself at great risk in doing so and who has earned the readers sympathy and trust, once entertained such antisocial thoughts. Ill treatment at the hands of the privileged does as much to produce such thoughts as any socialist pamphlet or anarchist soapbox speaker. Yet, in the end, capitalism and its supporting work ethic remain intact as unchallenged goods. The problem of the tramp has its roots not in the structure of the current mode of production, but in the lac k of stopgap charity. I had tried honestly and frequently to obtain work, and failed, Martin maintains. I had been treated with scorn because I was in need. He is now guided by his resolution to make a great effort to earn what I consumed in the future and his commitment to charity for those who were floundering about in the mire of beggary and tramping (31). In other words, the narrator offers his readers a chance to appreciate what he himself has come to know only through direct experience: if society does not enact modest reforms to address the problem of the tramp, the tramp is poised to stage a revolution that will topple that society. In terms of both form and rhetoric, narratives of the Savage Tramp whether overtly fictional or ostensibly fac tual that explicitly promise to reveal a mysterious and potentially dangerous underworld find a strikingly clear historical antecedent in a genre that emerged in early modern England in response to similar motivating anxieties: the rogue pamphlet. The parallel between the reaction to and depiction of socalled


89 masterless men in sixteenthcentury England and tramps in nineteenthcentury America reflects the analogous material conditions of the two historical moments, in that both were periods of social, econ omic, and demographic upheaval during which governmental policy generally supported efforts by a bourgeois class to modernize and formalize the economy and to stop the unrestricted use of landbased resources (enclosure in the former case, the closure of t he frontier in the latter). In both scenarios, aggregations of vagrants form a threat to the emergent economic orders, in reality and in terms of perception. Typically relying on sensational, exaggerated, or even wholly invented details, the respective lit eratures exploiting these anxieties emphasize the habits, schemes, and secret language of a complexly organized subterranean class with a subversively criminal agenda. Both the rogue pamphlet and the Savage tramp narrative reflected wider ongoing efforts t o define this new class legally and culturally, claiming that the phenomenon of an unfixed and undisciplined population has emerged for the first time and thus poses a threat to the very foundations of civilization if allowed to remain unaddressed and both at least implicitly propose a rigorous and unsentimental campaign of eradication. A.L. Beier, author of Masterless Men: The Vagrancy Problem in England, 15601640, locates the attempts during the Tudor and Early Stuart periods to define the vagabond as not only a social but also a legal category within the more general development of a sharp distinction between the deserving and undeserving poor (9). The latter consisted of the ablebodied: those who could work but did not, presumably by their own choice, rather than as a symptom of the dislocations wrought by land dispossession, urbanization, industrialization, irregular employment opportunities, a


90 rapidly increasing population, and the declining purchasing power of wages. Those designated as ablebodied and thus vagabonds were criminalized by virtue not of action, but by social position or status not by doing, but by being. Legislation specifically targeted not only the idle but those indigent and homeless persons in transit without express royal sanction, revealing the understanding of unemployment and mobility as interrelated ills. During a period of radical transition, this group found itself a part of neither the existing feudal order nor the emergent bourgeois and working classes, and in occupying suc h a liminal position it appeared manifestly as a threat to acceptable modes of family and economic life. Perceptions regarding not only the causes of vagabondage but its nature and scope often conflicted with the actual state of affairs; in reality, the m ajority of vagabonds had worked, or were still in employment, while a minority were suspected of underworld involvement of the sort described by the literature of roguery (86, 124). Still, official punitive measures were harsh, mandating corporeal punishment and loss of freedom typically some combination of whipping, burning through the gristle of the ear, and hard labor and, eventually, impressments and transportation. In any event, the response underscored the need for the enforcement of wage labor discipline, as the Act of 1576 demonstrates in its provision that the youth be remanded to a house of correction where they may be accustomed and brought up in labour and work, and then not like[ly] to grow to be idle rogues (qtd. 165). Appearing in six teenthcentury England and capitalizing on the anxieties that accompanied the appearance of vagabonds, rogue pamphlets which sold well and generated significant profit for their authors, who often freely plagiarized each other


91 gave expression to the general notion that these vagabonds and other underworld figures posed a viable threat to the social order. Typically in this literature, treatment of vagabondage elides into broader discussion of general roguery, such that the two become virtually synonymous: t o be a vagabond is to be a rogue, and vice versa. The earliest versions comprise little more than catalogues of stock characters and schemes, while later examples employ more explicitly literary devices, incorporating plot, so that the authors emerged as narrators who prefigured the authorial voice of the early English language novel (Kinney 55). First published in 1561, The Fraternity of Vagabonds by John Awdeley serves as an example of employing the strategy of catalogue and classification as a defense ag ainst rogues, offering only occasional accompanying narrative, instead providing primarily a simple descriptive listing of various unscrupulous types united in their determination to avoid all forms of legitimate labor by way of mendicancy cons or outright robbery. In a brief opening poem, the author declares his objective To shew that there be such indeed a brotherhood of Vagabonds, insisting that the descriptions that follow derive from an interrogation of one such vagabond, Who promised He would as strange a thing declare, / As ever [his interrogators] knew since they were men in exchange for amnesty and anonymity (91). These few lines demonstrate a rhetorical strategy common to much of the genre: the author insists he possesses access to secret, shocking knowledge obtained from primary sources (either interviews or firsthand experience), and that he is sharing this knowledge as a service to the public, so that it may protect itself. The first section consists of a delineation of the various types of vagabonds, along with brief descriptions: An Abraham Man, for example, feigneth himself mad in order to generate


92 alms, while a Whipjacks chiefest trade is to rob Booths in a Fair, although he will also deign to beg using a counterfeit license (91, 92). The second section repeats the process, this time for Cozeners and Shifters, whose relatively complex confidence games require greater elaboration, so that a lengthy, almost narrative, paragraph follows the name of each type. In each case, Awdeley highlights the deception involved, whether it be the vagabond who affects illness to engender sympathy or the cozener who appears as some handsome young man cleanly apparelled so that he may ingratiate himself to other gentlemen, thus revealing the anxiety produced by illegibility (94). In each case, the reader finds another disruption of traditionally prescribed social status or class, in aggregate confirming a generalized categorical slippage: Is this beggar ablebodied or not? Does this gentleman belong to his apparent social status? In failing to answer these questions accurately, one risks offering assistance to the undeserving and thus undermining the foundations of social and moral order. In A Caveat for Common Cursitors Commonly Called Vagabonds (1 566), Thomas Harman builds on the model found in Awdeleys pamphlet, greatly widening the scope and deepening the sophistication, making use of a rather remarkable protosociological approach, inserting himself into the text as an individuated authority in his assertions that he bases his writings on personally conducted interviews and assembled case studies, while also deliberately employing literary devices, most obviously alliteration (note the title) and repetition, as well as figurative language. Consequently, his lone published work had a wide impact on later authors, introducing (with Awdeley) the word rogue into print and inspiring decades of imitative pamphlets as well as direct plagiarism even Shakespeare incorporated some of its stock characters into King


93 Lear while the concerns he raised influenced public attitudes toward poverty generally and legislative action specifically (Woodbridge 4243). Like Awdeley, but with significantly higher ambitions, Harman makes it clear from the outset that he pursues a didactic goal of revealing and exposing the abominable, wicked, and detestable behavior of all these rowsey, ragged rabblement of rakehells, in turn producing a total social transformation (the benefits of which he enumerates in a lengthy paragr aph, all amounting to the establishment of absolute security for property owners), as the book will motivate the passage of appropriate wholesome laws, so that through the due execution thereof, all [rogues] be dispersed, vanished, and the memory of the m clean extinguished (109, 112). Yet, even in advance of such legislation the number of vagabonds will necessarily dwindle, as exposure in and of itself accomplishes the elimination of rogues a fact that rogues themselves recognizebecause a public knowledgeable of their various modes of deception will stifle one of the primary means by which they reproduce themselves: charity, ill gotten under the pretense of great misery, diseases, and other innumerable calamities which they feign, when in fact the typ ical vagabond doth choose him this idle life (109, 115). Harris, of course, would reproduce this formula largely unaltered more than three centuries later. In order to establish his authority on the subject and offer backhanded praise for Awdeleys smal l brief, later dismissing two of its categories as based in fiction rather than genuine research, a gesture which further lends credibility to his own account Harman carefully recounts his methodology, which anticipates the interview based approach of mod ern sociologists. His ability to explicate the hierarchical structure of this subculture, describe its various schemes, and provide an exhaustive glossary of its


94 secret canting language rests on his examination of a number of rogues, whose trust he nurtured with fair flattering words, money, and good cheer and by whom [he has] gathered and understand their deep dissimulation and detestable dealing, being while, of course, he has violated that trust by publishing the book (111, 110). For much of the remainder of the text, Harman shifts between specific personal testimony and general descriptions, resurfacing as a self conscious voice periodically, incorporating his intelligence gathering into the narrative itself, even inserted himself at times into the action as a vigilante character who outwits and facilitates the punishment of the occasional Whipjack or Dummerer. Harmans primary concern, however, is (as it was for Awdeley) to provide a detailed typology of the various iterations of the vagabond, with each description doubling as a narrative anecdote. Some of these figures will resurface with few changes in Bellews taxonomy; the Angler, for instance, steals linens hanging out to dry by means of a staff of five or six feet long and affixed with an iron hook (120). As do some of Bellews tramps, many of Harmans beggars will tell a story of personal tragedy, such as shipwreck, fire or abandonment, to gain the sympathy and charity of the audience, while others present themselves as afflicted in some way, like the Counterfeit Crank, who feigns epilepsy, going so far as to use soap to simulate foaming at the mouth. With the eradication of the rogue (necessarily achieved if Harmans readership takes his book seriously and follow his prescriptions) the moral dilemma accompanying charity will disappear as well; no longer will the giver of alms be haunted by possible implication in the perpetuation of roguery through the distribution of aid to the undeserving, and then greater relief may be shewed t o the poverty of each parish


95 (110). The book concludes with a long list of names of supposedly actual upright men, rogues, and palliards; a glossary of canting language; and a sample canting dialogue. In short, the total of its content provides everythi ng the reader needs to know to understand the vagabondthe interpretation has already been performed. Although scholars once regularly treated Harmans text as a reliable source of historical informationgoing so far to conceive of him as an early but mos t successful sociologist more often they now regard it as at least exaggerated, if not a crucial and ideological intervention in society (Kinney 105, Beier 123, Woodbridge 41). The idea of the text as an ideological intervention serves the current discussion. With A Caveat whatever its empirical merits the protonovelistic form provides for the authoritative assertion of a protosociological typology and evaluation, the genre and the mode of knowing combining to operate in service of a nascent bourg eois subject position. In this way, the rogue literature such as that produced by Harman performs a disciplinary function, providing a critical template for the tramp narratives produced by Harris, Bellew, and others in the final decades of the nineteenth century. Harmans text enacts what Foucault identifies as the simple instruments that underlie the success of disciplinary power that facilitates social and economic order: hierarchical observation, normalizing judgment and the examination (170). T he rogues tricks only work as long as they remained unobservable, if the vagabond is able to remain invisible as a vagabond; in Foucaults formulation, Visibility is a trap (200). To the similar ends as Awdeley and Harman, Harris and Bellew make use of the combined self conscious strategies of exposure and classification which the producers of rogue literature before them had developed and refined, rendering the tramp visible and thus subject to


96 discipline in the same way as his antecedent, the vagabond. Early tramp texts, in other words, play a crucial role in the extension of the project of disciplinary partitioning that the rogue pamphlets initiated (199). The ideological assumptions that spurred that first disciplinary partition between the deserving and undeserving poor in early modern England, which informed and was perpetuated by the literature of roguery, circulated in America well before Harris made use of them. Delivered in Boston in 1752, Charles Chaunceys sermon The Idle Poor Secluded from the Bread of Charity by the Christian Law advocates for this distinction, taking as its text a verse from the third chapter of Pauls Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, which implores This we commanded you, that is any would not work, neither should he eat (5). (Verses six through fifteen serve as a general admonishment to shun those who would be idle and disruptive.) Chauncey cautions that the while the Christian doctrine of love may seem to suggest that believers should practice charity, the Disciple s soon found that, in giving alms without judgment to the poor and needy, it came to pass that among those who took upon them the Name of Christians, there were some who indulged in Idleness either not working at all, or not with a becoming Diligence, as the promise of charity betray[ed] the recipients into an indolent inactive way of life (5). (This dictate, Chauncey assures his audience, only applies to the idle poor, not the idle rich.) Attitudes that inform the partitioning of the Gilded Age tr amp, then, fit into a disciplinary project extending to the preRevolutionary era. The elaboration of partitions may also be seen as part of the broader nineteenthcentury enterprise of creating a hierarchy of physiological types through the application of


97 phrenology and other pseudosciences, as in the widespread embrace of Herbert Spencers misappropriation and misapplication of Darwins theories. Reformers critical of laissez faire capitalism similarly labored to sort out the truly deserving unemployed and destitute from the inherently flawed tramp. Edmund Kelly, an international lawyer and intellectual who sought to link his burgeoning socialism to his lifelong investment in evolutionary theory in writings published during the 1890s and 1900s, argued that an incapable class (i.e., tramps) comprised a hereditary social type who posed a degenerative threat to the species (Pittenger 93). This view informed his proposal for The Elimination of the Tramp, published in 1907 as part of G.P. Putnams Sons Ques tions of the Day series, which calls for a system of forced labor and free labor colonies such that the State will become the sole source of material support for the destitute, eliminating piecemeal charity that only perpetuates the problem the former for those in need of discipline and the latter for blameless victim[s] of industrial conditions, modeled on those found in Switzerland (xv). Thus, the first task before us is that of classification, a task not easily accomplished, because all vagrants l ook alike despite variances in character and motive, yet necessary (9). Society cannot effectively address the problem so long as all transients are indiscriminately confounded under the one word tramp, as members of different subcategories respond to different disciplinary techniques, thus it is crucial that magistrates have some basis for distinguishing between those who diligently seek employment, innocently stealing a ride on a freight car from those tramps deliberately praying on the community, infesting our roads, damaging our property, assaulting our women, corrupting our youth, and breeding disease, moral and physical, through every city and hamlet in the land


98 (5). A representative of the former category may be only a victim and a victim out of whom there is practically always some and generally much useful work to be got, while the tramp habit imbued in those belonging to the latter category must be exercised before they can be safely returned to the competitive mill (14, 56). The logic informing any categorical structure, then, must derive from the subjects relative productive valuehis or her willingness to engage in industrial work, as any normal, perfectly healthy person would (89). While attributing unemployment to industrial c auses, Kelly describes how the railroad, along with indiscriminate charity, facilitates the reproduction of tramps, especially pernicious in the case of young boys, who are seduced into tramping by the ease with which they can get free rides on trains and food and lodging: once person has traveled to a new town overnight at no cost, then obtained a free meal (whether by begging or stealing) the next morning, he has developed the embryo of the tramp (51, 52). Kelly devotes an appendix to his book to c lassification, beginning with a quote supplied to him by Dr. Ben Reitm an (which he reproduces in full not only because it comes from a man who is himself a tramp but because of a certain picturesqueness which characterizes it as the work of a tramp): The words tramp, hobo, bum, vagrant, etc., are terms which are generally used synonymously, but there are unquestionably three distinct types of itinerant vagrant tramping about the country. These I shall call tramp, hobo, bum. They are three s pecies of the genus vagrant (103). Reitman goes on to delineate among the species, explaining that the hobo works and wanders, the tramp dreams and wanders, and the bum drinks and wanders (104). This pithy observation is consistent with Reitmans cultivated public persona as a


99 raconteur, former hobo, anarchist, lover and tour manager to Emma Goldman, and physician to prostitutes and the homeless. His seemingly flippant codification in fact speaks to the battle over the ontological status of the trans ient rail rider in the discourses of American popular culture, politics, and law. Entering into that battle, Kelly offers several additional foundations for and examples of classification systems more elaborate than Reitmans almost whimsical delineations, beginning with that of The Departmental Report on Vagrancy which has four categories: (1) legitimate worker, in search of employment; (2) unemployed, willing to engage only in casual labor; (3) ablebodied, completely unwilling to work; (4) non ablebodi ed or unemployable (105). Kelly, however, finds even this scheme insufficient, so he supplies one of his own, which classifies the subject according to three different characteristics: physical strength, blamelessness, and cause of unemployment. Human geog rapher Tim Cresswell, in The Tramp in America, makes the observation that the formalization of sociology as an academic discipline occurred during roughly the same period as the formalization of the tramp as an indefinable social category; just as the category of tramp functioned to bring that figure into being, the tramp as a subject of observation was central to the delineation of new forms of knowledge (11). Josiah Flynts Tramping with Tramps (1899) and other writings, although originally published in popular venues, found an audience in academic circles in the 1890s and 1900s (Kelly cites him as an expert), although he was hardly a disinterested observer; he makes it clear that the study of his object is the human parasite who had given up all intentions of working (ix, 302). Like Harman, Flynt establishes his authority by emphasizing his (no doubt real and extensive) firsthand

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100 immersion into tramp life, which allows to him provide extensive descriptions of tramps particular habits and customs, as well as a lengthy glossary of the dialects of their own choosing and making that allows them to indentify outsiders and maintain their secrecy, even if studies like Flynts ensure that the secrets of Hoboland are becoming common property, and the hob o is being deprived of a picturesque isolation which formerly few disturbed (381, 391). For both Harman and Flynt, this deprivation motivates the project of cataloging and classifying. Regardless of the moralizing tone of his conclusions, Flynts research informed the work of the Chicago School of sociology particularly his methodology, an early form of participant observer ethnography that allowed him to be part and parcel of the tramp lifes various manifestations (Cresswell 60, Flynt 3). Nels And erson, himself a former hobo who would eventually pursue graduate studies in sociology as one of the early students of the Chicago School, would apply a strictly disciplinary methodology to sociological research into the figure and help solidify the category and its various subcategories. Others had published protosociological studies based on the participant observer model, such as Flynts, but Andersons The Hobo: The Sociology of the Homeless Man, initially published in 1923, was among the first to carry the explicit authority of academic expertise. For Anderson, the meaning of the tramps mobility fit into the Chicago Schools understanding of mobility, which designated a change of routine movement in response to new stimuli and situations that has pr ofound implications for progress or regression, opportunity or threat. Most relevant to the understanding (or construction) of the tramp, this view held that when the mobility of individuals becomes detached from and unorganized by the whole (city, soci ety) it becomes dangerous and pathological (Cresswell 67). The project begun with

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101 the rogue pamphlets and updated with the tramp novelists underwent further refinement, achieving the sheen of objectivity. In producing this study, Anderson makes manifest use of the tool of the examination, so building on the potential of Harmans work, achieving the constitution of a comparative system that made possible the measurement of overall phenomena, the description of groups, the characterization of collective fac ts, the calculation of the gaps between individuals, [and] their distribution in a given population (Foucault 190). With an eye toward establishing a rigorous categorical schema, in a chapter titled The Hobo and the Tramp, Anderson begins by replicati ng the Reitman quote that Kelly had previously used, then proceeds to report the ways in which the tripartite division was subsequently revised, so that the delineations acknowledged not only the subjects differing relationships to labor, but also to mobi lity (rather than alcohol), with the underlying moral attitudes variously buried or made overt. For example, Irwin St. John Tucker a journalist, editor, socialist agitator, Episcopalian minister, and president of the Hobo College of Chicago, whom Anderson also quotes in the process of establishing his hierarchical categories and definitions proposes that A hobo is a migratory worker. A tramp is a migratory nonworker. A bum is a stationary nonworker (87). Like Kelly, Anderson himself arrives at a more co mplex system, separating his homeless man into five categories: the seasonal laborer; the transient occasional laborer; the tramp who dreams and wanders, working only when it is personally convenient; the bum who seldom wanders or works; and the home guard who lives on skid row and does not leave town (89). Elaborating on the figure most related to the Savage Tramp as it has been constructed over the past five decades, in the embrace of

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102 mobility and the rejection of work, he explains that the tramp is an able bodied individual who has the romantic passion to see the country and to gain new experiences without work. He is a specialist at getting by. Yet, he is typically neither a drunkard nor a bum, but an easy going individual who lives from hand to m outh for the mere joy of living (94). As an academic, Anderson avoids much of the language of overt moral condemnation found in the pronouncements of previous observers, even as he replicates use of the subjects relationship to work as a basis of taxonom y, ranking his types in descending order of productivity. The categorical divisions between the hobo, tramp, and bum have always mattered less to the general public than to either the academic or the transient (as demonstrated by the current popular applic ation of the label hobo to any homeless person, regardless of the designees range of mobility, when perhaps the term bum from Reitmans or Tuckers schemas would be more applicable), yet the ideology behind the original distinctions remains the ideology that ties adherence to the work ethic to citizenship. The moral differentiation built into a taxonomy predicated on the division of people according to their relationship to labor and mobility, illustrated in the texts of Harris and Bellew, still pervades. And so, even if it is not invoked explicitly, the category of the Savage Tramp retains its rhetorical utility, as do those of the Americana Hobo and the Critical Tramp, which I will develop in the two following chapters. These categories do frequently collapse in the realm of representation, much as they are unsustainable and artificial in many respects in actually lived experience, but the act of establishing a social category even if it does not correspond to significant group

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103 practice in the real wor ld constructs the frame through which any individual with even only some various characteristics will be seen. Cultural representation of the Savage Tramp largely recedes as hostility toward the transient declines, so that [b]y 1915 sympathetic statements about the homeless were the norm, not the exception (Kusmer 6263). Still, even if the railroad tramp has largely disappeared from public view (while the nontraveling homeless population remains generally visible in metropolitan areas) and exists mostly as a nostalgic object in the cultural imaginary in the twenty first century, he remains easily evoked and utilized. To put it another way, we see now in contemporary political rhetoric a replication of the various ideological positions that have always been embedded in the discourses surrounding tramps. Unrestricted mobility continues to provide the basis of the threat, as it necessarily entails a lack of the self regulation enforced by the interdependent disciplinary mechanisms of work and domesticity nec essary to social order and economic growth. So, while perhaps atrophied from infrequent explicit usage, the typological category of the Savage Tramp did not fade into total obsolesce. In fact, the late twentieth century witnessed a resurgence of the anxiet y associated with this type despite its general repression in cultural texts by the time of the Great Depression, increasingly replaced by the Americana Hobowhich accompanied a wider resurgence of interest in trainhopping transients and their lifestyles in the popular media, prompted by the growing trend of weekend thrill riding among employed members of the middle class, as well as the unsanctioned use of railroad technology by members of the overlapping environmentalist, anarchist, and punk communities. In the mid 1990s, articles started appearing in appearing in newspapers and magazines like

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104 the San Francisco Chronicle, the Austin AmericanStatesman, and even the London Sunday Times and the inaugural issue of Maxim. They tend to follow a similar pattern, starting in medias res with the journalist describing a moment that captures either the excitement, the physical discomfort, or the subterranean nature of train hopping (or, most often, some combination thereof), then backing up to explain that, yes, alt hough the reader probably thought it had disappeared by the end of the 1930s, trainhopping is still very much alive (Howe). From there, the writer goes on to describe such a journey, undertaken with the guidance of a veteran hobo who has a quaint moniker, while dutifully reminding the reader that the activity is both dangerous and illegal. As interest in this subculture grew, television programs began featuring segments that introduced the viewer to this modern day trampor, at least, a particular versi on of it. In 2000, MTV aired The Travelers a documentary about a small group of deliberately apolitical trainhopping punks (I dont give a shit about anything but riding freight trains, drinking, and my friends) who consciously situate themselves withi n the lineage of real Americana, while living on dumpstered food and the handouts they receive while begging on the streets. They spend that spare change on alcohol, of course, and explicitly reject the ideal of domesticity during the interview portions of the film: I dont have a house. I have a backpack. I have a sleeping bag. I have freedom. As for motivation, one explains, I got a bug that says I got to go, reproducing the language of individual pathology that commentators have used at least since the 1870s. No ones stuck on the streets at all. Its by choice that we do this, another rider explains. While previously in the film he has self identified as a [bleep]ing hobo, Nels Anderson or even Ben Reitman would categorize him as a tramp. Indeed, according to

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105 the discourse surrounding the homeless in general and rail riders in particular, he performs a version of the Savage Tramp, validating the suspicions of those viewers who would hold that impoverished transience has always been a matter of i ndividual responsibility rather than social conditions: he has chosen this lifestyle, freely and independently, he does refuse to work, and he expects society to subsidize of this choice. The violence and chaos implied in portraits of this kind would recei ve dramatic confirmation when sensational headlines reported on first one, then a few years later another, trainhopping serial murderer who often selected victims at random and subsequently disappeared from crime scenes without a trace, mystifying authori ties. The Boxcar Killer, Robert Sidetrack Silveria, a tramp and purported member of the Freight Train Riders of America (FTRA) who eventually confessed (and later recanted) to murdering twenty eight people over a period lasting more than a decade, achi eved national notoriety as the first known rail riding serial killer in more than a hundred years of railroad history after his arrest in 1996 (Palmini 11). Murder on the Rails a true crime paperback about Silveria coauthored by William Palmini, Jr., a detective who played a significant role in breaking the case, repackages for a contemporary audience the rhetoric and themes developed in texts like Bellews and Harriss over 125 years before: it promises to expose for the reader a mysterious, violent, q uasi occult and surprisingly organized tramp underworld of which the vast majority of the public, as well as most law enforcement agencies, remains completely ignorant. Members of this underworld have their own signs, codes, and languageas certainly as th ey did in the 1870s incomprehensible to the average citizen, so this book offers not mere

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106 entertainment, but a crucial didactic guide to interpretation of a subaltern subculture that threatens the comfort and even the life of the average citizen. Palmini develops his authorial presence through a construction of an investigative persona that invokes various tropes from detective fiction and film, rendering him a trustworthy intermediary between the reader and the Savage Tramp: although a representative of law and order, he finds himself standing somewhat aloof from his colleagues, not merely because of his charming eccentricities (such as his sideline as an Elvis impersonator), but also his inclination to buck authority (anything I wore at the station never seemed to be conservative enough for the chief and the guys on my staff [31]), his willingness to dispense with Standard Operating Procedure and employ unorthodox methods when necessary (Following the usual police procedures didnt shed any light on the case [32]), his muted hostility toward impersonal corporate interests (I suppose a dead body here and a dead body there is the price the rail companies pay to exist [37]), and his considered sympathy for the homeless population in general and the murder ous object of his pursuit in particular. These factors combine to give the narrator the unique ability to reveal the real story about Silveria and his cohorts, a story different from the one presented to the world by the cops, the courts and the media (65). The threat of the Savage Tramp, as in the late Nineteenth Century, remains crucially linked to his radical mobility, which is in turn facilitated by the industrial technology of the railroad. Palmini claims that railroad companies even adopt a polic y of tacit permission to allow illegal riding on their trains, suggesting an actual collusion (129). Yet, the issue goes deeper: freight trains bring with them not just individual transients who may have violent tendencies to our communities, but an amorphous

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107 existential threat to everyday life. Following his immersion in a world previously unknown to him through his involvement in the Silveria case, Palmini comes to realize retroactively the awesome, almost supernatural power of the railroad as a technology of systemic circulation, admitting that bulldozing the odd encampment of homeless transients adjacent to rail property couldnt bury the evil and the madness moving in all directions along the tracks, unbounded by those institutions that civilizations has developed to ensure security in exchange for the sacrifice of absolute liberty, because even in the post 9/11 era, seasoned rail riders still have the know how to circumvent the authorities and move around freely (38, 65). In providing a quasi myt hical origin story for this exemplary Savage Tramp, Palmini begins at the beginning, further establishing the link between the technology and the killer as he recounts the history of Redwood City, California, Silverias hometown, explaining that the munici pality got its early push in 1863 when the railroad line pierced through its jurisdiction, prompting an explosion in land values and population. Ninety six years later, Silveria popped up, making his own headlines in railroad history (66). According to t his narrative, the railroad becomes inextricably linked on a syntactical level with, and even causally related to, the murderers genesis, while the diction reserves the violent imagery of violation and disruption for the introduction of the former, adopti ng an almost whimsical tone for the emergence of latter, going so far as to eschew the language of birth in favor of something like spontaneous generation. Trains do not merely facilitate the movement of serial killers, they actually produce the killers in the first place. Through the particular form of movement enabled by use of the railroad, Silveria imposes his own spatial subjectivity on those pursuing him, forcing them to

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108 accommodate an experiential perspective inextricably linked to this mode of rapid wide ranging, yet invisible circulation. He appears to have nothing one could reasonably consider resources, lacking any income and carrying all his possessions on his back, yet he manages to evade all the disciplinary mechanisms available to the dominan t order. By definition, living the majority of his life on trains and in jungles hidden from the public eye (lest he be evicted), his very existence thereby rendered one of perpetual illegal trespass, the railroad tramp occupies a dispersed, transitory, unseen space, so that his moral illegibility it is unthinkable that a person would reject the unquestionable goods of home and productive work derives from this habitual uniqueness. Attempting to unravel the details and connect various unsolved murders possi bly attributable to the recently apprehended Silveria, investigators confront this ontological condition in the form of a logistically baffling situation. Palmini writes, [W]hat stuck in my mind was the unique situation Barry and I were in. Here we were, more than 150 miles away from our department, talking to a detective from Salem, Oregon and one from Placer County about the same prisoner (52). Later, he muses, The speed with which Silveria traveled from place to place and the distances he covered in s hort periods of time continues to amaze me (193). Building the time line for the case required detectives to overcome their preconceptions about the limits of mobility, so that they might understand, for example, how the suspect might have traveled from w estern Texas to northern California and back in a matter of only three days. Not only did he pose a literally moving target, but Silverias use of multiple aliases in order to take advantage of social services in a various locations provided him with a shi fting or mobileidentity, further inhibiting legibility. When the Savage Tramps savageness expresses itself as murder,

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109 his incomprehensibility becomes that much more terrifying. In Sliverias case, his apparently random spatial patterns find a mirror in t he patterns of his crime, so that no one is safe: as Palmini reports it to his readers, Silveria would get high, feel the rage well up within him, then pick a fight with a victim. It could be anybody (60). The violence is unpredictable, meaning that one cannot take precautionary measures. And while Silveria often attacked other transients, full integration into the social order did not offer sufficient protection, as riders frequently travel with a clean change of clothing, enabling them to mingle and mi x with public, undetected, when they get off a train (57). The Freight Train Riders of America plays a central role in the narrative of Silverias killing spree. Formed in the early 1980s in a Montana bar by a group Vietnam veterans who never reintegrated into society, felt neglected by their country and government, and used freight trains to extend the scope of their transience, the organization is generally regarded as something akin to a rail riding Hells Angels and it can be seen as the modern manifest ation of the vast tramp organizations imagined by Harris and Bellew. According to the groups mythology, the initials originally stood for Fuck the Reagan Administration, derived from an offhand comment that nonetheless was indicative of a strong anti g overnment sentiment, and only later revised as the loose fraternity grew and adopted a more formal hierarchical structure (80). The popular press had a brief flirtation with the group in the mid1990s, turning tramps like New York Slim and Dogman Tony int o minor celebrities, when Americas Most Wanted aired a profile and the Los Angeles Times and other publications ran investigative feature stories, often (if not necessarily accurately) characterizing the members as white

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110 supremacists and neoNazis while e mphasizing the exotic details, such as their road names, geographically color coded bandanas, and coded graffiti as evidence of an elaborate underground and threatening symbology. (By July 1998, the myth of the FTRA had become so firmly entrenched that sci ence fiction writer Lucius Shepard both evoked and undercut it in the title of his profile of the group for Spin magazine: Attack of the Freight TrainRiding Crazed Vietnam Vet Psycho Killer Hobo Mafia or Not.) Like the tramps of the 1870s and vagabonds of the 1560s, these rail riders have developed their own distinct lexicographical usage: good guys Flin t stones silver mining FTW butchered up STP San Francisco circle SWP Uncle Pete and other words and phrases all have specific meanings largely divorced from the original (Palmini 83, 84). As with Silveria on an individual basis, illegibility becomes the problem when approaching the FTRA, because with a group that can communicate in a manner that remains opaque to the rest of society, there is no way to determine what they might be plotting; the groups strict code of silence further perpetuates this problem. They even insist on resisting observers categorical assessments; Silveria remarks, Just because I didnt have a bed or a toilet doesnt mean I was homeless, adding, Only in your world (280). Although the rail companies downplay their significance and treat them as they would any other trespasser, various law enforcement officers claim FTRA members number in the thousands, use the railroad to operate massive drug trafficking and food stamp fraud operations that span the country, and have murdered hundreds of people.4 Indeed, the scope of their criminal activity knows no boundaries; according to a detective who has been studying the gang sinc e the 1980s, Theyre a criminal element

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111 that can do just about anything (qtd. in Murphy). Yet, aside from Silveria, arrests remain rare, and successful prosecutions almost nonexistent, largely due to the same two factors that made Silveria such a formida ble object of pursuit: the groups occupation of a physical and social space entirely excluded (and exempt) from the organizing structures of mainstream society, and the radical and untraceable mobility afforded by their mode of travel. These people, they fall through the cracks. They dont live in houses like we do, they dont have cars, explains one exasperated detective who has been unable to make charges stick against a trainhopping suspect in a murder case. In their rejection of work, home, family, and accepted means of transportation, these people have become so thoroughly Other that they remain illegible to the usual interpretive disciplinary techniques: Our system is not designed for these kinds of people, so they can just ride the rails, they ca n commit murder and mayhem almost at will. The detective goes on to emphasize repeatedly the problem created by mobility, as it if were itself ontologically a species of deviance or criminality, explaining that Building a case with solid evidence is the problem because the crime scene is mobile. The minute I got through with the crime scene and released it to the railroad, they were out of there. The scene was mobile. The victim was mobile. The suspect was mobile (Murphy). As did Harris and Bellew, Palmi ni describes the rituals and customs, and general culture of the FTRA, which commence with the adoption of a trainhopping identity, a name bestowed on the new initiate by other members of the organization and representing ones position outside of the soc iety that provided his birth name. (Silverias moniker Sidetrack actually impedes the solution of the case in a very real

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112 way when for a period investigators remain under the mistaken impression that they are in pursuit of two different men and so fail t o share pertinent information amongst themselves.) Members wear bandanas around their necks, using different colors to signify various regional affinities. During the induction process, longstanding members throw the appropriate bandana onto the ground, ur inate on it, and then grind it into the dirt, after which the initiate must wear for a week, effectively symbolizing his commitment to the group and, as does his tramp name, his estrangement from society. According to Palmini, all of these customs reflect a commitment to communal brotherhood and mutual aid, recalling the collectivist ethos described by both Bellew and Harris, even if Harris revealed that the position was ultimately mere posturing (80). Most strikingly, Silveria is alleged to have ascended t hrough the ranks of the organization, ultimately recruited by the executioners in an enforcement group, who wear steel toed and carry axe handles as weapons (82). Of course, executioners is precisely the name given to the shadowy figures in Bellews text who administer the initiation oath and render the punishment for those who violate it. Like Bellew, Palmini finally adopts a relatively liberal position with regard to the tramps he describes, rather than replicating Harriss calls for harsh punitive measures against those individuals who fall through societys cracks. While he did not have direct experience as tramp, unlike Bellews narrator, his involvement in the Silveria case brought him into sufficient contact with the tramp world to alter his perspective. He now rejects the view that their lifestyle is their choice, even if he once might have agreed with the comment (288). He even expresses his sympathy for Silveria, whom he believes to be mentally ill, and attempts to understand the killers beliefs and motives.

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113 More than once he notes that Silveria himself, recognizing his inability to control his desire to kill, attempted to get help by entering a mental health clinic, only to be rebuffed; in response, his rage grew fiercer and he wanted to k ill even more (197). Tramps are made, not born, he argues: with every war and economic downturn there is a burgeoning of rail riders (304). But this willingness to deemphasize personal responsibility while pointing to the influence of socioeconomic fact ors does not, in the end, temper the threat posed by the Savage Tramp. Even if the individual tramp is not at fault, whatever the causes of his actions, he remains at large, unseen and uncontainable. Indeed, the threat of the Savage Tramp remained after Si lverias arrest, inspiring new levels of anxiety among the general populace: emerging in the national media and consciousness as a personified object of fear a mere three years later, Angel Maturino Resendiz traveled throughout the southern, southwestern, and midwestern regions of the United States by freight train, bludgeoning his victims to death, apparently for no other reason than they happened to live in (or be visiting) communities situated near rail lines and yards in Kentucky, Texas, Illinois, and Florida, during a killing spree that lasted from 1997 to 1999, with evidence eventually surfacing that he may have murdered his first victim as early as 1986 (Kimberly). Once it became clear that all these brutal crimes were the work of a single person, they triggered a nationwide manhunt for the latest incarnation of the Savage Trampa coordinated effort involving more than a dozen local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, including the FBI (he made the agencys Ten Most Wanted list on June 21, 1 999), the INS (subject to charges of general incompetence after it came to light that Border Patrol had released the

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114 Resendiz from custody despite his status a suspect in multiple homicides), as well as the Texas Rangers (the eventual heroes of the entire narrative) which culminated in serial killers arrest in 1999, followed by his tr ia l and eventual execution by lethal injection in Texas in 2006. The Mexican national (as he was invariably identified in the media) proved an even more sensational subject th an Silveria, and the press coverage once again easily yoked murder to tramping, generally referring to him as the Railroad Killer (with minor variations including the Railway Killer and the Railcar Killer, although Time initially offered up the less terrorinducing appellation Boxcar Bandito) as well as one of a plethora of aliases he had adopted since first entering the United States illegally from Mexico in 1976 (and, in fact, the media would not settle on his real name until after he was in cus tody). While he remained a fugitive, programs like Americas Most Wanted featured segments with the latest details of the case, while following his arrest, he would not only inspire highly fictionalized renderings (such as the episode of Criminal Minds dis cussed at the beginning of this chapter), but several truecrime television shows produced episodes focusing on Resndiz, including Crime Stories on the Discovery Channel; The FBI Files a docudrama also airing on the Discovery Channel; Death in the Count ry, an episode of Infamous Murders on The History Channel; and The Railroad Killer, an episode of CBS Newss long running 48 Hour Mystery: Live to Tell The last of these television documentaries, which in tone and presentation typified the approach of many visual media outlets offering representations of the narrative of these events, focuses on the story of Holly Dunn, the lone person to have survived an attack by Resendiz. The program opens with a series of frenetically edited

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115 shots of a freight trai n rolling through the foggy darkness, its eerie and mournful whistle blowing, and then cuts to the flashing red light of a railroad crossing accompanied by the sound of a clanging warning bell. Images of trains and railroad tracks alternate with tracking shots of modest homes located on treelined streets, glowing light spilling from their windows and illuminating only so much of the surrounding inky blackness, while ominous horror movie music plays on the soundtrack. The camera continues to creep down the block to reveal finally the uncomfortably close proximity of the homes to the rails: the harsh, cold, dirty, and industrial nature of the latter contrasts with and impinges on the warm, clean, and domestic qualities of the former. This juxtaposition expres ses visually one of the themes that appears again and again in the discourse that develops around Resendiz: railroad technology, so central to the story of Americas geographic and economic expansion that it forms the background noise of our communities, s o familiar as to be rendered almost invisibleso much so that we all take it for granted as we do the wires draped from pole to pole that bring electricity to our homes also brings with it a dark, irrational, illegible, deadly Other. Just as it did over a century before, the railroad continues to bring the chaos and violence of urban centers, embodied by the tramp, to small towns and rural communities in the heartland. These dramatizations are intercut with interviews with Holly Dunn and her sister. The sho ws tagline emerges in fragments on a black screen: What if someone wants you dead but you LIVE TO TELL. Without a doubt, Holly does proceed to tell a horrific story: she and her boyfriend Chris, walking along the tracks on an August night in 1997 after leaving a college party in Lexington, KY, find themselves confronted by a man who emerges from the bushes and demands money before tying them up,

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116 going in search of a rock, and beating Chris to death. The attacker then rapes Holly and proceeds to beat her with a length of board, leaving her for dead. The program then allows others involved in the investigation and prosecution of the case to describe some of the murders that Resendiz is alleged to have committed in the subsequent two years. His mod us operandi remained relatively consistent over the duration of his career, in that he seemed to select both his victims and weapons based on nothing more than simple opportunity, although significantly almost all of the attacks occurred in the victims ho mes. Drew Carter, a Texas Ranger who played a lead role in the apprehension of the trainhopping transient, expands on this last point when he asserts that this killer is like the bogeyman coming into your house. He supports the fact that true evil exists in this world. Variations on this themethe violation of American domestic space by an irrational and inexplicable evil force of foreign origincontinue to develop through much of the reporting on the crimes. A reporter for Texas Monthly visiting the sm all town of Weimer (located between Houston and San Antonio) where Resendiz murdered three people on two different occasions, gives voice to the residents who try to comprehend the killings while the perpetrator remains at large. The article, simply titled Evil, returns again and again to the towns collective struggle to grasp how something so fundamentally random and unjust could have happened. In the Bible, good is always triumphant. No ills befall the righteous, reads Proverbs, but the wicked are filled with trouble. The Sodomites were obliterated; Job kept the faith and was rewarded. The people of Weimar have heard these stories their whole lives. They believe that living right will bring the good life, and for the most part it has. They believe in an orderly world and an all powerful God. They couldn't understand how something so evil could happen to two people so goodtwo of Gods finest, who had

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117 lived their lives for their community and taught God's love by example. (Hall 107) In the 48 Hours Mystery episode Harris County Prosecutor Devon Anderson recalls that the sense of urgency before Resendizs arrest was unbelievable because people were dying. He was continuing to kill, and he was killing effortlessly. No one was stopping him. He killed two women in one day, ninety miles apart. Four days later, hes in a different state. People were scared In archival news footage taken from a press conference at the time of the trial, Anderson seems to suggest that this figure has sprung from the dept hs of our collective unconscious (echoing Carters bogeyman remark), asserting that If what we know about him is true, he is everyones worst nightmare. In a later interview segment, she confirms that in her first courtroom encounter with him, she coul d see that Resendiz had no humanity. Throughout the press coverage from when he remained at large, was tried, and and even after his conviction, it is clear that the fear Resendiz generated stems in large part from his status as a railroad tramp. While still a fugitive, he seemed to possess an almost supernatural ability to traverse great distances in a manner unfamiliar to all but a sliver of the population a manner of travel that produces no paper trail or witnesses, requires no fuel or money. He rode the rails the countrys secret highway unseen. The cops said he was like a ghost, one journalist writes. Much like the randomness of the killings, the killers continued elusiveness seemed unintelligible, or like some kind of mistake. Somewhere out there, the Mexican drifter was one step ahead of hundreds of well trained American cops (Hall 109, 140). Trains once again acquired the threat they had possessed in the nineteenth century, when they were new and startlingly modern, although now part of the t echnologys menace emanated from its antiquated nature; the

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118 railroad for most had become ever less relevant, and so once again unfamiliar. By the late twentieth century, few Americans traveled by rail as paying passengers throughout the 1990s Amtrak riders hip remained steady at twenty two million annually (compared with sevenhundred million enplanements per year) and accounted for a mere onepercent of passenger miles traveled in 2000, with air and bus transport accounting for the rest so that it remained a largely alien mode of transport to the vast majority of the population, relegated to a bygone era (Vranich 43, Nice 23). A veritable mythology developed around Resendizs continued capacity to elude the ever expanding dragnet set for him by authorities, a capacity facilitated by his appropriation of the industrial technology of the railroad, with the media coverage deploying terminology more becoming some sort of apparition, relating this quality to his twenty years of tramping experience that facilitates his vanish[ing] into the scruffy world of hobos and migrant camps after each murder (Klaidman). Other news reports likewise noted his tramp knowledge. A Texas investigator would note following Resendizs arrest, by hopping trains he effectively cancel ed out any record of his actual movements across the country. Its no wonder he kept committing crimes. He could just disappear into thin air (Clarkson 55). This figure seems completely uncontained precisely because of his mode of transportation. Individual news items regularly emphasized the extraordinary intelligence of a killer tramp who, toying with his pursuers, deliberately left behind his fingerprints and other messages at crimes scenes, all the while proving to be a master of disguises who changed his appearance at will so as to move effortlessly from place to place, deftly negotiating various social circumstances, moving among us undetected (Sanders, Kolker).5 During the summer of

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119 1999, when Much of MidAmerica [was] looking over its shoulde r for the phantom railroad killer, Newsweek reminded its readers of the Faustian bargain their forefathers had struck more than a century before when they manically laid down mile after mile of crisscrossing rail lines in a ceaseless campaign to widen the national marketplace into every community of the United States and its territories: If hes still hopping freights, as the FBI thinks, the Union Pacific alone has more than 33,000 miles of track in the 23 states west of Chicago (Klaidman). Shrinking the world through transport technology not only accelerates commercial exchange, it exponentially multiplies the pathways and velocity by which true evil (to recall Carters words) traverses the distance between communities, distributing fear much as it dis tributes consumables. This bogeyman could appear anywhere reached by tens of thousan ds of miles of track, hopping on a freight train carrying consumer goods in the middle of the night, slitting the screen to one of your windows, and beating you to death wi th one of your own household objects, and disappearing againperhaps even on the same trainto be carried several states away before your bloody corpse is even discovered by a concerned loved one. Even observers from abroad speak to the way in which the ki llers mode of travel plays a central role in the terror he generates: in a story headlined Hobo Serial Killer Terrorises Texas, the Times of London explains for a readership unacquainted with the hobo tradition particular to the United States that Trai n hopping travelers have always held a romanticised place in American culture, but acknowledges that because the fugitive travels on the great goods trains that rumble across the continent, emerging from wagons to attack whoever [sic] he finds, these tramps may never be regarded in the same way again (Whitworth).

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120 The circumstances of his arrest only appear to confirm the speculations about his tramping abilities, in that he ultimately was not caught by the hundreds of law enforcement officers systematically stopping and inspecting the countrys freight trains only a tiny fraction of which they could have ever hoped to searchnor was he even caught at all. Indeed, so long as he continued to live as a tramp and ride the rails, he effectively remained utterly invisible and uncatchable, again and again slipping through the traps laid for him by the all the rational methodology of U.S. law enforcement. In the end, Operation Train Stop, the FBIs twohundredperson Houstonbased task force charged with coordinating the dragnet, proved insufficient, demonstrating the validity of Andersons frustrated claim that no one was stopping Resendiz from killing. The multiagency effort constantly lagged behind, learning where the tramp had been only once another body had been discovered. Instead, the killing spree ended after Texas Ranger Carter worked gradually to gain the trust of Resendizs relatives, in turn persuading them to convince Resendiz to turn himself in, so that he was only apprehended when he voluntari ly surrendered on July 13, 1999, once more electing to cross from Mexico (where, at the very least, he would have remained safe from the death penalty) to the United States after having negotiated the terms of his surrender, walking across the bridge that connects Ciudad Juarez with El Paso, Texas, where, calm, dingy looking and utterly unprepossessing, he pleasantly extended his hand to Carter thus exhibiting a disturbing, almost taunting level of individual agency for a lowly railroad tramp (Kolker). In essence, this Savage Tramp quit killing only because he had decided to stop.

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121 Wensley Clarkson, author of the truecrime paperback The Railroad Killer: Tracking Down One the Most Brutal Serial Killers in History (published in 1999, after Resendiz had be en arrested but before his trial had commenced), takes pains to establish a tenuous connection between Resendiz and Richard Ramirez, the self appointed Night Stalker killer whose apparently random killings terrorized L.A. in the 1980s, pointing out that Resendiz had often used the alias Rafael Resendez Ramirez (his uncles name), that he would have seen the news coverage of the Ramirez case while serving time in Floridas State Penitentiary, and that both men had never even had a proper job (47). A lmost a s a non sequitur, Clarkson goes so far as to close the book with a quote from Ramirez, yet the Boxcar Killer (and the Night Stalker himself, for that matter) could be said to share in a lineage that extends to a far more notorious figure: Charles Manson. C oincidence of biographical and criminal details abound: the murders in both their cases took on an explicit class dimension, even if their victims appeared otherwise random; observers often remarked on their intelligence and verbal dexterity; they both en ded their formal education prematurely and struggled with the written word (the previously mentioned commentary notwithstanding); both were abandoned before birth by their fathers, both of whom in turn had eked out livings as transient laborers; both felt they had also been neglected and ultimately abandoned by their single mothers; both spent much of their youth and young adulthood incarcerated, where they were repeatedly raped by other inmates; both were physically rather small; both began their criminal lives long before the onset of adolescence (Manson at seven, Resendiz at six); both had relatively fleeting experienceand soon became disenchantedwith socially sanctioned employment during their lives; and both

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122 discovered young the value of the radical m obility afforded by freight trains. His grandfather having been employed by the B&O line, Manson had ancestral ties to the railroad and underwent his tramping initiation at the age of twelve when he escaped a reformatory in Indiana and made his way to Indi anapolis. During his journey, he served an apprenticeship under other transients who enacted a collectivist life practice and eschewed participation in market activity, along with other accepted signifiers of citizenship. I walked the railroad tracks some and hopped a freight train for a short way. I slept in the woods and under bridges. I met bums, winos and hobos, who shared their meals with me. ... I lived and ate with these guys until reaching Indianapolis, and through them I learned an awful lot about survival without the luxuries of a house and modern conveniences. (37) During this time, he learned not only the material skills necessary to negotiate the homeless underworld, but the nuances of social distinctions within that underworld. As Ben Reitman did decades before, Manson offers delineations that replicate a hierarchy based on the transients relationship to work: Most people place all those derelicts in the same category, but I found there is a definite distinction between them. A bum is a guy who is down and out, maybe one who is too lazy to work and survives by begging. A wino has become so hooked on his booze that he is a social outcast, he cares or nothing but the lush and how to acquire it. A hobo is on the road because that is his chosen lifestyle. So me are honest and survive by their wits, also doing a little work here and there. Others are into doing anything that will provide for the days needs and stealing and lying are as natural as breathing to them. (37) In the quote that serves as the epigraph to this chapter, however, Manson neatly collapses the categorical differences between various types of transients developed by sociologists and other observers, suggesting the three terms have become semantically interchangeable in an era when th e dominant image of the itinerant laborer is no longer that of an independent nativeborn American male. Instead, his formulation stresses the

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123 coiled potential for violence (straight razor) embedded in the tramp figure, with the suggestion that this potential generates from the nexus of anonymity (nobody), mobility (boxcar), and lack of self discipline (jug of wine). In speaking, he enacts the long standing rhetorical tradition of the Savage Tramp at is most pure. If, according to a particular hermeneutical perspective, Manson represented the demise of countercultural utopian potential Joan Didion would memorably give voice to this belief, writing that the Sixties abruptly ended on August 9, 1969, the night the Manson Family brutally murdered Sharon Tate and her guests (47) then perhaps Resendiz serves at least to complicate the promises of neoliberal economic policies thirty years later with his spree at the conclusion of the prosperous 1990s. And if treaties such as NAFTA had reduced or eliminate d trade barriers and thus facilitated the mass mobilization of commodities and capital across national borders over the course of the decade, then Resendiz certainly embodies for some observers the chaos that ensues when actual human bodies deign to move between countries with as much ease. As Americans discovered in the nineteenth century, darker threats accompany the promises of modernitys technological and economic progress. These threats inherent in mobility seem most acute in those moments when the on going debate regarding socalled illegal aliens reaches a fever pitch. As with the tramps of the Gilded Age, undocumented immigrants illegal movement across constructed borders provokes anxiety and vitriolic reactions. As it was for Harris, the metaphor o f infection applies: failure of containment will lead to an epidemic. The dominant discourse continues to insist (paradoxically) that freedom has value only when it is constrained.

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124 Doubtless, the fact that he was a foreigner who had a 23year history of illegal border crossing between Mexico and the United States compounded the anxiety generated by Resendizs mobility (Klaidman). In the discourse surrounding the case, these two factors appear somehow interwoven, essential, and deterministic, so that the resulting terror extended beyond the fear that accompanies any serial killer with a wide range. By moving so easily back and forth across it, Resendiz exposed the permeability of the United States border, making a mockery of national boundaries. Plus, although a foreigner, he spoke English fluently some reports portray him as a virtual linguistic genius who excelled in the evening English courses he took in Mexico as an adult and even earned a wage teaching English in a convent thus becoming something of a trickster figure, a threat because he may move among us, not immediately distinguishable from a nativeborn American. As Time assistant managing editor Howard ChuaEoan notes, The remarkable thing about this man is that while he gives the impression of being an illiterate Mexican immigrant, he is extraordinarily smart, and may have tutored other immigrants in English, in turn helping them to become less apparent (Sanders). He is in America illegally, not merely to steal our jobs, but to invade our homes, raping, killing, stealing, then disappearing, untraceable as he rides the rails from town to town. While the pathologizing language once directed toward the homeless en masse rarely surfaces in popular discourse without at least some criticism, the alarmis t language toward undocumented aliens certainly does not negatively impact a public figures career. Consequently, a narrative that stresses Resendizs extrinsic genesis offers a perverse comfort, much as did Harriss insistence on the foreign origin of Bl ack Flynn and his cohorts. Clarkson offers as an epigraph a quote attributed to

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125 novelist Carlos Fuentes in advance of the text that speaks to the ways in which these murders have been consistently read as forming a narrative analog to the violent penetrati on of Americas political boundaries and thus the nations sense of self: The U.S. Mexico border is the next frontier of American consciousness.6 Throughout the book making frequent use of sensationalist clichs and borderline nonsensical figurative lang uage (e.g., They could see the hatred in his eye flaring by the millisecond [xviii]) Clarkson lays the groundwork for the idea that these crimes are really all about the border, a point he eventually makes explicit when he writes that Angel seemed to personify a fear of mayhem coming up from south of the border, bringing terror and death. His victims were white and respectable, not prostitutes or drifters (182). He devotes several chapters to the future Railroad Killers confused and traumatic upbringing in Mexico, beginning with fact that Resendizs birth was not registered until weeks after the event because his mother could not afford the registration fee, so that from the beginning, this individual evaded the disciplinary measures of record keeping ( 5). In a way that few others writing about Resendiz do, Clarkson emphasizes the way in which Resendiz livedand how he was perceived by those who at least thought they knew him well in Mexico, pointing out that this killer vagabond actually owed land and a home in the small isolated town of Rodeo, in the state of Durango, where he doted on his wife Julieta and eventually their young daughter, where he often took apparent pleasure in riding his bicycle, his dog running along at his side. This gesture serves multiple purposes, seeming at first to bolster the sense that this man was not evil incarnate, but rather that he was a thoroughly disturbed individual capable of

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126 recognizable emotions. Clarkson even tentatively argues that Resendiz suffered from borderline personality disorder, going through the criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and implying that he cannot be held entirely responsible for his actions. After his arrest, this diminutive man struck many of his interrogators as shy and polite, even peaceful, rather than exhibiting the personality traits one expects from a notorious killer. He simply did not live up to the image portrayed when he was the Most Wanted Man in America, Clarkson notes (207). Yet, in the end, this duality reinforces the sense that the killings represent some greater assault on the United States and Americans, since at least, as the coverage would have it the killer restricted his brutality to that side of the border. Resendiz found it virtually impossible to carry on a rational conversation when he was out of Rodeo, as if the act of leaving the constriction of home and crossing the border itself sparked the psychotic compulsion to commit violence (94). Clarkson buttresses this interpretation, wr iting that Resendiz assuaged any guilt he had for his crimes by by tell[ing] himself that [his victims] were American so they probably deserved it (95). Not only Americans had this perception: in his home country, he fulfilled a bizarre role of hero and madman, saint and outlaw (208). If he remained normal in Mexico and only became a vicious killer motivated not by anything so comprehensible as economic gain or even personal vendetta once he had crossed into the United States, and if his actions could be received so differently in each country, then it would seem that such mobility could trigger anyone from outside to wreak havoc on arrival. None of the ambiguity entertained in Clarksons version of the narrative surfaces in conservative commentator Michelle Malkins rhetorical deployment of the Railway

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127 Killer, which comprises an entire chapter of her post September 11th jeremiad Invasion: How America Still Welcomes Terrorists, Criminals, and Other Foreign Menaces to Our Shores Just as Harris and Bellew posit the tramp as a harbinger of social disorder and potential national collapse, Malkin offers Resendiz as cautionary tale, demanding that policymakers correct the failure of discipline that allowed Resendiz to repeatedly violate Americas sovereign borders and murder its citizens. In her introduction, she decries criminal friendly immigration policies and practices that allows entry by the scum of the earth, abruptly transitioning over the course of a single page from the 9/11 hijackers to a discussi on of the more than forty Islamic radicals who have come to the U.S. legally since the 1993 World Trade Center bombing to other enemies invading our shores with Resendiz at the top of her list (x). In other words, she elides a clearly mentally ill railriding tramp from Mexico who entered the country illegally with ideologically motivated members of an extensive and well funded militant organization whose visas granted them legitimate temporary residence in the U.S. This conflation continues in the chapter devoted to the Resendiz case, which begins with a list of names of twelve innocent Americans who lost their lives because the INS failed to do its job and keep dangerous aliens out of the country. No, Malkin writes, they were not among the thousands who died in the September 11 terrorist attacks, although clearly some equivalency exists (87). Much of Malkins rhetorical strategy depends on such apparent equivalencies, elisions, and conflations. She blurs the line between the figurative national hom eland and the literal, individual home, suggesting not only that those we must fear come from outside this national domestic space, but also that part of their threat stems from

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128 their homeless status (ix). She attacks at length the voluntary departure p olicy that entails releasing illegal aliens on their own volition and trusting them to return to their home country and allowing them to bypass tough sanctions that would otherwise legally bar them from the country for ten years and jeopardize future applications for permanent resident status, although it remains unclear how the elimination of this policy and resulting legal banishment would have had any effect on Resendiz, given that he never entered the country legally. While other sources frequently observe that Resendiz rarely worked legitimate jobs during his forays into the States, Malkin describes him as a transient day laborer, perhaps once a member of those throngs of foreigners gathered on street corners waiting for someone to employ them for the day that the reader has no doubt seen (88). That Resendi z had the opportunity to commit his crimes leads to the inescapable conclusion that the government is far more committed to cracking down on gunowning Americans who want to protect themselves t han it is to protecting those citizens from criminal illegal aliens (111). Much of the rest of the chapter consists of Portraits of Grief, brief biographies of the American victims and detailed descriptions of most of their murders murders on which we m ust blame bureaucratic incompetence and lack of vigilance against foreign mobility almost as much as Resendiz himself.7 In Resendiz, America again found a Savage Tramp who justifies the exclusion from the body politic those who appear alien, who do not wor k, who remain unfixed. Since his emergence in America, the Savage Tramp has proven remarkably fungible. In the 1870s he served as a figure on which elements of American popular cultural production could displace the collective fear of Parisian Communards and other

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129 foreign socialist and anarchist terrorists bent on the destruction of the democratic government of the United States, still in the early stages of healing following the devastation of the Civil War. In the 2000s, in the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks, another Savage Tramp acts as an embodiment of the hydralike external existential threats to the American way of life, the multiplicity of rabid ideologues who seek to penetrate the home(land) and import chaos from the outside. Not coinc identally, the respective eras that bore witness to each of these tramp scares also underwent a round of what David Harvey calls timespace compression, the term he uses to designate those processes that so revolutionize the objective qualities of space and time that we are forced to alter, sometimes in quite radical ways, how we represent the world to ourselves (240). The rise of flexible accumulation characterized by the emergence of entirely new sectors of production, new ways of providing financi al services, new markets, and, above all, greatly intensified rates of commercial, technological, and organizational innovation in the wake of the increasingly obvious inadequacies of the Fordist Keynesian model as manifested in the 1973 crash accelerated the process of globaliz ation, giving rise to conditions against which people across the political spectrum have reacted in various ways (147). Onehundred years before, the crash of 1873 combined with the acceleration of production and transportation of g oods likewise fostered a profound sense of instability and disorientation. The nineteenthcentury ambivalence regarding the evermore rapidly increasing velocity and pathways of mobility as represented by the railroad lingers, sometimes still located in tha t technology of the industrial revolution not yet banished to the status of relic. Massive shipments of a multiplicity of goods can be delivered more

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130 quickly than ever imagined, but evil in the form of the Savage Tramp can always steal a ride, prompting the (fundamentally conservative) question: was the Faustian bargain of introducing this transportation network worth it? 1 The epigraph to this cha pter is drawn from a thirty three second video clip uploaded by user Logan3628 to YouTube, titled Charles Manson Im Nobody, which apparently is taken from a longer 1989 interview. (I have been unable to locate the original interview.) An off screen interviewer says, Tell me in a sentence who you are, to which Mans on replies, Nobody. Im nobody. Im a tramp, a bum, a hobo. Im a boxcar and a jug of wine. And a straight razor if you get close to me. Manson delivers it in a whisper, after he offers a rapid series of exaggerated facial expressions. The video has been viewed more than 1 9 0,000 times as of February 10, 2013 The same footage has been repeatedly reposted, sometimes with minor variances in the editing. (Interestingly, a version of the clip that cuts Manson off after the first sentence i.e., Nobody has received almost seven million views.) The quote also y ields dozens of hits in a Google search. 2 For a thorough analysi s of the relationship between railroad travel, the concept of shock, and traumatic neurosis, see Schivelbusch, 134158. 3 This figurative notion of social contagion has a long tradition. At the end of the nineteenth century conservative French social theorist Gustav Le Bon framed crowd psychology in such terms, writing, Ideas, sentiments, emotions, and beliefs possess in crowds a contagious power as intense as that of microbes. This phenomenon is very natural, since it is observed even in animals when they are together in number. A panic that has seized on a few sheep will soon extend to the whole flock. In the case of men collected in a crowd all emotions are very rapidly contagious, which explains the suddenness of panics (78). The 1896 English translation of Le Bons The Crowd influenced pioneering American sociologists su ch as Franklin Giddings, James Mark Baldwin, Boris Sidis, Robert Park, and others (King 334). More recently, conservative pundit Ann Coulter has cited Le Bons work. 4 Like Lucius Shepard, some observers of and participants in the rail riding subculture ex press skepticism regarding such elaborate claims about the FTRA. George Lin, a train hopper who holds a PhD in Soviet history from Stanford, notes that the FTRA has become nearly mythical. They seem to be used almost as a bogeyman, to strike the fear of G od in people. Meanwhile, Melford Lawson, one of the founders of the FTRA, puts it more succinctly: They call us a gang. How do you organize 5,000 drunks? We cant even agree on what kind of beer to drink. (Qtd. in Murphy.) Although I can speak only anec dotally, I would say that my encounters with members of the FTRA tend to lead me to similar conclusions. Also, regarding the groups purported racism: I met at a few AfricanAmericans (and one openly gay man) who claimed membership. 5 Interestingly, follow ing Resendizs arrest, media coverage tended to deflate this sort of rhetoric as it had appeared in previous breathless reporting. For instance, much was made of the rambling letter the serial murderer sent to a television station, which contained numer ous spelling and grammatical errors and discussed, among other topics, how much he loves his dogs (Rail Killings Suspect). Similarly, news stories retroactively contain the geographic reach of his threat, insisting that he merely sowed fear throughou t Texas railroad communities, not the entire nation (Texas Jury Hears). Only a year later, all the hyperbole appears as just that; sure, this odd little man never scared us all that much. 6 I suspect Clarkson had the following passage in mind from Fuent ess novel The Old Gringo: they, the two gringos had come to Mexico, he consciously, she unintentionally, to confront the next frontier of American consciousness, the most difficult of all (186).

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131 7 Perhaps not coincidentally, Malkins account of the li ves and deaths of Jessie Howell and Wendy Von Huben seems almost perfunctory and certainly far shorter then the others. Also, although they were Resendizs earliest known victims, Malkin treats them last. Unlike the others, they were not killed in or near their homes. In fact, like the killer, these teenage lovers were traveling by freight train in Florida. As unemployed transients, it appears, their deaths constitute less of a loss, and their murder does not allow Malkin to return once again to emphasize t he violation of the individual and national home.

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132 CHAPTER 3 THE AMERICANA HOBO Dont worry, Im not a stabbing hobo, Im a singing hobo. Simpsons Tall Tales, The Simpsons By 1941, the year Frank Capras Meet John Doe premiered in the nations cinema houses, the figure of the trainhopping vagabond had made numerous appearances in film, first appearing in the silent era and continuing to persist as a recognizable character type for decades. Over time and in various media, a set of tropes and traits had emerged to be refined and regularized, eventually establishing the conventions of a distinct representational tradition. The Colonel, played by Walter Brennan in Capras film, conforms to and epitomizes those conventions to a tee. His nonthreatening, grandfatherly unshaven visage and tattered hat and patched clothing belie the proud, rugged individualism at the core of a simple moral code that prompts him to refuse favors and handouts. While he is possessed of a fierce independence and skeptical of all organizations and institutions, he simultaneously evinces a profound sense of loyalty, albeit strictly on the personto person basis. He recognizes the banality and machinations of the new s media, exclaiming, I dont read no papers and I dont listen to radios either. I know the worlds been shaved by a drunken barber and I dont have to read it. In his colorful vernacular, he espouses relatable apolitical and even anti intellectual wisdom that others fail to heed at their peril. In his valuation of individual freedom above all else, he embodies certain fundamental values located in the mythology of Americas origins, a true, anachronistic pioneer spirit in the modern urban industrial age. Given the chance, he delights in dancing a jig and playing his ocarinaa

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133 small, hand carved vessel flutewhile rolling through the countryside in an open boxcar. In short, he stands as an exemplar of the Americana Hobo. The films plot centers on Long Joh n Willoughby (Gary Cooper), a young vagabond drawn into a scheme devised by Ann Mitchell, a newspaper columnist. Ann falsely claims in one of her columns to have received a letter from John Doe, an unemployed everyman who vows to commit suicide in protes t of societys ills. When the John Doe letter creates a sensation with the reading public, Ann convinces her editor to recruit someone from the ranks of the jobless and homeless to play the role she has created. In Long John, they find their perfect John D oe, and through his delivery of a series of populist speeches (all written by Ann), he develops a national following, with John Doe Clubs springing up across the country. The newspapers nefarious publishing tycoon secretly funds these clubs and plans to manipulate the energy behind them to launch a political campaign to seize power, roll back unspecified New Deal concessions, and rule the American people with an iron hand. This being a Capra film, the democratic spirit ultimately prevails, but in t he meantime John Willoughby, Ann Mitchell, and the American people all fall under the spell of vague, soothing platitudes about the inherent wisdom of the common man. Yet the Colonel, Willoughbys hobo companion of the last three years, remains skeptical during the entire escapade, providing vocal criticism and having the good sense not to get suckered by the media and the John Doe phenomenons easy, phony populism. To the extent that it identifies with the Colonels skepticism, the audience thereby receives affirmation of its own commonsense wisdom.

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134 Watching as his friend falls under the spell of a domesticated lifestyle, the Colonel rails against Americans ever increasing dependency on modernitys consumer comforts. Offered a bed in a nice hotel, he recoi ls, proclaiming that the spot under the bridge where he and Long John spent the previous night is good enough for him. To stay in that hotel would risk initiating a vicious cycle. Once a fellow begins earning money, he explains, he starts wanting to g o into restaurants and sit at a table and eat salads, and cup cakes, and tea none of which is any good for a body and the next thing the dope wants is a room. Yes sir, a room with steam heat! And curtains and rugs and fore you know it, hes all softened up and he cant sleep less he has a bed. To accumulate wealth, he declares, is to fall victim to hordes of heelots. Youre walking along, not a nickel in your jeans, free as the wind, nobody bothers you, hundreds of people pass you by in every line of business. Theyre all nice, lovable people, and they let you alone. Then you get hold of some dough, and what happens? All those nice, sweet, lovable people become heelots. A lotta heels. They begin creeping up on you, trying to sell you something. Theyve got long claws and they get a stranglehold on you, and you squirm, and duck and holler, and you try to push them away, but you havent got a chance. Theyve got you! The Colonel goes on to delineate in exacting detail the ways in which this stimulat ion of desires every one of which entails an unforeseen and unwanted need, with each need begetting ever more needs unnecessarily complicates a persons life, finally eliminating personal liberty through excessive regulation and enforced dependency. First thing you know, you own things. A car, for instance. Now your whole life is messed up with more stuff: license fees, and number plates, and gas and oil, and taxes and insurance, and identification cards, and letters, and bills, and flat tires, and dents, and traffic tickets and motorcycle cops and court rooms, and lawyers, and fines, and a million and one other things. And what happens? Youre not the free and happy guy you used to be. You gotta have money to pay for all those things, so you go after what t he other fellers got, and there you are. Youre a heelot yourself!

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135 Todd DePastino argues that the Colonels diatribes fit within a strain of subversive hobo culture that offers an alternative to FDRs family breadwinning ideal ( Citizen 211). Certainly, the Colonels criticism of consumerism and, by extension the capitalist state, smacks of outright subversion on the purely denotative level, but it ultimately is a safe and neutered subversion. The audience can congratulate itself for sympathizing with the Colonel, for seeing through the superficiality of modern life, the empty promises of the government, the duplicity of the corporate media. We can flatter ourselves for identifying with him, imaging ourselves kindred spirits, maybe even entertaining fantas izes about shedding ourselves of all of our material possessions which are no more than burdens that offer few meaningful pleasures and plunging into the wilderness, just like the heroes of so many American narratives of the open road. In his restlessness and his vigilant defense of individual freedom, the Colonel as an iteration of the Americana Hobo figure exhibits the best aspects of the national self imagined character. After all, official American history plainly celebrates its peoples rebellion against tyranny and movement into uncharted territory. But viewed from another perspective, the Colonels rebellion and movement carry no threat precisely because of their strictly individualistic nature. Wanting only to be left alone to wander as he pleases, he in no way imposes on society, which he frees from obligation, asking for no aid. In fact, his mode of existence ultimately benefits the political economic order he so vociferously eschews. Early entries in the field of what might be called Tramp or Hobo Studies apparently struggled to develop an analysis of this particular version of the vagabond. In a seminal article published in 1963, John Seelye offers a reading of the vagrant figures

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136 ontological evolution, providing a useful if ultimately incomplete and even at times contradictory description of various modes of cultural work this figure has performed. Seelye posits a pair of representational traditions, beginning with a sketch of what he calls the clown tramp, most clearly embodied in characters cr eated by Emmet Kelly and Charlie Chaplin, which greets its audience as a scapegoat of failure. Of course, an audiences embrace of and affection for this character coincides with the repulsion felt when confronted with any actually existing tramp, indicating the complex interaction between representation and reality: even if the comic tramps antics have only a symbolic relationship to the ordeals of a real tramp, the audience will laugh at him because he is a token of something which is very real indeed (536). Seelye places this figure in conversation with the hero tramp figure as found in the writings of Jack London, Jim Tully, and other authors who chronicled their vagabond experiences immediately before and after the turn of the twentieth centur y, a time during which the tramp was not always a token of failure. In fact, the image of the tramp in this era remained particularly Protean, so much so that a writer, casting himself as a tramp, could create for himself a heroic role (540). This heroism derives from the characters rebellion against civilizing influences most pointedly the conformity imposed by increasingly regularized work by heading for wilderness of the rails, much as Huck Finn lit out for the territories (550). This hero tramps critiques arrive in the form of easily digested folksy homilies. Given that a gulf between reality and representation forms the essence of the clown or comic tramp, the hero tramps distinction implicitly lies in the latter figurations greater degree of realism and lesser degree of abstraction even if Seelye characterizes Londons memoir as pure

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137 propaganda in the anarchist socialist tradition (546). Often portrayed without regard for verisimilitude, and neither the object of mocking laughter nor the true radical provocateur, the Americana Hobo appears to have no place in this schema. A meditation on the meaning of Jack Kerouacs new version of the tramp serves as the catalyst for Seelyes article (536). In his ensuing analysis, Seelye appears unabl e to maintain the strict bifurcation between the clown and the hero he establishes in the introductory section, at first arguing that even if Kerouacs tramp characters are not necessarily comical, they are nonetheless sentimentalized, abstracted from r eality. Kerouac plainly sees the tramp through the image established by the clown tramps (537). Like those characters developed by Kelly and Chaplin, Kerouacs tramps are anti heroic (540). Yet, Seelye also claims that London, constructing himself as a heroic tramp in his memoir The Road established the tradition in which Kerouac has been writing, and he later concludes that [t]he transition from Jack London, grimly clinging to a ladder on a speeding express train, to Dean Moriarty, fiercely grippi ng the steering wheel of a powerful car, is not so great after all (540, 552). This ambiguity forces Seelye to argue that Kerouacs tramp characters conform to the comic tradition even if they fail to inspire laughter because the author (with irony Kerouac is perhaps not aware of) presents them as objects of reverence, as the ghost of the frontiersman it also means that he must deny that Kerouacs truly heroic characters qualify as genuine tramps (537). Instead, he must insist that Dean Moriarty can remain a hero only as long as he refuses to become a tramp (540). Ontologically, and even tautologically, the tramp is necessarily unheroic except when he isnt.

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1 38 Given that Moriarty would lose his heroic status the moment he became a tramp, then, it mak es sense that Seelye also seems unwilling to commit fully to the existence of the distinct herotramp tradition he has identified: while the recounting of adventures by London and other tramp writers recalls the ordeal of the epic hero, these men also we re anti heroes, members of a class hated and feared by society, worthy not of admiration but of ridiculemuch like the clown tramp (551). The tramp cannot convincingly assume a heroic position, Seelye argues, in large part because of his relationship t o work. While the tramp does share the urge to wander with such industrious, masculine, heroic characters as pioneers, cowboys, and even the Sunday driver, a crucial difference separates them: American restlessness is also evidenced in hard work, produc tivity and inventiveness, characteristics shared between the businessman and the frontiersman but lacking in the tramp (538). Goal oriented work stands as the dividing line, the point beyond which the tramp cannot follow these other iconic American figure s, for his purposeless wandering over the roads that were once the paths of Empire becomes nothing more than a parody of the energies we attribute to the western pioneer (539). Consequently, regardless of any claims that the tramp is a potential pioneer which Kerouac was by no means alone in making in fact it cannot be denied that the tramp, as tramp, whether or not he is a frontiersman manqu, has nothing of the heroic about him (537). By definitionally yoking heroism to work here and elsewhere in his argument, Seelye comes oddly close to participating in, rather than merely describing, the moralizing of anti tramp crusaders during the latenineteenth century, as he does when he claims that the road was a breeding ground for homosexuality and alcoholism. The appeal of idleness could be fatal, both to the body

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139 and soul (547). This physically and spiritually fatal refusal of work produces a struggle between the citizen and the tramp, which leads to both the mocking laughter directed at the fictional comic tramp and the punitive measures designed to eradicateor, at the very least, exile from the citizenry the actual tramp (541). Appropriately, given the tension apparent in adherence to the clownhero taxonomic binary of tramp textuality, grammatical and theoretical reversals pepper the article as it nears its conclusion: But such dichotomies are meaningless; But it must be remembered; But, at the same time; etc. (550, 551, 552). For Seelye, these ongoing fluctuating interpretations, which culm inate in Kerouacs failure to represent a truly heroic contemporary tramp, can be explained by historical conditions: confusion over the tramps sudden appearance after the Civil War prompted a multiplicity of responses, not all of them negative, some of t hem even sympathetic. Only gradually did the image of the menacing tramp coalesce and come to dominate all other interpretations, with harsh municipal ordinances and state laws brutally and successfully (according to Seelye) combating the material phenomenon, so that in Londons metamorphosis from braggart hero to a wiser and humbler man we have a capsule history of the American tramp (545). I argue, however, that this indeterminacy instead results from the limited scope Seelye ascribes to the figures evolution, which prioritizes something of a formalist approach (i.e., the degree of abstraction from reality in any given portrayal) over vital ideological considerations. While providing a crucial insight by identifying works centrality to the cultural reception and function of the fictional tramp, Seelyes binary typology proves reductive in the end. It quickly reveals itself to have limited utility, even when applied to some of

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140 the very examples Seelye cites. After all, Chaplins Little Tramp, which c ertainly makes the audience laugh, pursues a variety of occupations, repeatedly demonstrating his eagerness, if not competency, when it comes to work. In order to fund an operation for the object of his affection in City Lights (1931), he takes a job as a street sweeper. However much it may satirize the conditions and impact of industrial labor, Modern Times (1936) does begin by showing the character in his role as a waged employee at a factory. Most pertinently, The Gold Rush (1925) renders the Little Tram p as an actual frontiersman, with the character traveling to the Yukon as a prospector during the 1890s and weathering the brutal conditions and deprivations he encounters there. If the comedic value of the tramp image stems primarily from the characters refusal of work, the Little Tramp cannot properly function as a clown tramp, yet Seelye presents him as an archetypal example of the figure. In his misadventures, the Chaplins character certainly does facilitate a critique of exploitative waged labor, even if he does not reject it wholesale, and so may be as a prototype to the Critical Tramp figures I discuss in the next chapter. Given this instability, to understand what cultural and ideological meaning representations of the tramp produce we must abandon the generic comic heroic axis. We are then left with Seelyes insight regarding the significance of the tramp figures relationship to work and, by extension, to prevailing bourgeois capitalist values. By no means does this gesture immediately render the interpretative task a simple one, as that relationship diverges from text to text and from character to character, whether the character is portrayed romantically or realistically. Seelye rightly observes that the public at large often tended not to distinguish readily between shirkers and workers,

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141 because although many tramps were indeed honest, reluctant beggars, who were wandering in search of work, to the untrained eye they remained undistinguishable in dress and demeanor from their brothers, i. e., the tramps, who presumably were dishonest, enthusiastic beggars who were wandering in avoidance of work (544). Yet, Seelye ultimately makes the same mistake, ignoring entirely what I am calling the Americana Hobo representational tradition, which depic ts transient characters whether they are subject to a comic or heroic portrayal who are distinguishable from other tramps in their willingness, even eagerness, to work and their refusal to accept aid. Recognition of this tradition, in establishing a more c omplicated matrix against which to read various representations of the vagabond, goes a long way toward resolving the unsustainable nature of the clownhero binary. As I showed in the previous chapter, social scientists and vagabonds themselves provide val uable insight for this project. Sociologists formulated categorical distinctions for vagrants, drawing on both ideological inheritances from responses to the phenomenon of masterless men in early modern England and the terminology developed by the very v agrant community that they studied. The nomenclature applied to the particular transient functions to evaluate and reveal the individuals relationship to work and mobility. Arranging these categories according to an implicit moral hierarchy, both observer s and subjects generally agreed that the hobo traveled and worked, the tramp traveled and did not work, and the bum neither traveled nor worked. The Savage Tramp becomes an object of derision and fear because of his rejection of the free labor ideal, and apparently coincides with neither the clown nor the hero. Conversely, the Americana Hobo as represented in popular culture performs a function analogous to the

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142 actual hobo migrant laborer: while often not fully committing to it, he facilitates the expansion and coalescence of the free labor ideal and thus the capitalist order. If not always precisely heroic, the figure merits admiration for participation in the self reliant, rugged individualist tradition in which all Americans are generally encouraged to im agine themselves as participants. Frequently (but not necessarily) portrayed in romantic and nostalgic terms, the Hobo persists in the contemporary American imaginary, performing vital cultural work. Chronologically, the Hobo emerges as both a widely recog nized figure and an appellation in the decades following the Savage Tramps early reign as the predominant figure through which homelessness was understood. In contrast to Seelyes timeline charting the characters symbolic transformation, which holds that after an initial protean phase the image of the tramp became negatively fixed, others have suggested that this image actually became more flexible and sympathetic and not merely clownish and anti heroic as the twentieth century progressed. Christine Photi nos argues that after the turn of the century, the very figure that had been understood as an inscrutable other, dangerously immune to dominant ideologies of success and domesticity, is here described as a quintessential freedom loving man (4). This shift had a lexicographic analogue, in that one important sign of change in the cultural status of the tramp was the entry into common usage of the term hobo, which achieved popular currency around the turn of the century and helped create a conceptual space for a heroic figuration of the homeless transient (34). Western transient workers probably coined and circulated the word, which began appearing in print in newspapers published in the West in the late 1880s before its adoption by the general middl e class speaker and

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143 writer in the 1890s (DePastino Citizen 65). By the 1930s, the use of tramp as a descriptor for vagrants had virtually disappeared from print, replaced by hobo or the blandly neutral transient (Kusmer 209). Historian Frank Tobias Higbie lists many of the predominant theories in circulation regarding the obscure etymology of the term hobo, some more plausible than others. Some suggest that it derives from hoe boy or agricultural laborer, others that it is a shortening of hom eward bounders referring to Civil War veterans, many of whom became seasonal workers in the West. One itinerant work er claimed the term originated from the French haute beau, or high beauty, and another from the Latin phrase homo bonus or good person. Still others believed it was simply a clipped version of the railway workers greeting Hello Boy. (5) With their linkages to the language and conventions of railroad or seasonal agricultural labor, the majority of these speculations maintain that the t erm should be reserved solely for a person who works, someone of a higher order than tramps and bums, rather than one who merely idles and begs (Bruns Knights 11). However, the precise distinctions these various terms hold for the specialist i.e., the sociologist, historian, or transient himself rarely resonated as fully among the general population. For many, the words hobo, tramp, and bum could all apply equally to the same lazy freeloader who expects to survive through the efforts of others. To day, the distinctions have blurred even further, leading to such examples of unintentional irony as a recent Florida Times Union editorial that enthusiastically endorses Sheriff John Rutherfords supposedly blunt terminological accuracy regarding downtown Jacksonvilles homeless population. The piece quotes Rutherford as saying, Im going to call them what they are. They are hoboes. They dont want a job (Littlepage). Much of this definitional ambiguity arises from the difficulty of making quick categoric al assignments. As Seelye indicated, there were few visual cues to aid the

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144 casual observer. Historian Mark Wyman concurs, adding that [t]he attempt to distinguish between hoboes and tramps was often complicated because it was easy to move back and forth b etween the two groups, and many did (37). In a sense, because the distinction was one of character (i.e., possessing the desire to work) as much as action (i.e., actually working), the only way to tell a hobo from a tramp was to know a particular vagrant s motivations. Even such an authority as Jack London often used the terms interchangeably, implying that the strict categorical distinctions did not congeal for some time. (Of course, for London, whose laboring credentials remain unimpeachable, tramping was a complex and explicitly political act, a rejection of exploitation, whatever the name applied to the individual doing the rejecting.) Yet, while not everyone uses these terms with the precision that some argue they merit, the notion that a particular k ind of person would make the decision to take to the rails in search of work out of a determination not to burden family, friends, or society to better his circumstances has long had real cultural currency. Whatever people may call him, and however much he may at times elide with other homeless people who may or may not engage in periodic waged labor or ride freight trains, the Americana Hobo was specifically understood as a migratory laborer with a fundamentally sound work ethic who remains an acknowledged stock figure in popular culture, one generally associated with a particular moment in American history. Several interwoven cultural and economic developments led to a wider recognition of this sympathetic image of the vagrant in the closing years of the n ineteenth century. Hoboes themselves had much to do with the evolving perception of their class, in that they self consciously generated several fundamental characteristics

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145 of the Americana Hobo representational tradition. In his pioneering investigations into the vagrant culture, sociologist Nels Anderson discovered that the average homeless person of the 1920s read extensively and that hoboes in general were a disproportionately literate, even intellectual bunch. To support this claim, Anderson cites stud ies revealing that a lower proportion of inferior intelligence and a higher proportion of superior intelligence existed among the unemployed when compared to businessmen, high school students, and members of the army (185, 72).1 Anderson further observes t hat [t]he hobo who reads sooner or later tries his hand at writing. A surprisingly large number of them eventually realize their ambition to get into print, most frequently in such forums as letters to the editor. However, [t]he hobo writer does not concern himself with letters alone. A number of them are ambitious to become novelists, essayists, and even dramatists (188). Such writers emerging from the ranks of train hopping migrant workers often sought to construct a generalized hobo image in print, d rawing a portrait of a cohesive and vital culture for the benefit of outsiders, correcting what they viewed as unfair misperceptions that rested on representations of the Savage Tramp. Often advocating on their own behalf, many of the more rhetorically savvy writers insisted on the hobos historic mission, which they tied to subtly or overtly patriotic appeals. For example, writing in 1942, Benjamin Benson asserts in his narrative 500,000 Miles Without a Dollar that hoboes are the REAL backbone of the Nation. The hoboes ARE a respectable and necessary part of our population. THEY helped to MAKE this country! They helped to make it GREAT! (qt d in Bruns Knights 12).

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146 Excessive use of capitalization and exclamations points aside, Benson and others making similar claims had a point that continues even now to gain wider acceptance. In the twenty first century, historians have taken up the subject of the American tramp with an interest not previously exhibited by the discipline, and with titles such as Citize n Hobo: How a Century of Homelessness Shaped America (2003), Indispensible Outcasts: Hobo Workers and Community in the American Midwest, 18801930 (2003), and Hoboes: Bindlestiffs, Fruit Tramps, and the Harvesting of the West (2010), their work makes clear its objective of validating what hoboes themselves have claimed since the late nineteenth century: the floating army of unskilled migrant labor filled a need and played a crucial role in the expansion and development of the American and particularly the A merican Wests economy and geography. By extension, the members of this floating army have made an irrevocable mark on the quintessential national character, even embodying its most important traits. Effectively positioning the hobo in heroic terms, this argument draws attention to the complex interplay between dominant ideology and shifting perceptions of the American vagrant and migrant worker within cultural discourse. Historians such as DePastino, Higbie, and Wyman insist that those who have been unfair ly dismissed as shiftless, idle tramps in fact performed vital, productive functions in the development of the American economy and geography. So, even while they seek to validate the claim made by radical organizations such as the Industrial Workers of th e World that hobo labor built the West, their academic efforts in their own way affirm the ideology of the work ethic and the hobos participation in that ethics perpetuation.

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147 These historians also reveal that however much some contemporary critics locat ed the emergence of the tramp in the personal disposition of the individual transient, structural elements of an ever more complex economy determined the need for the particular form of labor only transients could provide. The rapid extension of the railro ad following the end of the Civil War accelerated land speculation beyond the Mississippi, establishing a pattern quite unlike that of development in the East, where slower forms of transport had prevailed so that relatively dense population centers preced ed the railroads arrival. Railroad companies and their workers put down more than 300,000 miles of track between the end of the Civil War and the entry of the United States into the First World War, with total mileage swelling to almost 430,000 by 1930. O n May 10, 1869, during a ceremony in Utah, Leland Stanford drove a golden last spike to signify the completion of the first transcontinental line. This moment provides a metonymy for the conflation of governmental interests and capitalist interests, given that Sanford was President of the Southern Pacific and Central Pacific lines, a former Governor of California, and a future U.S. Senator. Already in the antebellum era legal practice had loosened state control of the economy to accommodate capitalist ent erprise through the evolution of eminent domain doctrine, which provided the land railroads required, and the abandonment of the charter system and attendant strict regulatory controls in favor of t he public incorporation model.2 The very nature of the ent erprise meant that migrant laborers performed the actual work of putting down the tracks; even if the word had not yet been coined, these transient wageearning men were hoboes by definition. With land becoming ever more available, routes were often built speculatively, rather than to connect preexisting

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148 populations. As lines moved through sparsely populated territories, temporary railroad towns moved west with transient wageearning track layers. The most notorious of these was Hell on Wheels, a mobile settlement following the construction of the Union Pacific line and consisting of knockeddown buildings, storefronts, dancehall floors, tents, wooden sidings, and entire roofs that housed gambling dens, houses of prostitution, music halls, hotels, and an occasional restaurant, all of which could be erected, disassembled, andin a single day reassembled as the tracks moved westward. In this railroaddependent impermanent settlement, which saw traditionally segregated groups thrown together, young male railroad workers far from the enforcement of legal or social constraints became separated from much of their earnings, which often led to violence, with shootings occurring on a daily basis (Brown 96; Ambrose 217218). As an exercise in mobile labor writ l arge, this phenomenon allows for the extension of the term hobo, which could be applied retroactively not only to the railroad employees proper but all the ancillary commercial workers (i.e., bartenders, inn keepers, prostitutes, etc.), as well. The expans ion of the railroad necessarily entailed the generation of untethered wage labor on a massive scale in order to produce the massive profits reaped by the investor class. Once a new line had granted access to a region, railroad companies out of exigency als o facilitated the creation of fixed population centers in order to have customers to serve by actively recruiting hundreds of thousands of settlers from both eastern American cities and Europe to the West. As Jack Beatty summarizes the process, The government traded land for railroads, and the railroads peopled the land (101). At the same time, already existing towns recognized that a rail line could foster

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149 economic sustainability and so voted bonds overwhelmingly for a promised rail line. The U.S. Cong ress also sought to encourage railroad construction by granting loans and hundreds or even thousands of acres to companies per each mile of track they laid. In turn, the railroad companies could sell the land immediately to settlers. In other words, government support enabled the railroads to manufacture customers for their services where little or no demand previously existed. These customers procured raw materials and produced agricultural goods for an increasingly integrated national and global marketplace. According to one historian, The railroad was creating a new West, a fruit growing, wheat and cotton and beet and hopgrowing West, a West transfixed by profits ahead. For this was the launching of a new era, brought into existence by the railroad ( Wyman 13). In addition to creating the infrastructure that would make farming in the West an economically viable endeavor and then recruiting settlers to potential farmland, railroad companies further encouraged agricultural production by providing material aid to these new farmers, supporting developments in agricultural sciences, and initiating massive irrigation projects. All of these factors led to a model of production that differed significantly from the small individual farm of the Jeffersonian ideal Instead, singlecrop intensive farming on large holdings predominated, and harvesting could not be accomplished without a massive, mobile labor force that could appear quickly as the seasons demanded. Population in these newly settled areas was far too sparse to provide the pool of human labor necessary for such endeavors. So, just as settlers had been recruited from the East and Midwest to occupy the land permanently, now too did temporary transient workers respond to advertisements placed by labor agents and western growers in

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150 eastern urban newspapers. While observers typically assumed the hobos mobility stemmed from an essential characteristic of the individual, high turnover rates had less to do with the desire of the worker and more to do with the f act that the need for labor in the agricultural sector fluctuated with the season and both the mining and logging industries were plagued by shutdowns (Wyman 102). Farming communities celebrated the arrival of these transients, who worked for low wages and without whom the crops would have rotted before being processed and shipped to market. With the harvest complete, however, those same communities sought to expel this excess and idle homeless population that now seemed a threat rather than a salvation. Rather directly, then, the railroads created the hobo by creating unique circumstances that required the specific form of labor only transients could provide, so that these hoboes were being carried on the very form of transport that had opened the West t o intensive agriculture a form of agriculture that demanded thousands and thousands of them to bring in the harvest (Wyman 24). Being forced to move from place to place by economic impetus as well as social and legal pressures that mounted when there was no longer work to be done, those who traveled in search of wages tended to gain a wide variety of low level skills by virtue of responding to the fluctuating regional and industry needs. They not only harvested diverse crops, each of which required special ized technique, but they also found work in the railroad, logging, and mining sectors. If the hobo proved so necessary to production, then, he becomes that much more difficult to vilify entirely, especially during the Progressive Era. Populist officials b egan to question whether men without work such as those searching for wheat threshing jobs each summer were criminals, and by the turn of the century, some

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151 observers began arguing that hoboes should be distinguished from shiftless or dangerous tramps and bums, given that the hobo was en route to a job, while the tramp dreams and wanders and the bum drinks and wanders (Wyman 266, 265). Given the crucial role the transient worker played, attempts to malign him, much less eradicate him entirely, would have been baldly hypocritical at best and economically deleterious at worst. So, the discursive construction of the hobo figureor, more precisely, the discursive rehabilitation of the tramp figure was not solely a defensive measure originating from within the transient population itself, nor from revisionist historians seeking to uncover suppressed labor contributions. In fact, presenting an image of a willingly migratory worker had benefits from the bourgeois capitalist perspective. Because the com plete elimination of the homeless migrant proved an elusive goal no matter how vilified he might be in the Savage Tramp tradition, and because transient casual labor proved essential to the national economy given the seasonal fluctuations in demand, the re presentational tradition of the Americana Hobo comes to serve a vital ideological function. The Hobos appearance marks an attempt to rhetorically appropriate the figure of the homeless transient and make positive use of him on behalf of the capitalist mod e of production. As in Walter Brennans portrayal of the Colonel, he is redeployed as an apolitical, folksy, anti intellectual yet wise, individualistic, ultimately hardworking and essentially American character. To paraphrase Voltaire, if the hobo had not already existed, it would have been necessary to invent him as a worker who had accepted and acclimated to prevailing conditions of labor while apparently remaining dignified and independent.

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152 While Lee O. Harris uses his 1878 novel The Man Who Tramps to warn his readers about the threat of the conspiratorial Savage Tramp (as discussed in the previous chapter), the author also plays a pivotal role in the establishment and codification of the representational tradition of the Americana Hobo. While Harris portrays a large band of mostly foreign men who advocate anarchist or socialist revolution for entirely cynical reasons (rather than any real affinity with the American worker), he also offers an ontologically and ideological divergent iteration of the homel ess transient, ultimately revealing the character as one of the true heroes of the story, even if he is introduced only in the last third of the narrative. Just as it rehearses all the traits of the dangerous tramp, deserving of punishment and even executi on, Harriss novel presents in clear terms the characteristics of the admirable hobo, even if that word had not yet come into common usage and does not appear in the text. By separating the two figures so deliberately, the novel attempts to provide the rea der with the necessary typological tools to distinguish between the two. In the crusty vagabond Billy Moon, Harris constructs a prototype of the Americana Hobo figure, which will eventually become the most persistent version of the train hopping transient in the national cultural imaginary. Billy exhibits the essential character traits that surface in subsequent examples of this representational tradition that traverse multiple genres in a variety of media. First encountering the novels lost and wandering protagonist Harry Lawson at the beginning of Chapter 18, Billy serves as the evil Black Flynns contrast in every way. The intermittently intrusive narrator proceeds to interpret Billys disposition, drawing conclusions about his mood and, implicitly at le ast, his moral worth. In the readers first meeting with Billy, the vagabond

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153 walked with a light step, and apparently a light heart, for he whistled merrily (209). Unlike Black Flynn, who might have behaved so cheerfully only as part of some sinister str atagem, Billy thinks himself alone, so the reader feels free to trust his actions rather than worry that a manipulative cynicism motivates the performance. The character roams freely, unburdened by property, excessive ambition, or political commitment. App ropriately, it will not take long for the reader to get a sense of Billys colorful vernacular. Repeatedly, when explaining why he would refuse some particular action typically something immoral, ungenerous, or radical he says, Thats not my style. Billy s basic decency, a trait lacking in all the vagrant characters depicted thus far in the novel, immediately becomes apparent when he stumbles on young Harry while the boy sleeps. He asks a series of questions prompted only by concern for the boys wellbeing, and then offers his empathy. Yes, yes; I see, said the man; I know. Out of work; out of friends; out of money; out of heart; tired and hungry, and all that. Been sick, too, haint you? (210). Recognizing the telltale signs of road weariness, Billy assumes the role of wise and avuncular mentor, taking Harry into his care. During their ensuing travels together, Harry will learn valuable lessons from Billy on a wide range of subjects, and the reader will begin to see that not all men of the road are harbingers of social upheaval. Some, although obscured by a layer of dirt and occasional intemperate behav ior, can be almost saintly. Harry soon realizes that transients may be separated typologically even ontologically according to their essential moral character. This is an honest man Harry thinks after only a few minutes in Billys company. He is no tramp, as that term is generally understood. Such a nature would not stoop to beg, and he is too good natured to steal (212). The narrator

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154 acknowledges that Harry experiences the same confusion likely felt by the reader, as the protagonist and reader surrogate was at a loss to understand his new companion, who indignantly denied being a tramp, yet, save the begging and crime which are characteristic of the modern article, he could not see so much distinction after all (219). The narrator then helpfully intrudes in order to rehearse a subtle, yet finally profound, taxonomical delineation that occurs only on the species level. A more worldly individual, pres umably such as the narrator, would have recognized Billy as one of a class by no means small in this country restless men, who acquire the habit of wandering, and are never content to settle down to any regular employment. Like Billy, these men do not lack skill one could accurately describe many of them as tradesmen and good mechanics but they have no ambition or stability of purpose, and often they turn to drink. Still, they remain [g]oodhearted fellows in the main, most of them, who harm them selves more than any one else. Unlike the Savage Tramp, members of this subset do not exploit their numbers to impose themselves collectively on industry and society, recognizing themselves as but one wing of the great army of tramps (219). Indeed, as a good hoboas a good manBilly bristles at political discussion generally, especially eschewing any form of collectivist radicalism. Harris inserts extended editorial asides throughout the novel to debunk radical political philosophy and action, and Billy echoes the narrators conclusions. Explaining to Harry why he avoids tramps, Billy recounts his experiences in their midst, emphasizing their dubious political positions. Ive heerd em talk. I stumbled onto a camp of em once, and there was a feller there makin a sot o speech to em, and he told em that things was a goin to be fixed up sos they all git rich. They was goin to divide up things, he said, and theyd all git a sheer. I wanted to ask em how long

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155 theyd keep it, but I dassent to, cause you see they thought I was as good a tramp as any of em. Lots o people think that, like as not, to look at me. (218) He understands that such speech is no mere idle talk. These tramps are constitutionally dangerous, violent menat best deluded, at worst predatory committed agents of chaos, one and all. Theyve got a lot o fellers among em thatd jest as leave cut a mans throat as not, he tells Harry, and the most of em would rather steal than beg any time when they git a chance (218). Still, despi te the danger, Billy sometimes he cannot help but respond directly to their lies. In a later chapter that depicts a communists meeting, he lays claim to his status as a noble Americana Hobo when, following several speeches by radical tramps, he counters with straightforward nonpartisan wisdom, and in doing so exposes their disinformation and hypocrisy. Employing several rhetorical strategies, he begins by challenging the idea that tramps comprise a class deserving of sympathy, insisting that their compl aints of material deprivation have been greatly exaggerated: You talk about starvin. Well, how many of you fellers is a starvin? Come, hold up your hands. You haint, hay! (256). In distinguishing himself from this ignoble audience, Billy makes it clea r that he knows his social place and can admit to his failings, acknowledging that I drinks my beer when I wants it an can git it, and I spect it puts more color in my nose than nickels in my pocket. Unlike the tramps, he takes individual responsibilit y for his station in life, refusing to blame others. He identifies no socioeconomic forces beyond any one individuals control that might lead that person into the precarity and poverty of irregular employment. Systemic inequity does not concern him. Proudly, he boasts, I aint one of them fellers what believes that cause some fellers rich thats the reason Im poor. Finally, he admonishes the gathering of tramps, Why dont you go to work, but at this

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156 point he is prevented from speaking further (257). (The narrator, meanwhile, provides an even more trenchant analysis than Billy, editorializing on both the character of the individual speakers and the illegitimacy of the labor movements claims.) Billys last admonishment points to the crux of the matter Crucially, the narrator characterizes Billy a tinker as someone who works carrying the wares of his trade, a bundle of old umbrella handles and wires, tied up in a piece of dirty canvas (209). He disassociates himself from shirkers, predicting the dis tinction between tramps and hoboes well before the latter term acquired the meaning ascribed to it by observers like Ben Reitman, Nels Anderson, and others. Im none of your whinin, thievin tramps, now dont you forget it, he insists. Im a respectabl e travelin mechanic. This assertion carries such import that Billy repeats it only a few pages later, admitting that while he may have chosen to submit to his wanderlust, Im none of your lousy, thievin tramps, I tell you that (218). When, in a benevolent gesture, he shares his resources with Harry, he reassures the boy that his food has been obtained legitimately, in the marketplace, rather than through mendicancy: This here grub is paid for in good, honest coppers (211). Billy metonymically conflat es money with labor, so that the currency exchanged for the food becomes an indicator of moral character. The spender of those coppers necessarily must possess a thoroughgoing work ethic in order to have earned the money to spend. Harry, like the presumed reader, has limited experience on the road and makes critical observations during this initial encounter with his new mentor that allow him to articulate for himself fundamental principles of laissez faire capitalism. He comes to understand that wealth r edistribution only assumes validity if it occurs free of all compulsion. This realization has ethical implications not only for the giver, but also

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157 for the receiver. This is not begging, Harry can safely assure himself when accepting Billys food. What is freely offered, I may take without shame (212). Loyalty to a newly found downandout friend, then, rather than pity or charity or the urge to correct some structural inequity, underpins the older hobos gesture. A value appropriate to the context of a friendship, loyalty does not extend across communities formed along class lines or motivate collectivized mutual aid. Rather, it bonds one individual to another, as does a formal business contract. As the remainder of the plot reveals itself, Billy has a mple opportunities to demonstrate his loyalty to Harry. At the behest of Harrys long lost and well off uncle, Mr. Conover, a private detective searches for the boy, eventually managing to locate Billy Moon in the course of his task. Before he has had the opportunity to assess the detectives motives, Billy remains aloof, refusing to answer any questions or even admit that he knows Harry. Once the detective has gained his trust, Billy reveals that Harry has been ill with a debilitating fever, and responds i ncredulously when the detective asks if he has obtained a doctors services. Dye spose Is goin to let the little chap lay there and die thout help? Thats not my style. I hadnt much money, thats a fact, but I found a doctor that agreed to see him c heap, and I managed to work round and git enough to pay for his medicine and keepin (262). When pressed by the detective as to why he would go to such lengths for a relative stranger, he continues, Well, what o that? Not so much stranger, neither. Did nt we travel together all the way from Indjiany? Dye think I was goin to throw off on him when he got down so he couldnt help hisself? Thats not my style (262). The road breeds profound solidarity, although not the allegiance born of class consciousness, but a bond of friendship between two males who have shared a particularly intense

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158 experience: the crucible of the road. If Billys drunkenness results in the occasional moment of comic relief, his generous impulse ultimately overwhelms his profligacy. As he explains to the detective, I spect Id been drunk half the time if it hadnt been for takin care of the boy. I was a gittin on a kind of spree tonight, and was purty considerable how come ye so when you seed me; but I wouldnt a got down as long as hes not able to help hisself (262). At the novels climax, Harry remains bedridden with fever when confronted by Black Flynn, who has tracked him down to the boardinghouse where Billy Moon has kept vigil over his young ward. Flynn has sworn revenge for a disfiguring injury previously inflicted by Harry in self defense. The confrontation takes place against the backdrop of the 1877 railroad riots in Pittsburgh, during which the city burns at the hands of malevolent tramps and strikers. Billy had taken leave of his place by Harrys bed in order to get a closer view of the action, but he is unable to return, being hemmed in by the struggling mass, and borne irresistibly along with, until he was far removed from his friend (277). This mass functions analogously to any collectivist movement, trapping and dragging along even goodhearted people who interact with it out of mere curiosity. Later, recounting the sequence of events, Billy reiterates this parallel when he remarks that he got mixed up in the crowd (280). Billys error leaves Harry unprotected when the flames spread to his building, which also happens to be the precise moment that Flynn makes his entrance. Fortunately, Billy follows just in time to save Harry from Flynns knife and knock the t ramp to the ground, while repeating his catchphrase: Youll not murder the young chap while Im around. Thats not my style (278). Billy proceeds to rescue Harry, pulling him from the burning building with the help

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159 of the detective who has also convenien tly just arrived on the scene, while Black Flynn remains trapped to perish in the flames. The reader enjoys the satisfaction of vengeance in watching this dastardly villain burn to death while knowing that the heroes motives remain pure. Billy remarks, I m almost sorry we left him there, but I forgot all about him, Is so anxious to get the boy out. The detective, while insisting that Flynn deserved his fate, also maintains that he would not have left him to die such a death if there had been time to save him, but the fire was at our heels as we came down the stairs (279). Mr. Conover, once reunited with his nephew Harry, emphasizes the Americana Hobos heroic status, observing that we would have been too late, had it not been for this brave fellow, Billy Moon (280). In attempt to reward Billy, Mr. Conover asks, Is there anything in which I can help you? before offering to take Billy into his home and arrange for better employment than mending umbrellas (281, 282). Billy has earned through his moral and heroic actions a better mode of living, Conover insists, but this hobo by his very nature remains happy with his station in life and does not seek to rise inappropriately. Shifting between first and the third person over the course of a brief monol og, he explains to Conover that Billy Moon would be a fish out of water at you fine house, and hed only be in your way. Im a reglar vagerbon and I spect Ill never be anything else. Id git the blues, and then Id either git drunk or run away and t ake to the road agin. [Y]ou cant make anything but a vagerbon outn Billy Moon, if youd try. When Harry makes a final attempt to convince Billy to stay, the vagerbon reiterates more forcefully his position in another monolog. I couldnt live no other way but like Ive been a doin. Itd kill me to have to stay round in one place all the time. Id

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160 want to be out on the road agin in less than a week (288). However noble this Hobo may appear, he remains on a fundamental level the embodied antithesi s of certain bourgeois values domesticity, thrift, accumulation of surplus capital and so cannot successfully mix with the middle classes. Because vagabondage stems from an essential characteristic, attempts to reform the most committed Hobo necessarily fail. Consequently, while the middle class reader may now see that theres many a poor fella what hasnt had no chance in life, and may be its not his fault that hes not fit for nothin Icept jet to wander from place to place (as Billy puts it), that reader also receives absolution from taking concrete steps to address the problem of homelessness (288). In the end, their natures condemn tramps and hoboes alike to a life of wandering, and these compulsions cannot be overcome even by the opportunity to s hare in the spoils of a capitalist society, rendering any attempt at structural reform inherently doomed to failure. Similarly, individual benevolence toward transients is folly by definition, as the deserving hobos admirable self reliance and survival sk ills would prevent him from ever accepting anything he perceives as a handout, while any tramp who begs is axiomatically undeserving of charity. Through his actions, Billy bears out these conclusions. Just as Harry accepted Billys offer of food reluctantl y, and only after he confirmed that to do so would not constitute a form of begging, Billy refuses any and all offered rewards or gifts. Over the course of the story, while mentoring Harry, the older hobo loses his umbrellamending kit, which defined him as a worker when he first appeared on the page. When Mr. Conover asks him what he will do, now that the adventure has come to a close, Billy explains, Im a umbrella mender, and work at that most of the time. He would continue

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161 to do so now, had not been s eparated from his kit. Here, he obviously sets himself apart from Black Flynn and his ilk, who all refused to labor except when absolutely necessary. Billy remains so committed to his individualism that the only generosity he will accept from Mr. Conover i s a replacement mending kit, and even then he insists, I dont ask it, mind you; and Ill pay you back as soon as I make the money (281). For Harrys benefit, Billy positions his life as a cautionary tale when he explains that [w]hen a chap spends the best parts of his life a wanderin round, and never settles down to anything, its hard to break him of it (282). As with the Savage Hobo, the Americana Hobos transience stems from individual and innate character rather than structural circumstances. Wh en Harry asks why Billy, obviously an industrious and competent man, finds himself on the road rather than putting forth the effort necessary for sustained economic success, Billy explains that he is a reglar born vagerbon (218). So, Harry must feel fortunate not have remained transient much longer, else he might have fallen forever beyond the civilizing influence of a settled life. Still, times spent as on the road under the tutelage of a genuine Hobo provides a unique, meaningful, formative experience. The reader understands that Harry now has a story to tell and appreciates bourgeois privilege to a degree that sets him apart from others who have never faced such challenges. Billy articulates this sentiment when hinting at the future nostalgia to be generated from the events that constitute the novels plot. A dmonishing Harry, he pleads, When youre in your fine home, with all your friends about you to love and take care of you, dont forget the time when you and Billy Moon paddled along the road toget her (288). In this way, The Man Who Tramps establishes yet another common trope of the American Hobo representational tradition, according to

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162 which the younger apprentice returns to societys fold by the narratives conclusion, often poised on the brink o f a sanctioned, heteronormative domestic scenario that supplants the homosocial male bonds forged in travel. In this particular case, the narrator assures the reader that Harry and Carrie (the daughter of a benevolent family that took Harry in for a brief period) in reunion make the latent manifest, their hands met, and then nay, sneer not, you in whose poor withered hearts the well springs of love have perished in the desert of conventional lifeand thentheir lips (291). (Similarly, at the end of Meet J ohn Doe, Long John Willoughby carries Ann Mitchell off screen and symbolically across the nuptial threshold, while the Colonel presumably returns to the road.) As in the typical Horatio Alger story, the younger, temporary tramp at the end of the narrative stands positioned to embark on a legitimate middleclass career. In the final pages of the book, the narrator looks to the future, announcing that after a period of education, Harry will enter a prosperous mercantile business in which Mr. Conover had purc hased a partnership (293). That Harry emerges from his tramping ordeal unscathed, and even wiser for it, while Billy remains doomed to roam the countryside like an industrial age reiteration of the Wandering Jew (for mocking the full rationalization of the work ethic, perhaps) suggests another valence of Americas ambivalent relationship with mobility. While the hobo exhibits numerous traits worthy of admiration and even celebration, a citizen should not wish to become a hobo. Seelye makes an observation e ssential to developing a full understanding of the ideological deployment of the tramp figure in its various guises: the divergent valuations of the noun tramp and the verb tramping. Without being an actual tramp, he argues, Dean [Moriarty] has the tram ping urge,

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163 possessed of vague recklessness as a disaffiliated seeker (538). This distinctionand the confusion regarding where exactly the distinction breaks downaccompanies other approaches to the intertwined subjects of actor and action, whether addr essing reality or representation. Higbie has shown that social investigators who endeavored to explain and hopefully solve the problem of transience in the latenineteenth and early twentieth century tended to demonstrate a pronounced ambivalence toward their subjects. While the tramp was villainous, lazy, dirty, and dangerous to the community[,] investigators often wrote about trampingas opposed to tramps as a liberating experience (75). To spend time tramping may be good for the character, but to bec ome a tramp entails separating oneself, perhaps permanently, from the goods American society has to offer. Stealing rides on trains and sleeping in track side jungles, the Americana Hobo skirts the narrow line dividing the liberated and admirable from the degraded and ignoble, and by virtue of taking this dangerous path he derives both his appeal and his theoretical significance. This mode of existence stimulates a series of questions the answers to which are fraught with ideological implications: How long can a person embrace mobility before a return to productive domestic normativity becomes impossible? How should America reconcile its veneration of both the nonconformist pioneer and the nuclear family unit? How much material success must be attained to re nder rugged individualism an unambiguously admirable trait? H ow much freedom is too much? These questions draw the line that separates the Savage Tramp and the Americana Hobo. In their bearing on efforts to define the American character, the tensions between these two cultural representations of the vagabond find rough parallel in the constructions of the indigenous peoples of America by Europeans and their

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164 descendants. From the earliest encounters, these constructions in texts, prints, paintings, sculptur es, performances in all conceivable media stemmed from a need to render their subject legible through simplistic categorization (Krech 16). An understanding of the cultural work representations of the Indian as either the Ignoble Savage or the Noble Savag e perform enables a better grasp of the Hobos ideological functions. Sharing roughly the same sources of inspiration, the two representational traditions of the Indian produce contradictory figures. In The White Mans Indian, Robert F. Berkhofer, Jr. del ineates the characteristics associated with each of the two traditions: the ignoble Indian is depraved, naked, lecherous, promiscuous, vain, warlike, fiendish, brutal, loathsome, filthy, indolent, improvident, treacherous, deceitful, and superstitious whi le the noble Indian is humble, tranquil, dignified, courageous, independent, appreciative of nature, and innocent, possessing handsomeness of physique and physiognomy and great stamina and endurance (28). Because such pure examples of malevolence on the one hand and innocent primitivism on the other exist as images rather than corresponding to real people, any meaning to be gleaned from them pertains to the authors of those images: to understand the White image of the Indian is to understand White socie ties and intellectual premises over time more than the diversity of Native Americans. [I]t is ultimately to the history of White values and ideas that we must turn for the basic conceptual categories, classificatory schema, explanatory frameworks, and moral criteria by which past and present Whites perceived, observed, evaluated, and interpreted Native Americans, whether as literary and artistic images, as subjects of scientific curiosity, or as objects of philanthropy and policy. As fundamental White way s of looking at themselves changed, so too did their ways of conceiving of Indians (xvi).

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165 The same may be said of the homeless migrant: the way in which he is interpreted, categorized, and characterized reveals more about the dominant society that does the interpreting, categorizing, and characterizing than it does about the tramp himself. The Indian as ignoble savage in the clutches of Satan appears as a trope in literary production of Puritan New England and persists through films in the Western genre well into the twentieth century (Berkhofer 83). Indolent heathens incapable of assimilation at best and capable of unspeakably violent acts against whites and each other at worst, Indians of this type justify the most reactionary measures in support of ci vilizations progress. The stereotypes of both the ignoble savage Indian and the Savage Tramp transform actually existing and complex human beings into caricatures that become objects of fear, derision, and assault, and so justify ruthless campaigns of era dication or (for the more liberal minded) reform and assimilation. Although divergent in their methods, eradication and reform share as their goal the elimination of a perceived existential threat. To facilitate this goal, these parallel stereotypical repr esentations generate descriptions of their subjects based on a lack of conformity to the standards of dominant society, rendering their objects wholly other. Yet, in their very deviation from the normative prescriptions of the dominant society, the figure of the Indian and the figure of the tramp share the potential for sympathetic portrayals. Because Indians lacked certain or all aspects of White civilization, they could be viewed as bad or good depending upon the observer s feelings about his own soci ety and the use to which he wanted to put the image, Berkhofer argues, meaning that in the hands of the white observer ambivalent about modern life, representations of the Indian could serve as a vehicle for critique (2728).

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166 The acceleration of urbanizat ion and industrialization of the late nineteenth century brought with it the sense of a disconnection from an unspoiled natural world so central to American national identity. The Indian had long played a central role in the narrative that produced this id entity, culminating in the antebellum era with The Song of Hiawatha, Longfellows epic romantic enshrinement the Indian brave in poetic verse as a full fledged heroic figure (Mitchell 106). In the decades after the Civil War, this tendency became manif est in the phenomenon historian Roderick Nash has identified as the American cult of the primitive, which celebrated the Indians harmonious relationship with nature. It appeared that civilization entailed the potential loss of some fundamental quality t hat had previously freed Americans from the decadence and social rigidity of Europe, and it now seemed that the Indianconveniently all but eliminated as a threat could lead the way back to Eden. The rhetoric of primitivism extended well beyond literary c ulture, appearing even in mainstream political discourse. Touching on these concerns in a speech delivered in 1899, Theodore Roosevelt lamented the impact of idle leisure granted by excessive civilization and promulgated the doctrine of the strenuous life for both the individual and the nation (1). While in large measure an enthusiastic call for the United States to engage in imperialist overseas endeavors, the speech conflates such geopolitical strivings with the personal imperative to embrace those vir ile qualities necessary to win the stern strife of actual life and escape the fate of the over civilized man, who has lost the great fighting, masterful virtues (2, 7). As well, his call to reject that base spirit of gain and greed which recognizes in commercialism the beall and end all of national life resonated at the turn of the twentieth century, when the ever more integrated

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167 marketplace engendered antimodern attitudes among Americans who longed for physical vitality and spiritual insight (Roosevelt 8; Armitage 73). For those drawn to such sentiments, the American Indian provided a ready made Adamic figure (Baird 197). Yet, Native Americans racial otherness remained a stumbling block. In the antebellum period, strands of literary and philos ophical discourse transposed perceived admirable traits of the pure, innocent, noble Indian onto what critic R.W.B. Lewis identifies as the figure of the American Adam, an individual emancipated from history, happily bereft of ancestry, untouched and unde filed by the usual inheritances of family and race; an individual standing alone, self reliant and self propelling, ready to confront whatever awaited him with the aid of his own unique and inherent resources (5). In the novels of James Fenimore Cooper, f or example, the untracked American forest and, indeed, the entire world lies all before the hero, although to survive that hero must keep two jumps ahead of time, before the encroachment of civilization (Lewis 100). After the devastation of the C ivil War and the closing of the frontier, however, the nations Edenic promise had been largely erased, its innocence lost. In this postlapserian era, with both the American Adam and his Indian analog moving inevitably toward the oblivion of history, the H obo arrives, likewise a self realized and self directed figure, comfortable within picaro and isolato narratives, a latter day Natty Bump p o who negotiates the wilderness of modernity, the railroads and track side jungles. No longer forced to move only west ward, but rather free to circulate in all directions, he is a something of secular pilgrim, with the road itself as the destination, simultaneously achieved and out of reach.

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168 The ideological gestures that construct Americas indigenous population as the No ble Savage provide a template for the recuperative measures that recast the vagabond as the Americana Hobo, exemplified by the characters such as the Colonel or Billy Moon. Ultimately, with minor variations, both of these figurative types allow for the unc omplicated celebration of American characters most virtuous traits. They each represent a pure distillation of independence, self reliance, uncomplicated wisdom, and authenticity. Moreover, characterizations of the Americana Hobo and Noble Savage solidify in the cultural imaginary at roughly the same historical moment, during the decades on either side of the twentieth centurys turn. The popularity of Wild West shows from the 1880s to the 1930s, such as Wild Bills, accelerated the coalescence of the most influential images of the Indian, and these images would persist in filmic constructions of the character. Despite the generalizations thrust upon the members of each of these populations, both Native Americans and homeless migrants managed to assume contributory roles in the constructions of such iconic representations, exercising a degree of agency in their respective receptions. Arguing in Wild West Shows and Images of American Indians that Native American participants in these performances were not merely exploited vehicles for the delivery of stereotypes and clichs, L.G. Moses suggests these performers resisted assimilationthe socalled civilizing mission of the reformers who would have them stay on the reservation and become productive in the in dustrial sense and were relatively well compensated for it. Of course, as discussed above, tramps and hoboes had greater access to the tools of cultural and particularly literary production than did Indians and so likely had greater influence on the development of their public image.

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169 Through their presence in popular culture the images of both the Indian and the Hobo have been invested with the elusive and enviable trait of authenticity, inspiring a romanticizing process that at times approaches fetishism. Robert Baird points to the imaginative mythopoeic process that recurs in American history, letters, and media whereby a white man leaves behind his culture and goes native, shedding his European name and adopting a natural name (196, 203). Natty Bumppo becomes Hawkeye (or Deerslayer or Leatherstocking or Pathfinder) and Lt. John J. Dunbar becomes Dances with Wolves. This sequence is the quintessential American myththe self made man rediscovering both America and, most important, his own true self in the process. Freed from the oppressive yoke of European tradition, self made even to his name this character of literature and film has, after two hundred years, become only more solidified in our consciousness (203). Yet, the Americana Hobo provides a way for the white American who desires an authentic experience a vehicle for a more readily available fantasy than that of the Noble Savage. A white audience shares ethnic and national backgrounds with the Hobo, and so can more readily identify with him Like the Indian, the Hobo lives a free, simple, and true life, liberated from the bad faith that haunts so many denizens of industrial society. The ritual of becoming a hobo also often involves the abandonment of ones given name in favor of a rail rider s moniker: Jack London becomes Sailor Jack and Leon Ray Livingston becomes A No. 1. In romantic opposition to the artificiality of social convention and over civilization, the Hobo rejects external pressures, refusing to conform to the demands of a soulless, rationalized, mechanized world of work. At the same time, he remains committed to his rugged individualism and eschews the calls of any form of collectivist politics. The last point

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170 reveals him as a true nonconformist who presents no real threat t o the structural status quo, an individualist beyond ideology as if understanding individualism as a marker of authenticity is not itself a function of ideology. The narrative of the Noble Savage emphasizes the compassion of the first Thanksgiving over descriptions of indigenous resistance to an invading force. Similarly, whatever the actual historical role of migrant workers played in the radical political actions of the Industrial Workers of the World and other groups, the figure of the Hobo goes a long way toward neutering that history. Rather than acknowledging Wobbly organizer E.J. Footes claim in a 1908 issue of Industrial Union Bulletin that [e]verywhere you go you find the spark of revolt smoldering in [the] souls of those men who carry their beds in a roll on their backs, representations of the Hobo tend to conform to the assertion E.R. Lewis, an engineer with the Michigan Central Railroad, made in 1912 in the Railway Age Gazette: The hobo seldom strikes. If he does not get what he considers his rights, he leaves; usu ally without comment (17; qt d in Wyman 268). When it comes to the Hobos place in the cultural imaginary, this process of deradicalization takes place again and again. Jack London deliberately framed the time he spent as a tra mp as a critique of capitalism, but those stories are rarely taught and read. Woody Guthrie understood the radical semiotic value of the hobo image when he overstated his rail riding experiences in his memoir, Bound for Glory (1943), but children now sing a compromised version of Guthries fellow travelers song This Land is Your Land in elementary school. In turn, Bob Dylan began his career imitating Guthrie, understanding the elder folk singer as a paragon of authenticity thus creating his

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171 persona as a pastiche of an exaggerationbut he later transcended politics to produce pure art after leav ing topical folk songs behind.3 The parallel between Indian and Hobo takes perhaps its most direct form in material culture through the circulation of hobo nickel s. In 1913 to 1938, the United States Mint issued a coin that has become known as the Buffalo nickel, a fivecent piece depicting the profile of a generic Plains Indian (actually a composite of Oglala Sioux, Seneca, and Cheyenne models) on the face and a buffalo on the reverse. James Earle Fraser, the sculptor who designed the nickel, explained in an interview that he wanted to do something totally Americana coin that could not be mistaken for any other countrys coin. It occurred to me that the buffalo as part of our western background, was 100% American, and that our North American Indian fitted into the picture perfectly (Burdett 224). Given that the profile occupied a significantly larger surface area than any previous American coin design and that the nickel was struck in easily malleable metal made the coin an ideal carving canvas for numerous and mostly anonymous men riding the rails, who would while away hours transforming the coins into small tokens of folk art (Cokeley 21). Some producer s of these artifacts became well known, such as Bertram Wiegand (who filed away the L, I, and Y in the word LIBERTY in order to leave his signature, BERT) and his apprentice, George Washington Hughes (known as Bo). Their work has becomes highly valued by numismatists, with some individual pieces selling for thousands of dollars, while altered nickels produced by unknown artists still fetch a minimum of hundreds of dollars in online auctions. In this folk art tradition, the hobo artist literally superimposes himself over image of the Indian, submerging the original 100% American icon (itself

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172 constructed by an outside observer) and that icons implied narrative. Albeit through the manipulation of a limiting template and using as a medium the curr ency of the very economic system that relegates him to the fringes, the hobo carves a self image specifically, a caricatured imageto present to the world. This submerging of the Indian illuminates other ways that the emergence of the iconic Hobo serves an important national ethnic duty. In emphasizing the role the Hobo played in Western railroad, mining, logging, and agriculture industries, the discourse of national development obscures the role played by Native American, Chinese, Japanese, and Mexican transient labor. As DePastino explains, with the growing demand for itinerant labor, those who found themselves included in the emerging hobo category forged a group identity that drew upon shared experiences of class, plebian notions of whiteness, and pec uliar expressions of masculinity ( Citizen 61). The Hobo becomes coded as white and American, even if transient laborers from other ethnic and cultural backgrounds did the same work. This function illuminates a fundamental difference between the American H obo and the noble Indian: no matter how noble the individual Indian, Indians by virtual of racial categorization remain the quintessential Other, whose role is to be the object of the White, colonialist gaze, and so cannot ever truly enter the socioecono mic mainstream (Bird 4). Conversely, even while many the hoboes arrive at the end of a narrative without shedding their alien social status, some of them those that serve as audience surrogates are allowed to return to the domestic industrial fold by virtue of their racial position. Unlike the Indian, the Hobo remains ethnically privileged, and unlike the Tramp, the Hobo has never eschewed

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173 labor entirely and so retains at least the potential to reintegrate socially. As we shall see, some of them do follow H arry Lawson and John Willoughby to do just that. Even while enabling the individual fantasy of a liberated, adventurous, manly life, the freedom and even the anti authoritarianism associated with the figure of the hobo according to this representational tr adition still perform a discursive function that benefits the dominant culture attending an emerging corporate economy. Given the economic disparity and oftentimes abject working conditions that prevailed during the Gilded Age, the adoption and celebration of the Hobo figurewhen precisely deployedbegins to make good rhetorical sense as part of the national narrative of classlessness and anti elitism. To be a hobo is to make a choice, to adopt a deliberately free life irrespective of larger structural fact ors, so that no reforms are necessary to address the unequal distribution of benefits of economic growth. In this figure percolates a Revolutionary inheritance, a Jeffersonian vision, a roughand tumble Jacksonian democracy. The agricultural ladder imagined by Jefferson and rearticulated by Lincoln in the 1850s theoretically allowed a farm hand to save his wages and eventually become a landowner and employer himself, but this imagined worker no longer started from the same social and economic position in th e West after the Civil War and had far fewer opportunities to exercise his right to rise. To be sure, the hired man had been a fixture of farm life for generations; he ate with the family, had a place in the community. But mechanization allowed farm fami lies to dispense with his services. As farmers specialized to realize economies of scale, they needed seasonal, not permanent, labor; and as western farms expanded farms of 500 or more acres increased 43 percent between 1880 and 1890they required quanti ties of seasonal labor. (Beatty 106) If the ladder then no longer reliably afforded ascent in the West, the Americana Hobo provided a reassuring recalibration of the independent yeoman farmer ideal. As

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174 the railroads covered more ground, facilitating capitalist speculation in land and commodities, production increasingly relied on intensive farming methods practiced on large landholdings. The image of the hobo entails the implicit acknowledgment that property ownership may not become a reality for all, or ev en the majority but even if the average white American male can no longer realistically expect to rise from laborer to the freedom of self sustaining landowner by dint of hard work, he can take comfort in the knowledge that following the Civil War, he may act according to the free labor ideal. The individual worker remains ostensibly free to sell his labor to highest bidder, free to quit any unemployment that fails to meet his standard and seek wages elsewhere (even if custom and even legislation will compl icate this liberty). And even then, the metaphor of the ladder persisted. Eventually, much like the penniless immigrant who builds a highly lucrative business, the revelation that some famous person or other was a former hobo would reveal the supposedly c lassless, or at least fluid, nature of American society. Even if they may represent a statistically insignificant minority of the whole transient population, sufficient examples exist of those white, nativeborn males who started on (or at least occupied f or a time) the lowest rungs of the socioeconomic ladder as hoboes yet managed to work their way up to success and respectability for opponents of regulation to support their case. Even if not all of them would come away from the experience convinced of the value of laissez faire, at one time or another, the likes of Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglass, oil magnate H.L. Hunt, poet Carl Sandburg, novelists Louis LAmour and James Michener, and singer and actor Burl Ives all rode the rails, demonstrating that America remains the

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175 land of the freehowever much the conceptual content of that freedom appears to be in flux. In their specific details, representational strategies applied to the Hobo typically respond in some direct way to prevailing economic conditions, with different facets of the character coming to the fore. By the 1930s, the homeless vagabond had largely morphed into an object of sympathy, reimagined as the Forgotten Man identified by Franklin Roosevelt i n his speech of April 17, 1932.4 Ke nneth L. Kusmer notes that perception, representation, and policy regarding the homeless all underwent significant shifts. Unlike the 1870s, the huge increase in the number of people standing in soup lines or riding the freights during the Great Depression the period with which the Hobo is most associated, even if transient workers had played a significant role in the nations economy for decades did not generate a hostile backlash. Rarely did editorialists or policy makers equate this population with political radicalism, [t]he long standing image of the lazy homeless person appeared less often, and the humorous tone of many newspaper stories about beggars and lodging house residents was replaced, for the most part, by more prosaic factual accounts (209). Unemployed transients in search of work stole rides on freight trains in greater numbers than at any previous point in history. Women joined them in numbers great enough to render them visible for the first time, even if they remained a small minority within the mobile population. Food lines snaked for blocks through urban centers, and shantytowns sprung up across the country. Bonus Marchers World War I veterans demanding their payment of the bonuses due in 1945 descended on Washington, D.C.5 With the scope of the crisis reaching spectacular proportions, the public had more and more evidence

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176 that poverty and vagrancy stemmed from causes greater than the personal failings of any one individual. Popular culture in general responded to the Depression in a variety of ways, from escapism to direct confrontation. In The Cultural Front Michael Denning delineates between the eras proliferation of populist rhetorics among and between divergent ideological actors that in aggregate reflected a crisis of repres entation following the 1929 crash (126). Various authoritarian movements used images of class, race, religion, nation, and gender to define and organize the people, while cultural producers of the Popular Front sought to portray a panethnic Americanism informed by an internationalist perspective (127, 130). Eschewing the radical implications of these two oppositional positions, an official, mainstream populist rhetoric emerged in the New Deal state and in the culture industry that offered a sentim ental portrait of a people neither oppressed [n]or exploited, but rather merely forgotten (127). This version of the people found reiteration in multiple venues beyond Roosevelts 1932 speech, perhaps most obviously in the close working relationship between the National Recovery Administration and Hollywood film studios, with the N.R.A.s Blue Eagle logo and slogan of We Do Our Part regularly appearing in the credits of those studios films before the Supreme Court declared the Act unconstitutional in 1935. These representations tended to avoid identification of any structural condition or socioeconomic class as a site of blame for the peoples woes. After all, the people need fear only fear itself. The solution to the plight of the people, then, was as emotional or attitudinal as it was material.

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177 In vying for representational authority regarding the character of the American peopleof Americanism itself cultural producers invested in any particular thread of populist rhetoric often evoked the determi nation and authenticity embodied by the figure of the hobo. While hobo characters generally assumed a less prominent position as representatives of the people in Popular Front rhetoric, a hobo vogue permeated the popular culture more generally in the mid dle years of the 1930s as folklorists catalogued artifacts, songs, and lore, and writers again turned to the romantic narrative of the road in rejection of commercial artifice and in pursuit of authenticity (DePastino, Citizen 213, 212). Serious literature featured realistic portrayals of vagabond characters. In 1935 alone several novels centered around hobo or tramp narratives appeared: Tom Kromers Waiting for Nothing, Nelson Algrens Somebody in Boots (discussed in chapters 3 and 4 respectively), and Edw ard Andersons Hungry Men Andersons vagabond protagonist, Acel Stecker, again draws attention to the limitations of the clown hero formal schema, as he certainly is not a clown, yet does not readily conform to a conventionally heroic model. Mostly, he is an admirable survivor, and as such he serves as a particularly complex iteration of the Americana Hobo figure. Unlike The Man Who Tramps Hungry Men earned a positive critical reputation immediately following its initial appearance and, although it remain ed out of print for decades, reviews of editions published in the 1980s and 1990s announced the rediscovery of a lost literary classic of the Depression.6 Stylistically, the novel exhibits a self conscious modernism, with the terse, hardboiled simplicity reminiscent of Hemingways syntax and diction. The novel employs a picaresque structure, moving the character not only through geographic but also social space.7 Appropriately episodic,

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178 with no throughplot more complicated than a recounting of Steckers periodic efforts to get back on his feet, for the most part it does not over romanticize the hobo life, nor does it portray that life as wholly degraded, lacking any hint of joy. Still, although the novel is more artistically and ideologically nuanced than Harriss novel, in no small part because it willingly acknowledges that its homeless characters inhabit a historical moment of severe economic crisis, Acel ultimately conforms to the Americana Hobo model exemplified by Billy Moon. Motivated by loftier literary ambitions, Anderson paints a serious portrait of a hobo appropriate to the Depression milieu, when his audience would have been unshielded from the visible and widespread deprivation and homelessness. Given the circumstances that accompanied the production of this novel, a hobo as footloose and carefree as Billy Moon would have seemed nave at best, yet he and Acel are of the same species, distant cousins each living a simple, authentic life enabled by wideranging mobility, and each surviving through a commitment to an individualist work ethic, eschewing collectivity, and avoiding charity (or, at least, in the realist narrative, accepting it only in order to persevere long enough to repay it). Both maintain a philosophical perspective on life without becoming mired in political struggle, even if Acel feels a temporary attraction to radical slogans and solutions. Perhaps most importantly, although they may encounter particular indignities stemming from the prejudices of others, neither character appears to suffer systemic persecution or exploitation. The reader, then, may feel admiration and even compassion, but not outrage or a sense of responsibility. These men, both possessed of core American traits, will survive because they will take care of themselv es.

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179 From the start, Acels ongoing internal monolog, presented through a close thirdperson narration, addresses several thematic points that the novel will return to again and again, illustrating the ways in which its representation of homeless mobility w ill vary greatly from that of The Man Who Tramps while also revealing how closely aligned they are on several points of ideology. Contemplating the registration process at a mission in the novels first chapter, Acel thinks to himself, I dont mind this registering business so much. I gripe out on the road about having to go through all this red tape for a bowl of soup, but I dont mind this so much. I guess its because I like to have somebody ask me questions. Its an illusion that somebody is intereste d in me personally. Who is interested in me? The government. Thats because I am a social menace. Thats being something, anyway. (4) These few lines touch on multiple complicated and interrelated ideological concerns. They offer a critique of the represen tational strategies of the Savage Tramp tradition. The thinking individual has been reduced to a category (social menace) that defines him negatively, by what he lacks: a job, a residence, and a support network. By immediately addressing the personal aff ronts an impoverished transient faces in his peregrinations, it provides the necessary details to establish narrative authority regarding the hobo life, distinguishing it from more romantic or nostalgic representations. Acel also announces his cynicism tow ard the impersonal government, yet his loyalties do not lie with the hobo community, either, however much his current material circumstances may suggest that he shares its interests. He resists membership in this group by maintaining that he shares their c omplaints only outwardly, out on the road, in order to avoid standing out, but his heart is not in it. He continues his efforts to reap the benefits of this class while remaining apart, hoping perhaps that his self criti cism affords him some distance.

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180 Mu ch of the Hobos appeal lies in his capacity for far flung, cost free, independent movement around the country, which presents a means to an end and serves as a virtue in and of itself. Time and again, Acel demonstrates an understanding of mobilitys inher ent value from the distinct perspective of a hobo, and the novels episodic structure reflects his almost perpetual motion. At the beginning of the narrative, mobility for him has already become a technique for survival, materially and psychologically. To stay on the moveto become a hoborequires initiative and stamina, whereas a merely inert bum (who neither works nor wanders) lacks the will. Movement offers no guarantee that a persons lot will improve, but failing to move condemns a person never to rise. Any pioneering action entails the risk of failure, and in a national culture that celebrates the pioneer spirit, this truism allows for the noble portrayal of the Hobo. It makes sense, then, that the novels hoboes respond to rumors of New Deal initiativ es intended to stabilize transients both by providing government regulated shelters and by vagging everybody they catch on the highways and around freight yards with anxiety and resentment (218). After an introductory chapter that establishes the novel s tone and the general deprivations of the transient life, the second chapter announces the conditions that motivate Acels movement: he has been on the road for almost two years, ever since losing his job as a trumpet player in an orchestra in Juarez. (A ccording to Acel, he was fired because he knew he was better than the rest of the band, not because of any deficiency of talent on his part.) He now plans to quit the nations capital, where he has just recently arrived, and continue on to New York, where he plans to reenter the music industry. Theres a fellow up there from my home town whos a pretty big shot in the

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181 music game, he explains to one of his many temporary traveling companions. Im going to look him up and tell him I need a job (1516). Al though it gradually becomes apparent that this big shot, Red Gholson, will provide no such opportunity, Acel does not give up hope on his larger plan of once again earning his living as a musician. After a brief period of aimlessness, he takes a job as a m essman in the galleys of the S.S. Picfair a local pleasure boat, resolving to save his earnings so that he can buy a suit. In presentable clothes, he reasons that he will be in a better position to approach Gholson once again. With a new suit and everything and money in my pocket Id feel different, he reasons. That is what has been the matter with me. Its psychological. A man cant get a job looking like a bum or feeling like one (8081). Even if Gholson will disappointment him, Acels reasoning regarding the importance of personal appearance and confidence seem sound and his ambitions laudable. At the same time, that reasoning places an emphasis on individual character while ignoring other causes of unemployment, subtly endorsing the free labor ideal When Acel quits his mess job, it seems at least as much an expression of justifiable dissatisfaction with working conditions as a reckless whim. Even in the depths of the Depression, he finds it possible to make this choice without disastrous consequences. This is the advantage of the hobo worker: unattached to a particular location, Acel sustains the optimism necessary not only to pursue employment, but eventually to determine the conditions of that employment, as one ideally should in a free labor market. Even if not directed toward the pursuit of a specific job, mobility allows for the homeless subject to exercise agency. Just keep moving and you will always run into something, Acel reminds himself after yet another avenue fails to yield employment. I t

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182 turns out this sage advice has been passed down from hobo mentor to apprentice: That was what that old bum in Omaha said. Just keep moving and something will turn upa flop, a handout, a ride, a cigarette, a piece of change. All you have to do is keep m oving (209). He finds that after two years on the road he himself is now in the position of dispensing such plainspoken wisdom. When a man is on the move it isnt so bad, he opines to another tramp. A man on the road has something to look forward to even if its just the next town. And youre so busy going that you dont have time to think about how tough things are (17). Throughout the story, he embraces mobility almost compulsively, at times finding himself moving toward the highway as if somethi ng were prodding him in the back and if he walked fast he might escape its pressure (24). From mobility the Hobo derives not just opportunity, but the strength to continue searching out that opportunity. Understanding the hobo life as the prerogative of unattached men, those for whom such mobility remains unavailable express tempered envy. Joe, a crewmate on the Picfair says that he cant be independent like Acel because his earnings go in part to support a dependent mother and sister (80). Yet, in cont rast to Billy Moon, Acel does not wholly reject the allure of domestic attachments. Throughout the novel, he unsuccessfully seeks to resolve the contradiction between mobility and romantic domesticity. On the one hand, he reminds himself and others that I dont have any money to blow on women and A man out of work doesnt have any business thinking about any kind of women (97, 223). On the other hand, not long after his first encounter with a woman named Corrine, he tells her, This is the best time I ve had in a long time. I was lying in a park not so long ago, and I saw a couple pettin, and I

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183 wondered then how long it would be before I had someone. Its mighty nice sittin here and looking at you and knowing that you are mine (113). It becomes clear that what may have started predominantly as sexual desire evolves into something more overtly connubial when he amuses himself by lettering Mr. and Mrs. Acel E. Stecker on the slip above the mailbox of the small apartment they have taken together (140) Given that this romance began on the day that Acel quit his mess job and thus cut off his one reliable source of income, it does not take long for the contradiction between mobility and domesticity to assert itself. Acel had already acknowledged its exis tence on meeting Corrine for the first time, lamenting, Im beginning to feel sorry I met you. I was getting along pretty good without a girl (104). Without employment, he struggles to maintain the integrity of their relationship. Pointedly, Corrine re minds Acel of the gendered nature of their respective options when faced with poverty, observing, The difference is that you can sleep on park benches and get by now. [A] downandout man begs and a woman sells (131). Acel manages to postpone both of t hese fates when he secures a loan from his friend Boats, but only for a short while. Fleeing a violent melee during a labor protest, Acel is falsely charged with criminal assault after the fact, so he decides take advantage of his access to mobility, telli ng Corrine, If I got down South maybe I can find something to do. Unconvincingly, he adds, Ill send for you (157). As a result of this tension, Acels thinking betrays an attempt to collapse the opposition of mobility and romance by drawing a parallel between transience and sexual promiscuity. In a chapter titled New Orleans, he wanders about without a particular direction, meditating on his mode of existence.

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184 I like this street. Its a street for a guy like me. It doesnt matter how you look or who you are on a street like this. I have walked down a lot of streets, just moseying around like this. In Frisco and Minneapolis. In Denver and St. Louis. In little towns like Paducah and Ranger and St. Augustine. I have kind of liked them all and sort of hated to leave them. Each new town makes me forget the other. Theyre like girls. (208). A girl, then, remains as fixed in space as any town, and both girls and towns are visited by the uprooted men who travel between them. Echoing Corrine, a woman Acel encounters at night seated on shadowed steps on Royal Street understands transience as the privilege of men (210). I guess it is pretty good, she wonders aloud, just going around from town to town and seeing different things (214). In asking this quest ion she performs the role of reader surrogate, her romantic vision of life on the road deriving from the characterizations found in popular culture. Her geographic position anchored, she has turned to the one available endeavor Corinne had identified that will enable a woman to alleviate her economic deprivation. A more important option for the impoverished male than begging is the freedom mobility. Their movement restricted, these women must resort to selling their bodies for unsanctioned sexual labor and so incur bourgeois societys castigation, while Acels mobility facilitates the socially approved sale of his laboring body. Acel does experience a temporary crisis of faith in mobility while in New Orleans where, after a series of failed attempts to esta blish some modicum of financial security, he comes to see constant movement as an inhibitor to success. Only in becoming fixed, he reasons, can a person establish a steady revenue stream. Acel fantasizes about securing employment registering applicants at one of the new federally funded shelters for transients rumored to be opening soon, having invented the position as well as his qualifications for it. Steady employment would mean a chance to amass capital, which

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185 would allow him to invest in marketing his talents as a musician, now that he is getting ideas that will get a man someplace (229). Urging himself on with more enthusiasm than he has shown in the preceding pages, he thinks, I could get me a horn if I got this job and get up a lip and sit in now and then with some of these bands and get acquainted, and the first thing I would have a job. Having met a pair of fellow musicians, Lou and Wayne, who have likewise been hoboing around the country, he admits to himself that in some ways he has been his own worst enemy: Thats been my trouble, changing towns and not just keeping ding donging at some of these bands (228). He reiterates this point in conversation with one of the musicians with whom he hopes to start his band, describing mobility as a trap, a mode of living that becomes a compulsion, an addiction, rather than a means to an end. You know yourself now, Lou, that when you got out in California youd stick there a couple of months and then youd wanta start for some place else. Just about New Orleans, too. Thats the trouble with us fellows, were always wanting to go on and not sticking in one place long enough to run into something. Theres nothing to this runnin around, Im telling you (245). And yet, after failing to secure employment at the shelter, Acel recovers his faith and once again embraces the mobility afforded by the railroad. Lou proposes the idea of getting out of New Orleans and catching a hot shot to Chicago, explaining how railroad workers in a nearby yard collaborate with hoboes: The engineer stops for the bums on that S.P. train outa Gretna every morning, Lou Said. They call it the Hobo Special. They say they stop to let everybody on (252). Acel, excited about the prospect of renewed mobility not aimless, but toward a joblaments, How in the hell are we going to pass away the time in this damned town between now and in the morning? (253).

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186 In the end, as with many of the protagonists in hobo narratives, Acel triumphs by coming homeor, at least, settling in one pla ce after having survived the crucible of the road. Once in Chicago, he implements his plan to form a band with Lou and Wayne and appears positioned to begin a successful run on the last page of the book. In this way, Acel occupies a position between The Man Who Tramps s Harry and Billy. Unlike Harry, Acels narrative does not include tutelage at the hands of an older, more experienced hobo mentor. Yet, unlike Billy, Acel has not fallen victim to the roads perpetual allure. He has hoboed, but he has not bec ome a permanent hobo. This finaleAcels decision to leave the road does not dilute the authenticity of his experiences on the road, however. A protagonist need not remain in perpetual transit in order to fulfill the primary discursive functions of the Americana Hobo. In Acel, the reader encounters an individual capable of leading an admirably and even enviably uncomplicated life. The decadence and consumerism of the 1920s apparently led to a fall as Americans lost sight of fundamental national values, and the portrait of a simple, authentic life entailing modest pleasures can serve as a balm for readers who experience anxiety rooted in economic precariousness. Wandering through the streets of New Orleans, utterly broke, Acels contemplations carry an almost Epicurean flavor. I feel better like this, in cotton pants and this old jacket with two bits in my pocket, than I do when Im dressed up and with a couple of dollars. When Im dressed up I want tailor mades and I see people with things and it makes me feel bad, but like this I dont care. I can flop right over there in that doorway if I want to, and two bits seems like a lot to me. (209) These sentiments rearticulate the central thesis of the Colonels heelots speech. The hobo life offers a valuable shi ft in perspective as one embraces the comfort that accompanies absolute poverty and produces an attendant freedom from desire. Released from the desire spurred on by covetousness, a hobo experiences a freedom

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187 from the pain of disappointment that necessaril y results from the inability to fulfill that desire. Almost paradoxically, the loss of economic choice results in a profound sense of agency. Written in a far more realistic mode than The Man Who Tramps Hungry Men does not deny the deprivations of poverty and homelessness even as it suggests that such a life has the potential to provide relief from the chaos and anxiety of modern life. Through Acels thoughts as much as his actions, the novel didactically describes various survival strategies used by hoboes. In a narrative striving for verisimilitude, it is impossible to represent characters who steadfastly maintain the strict refusal of all charity both Billy and Harry exhibit in The Man Who Tramps So, Acel must confront the fact that he does at times find himself reduced to accepting charity and even to begging in his pursuit of a job. In a telling moment of self critique, Acel even evaluates his reluctance to beg. He has been on the road long enough that he has learned the best panhandling tactics, even if he is loath to use them. Seeing a couple on the sidewalk, he thinks, A good bum would approach the fellow and put the bing on him. A fellow with a girl makes a good touch. He could go up and say: Bud, could you help a man who hasnt had anything to eat today? (21). More often than not, however, Acel chooses not to be a good bum, but rather even if the two terms are used interchangeably in the novel a good hobo. As the novels title suggests, the threat of hunger looms large in a hobos daily life. Kromer observes in his review, however, that the novel spends little time depicting the effects of hunger. Instead, it becomes a given condition that permeates the characters lives, something to be endured with quiet dignity or, at most, only little

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188 comme nt: You know when I was a kid, Acel said, I used to think hunger was something like the toothache, only worse. I mean when you went a long time. But now I know there isnt much to it (16). This statement coincides with the novels perspective on poverty in general. The suffering that results from deprivation, if not explicitly positioned as such, at least implicitly infuses the sufferer with a kind of nobility. PreEnlightenment religious thought viewed suffering as a virtue, an end in itself, and that sentiment informs conservative reaction to the perceived decadence of modernity. Appropriately, then, Acel does not expect other individuals or society to rectify any pain that he experiences as a result of his social positionalthough he does at times c ome to resent the denial of that pains existence. After a confrontation with a law enforcement officer who declares that tramps and hoboes are the cause, rather than the symptom, of Americas problems, Acel formulates an unspoken, sarcastic response. This is fun, runnin around looking for a place to flop. I dont want to work. Me, want to work? Its too much fun running around from town to town and seeing the country from nice freight trains. Its the bums fault. A bum shouldnt be running around the country without money. He should make it a point to have two or three hundred dollars when he gets in a town. He should attend to things like that. (176177) This statement encapsulates the novels goal of puncturing the image of the more egregiously romantic ized hobo without deflating it entirely. Unlike Billy Moon, the hobo in Andersons universe lives a hard life. Economic circumstances more than disposition have put him on the road, and his mobility facilitates his pursuit of employment. Yet, the thinker o f these thoughts defends his mode of existence reasonably, maintaining his independence and dignity in his refusal of self loathing and excessive sense of victimization.

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189 Besides, whatever its hardships, in Hungry Men life on the road offers its share of re wards, as well. Boxcars and especially hobo jungles comprise a primitive and egalitarian homosocial space where uncomplicated principles govern relations. During his travels, Acel enters one such jungle in a clearing in a woods of scrub oaks within a ston es throw of the railroad. A dozen hoboes occupied the clearing. One of them had a mirror fixed in the bark of a tree and was shaving. A hobo, naked to the waist, came up out of the gully with a can of water (190). If this space separates the hobo from female contact, it makes up for it with an abundance of male camaraderie: A bum never lacks companionship, [Acel] thought. On every train there is a new buddy to pal up with, and in every jungle theres a bum going your way (188). Acel travels briefly wi th several such men, forming bonds, no matter how ephemeral they may prove to be, that are based on trust and common decency so lacking in the modern world. A road buddy is someone to watch your bundle while you go get a drink or he dings the salt and bac on if you agree to get the pepper and bread, Acel thinks, helpfully explaining hobo social relations for the reader (188189). Prompted by their shared interests, these road buddies practice an informal mutual aid both on freight trains and in hobo jungles. Maybe he has been over the route before, and he knows whether the crews are toug h or if there is a hard bull ahead. You can talk to a road buddy like you were talking to yourself. All in all, Acel concludes, [t]here were some good guys on the road (189). Appropriately, the railroad plays an essential role in the authenticity of Andersons hobo character, in that it allows him to maintain that independence and dignity. In an early chapter, Acel does opt to hitchhike rather than hop a freight train, but he makes his preference for the rails clear, telling another hitchhiker he meets, I ride

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190 trains mostly when Im traveling, but Im only trying to make Baltimore today, and I thought Id take the highway. I dont like this thumbing myself (26). Thumbi ng a ride equates to begging: the hitchhiker is dependent on generosity of others, rather than taking what he needs from an indifferent source on which he will ideally have no impact. The hitchhiker also must face rejection of every driver that passes. Whe n someone does stop, the unique social dynamic obligates the hitchhiker to accede to all the driver says, or else risk losing the ride. Acel endures a lengthy self aggrandizing lecture on opportunity and hard work from a driver, who tells of his rise from humble beginnings as a twelveyear old worker in the Kansas City stockyard to chairman of the Chamber of Commerce bridge committee. (Acel understands and fulfills his role as the attentive audience, asking the prompting questions the driver clearly wishes him to ask.) After recounting the triumphant fulfillment of his visiona bridge that has not yet been built, but for which government has appropriated funds he condescendingly assures Acel, You can do the same, young man. Dont think there is not opportunity in this world (29). Conversely, a freight train, like a river, follows it s route oblivious to any passengers, passing no judgment, rejecting no one, requiring nothing in return. Still, even if the hobo does no damage and depletes no resources in ridi ng a trainhis attitude toward it is respectful and his interaction with it benignthe railroad detectives, acting as agents of capital, seek to deprive him of it. Thus, the defining element of hobo life and the hobo narrative genre becomes not only a means of seeking work but an adventurous masculine ritual. In a chapter titled On the Road, Acel demonstrates his determination sneaking through a freight yard, playing cat and mouse with the railroad

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191 bulls who have just rounded up a bunch of hoboes, escaping the detective who spots him as he catches a car on the fly. Although trains may be indifferent, they are described in animate terms; hidden down an embankment, Acel watches as [t]he locomotive of the long freight puffed and labored as if held in a giant s leash (160). Sentient if not cognizant, the train provides not only mobility, but shelter to the hobo. Acel sits in a stationary warm and dry car while wind gusts and the rain crack[s] against it (180). Aware that through his travels he reproduces and participates in an established oral and literary storytelling genre with broad appeal, Acel provides occasional commentary on the conventions of hobo narratives. He even envisions his experiences as the basis of a commodified literary production from w hich he might directly benefit: Writers got one hundred dollars for those stories (162). Contemplating the particular details of his situation as it unfolds, he thinks, A hobo in a refrigerator hole and his throat all gluey! It would make a short story, one of those short stories they print in Liberty (162). Acels thoughts serve as a critique, or even a parody, of the set of conventions attached to the hobo narrative. Imaging himself as the protagonist, Acel begins sketching the plot of his story: Ther e wasnt nothing, though, to just a hobo riding in a reefer. Something had to happen. It would be something if I got off at the division to get a drink and the bull nabbed me? And I got thirty days? When the train stopped, the hobo in the story would crawl out and make a run for the hydrant in front of the shanty. The bull would jump out and grab him and say: You got your guts, you son of a bitch. (162163) Acel understands that his pass at a plot remains insufficient, because such stories had to have surprises at the end (163). So, he takes his premise and imagines a thirsty train rider arrested while attempting to steal a drink of water from a hydrant in a freight

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192 yard and thrown in jail, where the man in the next cell laughs and explains in a twist wo rthy of O. Henry, Dont worry. Thats what you get in the mans town for riding freights. Three days on water (164). In having Acel catalog the beats of apparently typical literary hobo narratives, the novel challenges the authenticity of those narratives and makes a case for its own. In contrast to such stories that use the hobo as vehicle for either entertainment of a larger social observation, the novel positions itself for the reader as the real story of an authentic hobo. Meanwhile, Acel grants that any portrait of hobo life, once it has been packaged for mass consumption, will likely obscure that authenticity. After all, he concedes, You couldnt put son of a bitch in a magazine (163). To some degree, he himself has bought into the romantic appeal of the hobo story even if his own experiences provide a counterpoint. He later imagines hobo life as the basis of a work of visual art on seeing hoboes sitting the door of a boxcar, silhouetted against the Gulf and a sky stained in smoky gold and orang e. The silhouettes, Acel thought, would be something for an artist to sketch. Maybe some day Ill see a sketch like this and Ill have money then and will buy it (187). In these thoughts, he projects himself into a future when he has come off the road and become a consumer of hoborelated popular culture. While Acel does not directly address the rhetorical or political significance of the hobo in popular culture, critics have debated and come to radically different conclusions regarding the ideological sym pathies of Andersons novel. Given its time of publication and subject matter, it may seem obvious to group it with other proletarian novels of the 1930s such as Jews without Money Bottom Dogs or The Disinherited In an article published in 1938 while th e Popular Front was still actively theorizing the role that

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193 cultural production could and should play in the dissemination of ideology, Madeleine B. Stern surveys thenrecent American fiction that seeks to propagandize on behalf of an alternative to capitalism, whether implicitly or explicitly. Stern loosely categorizes such proletarian fictions as a single type of American propagandist literature, the picaresque novel: picaresque, because it traces the wanderings of the hero from town to town, from one odd job to another, and proletarian, because the peripatetic in every case belongs to the propertyless class (47). Two variations exist under this broader formal designation: those works that feature the leit motif of the gradual growth of proletarian class consciousness, in which case the propagandist method would be called delayed revealed, and those that follow protagonists who never undergo the development of class consciousness, in which case the propagandist technique would be designated as c oncealed (48). Generally finding the latter technique more persuasive because it disturbs the reader more keenly, prods him more sharply with the desire to rouse these men from their chains, Stern observes that Hungry Men fits second this type, concluding that [t]he concealment of propaganda in this book is unusually effective. Better than any blatant plea for Communism, this vision of a youth completely helpless in the society to which he was born, and completely unwilling to change that society, this vision propagandizes (51, 50). While Stern rightly notes that Acel never undergoes a full radical conversioneven when he apparently sympathizes most heartily with the Communist movement, so much so that when a fellow tramp takes him for an orthodox soci alist evangelical, he confesses that he has never joined any left wing organization, saying that I dont know what I am politically other critics disagree that this failure

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194 operates in service of a greater propagandistic goal, or that the novel would even endorse such a transformation on the part of the reader ( E. Anderson 192). In a 2009 article published in Dissent Morris Dickstein does concur that [b]uried in Hungry Men is a mild revolutionary anger, but argues that the books minimalism subdues thi s anger, so that it arises only intermittently, and then quite ambiguously. Though Boats fits the part as the communist martyr, Acel takes on only a fragmentary, inarticulate version of his faith (92). In the forward to a 1993 reprinting of the book, Jam es N. Gregory goes further, arguing that Anderson has nothing good to say about Communists and, more important, has little enthusiasm for the project of political inspiration that occupied a good number of his literary colleagues. No call to revolution here (x xi). Indeed, it became obvious that Andersons personal politics fell to the right of most proletarian novelists when he voiced his anti Semitism with increasing frequency (xi). Tom Kromer who, as noted previously, published his own autobiographical ly informed hobo novel the same year that saw Andersons book come to print wrote the one of the most direct and partisan assessments of the books propagandistic quality in a scathing review. After ridiculing at length the authenticity of Andersons knowl edge of transient subculture (which reviewers from 1935 to 2009 have almost universally extolled, however they interpreted the books politics), Kromer declar es hyperbolically that Hungry Men could run serially next to the Thank God For Our Supreme Court editorial in the San Francisco Examiner (238).8 Whereas Billy Moon effortlessly rejects the allure of socialism, Hungry Men presents Acels relationship with radicalism as a far more nuanced struggle with the temptation of collectivism. This temptation temporarily overcomes his willpower, yet

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195 proves inadequate in the end. (This arc shares elements with that of the title character of Ralph Ellisons Invisible Man, who eventually rejects his association with a left wing group in which the individuals will is suppressed on behalf of collective goals.) Although Acel flirts with radicalism during the middle section of the novel, the skepticism he displays at the narratives opening resurfaces at its conclusion. Acels equivocation on the issue of socialism renders a clear political interpretation difficult. Dickstein argues that an analysis of the texts politics is beside the point, observing that unlike so many works by proletarian writers of the erain Hungry Men overt political material remains peripheral taking up barely a handful of pages (92). Although Acel does at times talk and even argue about politics with various characters, Anderson rarely reveals Acels thoughts on these matters, despite how much time the reader spends in the protagonists head. Completely absent, too, are the editorial asides of The Man Who Tramps not to mention the entire chapters devoted to pedantic lecturing. Yet, if the explicit discussion of radical politics is kept to a minimum, and Dickstein may rightly declare the han dful of pages devoted to such discussion among the weakest in the book, the novel ultimately betrays a political stance as coherent as any properly proletarian novel (92). That stance remains seemingly obscure in large part because it is of a type so unlikely to be found in a realistic, sympathetic portrait of a disaffected and destitute worker written in the 1930s. To be sure, from the beginning, Acel does harbor resentments based in a rudimentary class consciousness or, more precisely, a sense of misfortune based on his current economic situation. It comes to the fore in those moments when he envies others, when he has not fully embraced his hobo status. Walking along a road while

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196 trying to hitch a ride, he watches a young man in blue sweater hop into a mirrory sports car with a pretty woman. If there should be a revolution, on whose side would the fellow in the hot sweater be? Would the revolution be between fellows in cotton pants like myself and fellows in sweaters with girls in shiny roadsters? Wo uld the revolutionists say that all men who lived in houses that cost more than ten thousand dollars were their enemies? If somebody came along and picked me up, Id think the world was level. If I were a revolutionary leader, though, Id like to have one of these rich bastards come before me. Id say: Did you ever give a bum a lift? No. Take him out. Off with his head! (21 22) This passage reflects the pervasiveness of such discourse in the 1930s, especially among the transient populationjust as all t he radical talk in Harriss novel is appropriate to the 1870s, likewise a time of economic crisis and social turbulence while it also appears to demonstrate Acels limited understanding of any serious revolutionary project. Although much less articulate than Black Flynn of The Man Who Tramps Acel seems similarly motivated in his anger by a desire to obtain what others possess. Yet, he lacks Flynns nefarious characteristics and rather is constructed as an object of sympathy. Significantly, traces of the question of taking sides mark the entire narrative. To put it another way, the question Acel leaves unasked here is where his aspirations to rise would leave him in the event of a revolution. Both these aspirations and radical political rhetoric come into sh arper focus when Acel meets Boats, a seaman and anti capitalist agitator, at the Seafarers Home while seeking a job on a ship. Boats takes Acel on a special project, apparently seeing promise in the younger skeptic, urging him with relative gentleness to read and think more broadly, and to attend meetings and participate in collective action. Significantly, all of the other sympathetic characters, including Acel, express respect for Boats. Even those who remain reticent about his politics speak highly of him, noting his

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197 assertiveness, effectiveness, and lack of hypocrisy. Most of these Communists are dopes, but Boats isnt exactly a Communist, one of them assures Acel, intending the distinction as a compliment (45). Despite his initial dislike, Acel eventually concedes, He might be bullin some, but that man has been around. Hes not any South Street bum (49). (Not unlike Dos Passos, who never lost his affection for Wobblies and certain other anarchists even after his conservative turn, Anderson demonst rates the capacity to portray individual anti capitalists as heroic even if he rejects their larger agenda.) Yet, Acel resists, reiterating his aspirations and insisting that he does not intend to be like this the rest of [his] life (37). Regardless of his current socioeconomic circumstances, he remains convinced of his abilities to raise himself up through the exercise of individual talent and will. He responds to Boats in the language of Social Darwinism: I havent read Shaw and I havent read Marx, A cel said, but I know this, Boats, that there is a survival of the fittest law. The strong are always going to have more than the weak. Im sittin in this dump here, and the reason for it is because Im not strong enough to be sittin in Childs. However, Ill be eatin in Childs before it ends. (44) Throughout the story, Acel remains convinced of his own exceptionalism, despite moments of despair. He has little doubt that figures of authority and financial success can make the distinction and see that he is no ordinary bum (270). By its conclusion, the narrative confirms that Acel has been justified in thinking himself apart from the mass of unemployed men among whom he moves, not only because as an artist he possesses a certain amount of cultural capital denied the unskilled migrant laborer, but also because he has generated innovative ideas and implemented entrepreneurial plans.

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198 Acels skepticism of revolutionary projects often appears to have less to do with rigorous political thinking or strongly held convictions than with the passive impression that such projects are implausible. His doubts may be taken as another example of the Hobos simple pragmatism. Shortly after they first met, Acel tells Boats, Its too big a job. Youre not going to reform this world, and at the end of the novel, he assures as a traveling companion that [i]t wont do you no good to join the Communists (45, 252). He does not believe that hoboes and other dispossessed classes could ever be harnessed as a force for struct ural change: A revolution will never start among a bunch of bums (192). (In their own novels, other writers obviously sympathetic to socialism, such as Kromer and Algren, would seem to agree with this assessment.) While he agrees with Boats that economic disparity exists he did, after all, resent that fellow with the sweater, the car, and the girl he sees little use in the solution Boats proposes. In his view, revolutionary change simply does not exist as a plausible option, meaning that only individual i nitiative remains. When Boats challenges, If we men down here struggling in this kind of life cant see the injustice in the capitalistic system, then even a god wouldnt help us, Acels chides Boats for failing to adopt an individualist perspective. I dont see that you have any kick coming, Acel said. Youve got a job, and you got you a good suit and some money to spend. What do you have to gripe about? Like Ive told you before, this is a dog eat dog wor ld, and if I dont get mine Im not going t o whine (71). At this point, Acel still refuses to criticize capitalism, instead seeing his circumstances as a matter of personal responsibility. In the novels middle section, Acel does adopt radical rhetoric, first circulating a petition for Boats, and then vocally participating in a rally. Within ten pages of Acels first

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199 positive assessment of radicalism, however, Boats is killed when the rally turns into a melee. Not long after, Acel leaves New York to avoid arrest on false charges of criminal assaul t. On the road, he continues to espouse socialist ideals for a while, parroting the critical language he had absorbed. But even then, much of what he says sounds more like plain spoken populism than purposeful radical agitation. When he speaks of reading the other day about a poor bastard who got five years for robbin a pay telephone of eighty five cents, and right beside him was a picture of a banker that got one year after the bank he was president of went busted, he expresses a nonspecific anti Wall S treet sentiment then generally acceptable (as it is now) according to a wide range of political orientations (183). Finally, one day, with no apparent motivational shift other than an entrepreneurial inspiration, he simply announces, I used to be interes ted in things like that, but what Im interested in right now is an orchestra Im planning on organizing (236). His commitment to collectivist alternatives now seems little more than an excusable and temporary folly. At the novels conclusion, as a direc t result of his rejection of radicalism, Acel finally begins to achieve the success he has long sought. He leads his little musical bandAces Vagabonds through the streets of Chicago, committed to his goal of supporting himself as a musician. He expresses his embrace of the traditional work ethic in an exchange with an I.W.W. sympathizing bum who has been characterized as grotesque (Acel calls him One Eye for a reason), violent, and lazy, after this bum argues that begging constitutes a radical act that will draw attention to the countrys ills. Id rather work for mine, Acel says in response (259). Acels return to this ideological opposition then leads to a climactic moment (in a novel otherwise especially light on

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200 plot) when, in a subsequent encounter, One Eye makes the deliberately provocative request that the band play The International. Acel refuses, telling One Eye to Go to hell, One Eye makes a grab for him, and Acel jerks away, dropping his cornet (266). He then attacks One Eye, striking him repeatedly, with the fight ending in the arrest of both men. Recounting the event before a judge, Acel explains that the fight erupted when he refused to play The Communist song (272). When the judge asks him why he refused, Acel replies, That tune ? We dont play tunes like that (272). Moved by this display of patriotism, the judge decides that there is something significant in this case, and I wonder if you realize its significance, too. But I am sure you do. The fact that you refused to play the hymn or the song, or whatever it is, of a corrupt foreign country is significant and a patriotic gesture to me that deserves consideration (272273). Although he had not recognized the title of the song just minutes before, the judge proceeds to expound at length on its meaning and merits relative to the U.S. national anthem, proclaiming the former represents miscegenation and riots and bloodshed and sabotage and civil war, while the latter stands for liberty and justice and freedom (273). Andersons presentation of this juridical diatribe reads as parody, and the judge seems little more than a buffoon. Nothing suggests Acel would go so far as to harbor such reactionary views himself; rather, he merely benefits from his wily manipulation of the judg es prejudices, exposing the ignorance behind the inflated self importance. As an Americana Hobo, Acel does not conflate respect for governmental institutions with American values or characteristics. If anything, a healthy distrust of such institutions lies at the core of the Hobos particular brand of commonsense patriotism. For his actions

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201 and words, he is rewarded not only with the dismissal of the charges, but with a real opportunity to finally become successful on his own terms, by merit of his own talents. As Acel and his bandmates leave the courtroom, a reporter approaches them, asking, You just play American tunes? Is that the idea? Im planning on doing a little feature about you boys. Id like to get your pictures, with your horns and things ( 274). He also offers to get them a job that pays fifty dollars playing at a veterans smoker. Although Acel waffles momentarily, he sees that this is his big chance to get the publicity he desires and pursue the career he has envisioned. He promptly rechri stens the band The Three Americans and decrees that he and his cohorts will work up some war songs, along with a dirty song or two. Triumphantly, he exclaims, I know damn well we can get some more jobs. I got some ideas, by god (275). While Acels various political pronouncements cannot be safely conflated with the novels ideological sympathies, the text gives the reader no reason to think that Acels confidence in the novels final moments is misplaced or that the journalist who has offered publ icity and a paying gig will fail to provide both. Given that Acel is not truly a member of the proletariat he is more a member of the bourgeoisie without money (to paraphrase Mike Golds title) he does not actually fail to develop an appropriate class cons ciousness. So, the novels conclusion does not entail a tragic betrayal of his class solidarity, strictly speaking. The novel does not conceal its proletarian propagandistic technique, as Stern has argued, as it does not propagandize on behalf of either the proletariat or socialism, but the individual. Unlike, say, The Rise of David Levinsky in which the titular character successfully engages in a capitalist enterprise (as Acel is poised to do at the close of Hungry Men) and builds a thriving business through

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202 independent initiative, never experiencing the critical socialist revelation that author Abraham Cahan no doubt hopes for among his readership, Andersons novel ends on a note of hope. In his rejection of class consciousness and collectivist action, Acel achieves a superior position in virtually every way, and he does so entirely by his own merits, never even getting that break he had hoped for from Red Gholson. Whereas David Levinsky finds himself alone and miserable in the final pages of his story despite all his successthe last chapter of the novel bears the title Episodes of a Lonely Life having cut himself off from his culture and potential intimate relationships, Acels not only appears to have revived his career as a musician without having hurt anyone who did not deserve it in the process, but the prospect of paying gigs ensures that he can now afford to pursue the romance he desires with Suzanne, the woman he had been fantasizing about before his fistfight with One Eye. Earlier, Boats had declared that despite the fact that Acel should be doing the thing [he] can do best playing the trumpet he cannot, because under this system of government they call democracy one man can pay a crooner one thousand dollars for one night and another man cant let his child give a penny to a grind organ, but the novels ending proves him wrong (133134). Although Acel himself had previously rationalized that [i]f a man doesnt have a job to give, he certainly cant make one, he has in fact created a source of income for himself, as if out of thin air (209). He has rejected the radicalism Boats preachedand literally fought against it in the street scuffle with One Eyeinstead following the advice of the driver who picked him up hitchhiking at the beginning of the novel: like a pioneer, he had a vision, and by following that vision he has manufactured his own opportunity.

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203 Both the advent of the relatively inexpensive automobile and United States entry into World War II rendered trainhopping transients less common and therefore less visible, but they have never entirely disappeared. Similarly, representations of the Americana Hobo persist in various forms of popular and material culture, much like the Savage Tramp. The quote at the head of this chapter, taken from an episode of the long running primetime animated series The Simpsons in which the eponymous family finds itself force to hop a freight train, speaks to the continuing currency of both representational traditions. While the Savage tramp of the latetwentieth and early twenty first centuries overtly serves a function similar to that of the Savage tramp during the Gilded Age, the Americana Hobos rhetorical implications have been subdued. Although a rail riding transient labor force still exists, [t] he authentic hobo is seen as mostly dead, and with his supposed death, the revisionist memorializing has begun (Lennon 215). This memorializing strives to wipe away any of the implicit subversive radicalism that might have lurked below the surface of the portraits like those of the Colonel, Billy Moon, or Acel Stecker, which had already undergone a fairly rigorous cleansing process in the journey from reality to representation. Relegated safely to the past, the Hobo becomes an object of nostalgia, feeding an eccentric and vibrant cottage industry that produces and disseminates hobo culture of a highly flexible historical accuracy. The word hobo itself pops up in ever more questionable contexts, seemingly further separated from the object it once signi fied. Perhaps it makes sense that a consumer would welcome the association between the homeless transient and the menu of simple Americanstyle food available at several locations of The Hungry Hobo restaurant chain throughout Iowa and Illinois. Less clear is what connection would lure

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204 Fourth of July revelers to Hobo Joes Discount Fireworks off of I 95 in South Carolina. Perhaps most surreal, and certainly most ironic, is the phenomenon of designer hobostyle handbags: a genuine Bottega Veneta can cost wel l over $3,000. In many cases, however, the evocation of the iconic figure is far more specific and deliberate. The figure retains positive associations and sufficient appeal to serve as the organizing principle in the branding of a themed tourist train ride through the White Mountains near Lincoln, New Hampshire. Started in the mid1980s, not long after the Lincoln Paper Mill had ceased operation, the Hobo Railroad repurposed a track originally built to serve the mill. As the proprietor explains in an online video, We took this historic asset that had been part of the communitys fabric since the late1800s and breathed a little new life into it with a tourism concern and the Hobo Railroad began. The Railroad beckons passengers with the slogan, Free from work, free to play, come be a hobo for a day while riding trains consist ing of refurbished vintage cars built between 1930s and 1950s. During the ride, passengers will encounter Archie Prevost, identified as a former railroader, who performs the role of Choo Choo, the Hobo Clown, looking a bit like Weary Willie and doing balloon tricks for children. They can also enjoy the Famous Hobo Lunch, which includes a sandwich, chips, cookie, and beverage, as well as a souvenir HOBO bindle stick. Off the train, activities include a round of Hobo Hills Miniature Golf, a Hobo Jungle childrens playground, and a Hobo Gift Shop, which sells engineer hats, hobo shirts and sweatshirts, canned Hobo Soup, as well as vintage books, periodicals, and advertisement s (Plymouth and Lincoln). In this case, the consumer experience provides a connection to a meaningful epoch in American history and includes a celebratory portrayal of a vital American figure,

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205 however vague the definition of that epoch and artificially unc omplicated that portrayal. Ticket buyers have the chance to act out the fantasy of life on the open road. The Tramp has been erased in this family friendly environment, replaced entirely by a friendly, safe, grandfatherly Hobo. The kids might even come away from the scenic ride having absorbed a few factoids about those independent, footloose, carefree men of a bygone era. The most consistent and perhaps the most prominent evocation of the Americana Hobo figure has long been and remains the Hobo Convention held in Britt, Iowa. The first convention took place in August of 1900 when, as a publicity stunt, a group of boosters from the small, young town invited the members of Tourist Union # 63an organization formed in 1897 by itinerant workers with a collecti ve sense of humor to relocate their annual gathering from Chicago. The promoters advertised the event widely, with the program announcing that All Tourist, Printers, Bindlestifts (can cook anywhere)[,] Nestocrats (can sleep anywhere,) [ sic ] and Society Tr amps are Invited to this Hoboe Reunion, and newspapers from across the Midwest and as far away as Philadelphia arrived to report on the proceedings (Britt 203, 201). Following a subsequent gap of thirty three years, the convention was established as a y early event that continues to this day, playing a large role in the local communitys economy. Drawing up to 25,000 people, the Hobo Days celebration takes place over the course of almost a week, and includes a parade, a carnival, crafts booths, musical performances, poetry readings, fireside storytelling, mulligan stew served in the Hobo Jungle Park, memorial services at the Hobo Cemetery, andmost ceremoniously the coronation of the new Hobo King and Queen. Much as Wild West Shows solidified the generic i mage

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206 of the Indian in the collective American consciousness, the event at Britt from its beginning helped establish and still perpetuates many of hobo cultures most widely recognizable tropes, with hoboes themselves actively participating in and influenci ng the direction of the process. Britt also hosts the Hobo Foundation, established in 1974, which runs the Hobo Museum, home to a collection containing a wide variety of books, recordings, carvings and crafts, clothing, convention memorabilia, and other hobo related artifacts. The Britt Convention stands as an example in miniature of the Americana Hobo archetypes cultural ascension as well as the barely submerged threats to the stability of its position. The tension stemming from the difficulty of separati ng the hardworking noble Hobo from the lazy ignoble Trampso that the former may be venerated and the latter shunned or punished makes an appearance in the handbill for the inaugural event in 1900. While it announced the presence of good fellows and pro mised family friendly events including bicycle races and baseball, the accompanying illustration depicted an unshaven man with tattered clothes and vaguely menacing countenance. A short poem accompanies the image: Hark! Hark! Hark! / The little dogs bark, / The beggars are coming to town / Some in rags and some in tags / And some in velvet gowns (reprinted in Britt 202). Those hoboes in figurative velvet gowns those who would come to represent the safe and sanitized figure of the past continue to find wel come at the event through the years, while the active riders whose rags and tags revealed them as nothing more than tramps still encounter hostility. In his pointedly titled article, Too Dirty to Be a Hobo?, John Lennon describes how these tensions came to the fore at the 1999 Convention, which I also attended as a trainhopping

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207 participant. The lines were clearly drawn: on one side were the grandpa figures, often as not arriving in campers and RVs, donning snow white beards and bright red bandanas, enter taining family crowds with quaint hobo songs; on the other were the active train riders, ranging from alcoholic Vietnam veterans to the dreadlocked anarchist punks, who treat the gathering as a time to reconnect with other members of their transient subcul ture. As Lennon observes, the purpose of the Conventionat least as far as the many of the older hoboes and the townspeople of Britt are concernedis to commemorate a particular, narrowly defined figure who exhibits certain culturally acceptable traits as either the quirky, eccentric freedom loving caricature or the hardliving but morally upright individualistic member of society (215). For townspeople and other tourists who attend the event, true hoboes are gentlemen and respectful and hardwork ing, while the less presentable characters who, paradoxically, actually arrive by freight trainare fakes and bums (218). Lennon identifies two key moments during that years proceedings as central to the battle over the representation of the rail riding vagabond and, indeed, the very meaning of the word hobo. The first involved a struggle over the use of an ornamental boxcar permanently located on a short section of unconnected track in the towns small park. In previous years it had remained ope n to provide shelter for Convention attendees, but this year riders arrived to find it locked. Along with a few others, a younger rider named Lee (with whom I had traveled to the convention via freight train from California, and who was actually well into his forties at the time) broke the padlock and occupied the car in order to escape the rain at night. When the police arrived, Lee refused to move, and was promptly arrested, rendering the quintessential symbol of

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208 hobo travel into a pseudomuseum piece that could be looked at as a historical artifact but not used by the stars of the convention the railriders themselves for the practical use of sleeping (220). The second incident involved one of the highlights of the annual Convention, the election of Hobo royalty. Each year, hoboes and tourists alike gather in the town square so that those seeking the offices of Hobo King and Queen can each make a speech, and applause from the crowd determines the titles winners. Controversy erupted when the judges announced Slow Freight Ben, an eighty eight year old railfan, as Queen, while most observers agreed that Firecracker, a teenagedlooking hobo who did a cheerleading routine, complete with some occasionally salty language had received the most applause by far (Skipper). Concern that Firecracker, an attractive, energetic anarchist trainhopper might inappropriately inspire younger girls to become radical tramps (just as reviewers had once worried that hobo memoirs by Jack London and others would draw boys to the life of the open road) motivated the judges to intervene. As Lennon notes, the town enjoys (and makes money off of) the notoriety of older male hobos who know how to perform their iconic role, but a young woman with dreadlocks, spouting feminist pr opaganda cannot be allowed to speak so freely in the middle of town square (222). Following the convention, a group of train riders conceded to Britt both the hobo image and the term itself and embraced their status as unwelcomed Tramps. Circulating a fli er announcing that Britt is a pathetic joke, they resolved to start a new gathering in a genuine jungle in St. Paul, away from tourist on lookers. A century after the establishment of the Convention, a decisive battle in the war over the transient rail r iders representation further ensconced the mythology of the Americana Hobo.

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209 Yet, given the Americana Hobos unsavory origins, it should come as no surprise that the tensions on display at the 1999 Hobo Convention continue to surface in a variety of texts and venues. The 1985 Tim Burton film Pee Wees Big Adventure acknowledges and gently satirizes the national cultural relationship with the contradictory romantic stereotype through its use of clichd scenarios and images. At one point in the story, PeeWee Herman (Paul Rubens) carrying a cartoonish version of the iconic bindlehops a freight train for the two reasons most easily grasped by an audience whose understanding of the hobo life derives from popular culture. First, he seeks to escape an immediate c risis tied to a specific locality, when a jealous hulk of a man gives him chase after coming to the mistaken conclusion that PeeWee has been wooing his girlfriend. Second, he resumes a larger roadquest narrative, motivated by his desire to reach San Anto nio, where he believes he will locate his beloved stolen bicycle, which an unscrupulous fortune teller has told him he will find hidden in the Alamos nonexistent basement. Immediately after he masterfully catches a boxcar on the fly, Pee Wee descends int o a fitful sleep on a convenient bed of hay, and awakens the next morning to find himself lying intimately close to a representative of the Americana hobobearded, patched clothes, battered fedora, missing teethwho offers him a sardine. Although initially repulsed, PeeWee soon joins with this freespirited traveling man in watching America roll by, the two outcast transients sitting with their arms over each others shoulders and their legs dangling out of the open boxcar door, belting out folk songs such as Oh! Suzanna and Skip to My Lou. The joke of the scene lies in PeeWees gradual loss of enthusiasm for the company of this folkloric figure who, because of his limited song repertoire and repellant hygiene, becomes

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210 oppressively boring rather quickl y. Even if Pee Wee seemed to possess endless enthusiasm when singing Shell Be Coming Round the Mountain, with each transition to a new song his smile fades, so that by the time the hobo stretches out the chorus of Jimmy Cracked Corn well beyond its breaking point in his raspy, atonal shriek, PeeWee has had enough and hurls himself with a scream from the fast rolling train. The iconic image of the carefree hobo clashes with the reality of an actual homeless person (even if that homeless person is stil l a caricature). Barely more than a minute long, this scene offers a compressed critique of the sanitizing process that occurs through ongoing efforts in popular culture to ignore the Bum and vilify the Tramp, appropriating a few key elements in a patriot ic celebration of the Hobo, thereby reinforcing the artificially sharp divide between each of these three homeless figures. As important those divides may be ideologically, however, the actual terms hobo, tramp, and bum are often employed with even l ess precision in the contemporary moment than when they first came into common usage. This is unsurprising, perhaps, given that these categorical distinctions were generated from within the transient community and subsequently self applied, their nuances o ften recognized only by social scientists who adapted them for their own academic purposes. And, as always, when confronted by actual homeless people the general public still regularly fails to distinguish readily between transients seeking work and transi ents avoiding work. Now used primarily to designate a promiscuous woman, people rarely apply tramp to someone living on the street. With the general increase in linguistic sensitivity if not a corresponding attitudinal shift the word bum has largely been set aside in favor of homeless person in public discourse. Yet, hobo seems to

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211 have undergone something of a revival, coming back into relatively widespread popular usage since the turn of the twenty first century. The terms appeal may stem in part from its phonetic characteristics this snappy, almost silly word is fun to say and its apparent lack of connotative malice. Increasingly, hobo has a broad application that in many ways undercuts the debates in Britt but further illuminates the cultures complex response to homelessness in general and transient labor in particular. Characters on the preteenoriented television program iCarly which aired on Nickelodeon from 2007 to 2012, frequently used the word hobo to make flippant or mocking referenc e to homelessness in general. The website affiliated with the program went so far as to feature a series of photos depicting the shows stars throwing their own hobo party, with the explanation that At iCarly we LOVE hobos. The individual photos featur ed captions like Carly got her hobo costume from that new store in the mall called C.J. Penniless. These images, as well as the casual use of the term, has influenced the vocabulary of the shows young target audience while inspiring an outraged response from critics who felt such usage made light of the experience of actual homeless people (Sharp). The word appears to have held appeal for the producers of the show and its audience by virtue of its nostalgic connotations. The hobo party photos depict the youthful, healthy, and clean cast members in wildly mismatched and colorful clothing. Bearing little if any resemblance to the sartorial conditions of contemporary street people, these costumes instead evoke nostalgia for what was already a cartoonish imag e in the first place. Pointedly, the caption accompanying a photo of one of the shows attractive teenage female stars reads, If hobos actually looked like this, Freddie [a character on the show] would start volunteering at more soup

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212 kitchens. Still, suc h playful masquerade cannot be wholly divorced from reality; the original referent has not vanished from contemporary society. This ambiguity surfaces in debates on online message boards when parents anxious about the use of an offensive term encounter ass ertions that the word hobo actually has a legitimate usage with positive connotations. Josh Leo, in a comment posted to a relevant article published in The Society Pages an online, multidisciplinary project designed to bring measured social science t o broader public visibility and influence, attempts to untangle the complex relationship between real people and representational types (About The Society Pages). I do think it is interesting that everyone seems to defend the use of the word Hobo by showing that they are an actual group of people related to choosing to ride the rails. That is all fine and dandy but the real problem here is the kids equating people who are homeless and on the street (be it because of drug addictions, mental problems, financial problems, etc.) with this lovable character in history. I don't think the men and women who are struggling to find something to eat and a place to stay see their life as part of a fanciful story of bandanas on sticks and life riding the rails. Using the term hobo to describe people who are down on their luck and homeelss [sic] is incorrect. [T]he key we need to be focsing [sic] on is homeless does not equal hobo. Using fun terms to distance us from the depressing reality in our cities is not healthy for any society. (Sharp) Certainly, the concern expressed by Leo and others regarding the implication and potential impact of these photos has merit. The use of the word hobo and the associated images on iCarly may have amongst an impressionable audience the effect of distancing and desensitizing the viewer to the plight of actual homeless people who find themselves struggling to survive for a whole host of reasons. Yet, in his comments, Leo also reduces the homeless population to a stereotype of abj ection, thereby denying

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213 all of its members agency while insisting that kids (and, by extension, the adults they become) understand people lacking jobs or homes as nothing more than down on their luck victims. Significantly, he locates the lovable char acter of the hobo not in popular culture but in history, suggesting that the cartoonish images he now decries as degrading may once have accurately reflected reality. In any case, he is right to say that homeless does not equal hobo, but not necessari ly because the term is fun and therefore demeaning and inaccurate in all cases. Rather, the term applies to a narrow, self identified and self characterized segment of the homeless population that values mobility and independence. The hobo party phenomen on did not originate with this television program or the affiliated websites photos. Websites such as eHow, Yahoo! Answers, and Epinions have all featured articles or postings that offer instructions for throwing a hobo party. One such article stresses bo th the affordability and the inherent hilariousness of such an event When looking for a funny party theme, you can prepare a hobothemed get together your guests will be laughing about for weeks. From the invitations to the hilarious contests, all you need are a few ideas and some supplies to get the hobo party started while helpfully linking to stepby step instructions on How to Make a Hobo Stick as well as suggestions for designing and constructing Hobo Party Decorations (Miller; Mahoney; Johnson). Like the iCarly photos, the self documentation of these hobothemed events has tended to draw criticism. In August of 2011, several blogs responded to the description of a Depression Era Hobo themed wedding posted to Etsy, the e commerce site that features handmade crafts and vintage items. According to the description, apparently written by the bride after the fact, the ceremony comprised

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214 what very well may be the first hobothemed wedding, and featured hobochic outfits, authentic Depressionera g arments, cocktail hour snacks brown bags of popcorn and burlap sacks of peanuts, complete with hobo signs, moonshine, a jug band, and other eraspecific artifacts (Hunt). The numerous desaturated digital photographs of the wedding party accompanying the verbal descriptions imbue the ceremony with a technologically manufactured and instantaneous nostalgic glow. Because they look like old and faded photographs, these images also provide a veneer of authenticity, a quality the bride stresses when she recounts how she and her groom researched the culture of 1930s transients. They were charmed to learn that the term hobo derives from the phrase homeward bound, and set out to recreate with precision and specificity the material culture of the Depression era, which distinguishes the event from the generic and cartoonish iCarly party. A sarcastic posting typifies the outraged reactions generated by the wedding in the blogosphere: its a poverty wedding! How fun is that? They dressed like actual poor people! After enumerating the material hardships faced by transient workers during the Depression, the post facetiously concludes, The important thing is, hobos were all clowns who had bandanas tied on sticks, like in cartoons (Its Called Poverty). Perhaps most notoriously, at a 2010 Halloween thrown by the New York state law firm of Steven J. Baum, which represents banks and mortgage servicers as they attempt to foreclose on homeowners and evict them from their homes, the office had been decorated to look like a homeless encampment and employees dressed as homeless people. Many of them held panhandling signs that mockingly decried their eviction (Nocera). Given that the costumes and decorations deliberately evoke images

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215 of contemporary economic crisis and homelessness, thus reducing the temporal and spatial difference between the impersonation and the original referent, the Baum party brings to the surface buried implications of other, more nostalgic or generic hobo parties: not much separates the Americana Hobo, deserving of admiration, from the Savage Tramp, deserving of ridicule. It is this uncomplicated and callous mockery of poverty and suffering by the very agents of that suffering that so worries observers like Leo when he hears children, mimicking t he language and images from shows like iCarly, casually using the word hobo to refer to homeless people. Such uses of the popular image of the hobo present an incongruous conjoining of the playful and the degraded. Like the white trash parties thrown by middleand upper class college students, hobo parties constitute a form of kitschy virtual slumming that involves none of the perceived threat involved with actual contact with the occupants of a lower socioeconomic stratum or inhabitants of a physical space that might be legitimately considered a slum. Consequently, the sense of an exotic and authentic experience typically conferred through of actual slumming goes missing from these events even as they retain the practices appropriative and exploitativ e elements. (Actual hobo slumming does exist, as well: yuppies who ride freight trains on the weekends are discussed in the previous chapter.) These parties form a subtype of the more general category of poor chic, that array of fads and fashions in popular culture that make recreational or stylishand often expensivefun of poverty, or of traditional symbols of working class and underclass statuses (Halnon 501). These hobo impersonators broadly adopt a transient subcultures practices and artifacts a nd render them as consumer items. The practice entails an odd appropriation of the carnivalesque

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216 that, rather than allowing the subaltern to temporarily upend social hierarchies for subversive purposes, allows the socially and economically privileged to caricature and ridicule the disadvantaged explicitly. This rational consumption of poverty is a classdistinguishing activity that controls against fears of declining into vagabondage by consuming it as a short, safe, socially distanced and sanitized experi ence with train riding Americana Hobo and ascribing it to the broad swath of the homeless population, and then temporarily appropriating that iconography in a controlled and commodified environment, participants in these hobo parties further ongoing efforts to neutralize social fear of the mobile homeless population. These efforts certainly examples of the clowntramp tradition Seelye identifies speak to both the fear of victimization at the hands of the (potentially collective) action of that population and the anxiety of finding oneself as part of that population. In all of these contexts, constructions of the Americana Hobo figure signify attempts to elide the cultural contradictions of modernity, as do those of his Savage cousin, although the two figures are deployed according to divergent strategies. Whereas the Savage Tramp embodies the social, economic, and geographic destabilizations of modernity and thus provides a focal point for reactionary sentiment and policy, the Americana Hobo performs an ameliorating function, providing reassurance that the individual will not become submerged and lost amongst the upheavals of modern life. The figure at the time of its emer gence once the typological schema had divorced it from the Trampprovided a sort of instant nostalgia appealing to those in sympathy with a general conservative romanticism that, according to Michael

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217 Lwy and Robert Sayre, draws on the organic values of t he past in its critique of capitalist industrial modernity (63). In his apparent rebellion against modernity, the Hobo becomes a (frequently deskilled) permutation of the self directed artisanproducer. The connection of the Hobo to an imagined idyllic national past obscures his utterly modern character, so that the system of which he is a product and in which he plays an essential part becomes more palatable by virtue of his presence to those who would otherwise decry modernity. The creation of acceler ating corporatizing and globalizing processes, the Hobo nevertheless appears to be a representative of certain bedrock American values. This association becomes increasingly apparent when considering his folksy anti intellectualism. In his book on the subj ect, Richard Hofstadter explains the operational rationale behind anti intellectual sentiment as a series of false dichotomies: Intellect is pitted against feeling, on the ground that it is somehow inconsistent with warm emotion. It is pitted against character, because it is widely believed that intellect stands for mere cleverness, which transmutes easily into the sly or the diabolical. It is pitted against practicality, since theory is held to be opposed to practice, and the purely theoretical mind is s o much disesteemed. It is pitted against democracy, since intellect is felt to be a form of distinction that defies egalitarianism. Once the validity of these antagonisms is accepted, then the case for intellect, and by extension for the intellectual, is l ost. (45 46) Feeling certainly motivates hoboes like the Colonel, Billy Moon, or even Acel Stecker, whose commitments to a moral code (e.g., Thats not my style) reveals their strong character, while their peccadilloes infringe on no one elses liberty. Given the minimalist existence prompted by his chosen transient existence, the Hobo necessarily values practicality. Of course, the persistence of his humble self reliance in the face of deprivation and the fact that his social position prevents him from l ooking down at anyone other than the truly wicked renders him an embodiment of egalitarian values.

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218 His nonconformity, however, does not threaten the prevailing order, because it never involves more than a singular, personal assertion of autonomy. Indeed, by his very nature, the Hobo tacitly accepts the free labor model that posits each individual worker as a private contractor free to bid on jobs on an equal footing with capital. He knows he can quit any job that does not suit him, but he also will not res ort to organized collective action, or even to complaining about his lot. While representations of the Savage Tramp, often yoked to anxiety regarding the Paris Commune or the Haymarket bombing, portray a coward who can offer seductive syllogisms to justify the embrace of traitorous collective movements, the Hobo simply uses common sense to explain his individualist rejection of faith in mass action. The central characteristics of his existence rhetorically legitimize the pay and treatment he receives, as de termined by the market. For all of the Hobos apparent and admirable independencethose traits that have allowed for his representation as a quintessentially American icon his labor serves to facilitate a radically new production model that both requires and ensures the individual workers precarity. This is a crucial part of the Hobos legacy, as much as the colorful characters, the bindles, or the picturesque views from open boxcar doors. From his first appearance, the Hobo has found company among other, less celebrated, itinerant laborers who were putting down railroad tracks, harvesting crops, mining ore, and felling timber: immigrants from Mexico, China, Japan, Ireland, and Eastern Europe, as well as Native Americans, all played crucial roles in these i ndustries. Yet, xenophobia, racism, lack of access to the means of cultural production, and other factors prevented the development of an equivalent heroic mythology applicable to these groups in the national cultural

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219 imaginary. We may see the Hobo figure as an embodiment of the neoliberal ideal of an untethered, precarious labor force that comes to understand its precarity as freedom in a rejection of collective action or government regulation, a labor force to which capital has no particular long term obl igation. Analysis of this superstructural function retains ongoing relevance, as the rhetoric surrounding the Hobos particular version of free labor ethos and the ideology behind that rhetoric continues to inform current relations between labor and capit al. The positive valuation of the Hobo finds subtle reinscription in the realm of digital labor, an industry in which the predominance of freelance work allows the creative worker or content producer a high degree of agency, yet offers little in the way of job security or even adequate compensation (Fish and Srinivasan 148). The reserve labor army model gains ever more ground in academia, where, as Marc Bousquet observes, the prevailing rhetoric ascribe[s] choice to what [is] an involuntary dislocation for growing numbers of contingent faculty and graduate students (Williams). In a more global context, critics of state regulation ... celebrate the entrepreneurial gusto of the informal sector, a sector in many ways pioneered by the hobo (Denning, Wagel ess 90). All the while, of course, workers from Latin America ride freight trains north to the United States, following the harvest, feeding the world, and generating profits for ever larger agribusiness concerns, as hoboes have done for a century and a half. 1 Interestingly, according to Anderson, o ne particular study found also that the higher the intelligence of the individual the shorter the period of holding a job among the unemployed (72). 2 For specif ic numbers as well as historical analysis, I have relied on Gordon, Passage to Union, and Beatty, Age of Betrayal 3 Bob Dylans complicated negotiation between self conscious mythologizing and the pursuit of authenticity receives a compelling treatment in Im Not There, an unconventional film biography directed

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220 by Todd Haynes (2007). Six different actors portray Dylan, including a preadolescent AfricanAmerican boy. Calling himself Woody Guthrie, this version of Dylan rides freight trains around the country with a guitar (in a case that has This machine kills fascists printed on it, as did the real Guthries guitar) singing blues and folks songs. No doubt Dylan, like other young whites dissatisfied with the perceived artificiality of the dominant cultur e, venerated (and appropriated) black culture as more natural and authentic. Guthrie/Dylan eventually ends up at the home of an AfricanAmerican family, where the matriarch advises him to Live your own time, child. Sing about your own time. The audience understands that Dylan would gradually take this advice, stop aping Guthrie, and develop his own persona (which, of course, involved jettisoning his birth name of Robert Zimmerman). 4 Roosevelt, in fact, here appropriates a term coined by William Graham Su mner to mean something entirely different. This original forgotten man is the one who pays to the taxes to support the social reforms intended to benefit the person at the bottom of the social hierarchy. 5 I have drawn heavily on Kusmer, Chapter 10, for my understanding of the conditions of and response to homelessness during the Great Depression. 6 A 1935 review in the New York Times notes that Anderson writes in a style which at the same time is both gripping in its frank realism and stirring in its occasional swift flights of poetic feeling (Feld), while in 1985 the Christian Science Monitor equated the novel with The Grapes of Wrath and Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, calling it a raw and potent fiction slouching toward history, and a book that feels cl ose to the truth of its time (Kaufmann). 7 T he title to Seelyes article notes that the tramp narrative in general constitutes a version of the genre, although the article itself does not elaborate this idea in any depth. 8 In his review, versions of whic h appeared in both the Pacific Weekly and the New Masses in June of 1935, Kromer insists that [i]n this land of plenty where nobody starves, Mr. Anderson would get thrown off a freight train if he pulled some of these yarns on the two or three hundred s tiffs with no more notches in their belts (237). He then mockingly suggests that Anderson should not be traipsing around the country. He might get run over by a train. Only once in the book do you think he is maybe too smart to go to sleep on the track (238).

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221 CHAPTER 4 THE CRITICAL TRAMP Raconteurs and bowsies, rebels and tramps Travelers who ramble from camp to camp Dodgers and swagmen, vandals and rounders Wandering hobo townto towners Come join the circle of jolly fools Squatters and crusties who mak e their own rules Riverbed beggars, carousers and thieves Our only motto: anarchy! Casey Neill, Riffraff Until a final reel deus ex machina, William Wellmans 1933 film Wild Boys of the Road appears to offer a scathing critique of civil authority in all its forms. As one in a series of social consciousness titles produced by Warner Bros. studios, it strives to depict the harsh realities of unemployment, poverty, and transience more directly and graphically than was typical of the typical Hollywood pictur e. The plot centers on Eddie (Frankie Darro) and Tommy (Edwin Phillips), two teens from a small town who seem insulated from the worlds larger problems as they attend high school dances, date girls, and tool around town in a jalopy. The first hint that al l is not well appears when Tommy, humiliated, reveals that his widowed mother has had a hard time getting work and so relies on the community chest. Later that night, Eddie jauntily enters the kitchen of his home to cut himself a ludicrously large slice of apple pie, only to discover that his mother is weeping in the study because his father has been laid off. Eddie immediately makes personal sacrifices to aid his family, first selling his car to a scrap dealer, then deciding that he and Tommy should drop out of school and take to the road in search of work, rather than remaining a burden on their unemployed parents, saying, I cant go on having fun in school while my dads in a breadline. Just as an estimated 250,000

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222 other teenagers did during the Depress ion, the duo hops a freight train, headed for Chicago, teaming up with the androgynous Sally (Dorothy Coonan) along the way, who has left her home for similar reasons (Uys 11). The film exhibits a clear and unequivocal sympathy for its protagonists, despi te the litany of crimes they commit. Selfless, virtuous motives prompt their decisions to become tramps. Their actions are clearly borne of material necessity. They demonstrate an admirable camaraderie. At no point do their characterizations suggest any moral ambiguity. This narrative sympathy extends most remarkably to the teenagers response to various forms of institutionalized power, which is by contrast until the films final moments largely construed as lacking legitimacy. Two dramatic scenes of activ e, mass resistance to corporate and state authority best illustrate this point. In the first, railroad detectives purge dozens of teenage riders, boys and girls, white and black, from a train that has stopped to take on water. The kids flee until they encounter an older hobo, who tells them that theyre ten miles from the closest town. He then asks them, Hey, what you let them put you off for? Theres only seven or eight of them. There must be close to, what, a hundred of you here. Whats a matter, aint you got no nerve? ... You got an army, aint you? Eddie embraces this mathematical logic We got them outnumbered, twenty to one, he notes and leads his fellow travelers back to the train, where he confronts the detectives. You better get away from that train and let us on or somebodys going to hurt, see? he warns, before the kids begin pelting them somewhat comically with eggs and fruit, forcing the detectives to retreat. Once the train starts moving again, the kids discover that one of their number, an adolescent girl, has been sexually assaulted by a brakeman, whom they then corner, beat, and ultimately

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223 throw from the train, presumably to his death. Although Eddie does express concern that the police in the next town might connect them to the act, n othing comes of it. Rather than serving as an example of mob violence, this incident portrays an exploited group finding strength in numbers and resisting agents of oppression. Later, in Cleveland, this transient band receives permission to squat a yard fi lled with sewer pipes, which they convert into shelters of ersatz domesticity, forming a loose community varied in gender and race, and practicing mutual aid. A newspaper headline describes them as forming a sort of autonomous city state: Sewer Pipe City Becomes Boys Republic: Busy Community of Waifs Functions Under Own Leaders. Tommy, by this point, has lost a leg in a train accident, so he stays behind as the rest of the teens roam the town looking for work and begging for spare change. Their presenc e inspires fear in the larger community, so city officials announce plans to evict the kids and run them out of town. This time, the young tramps have prepared in advance for the confrontation, amassing a load of rocks as ammunition, with which they bombar d the police officers who arrive to carry out the eviction. The rearguard action ultimately fails, however, and the trio moves on to New York City, where Eddie finally secures employment, only to be mistakenly arrested for robbery and brought to trial. In court, Eddie remains defiant, refusing to tell the court where he lives or who his parents are, making an impassioned speech that verges on becoming a class conscious call for insurrection: You say you gotta send us to jail to keep us off the streets. Thats a lie. Youre sending us to jail because you dont want to see us. You want to forget us. Well, you cant do it, cause Im not the only one. Theres thousands just like me, and theres more hitting the road every day. This accusatory oration reflects the collectivist ethos

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224 locating strength in overwhelming numbers imparted by the older, wiser hobo earlier in the film. It sounds as much like a revolutionary threat as a statement of fact. In his review in The Nation, William Troy declares, Never befor e does one recall having witnessed an American picture whose climax is made to consist in a pitched battle between a band of ragged outlaws and the police, in which the sympathy is manifestly with the former (qtd. in Roffman and Purdy 93). Of course, this review neglects to mention that the pitched battle at the sewer pipe city is not actually the climax. When contrasted with the conclusion, the scenes of violent confrontation serve to emphasize the schizophrenic nature of the films final cut. In the last scenes, the government suddenly finds embodiment in the form of a paternal, benevolent judge, who looks more than a bit like the nations president. To Eddie and his companions, Judge White says, Let me be your friend. I want to help you. He advises Eddie on the deadend of any collectivist resistance to authority, observing that through his actions Eddie is only making a bad matter worse. Moved by Eddies speech, he promises personally to find jobs for all three defendants, and promises vaguely that things are going to get better now. Not only here in New York but all over the country. I know your father will return to work shortly. That means you can go back to school. During this era, the National Recovery Administrations Blue Eagle logo and slogan of We Do Our Part regularly appeared in the credits of Hollywood studio films, but Wild Boys incorporates it into the set: an NRA emblem hangs on the wall of the courtroom behind the judge. Thus, in the end, Wild Boys appears to offer a general endorse ment of the solution presented by New Deal legislation rather than proposing revolt.

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225 Yet, the films awkward and abrupt transition in tone and theme in its final moments undercuts that endorsement. In fact, this disjunctive quality results from an intervention designed to limit the implications of the preceding action. Both Dorothy Coonan, the actress who played Sally and later became Wellmans wife, and Wellman himself would later reveal that the original ending for Wild Boys was far bleaker than the New D eal boosterism that audiences saw in the theater. Instead of coming under the wing of a fatherly judge who responds to his earnest plea, Eddie finds himself in the state reformatory until the age of twenty one, while Sally and Tommy receive shorter sentenc es (Shindler 168; Roffman and Purdy 94). The reason for the alteration is not hard to fathom. The studio had a particularly closeand mutually beneficial relationship with the Roosevelt Administration: Jack Warner raised money for the Democrats from Hollyw ood figures and was later named the Los Angeles chairman of the NRA (Shindler 165). Colin Shindler argues that for a few years Warner Brothers in the 1930s was a New Deal studio (166). Just as producer Darryl Zanuck rewrote the ending of Wellmans prev ious picture, Heroes for Sale (1933), so that the downtrodden protagonist approvingly talks about and then reads aloud from Roosevelts inauguration speech, Jack Warner insisted the ending of Wild Boys be changed (Shindler 40, 168169). Consequently, both films end by suggesting the governments definitive action will imminently produce recovery. Still, Wellmans original vision cannot be fully suppressed. While the final cut of Wild Boys may seem to promote the palliative measures of New Deal programs, in its earlier scenes that draw attention to societys persistent flaws and sympathetically portray collective resistance to authority it also suggests a critical stance and an alternative response to a crisis of capitalism.

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226 At least until the films ending u ndermines the implications of their actions, then, these wild boys (and girls) of the road serve as examples of what I call the Critical Tramp. The vagabond of this representational tradition exhibits much of the same behavior as that of the Savage Tramp t radition, embracing the radical mobility of the railroad, defying institutional authority, often eschewing labor, rejecting bourgeois morality, disrupting heteronormative domesticity, and as such posing an existential threat to liberal democratic nation st ate. Yet, in contrast to portraits of Savage Tramps, Critical Tramp narratives employ a vastly different evaluative perspective to frame the figure, providing a sympathetic portrayal akin to that of the Americana Hobo. Unlike the Americana Hobo tradition, however, which diffuses the railroad vagabond figures implied threat by safely circumscribing the range of his opposition, tales of the Critical Tramp present unbounded and undiluted critiques. Furthermore, the category encompasses several subtypes, with figures distinguished from each other primarily by their varying levels of agency and the explicitness of their critique: the Exhausted Tramp, the Revolutionary Hobo, and the Outlier Tramp. These tramps are not clowns, in that they do not serve as the objects of fun even when their actions may inspire laughter, yet neither do they consistently achieve hero status. Still, all iterations of the Critical Tramp are united in their profound antipathy toward the established order. While his narrative entails an o ften unforgiving critique of the state and the economic system it protects, the Exhausted Tramp does not openly advocate for revolution. Rather, through the textual representation of the conditions in which he lives and his subjective response to those con ditions, this tradition seeks to destabilize established social categories and moral imperatives sufficiently to inspire its audience to

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227 develop its own critical stance. Stephen Cranes An Experiment in Misery, originally published on April 22, 1894 in t he New York Press (followed a week later by An Experiment in Luxury) provides a prototype of the genre and illustrates many of its primary gestures. By the 1890s, news publications often included the journalistic experiment as a regular feature that had acquired its own conventions, typically focusing on some unfamiliar milieu, which Crane employs for radical ends (Robertson 95, 101). Like many Exhausted Tramp narratives, An Experiment in Misery straddles the generic line between fact and fiction, and has been received and treated as both; a preamble and coda in which the reporter discusses in the form of a thirdperson dialoguehis motives for and results of his experiment were excised when the piece was recast as fiction. Employing a thirdperson narration throughout even as it ostensibly represents Cranes actual experiences, the piece follows a young male protagonist who goes undercover as a vagrant in order to record the true conditions endured by homeless people. After he dons ragged clothes, onlookers assail him with the epithets bum and hobo before he makes his way to the miserable flophouse where he spends the night (248). There, one of the warehoused men begins to moan and wail in his sleep, but to the protagonist, these were not merely the shrieks of a vision pierced man: they were an utterance of the meaning of the room and its occupants[,] the protest of the wretch who feels the touch of the imperturbable granite wheels, and who then cries with an impersonal eloquence, with a strengt h not from him, giving voice to the wail of a whole section, a class, a people (253). In this passage, Crane provides the reader with the interpretation that the representations of the Exhausted Tramp are meant to inspire. Pitiable and barely surviving, t his tramp

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228 operates from a subject position that belies the public anxiety surrounding the large floating population of the era. As Michael Robertson observes, the sketch never directly addresses the issues that were central to other discussions of poverty and unemployment in the 1890s: the Tramp Menace, politics, economics, morality, public safety, property rights, charity, reform, and revolution, yet it is a fundamentally radical work that challenges belief in a stable identity, tying subjectivity to environmental circumstances and thus upsetting his audiences beliefs in class divisions as natural and inevitable (101). Cranes article had specific implications during the period of widespread unemployment that followed the economic panic of 1893, but the general approach retains its relevance during any period of economic crisis, particularly the Great Depression. On accepting the Republican presidential nomination in 1928, a prematurely optimistic Herbert Hoover opined, We in America today are nearer to the final triumph over poverty than ever before in the history of any land (qtd. in Singer 33). This jubilant assessment was rendered absurd as the effects of the Depression grew more severe and widespread in the years followed the stock market crash. Five thousand banks failed, industrial production plummeted, and international commerce slowed to a trickle compared to precrash activity. Between 1929 and 1933, the number of jobless climbed into the millio ns peaking at 15 million, or 25 percent of the labor force, with a third of those workers employed only in part time positions and the effects of poverty continued to spread (Fraser 10). Malnutrition resulting from inadequate diets meant more cases of dysentery, pellagra, and chronic illness. Starving children picked over garbage. Homelessness soared, while those fortunate

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229 enough to have shelter shivered through the winter, unable to purchase fuel (Boris 2526). Testifying before a Senate subcommittee in January 1933, sociologist Nels Anderson reporte d on the results of a threeday census he had recently conducted, conservatively estimating the number of homeless people in the United States to be 1.5 million (Kusmer 194). As noted previously, a quarter of a million teenagers would take to the road in order alleviate the burden on their families. Shantytowns derisively called Hoovervilles appeared in cities across the country. Yet, in response to these conditions, Hoover maintained that municipalities and states bore the responsibility for administering relief, not the federal government. Industry leaders also appeared unable or unwilling to acknowledge, let alone move to rectify, the crisis. In 1931, only a short time before laying off 75,000 employees, Henry Ford pronounced that the average man wont really do a days work unless he is caught and cannot get out of it. There is plenty of work to do if people would do it (qtd. in Zinn 378). Given the dire circumstances and the apparent inefficacy of government and industry, especially before the implem entation of New Deal relief programs after Franklin Roosevelt took office in March of 1933, it is perhaps not surprising that many began to question the desirability of a society and economy organized according to capitalist principles. While Crane sought to occupy the perspective of homelessness only for a night and a day in An Experiment, Tom Kromer based his novel Waiting for Nothing on the five Depressionera years he spent roaming the country via freight train in a largely fruitless pursuit of employ ment, during which time he contracted the pulmonary tuberculosis that would one day render him an invalid and cut short his writing career. For Kromer, this was not an experiment or a journalistic investigation. He was not an

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230 author in search of vital material, even if his experiences would serve as the foundation of his self consciously literary production. However, in an irony so profound it seems almost absurd, as a young journalism student Kromer, not unlike Crane, did once go undercover as a mendicant for a class assignment and wrote up the experience in an article cynically titled Pity the Poor Panhandler; $2 an Hour Is all He Gets. In those pre tramp days he had been attending Marshall College, supporting himself by working in a glass factory and as a proofreader at a newspaper, but his funds ran out at the end of the 1929 academic year. As did so many others, he took to the road, hoboing to Kansas in a failed attempt to find work in the wheat fields, thus initiating an extended period of transience. He would go on to compose the bulk of his one published novel in 1933 and 1934 while enrolled in the Civilian Conservation Corps and working at Camp Murphys in California.1 This biography performs an extratextual role in determining the reception of the book, as does the grim dedication: To Jolene, who turned off the gas. A brief preface affixed to the British edition of the book provides additional gravitas, going so far as to blur the books genre by claiming that [s]ave for four or five incidents, i t is strictly autobiographical, although Kromer allows that he has altered the chronology somewhat in order to better develop the story (Casciato and West 259). The title of his sole published novel, which appeared in 1935, only begins to suggest the cr ushing pessimism of the story told in its pages. Worthy of Sartre or Beckett, the title comments quite directly on the existential condition of the characters. The first person narrator, Tom, who also shares a last name with the author, literally waits for nothing throughout the entire story. While he has no choice but to wait, he also has no reason to expect that any personal and social change looms on the horizon.

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231 Formally, the book employs an episodic structure far more radical than even other loosely pl otted tramp sagas, in that it abandons any semblance of forward progression, in effect allowing the text to perform the titles meaning. Time loses all linearity, with the episodes described in each of the self contained chapters failing to accumulate sequ ential significance; their order has no bearing on the plot, nor does the time elapsed between them. Rather, each presents a vignette of Americas failure to construct a society in which all people have the opportunity to earn enough money merely to eat three meals a day and stay off the streets. The protagonist seems to have lost all sense of time, and one must read well beyond the halfway mark before learning that he has been on the road for two years. Tom occasionally alludes to the seasons, but only to note their impact on his well being it mostly seems to be oppressively, dangerously coldnot to suggest any chronological relation between them. Likewise, even if the geography changes when Tom rides freight trains from one location to the next, its partic ulars apparently merit no mention. Like his experience of time, his experience of space appears indistinct, each urban area interchangeable with the last, or the next. Significantly, no character besides the narrator carries over from one chapter to the next, relationships being as ephemeral as any other material element in Toms isolated existence as a tramp. Rearranging the chapters, then, would have little if any effect on the readers experiencewhich is, of course, precisely the point. This story has no beginning and no conclusion. These characters endure misery without end, and such an emotional and tonal monotony makes the differentiation of experience almost impossible, or at least beside the point.

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232 Repetition itself becomes a motif not only in term s of form, but also language, with the narrator repeatedly offering nearly identical simple statements of a deadened consciousness only able to grasp basic sensory data stemming from exposure to elements, or hunger. The present tense narration, as William Solomon observes, lend[s] a startling sense of immediacy to his work, giving the reader the (illusory) impression that he or she is with the narrator at the exact moment of each incident (804). In addition to fostering that immediacy, this technique rein forces the sense of temporal stasis established by the strictly episodic, almost circular, plot structure. Put another way, the present tense narration becomes a mimetic device through which to represent the Exhausted Tramps subjectivity, which cannot aff ord thought beyond the immediacy of the present moment. Thinking of a past when times were better only draws further attention to the profound lack one knows now. Thinking into the future constitutes an exercise in futility. So trapped in an unchanging mom ent, Tom has no agency and cannot act. From its first page, the novel announces this impotency as one of its major themes. Tom hides behind a tree on a darkened street, clutching a heavy stick, poised to clobber and rob someone, anyone in the dough, but when the perfect target passes, Tom admits that my stick does not come down. Something has happened to me. I am sick in the stomach. I have lost my nerve (56). Hunger had motivated the plan, but so had a simmering resentment toward those who seem to ben efit from an economic structure that treats life as a zerosum game according to which some can achieve financial security only at the expense of others. In Toms simple observations, a clear line separates the two, so that he can tell which side of the divide his intended target

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233 occupies: He walks with his head up and a jaunty step. A stiff does not walk like that (5). This resentment transmutes into unspoken rage when the police arrest and taunt a bunch of stiffs who have been sleeping in an abandon ed building during a wet, cold night. I want to take this bull by his dirty neck and choke him till his tongue hangs out, Tom thinks, but of course he does nothing, because there is nothing he can do, so that his threats of future retribution sound merel y pathetic: We are cattle to them [the police]. Damn them. Some day they will pay for this (23). Tom sees both societys essential inequity and the apparatuses that maintain it, but he deploys what he knows only in the service of an interior monologue th rough which he voices an ongoing critique. This impotence finds its most symbolic expression during an ultimately aborted bank robbery. Moving toward his objective, Tom reviews his meticulous plan while fingering the gat he has obtained off the page, but at the moment he approaches the bank clerk he once again confronts his powerlessness. I give this gat a yank, but it does not come out of my pocket. Only the handle comes out. Only the handle and a part of the lining of my coat. Something has happened. I t is stuck in the torn lining of my pocket. I yank hard again, but it does not come out. This guy back of the wire cage thinks that there is something wrong. He steps closer to the window and peers out. I cannot take my hand out of my pocket. I am afraid he will see the bulge. (61) The very materiality of Toms impoverished state has prevented him from brandishing his weapon, however much he yanks on it, transforming the entire scene into an analogue for a failed sexual encounter. Indeed, the novel ruthlessly drains Tom of agency, so that he seems little more than a passive husk of a character pushed along by events and circumstances on which he can have no impact. He rarely speaks in terms of choice, instead repeatedly observing why he cannot take this or that action, whether because of his lack of energy,

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234 his lack of will, his lack of guts. But even if a naturalist determinism constricts his behavior, he repeatedly insists on his interrelated abilities to see and to know. On one hand, these affirmat ions appear to expose Toms defensiveness, his oft admitted overriding fear, and his desire to lay claim to authority in the one area in which he has expertise: living on the road. On the other hand, it is precisely through this expertise that the narrator performs his critical function, ultimately belying the pretense that he concerns himself only with whether he is warm or cold, dry or wet, sated or hungry. He sees and knows material and economic reality. He sees and knows the true character of the people he meets in his wanderings. For instance, approaching a cashier at a restaurant to ask for a handout, he observes, She has a hard face. She is not going to be friendly. I can see that (55). He knows the limited options available to the stiff. He kn ows his own psychology. He has acquired this ability to see and know only through experience, which has exorcised any naivety he once had. I was new then. I am an older timer now, he says of a time when he would have participated in the religious proceedings at a mission (36). Although on occasion he would like to think otherwise, he recognizes that he does not have exclusive rights to this type of knowledge. Others who have undergone similar experiences have developed similar insights, amassing the data and the interpretive skills that allow them to survive. He describes waiting for a train with other tramps: We lie down on the tracks and place our ears to the rails. We can hear the purr that tumbles through them. We look at each other and shake our heads. Too fast. We are oldtimers. We know by the sing in the rails when a drag is too hot. We know. We can tell by the puff, and the sparks that fly from her stacks (120). By the end of the novel, he shifts from an empirical to an emotional form of

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235 know ledge acquisition and interpretation. Having watched a stiff die in a filthy bed in a mission, Tom glimpses his own fate, and transitions from seeing to feeling; regarding life on the road, he thinks, It will get me, too, like it got this guy. It is getti ng me. I can feel it (129). In narrating the knowledge he acquires and the interpretations he performs so that he can endure, Tom simultaneously acts as the readers critical and trustworthy ambassador to a world populated by the subaltern. In its stark d epiction of prevailing economic conditions, Toms narration devalues the work ethic as a taxonomical tool, in effect subverting and exposing as absurd the binary opposition between the worthy and unworthy poor generally, and between the hobo (migratory wor ker) and the tramp (migratory nonworker) specifically. Given that it rests on the individuals relationship to work, the distinctions between the hobo, the tramp, and the bum have little meaning in Toms world. From the beginning of the narrative, he has occupied the margins of the work force for so long that he has essentially given up his Sisyphean quest for employment and become what would now be called a discouraged worker: I am tired of walking the streets all day long asking for work. They laugh at you for asking for work (57). Yet, virtually everyone in the novel who is not a tramp approaches unemployment as a matter of choice, demonstrating the persistence of the work ethic as the official morality (Weeks 38). This morality informs the respons es of the non tramps Tom encounters those who have an income, who remain at liberty to think of something other than the fulfillment of their most basic biological needs who appear periodically throughout the novel to comment as a kind of productivist Greek chorus. Choice has long since been beside the point Tom insists, I am not like this because I want to be (83) but the utterly abject characters in Waiting

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236 remain subject to an outmoded categorical schema. Arresting a group of tramps who have sought shelter from the rain in an abandoned building, a police officer sneers, Youre a lousy bum, and you wouldnt work if you had work (24). Similarly, a man Tom has approached for a few dimes to get a flop offers only a condescending reply, asking, [D]o y ou know what I would do if I was down on my luck with no place to get in out of the rain? I would get me a job and go to work (20). Toms unspoken response reveals the absurdity of such an injunction: Go to work, would he? Does he think I would be standing here in the rain and the cold if there was work to be had? There is no work (20). The phrase there is no work functions as a refrain, almost a mantra, periodically thought or even uttered aloud as a truism. It prompts the question: What function does the work ethic have if there is no work to be done? Given that in the worst years of the Depression the unemployment rate approached 25 percent Toms assertion is not without validity (S. Carter). Circumstances have destabilized Toms worker subjectivi ty, altering the way in which he sees and experiences the worldnot to mention the way others see him in turn allowing him to accumulate a previously unavailable store of knowledge. Necessarily, this destabilization entails a defamiliarization of the work ethic, a process that, in The Problem with Work Kathi Weeks argues will begin to expose the ethic as irrational at its origins and to its core, despite the fact that it is prescriptive of what is taken to be the most rational forms of practical economi c conduct (42). Specifically, the unavailability of work facilitates the abandonment of bourgeois morality. When Tom plans the aforementioned aborted bank robbery, his proposed actions appear rational and even justified. After all, he reasons while contem plating his targets,

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237 They would let me starve to death on the streets without lifting a hand to help me (59). Society dictates that he must work in order to eat, but everywhere he goes, people tell him, There is no work, thus effectively denying him the capacity to sustain his own life (57). It makes sense that Tom rejects the right of his pursuers following the failed bank robbery to judge his actions: What do they know what is right and wrong? How can they know? They have not lived for years in lousy mission flops. They have not eaten swill from the restaurant garbage cans. They have good jobs? They do not know what is right or what is wrong (63). Far from being universal, his narration implies, morality derives from specific material experience. To replace the dichotomy between tramp and hobo, the novel proposes a new binary that jettisons moral implications: want and freedom from want. Tom constantly reviews his current position in relation to this distinction, which hinges on those most basic phys iological factors at the bottom of Maslows hierarchy of needs (Casciato and West 279). His life has been reduced to a perpetual quest for food and shelter from the elements, or three hots and a flop, as he puts it in the novels final words (129). Thus, he peppers the narration with commentary regarding his immediate material circumstances, always framed as simple contrasts. Looking through the window of a restaurant, he notes, It looks warm in there. Warm and dry. Out here it is wet and cold (78). Whi le lying on the floor in an abandoned building filled with homeless men, he thinks, It is wet outside and cold. But I am not wet or cold. I am warm and dry (22). In much the same way, he later comforts himself during a tedious sermon by noting, It is damp and chilly in the parks, but it is warm in here (33). Tom lives in a state of constant precarity, unable to predict moment by moment whether he escape privation in the

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238 immediate future. With no opportunities to change his circumstances, his ambitions h ave reached their nadir, so that his ideal of the good life now consists of having enough money to afford the fundamental resources for survival. Watching a man pay his thirty cent dinner check with a dollar, Tom wonder[s] how it feels to have a buck in y our jeans. Four bits will set me on top of the world right now. A good warm flop tonight and breakfast in the morning. Even when fantasizing, he can only dare to project twelve hours or so into the future what security such capital would provide. Still, he elaborates on his fantasy in another way, well aware of the social legitimacy that accompanies such wealth. Thats the way to live, he thinks. Pay for what you get, and look every copper you pass on the street straight in the eye, and say: You bastar d, I dont owe you a cent (11). Kromers novel derives much of its critical import from this radical reorientation of the protagonists priorities away from more familiar plot catalysts and toward the mundane, an approach that links it to a seminal iter ation of the genre. In his monomaniacal focus on his immediate material conditions as in his episodic peregrinations Tom recalls the malnourished narrator of the anonymously authored Spanish picaresque novel Lazarillo de Tormes (1554). Much like Waiting fo r Nothing this sixteenthcentury text takes the form of the fictitious autobiography of a marginalized indigent whose mishaps serve to denounce society (Cruz 2). Understandably preoccupied with food and the lack of it, Lazarillo admits to a new acquai ntance that he know[s] how to sleep one night and even more, if necessary, wi thout any food in [his] stomach (33). He is often subject to such craving for sustenance that even a bit of bread he obtains at one point was like the very face of

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239 God (21). H unger motivates the actions of both characters, and lengthy descriptions and catalogues of food appear throughout both narratives. Employed temporarily as a priests servant, Lazarillo watches in envy as his master boils a sheeps head and proceeds to gorg e himself, eating the eyes, the tongue, the neck, the brains and the meat on the jawbone (19). Tom likewise describes the food that others eat in simple, yet sensual language. I pass a restaurant. In the window is a roast chicken. It is brown and fat. It squats in a silver platter. The platter is filled with gravy. I stand there and watch it drip. It drips over the side, slow. I stand there and watch it drip. Underneath it the sign says: All you can eat for fifty cents. I lick my lips. My mouth waters. I sure would like to sit down with that before me. (6) As ever, the promise of nourishment, even extravagant indulgence (All you can eat), lies just out of reach, on the other side of a pane of glass that demarcates the tramp from the citizen, those who want and those who are free from want. Frequently starving, both narrators find themselves surrounded by inaccessible nourishment. While the disparity represented by such scenarios implies a critique of societys base, both novels proffer far more overt cr iticism of certain superstructural institutions. In their daily confrontation with these sorts of physiological deprivations, both Lazarillo and Tom adopt a cynical view of those who would privilege the spiritual over the earthly. (Lazarillo, like Tom, has learned that lofty moral standards become unfixed when one has been denied the material resources necessary to sustain life.) Lazarillo abounds with hypocritical religious representatives who counsel piety while indulging their baser desires. Similarly, in Waiting a preacher at a mission ironically sermonizes that [w]e are too much taken up with worldly things (34). While Lazarillo initially attributes his actions to noncorporeal motivation, first claiming [t]he Devil put temptation in front of my eye s, then professing to have been enlightened by the Holy Ghost, later he is

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240 convinced that hunger was my guiding light all along (14, 21, 24). In like manner, Tom has little faith that the divine plays an active role in the daily lives of the impoveris hed: These stiffs are in this joint because they have no place to get in out of the cold, and this bastard asks them to stand up and tell what God has done for them. I can tell him what God has done for them. He hasnt done a damn thing for them (39). Co mparison to another text (one not produced almost four hundred years prior and on the other side of the Atlantic) also illuminates some of Waiting for Nothings strategies and central concerns. Although Kromer would likely have rejected any suggestion of equivalency, his novels second chapter contains a scene that closely mirrors the conclusion of Edward Andersons Hungry Men, published the same year as Waiting yet the point at which the two texts diverge on the level of plot reveals their fundamental ide ological differences. Kromer despised Andersons novel, and wrote a scathing review in which he attacked what he saw as its lack of authenticity, declaring that the reader will encounter no working stiffs dying of malnutrition on liceinfested blankets of three decker bunks in the missions as, not coincidentally, one such stiff does in a pivotal scene in Waiting for Nothing and no souplines that stretch for blocks in the city streets and never start moving (237). For Kromer, no novel purporting to addr ess the reality of current economic conditions can be without such images. Yet, much as Andersons protagonist Acel Stecker makes appearance in court after being arrested for fighting on the street, Tom finds himself waiting in the prisoners box to go bef ore a judge on charges of vagrancy. In parallel circumstances, both Acel and Tom silently contemplate their defense strategies. Both men mount their imaginary arguments less on claims of innocence than on their abilities to demonstrate their

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241 respective exc eptionalism through the use of what they imagine to be sophisticated and utterly persuasive rhetoric. Even these characters imaginary speeches contain remarkably similar syntax and diction. Acel thinks, The judge will know I am no ordinary bum when I address him, and goes on to practice a monologue peppered with appropriate legalese (Anderson 270, italics added). Tom similarly readies himself by carefully selecting just the right terminology: Let me see. I will plead guilty with mitigating circumstances That sounds all right. This judge will see that I am no ordinary stiff (28, italics added). If only to himself, Tom insists on his cultural capital: I have got a good education. Ive had good jobs in my time (29). He goes further, fantasizing an entir e exchange in which he eloquently explains those mitigating circumstances, beginning by situating his act of trespassing within the worldwide crisis in unemployment. After first establishing the broader context for his actions, unafraid to indulge in a bit of pathos, he will point to the weather as a factor, claiming, We had no alternative. We must sleep. We cannot sleep in the rain (29). He will conclude by noting quite reasonably that this crime had no particular victim. After all, [t]his building w as empty. We did not break in. It was empty (29). Despite these striking similarities, a comparison of the reception of each vagrants defense reveals that Kromers complaints about Andersons novel have some merit, for it is at this point that the stori es go in separate directions. In Hungry Men, the stirring speech, although it does not come out quite as smoothly as planned, actually works. Over the course of three pages, Acel engages the judge in an extended conversation after pleading not guilty, conv incingly asserting that he is the innocent victim (despite the fact that he actually threw the first punch), earning praise for his

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242 patriotism, and generating positive press coverage for a musical combo that he recently formed. He even gets offered a paying gig, bringing about the hopeful conclusion of Hungry Mens Americana Hobo narrative. Tom, meanwhile, manages only to spit out the words I am guilty with before the judge cuts him off and sentences him to sixty days in jail. The Critical Tramp does not receive justice, even as Tom attempts to protest, rising to his feet to recite his rehearsed defense, only to sit back down when approached by a police officer with a blackjack. I will not stand for this. I dont have to stand for this, Tom thinks, but, of course, he does; What the hell can I do against a cop with a blackjack. They know a stiff hasnt got a chance (29, 30). The two novels contain other noteworthy parallel elements and plot points that ultimately bifurcate in ways that reveal the dif ferences in their ideological underpinnings. Both Acel and Tom encounter feminized homosexual men in urban settings. Yet, while Acels interactions with Queenie consist of only a brief exchange, adding a bit of exotic local color, Toms episode with Mrs. Carter takes place over the course of an entire chapter and raises questions generally skirted or suppressed in Andersons novel. Due to its potentially scandalous nature, in fact, Waiting s British publisher excised the entire chapter just before going t o press (Casciato and West 272). It begins when Tom meets a transvestite in a public park and ends w hen Tom quite frankly acknowledges his willingness to engage in sexual relations with another man in exchange for food and shelter. In the world of Hungry M en, the prerogative of mobility naturally affords men alternatives to prostitution. As Acels girlfriend Corrine flatly states, The difference is that you can sleep on park benches and get by now. [A] downand out man begs and a woman sells (131). Wait ing for Nothing however, does not make this gendered

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243 delineation. As directly and pragmatically as Corrine, Tom sells his body as a sexual object when he has no other options that is, when no one will purchase his body for its utility in the service of socially acceptable labor. Even the opportunity for such an apparently feminized and degraded (according to the novels point of view) form of labor is rare, and competition remains fierce, a fact Tom recognizes when he notes, I am a luck stiff running into this queer. For every queer there is a hundred stiffs to make him (46). This relationship model has apparently been normalized, at least within the communities of its respective participants, such that Tom can remark on its conventions: We are playing a game, he says of preliminary flirtations (43). It has even received the tacit approval of the authorities, perhaps because these relations only involve those deemed other by society. Although both homosexuals and vagrants remain subject to punitive measures, enforcers of the prevailing moral standards will look the other way, exposing the hypocrisy of the dominant order. The coppers will let you whistle low, Tom explains, but not loud (47). Indeed, among the down and out, no one offers judgment. Ins tead, another stiff remarks on Toms luck and proceeds to offer specific advice based on information gleaned from other transients. Indicating the regularity and acceptability of this particular mode of economic exchange, the stiff goes so far as to correc t by example Toms use of the male pronoun, consistently referring to Mrs. Carter as she without additional comment (46, 47). Even if he was previously unfamiliar with this particular individual, Tom reveals that he has made this sort of arrangement before. When Mrs. Carter asks if Tom has ever go[ne] out with any fellows? Tom responds in the negative, but immediately contradicts himself in the narration, admitting, I am lying,

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244 but if this queer wants a virgin, thats what he gets (45). It becomes clear that Toms physical transience elides with his sexual transience. Although the novel does not condemn Toms actions, the narration does not assume a progressive stance on homosexuality. Mrs. Carter conforms to the particular stereotype of the bitchy, duplicitous, lascivious queen with sharppointed and painted flaming red nails that the narrator assumes would be used to scratch out the eyes of anyone foolish enough to cross her (49). Apparently, in the world of this novel, a host of wealthy gay transv estites has escaped the ravages of the Depression so that they can use their capital to pick up homeless men who would otherwise spend the night in the park. In fact, Toms desirability is such that his presence sparks a bidding war between Mrs. Carter and her roommate Gloria, also a male transvestite. Walking with Mrs. Carter back to her apartment, Tom cannot help but consider the opinions of staring onlookers, fretting, Maybe they will think I am queer, too. This moment of muted gay panic inspires an incongruously aggressive assertion of his masculinity: Id like to see some bastard accuse me of being queer. The first guy that calls me a pansy, it will be just too bad for that guy. That guy will never call anyone else a pansy (48). By this point in the novel the fourth chapter out of twelveit has become clear that Tom lacks the capacity for such action. Not once has he carried out a threat of violence. Yet, in keeping with the prevailing tone, the narrator presents the incident through a relatively disinterested delivery. Tom, justifying his actions, simply says, What can I do? What am I doing is all I can do. A stiff has got to live (51). The point remains that a crisis in capitalism renders bourgeois morality irrelevant. Regardless of what the re ader with regular access to shelter and food may think about homosexual

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245 relations or prostitution, in the absence of those essentials, a person will do what is necessary. A scene in another chapter subtly returns to this point, when Tom meets a woman named Yvonne in the midst of her tentative, awkward first attempt to earn money by selling sexual access to her body. Toms experience as a transient again affords him insight that might elude the casual observer, in this case allowing him to interpret Yvonnes acts as those of a novice. Taking in her ragged clothes, Tom thinks, I can see that she is the same as me, and the two strike up a friendship (78). Given that Tom has previously exchanged sex for food, the reader understands that this acknowledgement of similarity does more than suggest a potential dispositional bond it also entails a certain fatalism, implying a course of action overdetermined by economic realities. In other words, even if Yvonne has not yet learned to sell herself effectively, she inev itably will have to do so. Noting the double bed in Yvonnes apartment, Tom thinks, That is thoughtful of the landlady, because if the beds in the rooms were not double beds, there would be no use for a hot plate. There would be nothing to eat (83). This simple equation demonstrates how everyone in this scenario, including the landlady, is implicated in societys failure to provide either employment or essential resources. Motivated less by generosity than the same pragmatism that has separately driven both Tom and Yvonne to prostitution, the landlady understands that she must provide accommodations that allow her tenants to conduct such exchanges if those tenants are to have enough money to pay their rent. Toms capacity to understand and even identify wi th Yvonnes inevitable decision to engage in sex work puts him at odds with Hungry Mens Acel, who could not tolerate Corrines similar decision and thereby simply replicates prevailing bourgeois moral

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246 codes. Although the termination of neither relationshi p is dramatized, the text implies that Acel and Corrine split up because Corrine opted to support herself through prostitution, while practical economic circumstances most likely caused Tom and Yvonne to part ways. (The end of their relationship takes plac e between chapters.) Acel comes to the end of his narrative poised to begin a new romance, confident that this relati onship will be free of the sordi d conditions that marred his union with Corrine. Suzanne, the new woman in his life, isnt but nineteen, and she hasnt been around much. You could tell that in her eyes. Corinnes eyes got hard at times, but she was older, and she been around a whole lot. She had been around too much (263). So, by the last page of the novel, Acel has not only started to make money playing music, but he has become involved with a woman uncontaminated by excess sexual experience. This fact helps the reader part company with Acel understanding that the young man has finally begun to turn his life around. Rather than similarly endorsing this moral perspective, Waiting for Nothing pushes the reader to see neither Tom nor Yvonne as somehow fallen or sexually deviant, but as two people engaged in the only form of waged labor available to them. In this way, the text again reveals a c entral contradiction of the dominant socioeconomic order that simultaneously venerates individual liberty while strictly circumscribing the exercise of that liberty. Herbert Marcuse argues that within [b]ourgeois society the prohibition of pleasure has always been a condition of freedom (115). In accordance with this principle, organizing the deployment of human resources in the service of generating profit was considered a natural activation of freedom, such that, among the laboring classes, hirin g oneself out to work in a factory became a moral duty, while

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247 hiring out ones body as a means to pleasure was depravity and prostitution (115116). The Kantian categorical imperative that humans be treated as ends in themselves, and never exploited as means, disallows the commodification of the body as a manifestation or bearer of the sexual function, yet permits [t]he sale of labor power (116). Ostensibly, the latter does not entail the reduction of the individual to mere means, as the laborer freely makes the choice to go to work and thus still retains as a sacred preserve the abstraction that is his personin itself, separated from its socially valuable functions (116). Tom and Yvonne have both found it impossible to sell their labor power under socially sanctioned conditions and consequently are unable to secure the necessary material requirements to sustain life. This state of affairs essentially renders bourgeois moral taboos inapplicable while also belying the notion that work is somehow freely chosen. If labor is enforced, it becomes exploitation of the individual as a means rather than an end, and the distinction between work and prostitution collapses. By this point in the novel, the reader has come to understand that economic conditions doom all of Toms relationships to failure, so this brief moment of domestic companionship will necessarily provide only a brief respite, not only for the novels narrator, but also for the novels audience. As Tom told Mrs. Carter, economic circumstances di ctate emotions: I havent any girl now. I havent got any dough. No dough, no girl. What good would it do a stiff if he was in love with his girl? (52). So, unsurprisingly, the relationship with Yvonne does not endure, and at the beginning of the next chapter, Toms life has been reset once again to its default position of homelessness and solitude. Whatever happiness Tom might have experienced as a

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248 result of Yvonnes invitation to stay with her happens off the page, not worthy of representation, as it can be considered little more than an interruption. At no point will Tom reminisce about Yvonne, just as he never mentions any other character outside of the boundaries of the chapters in which that character was first introduced. Once again, the episodic form of the novel makes clear as much as any particular description that precarity is the only consistent factor in Toms life. Written during the depths of the Depression when the Communist Party actively and successfully organized among the impoverished and unemployed, and describing the experiences of those people who would have the most immediate reasons to question the legitimacy of capitalism, Kromers novel necessarily addresses the question of revolutionary change. Yet, discussions of such measures occupy an even smaller portion of the book than they did in Andersons more conservative Hungry Men, and become explicit during only a single chapter. Tom has managed to sneak past the watchful eye of the landlady into the room rented by his friend Karl, a n aspiring writer in the realist tradition who actually gets what little money he has through a job at a restaurant taking out the garbage, for which he earns two dollars a week. The two men became friends when they met in the park, and Karl allows Tom to sleep on his floor [w]hen it is too cold to sleep outside (67). The room costs Karl half his earnings, and he reserves the other half to feed himself, although a food budget of only a dollar a week means that Karl is always hungry and, according to Tom Karls artistic aspirations guarantee that he will always be hungry (67). Tom has brought with him a sack filled with two day old rolls, doughnuts and a squashed coconut pie that he begged from a baker. Tom, Karl, and Werner, a destitute artist who liv es across the hall, crowd

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249 into the small room and gorge themselves. Afterward, Tom listens to the following exchange: Some day there will be an end to all this, says Karl. Some day we shall have all we want to eat. There is plenty for all. Some say we s hall have it. Revolution? says Werner. Revolution, says Karl. Not now. There is no leader. But some day there will arise a leader for the masses. You are right, says Werner. Some day there will be plenty for all. (71 72) When contrasted w ith the dialogue in the rest of the chapter, these lines seem especially stilted. Their false ring, however, suggests less a momentary faltering of the authors ear and more the sense that these words have been mouthed by these characters so often they hav e been drained of meaning. With given names that evoke Karl Marx and perhaps Werner Sombart, author of the 1906 study Why Is there no Socialism in the United States?, their muted and perfunctory sloganeering on behalf of a (perpetually deferred) proletarian upheaval implicates the theorists who have predicted capitalisms inevitable supplanting by communism. Significantly, both Karl and Werner engage in unremunerated cultural production, each of them striving to communicate the truth of the subaltern experi ence. Karls stories effectively portray the starved cries of babies and the hungry look in mens eyes, while the subjects of Werners paintings all have a hungry look in their eyes, as well (67, 69). While Tom recognizes the artistry of these works, or at least their verisimilitude, he sees little value in maintaining ones integrity if ones immediate, basic material needs have not been met. Tom understands that people do not want to read stories about hungry men and babies, and that they will buy W erners paintings only if

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250 he would eliminate the hungry look (69). Yet Tom remains aloof, acting only as an observer, claiming he does not understand such talk as this when Karl and Werner denounce any suggestion of pragmatic compromise in their artist ic output for the sake of commercial viability as sacrilege (69). He becomes even more frustrated with the mention of revolution, his thoughts echoing, I am tired of such talk as this. If the underfed masses have not yet risen up to overthrow their oppressors by now, given the dire circumstances, Tom sees little chance that it will happen in the future. He claims to have seen one bull [railroad police officer] kick a hundred stiffs off a drag [train]. When a stiffs gut is empty, he hasnt got the guts to start anything. When his gut is full, he just doesnt see any use in raising hell. Ultimately, Tom concludes that You can stop a revolution of stiffs with a sack of toppins [leftovers] (72). For Tom, solace exists in neither art nor the promise of revolution. To put faith in either, as Karl and Werner do, is naive. Experience offers sufficient testimony to this truth. Material conditions are all that matter. As if commenting upon Cranes Experiment, the chapter comes to a close with Toms contempl ation of the limited efficacy of such forms of representation, which he links to the individuals limited capacity for true empathy the capacity to know. He looks through the rooms window and sees a stiff caught in the rain, and begins to imagine what t he rest of the night holds for him. Tom narrates a likely scenario: He passes houses and sees into the front windows from the street. He sees the people who live in these houses. They sit by their firesides. As always, Tom uses simple language to emphasi ze immediate material conditions, drawing attention to the direct contrast that characterizes the tramps existence moment by moment: They are warm and dry. He is

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251 wet and cold. Unlike Tom, who knows and can see, those on the privileged side of that c ircumstantial binary will forever fail to grasp the meaning behind textual representations of deprivation. The people in the houses are reading about [the stiff] in the papers. They do not know it is about him, but it is (76). As much as these people may lament the worsening of the economic situationToo bad things are tough their position affords them the luxury of forgetting. Kromer the author necessarily must disagree with Tom the narrator regarding the value of representation, as he has written a book that describes in detail the hungry look in mens eyes, but in this passage he comes close to making a plea, or perhaps an accusation, aimed directly at the reader: even if you close the pages, put this book aside, and forget its characters, the st iff in the rain cannot forget. The water trickling down his soggy clothes will not let him forget. The gnawing pain in the pit of his belly will not let him forget (76). In this passage, Tom demonstrably embodies his role as critical ambassador, speaking as one who can see and thus one who knows. Instead of deliberate advocacy of a particular revolutionary program, the novel relies on Toms typically unstated and ineffectual resentment to develop its political themes. He questions economic inequality, ask ing, Why should one guy have a million dollars, and I am down in a hole with pecans on top of me for covers? (98). He questions the legitimacy of private property, asking, Who is there to say that this world belongs to certain guys? What right has one g uy to say: This much of the world is mine; you cant sleep here? (98). He keeps up a running critique of official rhetoric. In court, listening to the charges against him, Tom thinks, He mumbles something about vagrancy. What this guy means is, we slept in an empty building to get in out of the rain.

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252 He dont say that, though (28). Vagrancy is mere legalese, divorced from reality. The Exhausted Tramp narrative offers a politically innocent socioeconomic critique throughout the story. The narrator at ti mes expresses a vague desire to achieve justice against them someday they will pay but he rejects the feasibility of revolution, especially if it is supposed to originate from the social strata he occupies. Even if Tom does not put his faith in the tram p as potential revolutionary vanguard, he does exhibit a fundamental solidarity with this class. As discussed previously, he freely shares his food and his knowledge with other needy tramps. More significantly, his experiences draw attention to the specifi c ways in which the tramps railroadenabled mobility creates a site of alternative practice among the subaltern. In the novel, the hobo jungle functions as a communal space that in its very nature performs an equalizing function, uniting its inhabitants i n a bond founded on shared material circumstances: I look from face to face about our fire. We are not strangers. The fire has brought us together. We do not ask questions about each other. There is nothing to ask. We are here. We are here because we have no other place to go (115). From the first page of the novel, he has demonstrated his moral willingness (if not his practical ability) to rob the more fortunatehis social and economic antagonists but he still maintains firm ethical boundaries based on s hared interests, insisting, I have my opinion of any stiff who will hold up another stiff and take his chickenfeed away from him. Any guy who will do that is a low livered bastard (110). It is important that Tom has these thoughts while he and other tra mps are being held up in a boxcar by a pair of armed transients, but Tom himself will lose nothing in this robbery, having hidden his money under a medically unnecessary iodinesoaked bandage. In other words, even if

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253 he will not suffer personally, he retai ns the capacity for sympathy, unlike the bourgeois subject who reads employment statistics in the newspaper. Waiting for Nothing supports historian Kenneth Kusmers observation that [m]ost of the significant books about vagabond life published during the 1920s and 30s were too realistic to present the tramp as a heroic figure (179). Tom may offer critique, but as he himself admits, he does not have the guts to become a truly rebellious hero. Yet, if DepressionEra representations of the passive Exhaus ted Tramp such as Waiting for Nothing primarily serve to destabilize the audiences faith in the dominant socioeconomic order, another iteration of the trainhopping vagabond offers a model of direct opposition in the form of the itinerant insurrectionist. The figure of the Revolutionary Hobo shares many traits with Black Flynn, the villain of Lee O. Harriss The Man Who Tramps but his narrative frames him from a celebratory perspective. Rather than inspiring fear and disgust, the radical vagabond presents an example to follow. Like Flynn, he employs his mobility on behalf of an active effort to topple bourgeois liberal capitalism, but the texts in which he appears represent these endeavors as part of a noble cause, and his adventures assume an advocacy func tion. At the same time, much like the Americana Hobo, the agency he demonstrates through his freespirited theft of transportation on freight trains delivers him to the fields, mines, and logging camps where he works hard for his pay, contributing to the development of the nations economy. Both representational traditions emphasize their protagonists worker identity. The Revolutionary Hobo, however, deviates from his individualist cousin in his advocacy of collectivism he understands that by virtue of his status as a worker, he has a shared interest with other members of the working class. In reference to this

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254 figure, the word hobo signifies neither apolitical rugged individualism nor idle transience. He is a Savage Tramp in possession of a work ethic, an Americana Hobo imbued with a collectivist mentality. This radical and celebratory iteration of the railroad tramp makes its most obvious and frequent appearance in the cultural production of the Industrial Workers of the World, the radical labor union fo unded in 1905 with the stated goals of overthrowing the employing class and abolishing the wage system. According to a sympathetic pamphlet history of the organization, the delegates at that founding convention were the nonconformists, the stiff necked i rreconcilables, at war with capitalist society. Radicals, rebels and revolutionists started the IWW, deliberately rejecting the idea of the permanent coexistence of labor unions and the private ownership of industry. They saw the relations of capital and labor as a state of war (Cannon 4). To this end, members of the IWW, who became known as Wobblies, adopted the strategy of organizing all workers regardless of industry, skill level, race, or gender into one big union and rejecting electoral polit ics in favor of direct action in the form of strikes, sabotage, and other means of protest. In this way, they imagined Americas downtrodden masses, no longer satisfied with mere crumbs from their masters abundant tables would rise from the abyss of society to seize for themselves the world of industry (Dubofsky 153). Although the nations industrial production and working class were densely concentrated in the East, the IWW had only limited success in that region. Instead, it found a more receptive audience in the more sparsely populated western states among the floating casual labor force, which consisted of the politically disenfranchised who

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255 enjoyed few of the rights of political democracy accorded to settled citizens with a stake in their communi ty. They were the dispossessed, the homeless outcasts, without roots or a stake any place in society (Cannon 20). Propagandizing in agricultural fields, logging and mining camps, railroad yards, and hobo jungles, the organization drew heavily from these r anks. Todd DePastino argues that the union in turn propagated a folklore of the hobo that would outlive both the IWW and the subculture from which it emerged ( Citizen 96). This folklore linked the transient worker to the image of the vigorously masculine Western pioneer, and so exploited broader cultural anxiety over the feminizing effect of the docile, domestic urban East. In the end, this sort of Wobbly rhetoric made a veritable fetish out of the hobo ( Citizen 126). There is an implicit threat connec ted to the IWWs adoption of the hobo as a sort of mascot and the manifestation of the ideal worker: the hobos virtually unrestricted and often unobserved mobility makes him all the more effective as an anti capitalist agitator. He can be anywhere and everywhere because he can successfully make appropriative use of railroad technology, and he has no ties to a specific place, no obligations. Plus, there is a sort of radical freedom in his material poverty, homelessness, and transience: he has nothing to los e. Such were the concerns expressed in Menace of the I.W.W., an article appearing in the September 2, 1917 issue of the New York Times and consisting primarily of a lengthy diatribe by William H. King, a U.S. Senator from Utah. (According to the Times K ing achieved his authority on the issue by virtue of the fact that Wobbly activist Joe Hill had been executed by that state two years prior.) King alternately characterizes the IWW as diabolical, treasonable, hideous, and malevolent, a malignant g rowth analogous in its potential to cause harm to a mad

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256 dog or a murderous maniac, whose members recognize no emblem except that which stands for murder and the most savage depravity. He declares the organizations membership vagabonds and tramps, nomadic, houseless, and homeless people with no family ties, the flotsam and jetsam of on the tumultuous sea of life. Moreover, the overwhelming majority are aliens, probably German agents (although King admits he has no proof of this claim) bent on debilitating the U.S. war effort. King proceeds to define the bounds of proper labor activism, insisting that the honest and true worker rightly has an investment in orderly development and harmonious relation between employer and employee, as w ell as the maintenance of good government, and proper growth and development in all of the activities of trade and commerce. At the same time, King suggests that labor activism is unnecessary, because high wages and general prosperity prevail, which lends support to his claim that [i]t is not higher wages or improved conditions for the laboring man for which this organization is striving. Rather, The I.W.W. proclaims the abolition of the wage system and declares that capitalism must be destroyed. I n fact, setting aside the hyperbolic adjectives and repeated assertions that the IWW advocated for murder rather than worker solidarity, Kings words contain an element of truth. After all, one of the IWWs most famous pieces of (nonmusical) literature, th e Preamble, first formulated at the 1905 Chicago convention and subsequently revised, pronounces, The working class and the employing class have nothing in common and that the trade unions aid the employing class to mislead the workers into the belief t hat the workers have interest in common with their employers, while a later revision explicitly calls for [a]bolition of the wage system (qtd. in

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257 Brissenden 351, 352). Furthermore, few Wobblies would deny that they sought members from among the transien ts and immigrants, the disenfranchised (or flotsam and jetsam) excluded from the trade union movement. In this sense, the paranoid fantasy of texts such as Harriss The Man Who Tramps is not totally without basis in reality. The difference between the Savage Tramp and the Revolutionary Hobo, then, becomes one of emphasis. The facts of the story matter less than the perspective of the storyteller. Music became the primary means of creating and delivering the stories and folklore of the revolutionary hobol aborer. Wobbly songwriters often wrote lyrics and set them to the tunes of pre existing songs and hymns, and from the beginning they received enthusiastic response at membership meetings and rallies. Printed on flyers, in the union newspaper Solidarity an d eventually compiled in The Little Red Songbook (the more common name for a volume officially titled Songs of the Workers: On the Road, in the Jungles, and in the Shops I.W.W. Songs to Fan the Flames of Discontent first published in 1909 and going throug h dozens of editions over the course of the twentieth century), these songs were intended to stir the workers into action, to awaken them from an apathy and complacency that has made them adept their servitude as though it had been divinely ordained, in the words of a member of the songbook committee (qtd. in D. Carter 368). They addressed a wide range of issues in a variety of tonal registers, usually focusing the oppressive conditions of wage labor, with many of the lyrics addressing the life of the iti nerant worker specifically. One of the most well known of the hobospecific songs is Hallelujah, Im a Bum, a blasphemous parody of the hymn Revive Us Again. It became the theme song for organizer John T.

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258 Walsh and his boxcar riding Overalls Brigade as the group traveled from the Pacific Northwest to Chicago in 1908 for the IWWs fourth annual convention, funding their travels by playing music and selling copies of the songbook and other literature (Alder 130). O, why dont you work As other men do? H ow the hell can I work When theres no work to do? Hallelujah, Im a bum, Hallelujah, bum again! Hallelujah, give us a handout To revive us again! O, why dont you save All the money you earn? If I did not eat, Id have money to burn! O, I like my bos s Hes a good friend of mine. Thats why I am starving Out in the breadline. I cant buy a job For I aint got the dough. So I ride in a boxcar For I am a hobo. Whenever I get All the money I earn, The boss will be broke, And to work he must turn. Hallelujah, Im a bum, Hallelujah, bum again! Hallelujah, give us a handout To revive us again! (qtd. in Adler 130131 ) This song encapsulates the tensions attending to the construction of the Revolutionary Hobo in popular culture generated by the IWW. The ly rics appropriate the derisive

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259 appellation and category of bum repositioning the i dentity as worth of celebration. At the same time, the verses insist that an inherently unfair and artificial socioeconomic structure necessarily produces the impoverished tr ansient, so the transient has little choice but to remain a bum, and injunctions proposing thrift and a strong work ethic reflect a misapprehension of reality. The Revolutionary Hobo acts as a truthteller, exposing the lie that a capitalist system offers opportunity for all who would take it. As long as capitalism exists as it inevitably will until, in the words of the Preamble, the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the earth and the machinery of production and abolish the wage system (qtd. in Brissenden 351) so too will bums, who will happily impose themselves on the society that maintains such inequality. Yet, as heroic as he is, the bum would rather live in a world where he need not be a bum. While the songs collected in the I.W.W.s Little Red Songbook served to rally laborers to the cause, relatively few surviving Wobbly texts, according to Salvatore Salerno, actually provide a sense of the social space, context, and texture of the lived experience of the rebel tramp who cr eated and carried much of the culture that animated the movement (29). Charles Ashleighs autobiographical novel The Rambling Kid is one such work. It presents a narrative account of the social life of the radical transient worker transported by illegal r ides on trains from the flophouses located along the main stem of any Midwestern and Western city to the farms where they worked during the harvest season, and to the hobo jungles in between. Whereas Kromers novel offers only a description of the capitalisms myriad failures of the present society to support its members, leaving it up to the reader to move beyond the narrators

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260 preoccupation with three hots and a flop and develop a more rigorously political critique, Ashleighs protagonist Joe Crane mo dels the trajectory from uncommitted discouraged worker to revolutionary activist. Published in 1930 in London and available in an American edition only since 2003, the novel takes place during the 1910s, fictionalizing the authors experiences as a Wobbl y agitator and propagandist between 1912 and 1917. Joe, like Ashleigh, serves as a rare example of an immigrant itinerant laborer who becomes fully absorbed into the hobo narrative tradition, for although hoboes were accompanied on the road by men and women from a variety of ethnic and national backgrounds, the appellation hobo has largely been reserved for the vast numbers of nativeborn white workers who quickly distinguished themselves by their individual restlessness, irregular work habits, and alienation from settled communities (DePastino Citizen 65). In its depictions of Joes impoverished childhood in the East End of London, the novel establishes its protagonists two compelling and interrelated urges that will motivate much of the plot: the des ire for an authentic education and the desire for adventure. On his way home from school, Joe would linger at the sailors lodging houses, listening unobtrusively, and gaining knowledge which was more enthralling and, probably, far more profitablethen that wisdom gleaned at school from harried teachers (2). Stimulated by the chaotic energy of his surroundings, Joe would vision a multitude of rich adventures, in all of which he played the principle role (23). Following his fathers dream, Joes family later immigrates to South Dakota to pursue farming, but this endeavor soon fails, the family splinters, and Joe ends up living with his mother in Minneapolis, unable to find work despite the stenography skills he had learned from a

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261 neighbor. As he did whil e still a child in London, he begins to drift toward the tough quarter of town, in this case the hobo district known as the The Slave Market (73). There, getting acquainted with a raucous group of Wobblies, he continues the education that his precarious economic state has always provided. From his new friends, he learns that throughout the western states hoboes roamed from job to job, working in the railroad, construction, timber, and farming industries, but often becoming dependent between employments upon begging or even stealing, and never paying for a railway journey (76). These men, Joe comes to understand, differ in some essential way from the farmers and city workers he has known, even if they too worked on ranches during the harvest and were dependent on wages (76). Immediately, this characterization of the radical transient laborer deviates from that of the Americana Hobo traditions ideal, which instead posits a pure, wholly independent traveler whose existence reveals no essential flaws in the system at most, only a periodically recurring gap that needs closing and who freely chooses his life of liberty. In The Man Who Tramps Billy Moon never once lies, steals, or accepts a handout, and in the end he stays on the road as the result of i ndividual disposition, even when offered a chance to settle down. While later examples of the type would allow for greater flexibility, any transgression they committed was still minor and forgivable, well within the bounds of acceptable bourgeois morality Modernity has long insisted on a strict delineation between the worthy and the unworthy poor manifesting in the United States as the difference between the Savage Tramp and the Americana Hobo but The Rambling Kid frequently acknowledges that transients m ay alternately work, beg, and steal as either circumstances or sometimes mere whim dictates, effectively blurring the

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262 categories. The hoboes Joe meets certainly do engage in strenuous labor, but they have not been purged of all threat, sanitized to conform to the dominant ideology. Many of them move in and out of mendicancy and criminality with varying degrees of justification. The novels occasionally obtrusive thirdperson narration explains that a wandering semi criminal element merges almost imperceptibly into the working population of the road, and that sometimes a transient who has engaged in criminal activity still remained outside the definitely criminal class by working for several months in the year (109). While a political economy contingent on the internalization of the work ethic by a workforce invested in free labor relations necessarily obsesses over the essential moral distinction between the impoverished people who wish to work from those who do not no matter how similar their actual ma terial circumstances might be Ashleighs novel presents a world in which such distinctions are both impossible and irrelevant. Although proudly working class, Joe and his Wobbly companions do not simply adhere to a productivist work ethic that shows little fundamental difference from that espoused by proponents of capitalist ideology. Even with the relative freedom of hobo labor, which affords a worker the option of moving in and out of the ranks of the gainfully employed more or less at will, work as it ex ists entails exploitation and oppression. As Joe muses to himself, whether you were on the road or working in the city it was all the same grind the job all the time or looking for a job. And to what purpose? Just to make money for fat specimens (153). T hese characters do not seek reforms that would ameliorate the conditions of wage labor, but to revolutionize labor relations by abolishing the wage system entirely. Even as they do submit periodically to the

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263 indignities of a job, Ashleighs Wobblies reject work to the extent that they reject the premises on which it is currently predicated. The Revolutionary Hobos status as a member of the working class informs his identity, but it does not wholly define him, in that he does not valorize work for its own s ake. The members of the IWW refer to each other as Fellow Workers, they see that they have common interest s with other members of an exploited class, and they insist that the national and global economy functions due to the labor of people like them, but unlike the Americana Hobo they see no inherent virtue in continuing to labor within a relational structure that leaves them without power, for wages that reflect only a tiny fraction of the value they produce. It is this refusal that so alarms commentator s like Harris and King. All of this is not to say a code analogous to the work ethic does not exist among these radicals, or that they do not see their life on the road as a part of a vital, futureoriented project. The text treats going on the road and j oining the IWW as near equivalents. Before they will agree to mentor him, Joes Wobbly friend Blackie insists the he get his Red Card, telling him, Itll help you get a job. Besides, I wouldnt travel with a partner that hadnt got one (89). After he has made the decision to join his new friends in their travels but before he has even left the city, Joe begins to take pride in his recently acquired identity as a workingclass transient, which he feels sets him apart, revealing his greater inner strength and resources. Walking down the street, Joe eyed impudently the respectable citizens passing by. He was a hobo and a Wobbly, one of the reckless rambling boys who despised the soft security and comfort of a dull spaced city existence (93). This attitudinal shift reflects the hobo mythology DePastino describes. In contrast to Exhausted Tramps like Tom in Waiting for Nothing

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264 Revolutionary Hoboes do achieve a kind of nobility through the deprivation they experience in the course of their travels, precisely because of their particular mode of travel. While paying customers on a passenger train sit inside, warm and soft, on the upholstered seats, or lay sleeping in their berths, outside on the prow of the giant landship stood muffled figures, shivering but dauntless, who carried on through bitter cold and smoke and turmoil, danger of arrest or of beating towards the harvest jobs that would earn them sustenance for a short space, and help provide the world with bread (99). This description of Joe and his c ompanions fulfills the promises of those Wobblies who sought to entice Joe to join them in the life on the road, when they implied that he was a fool to stay all the time in the city when travel and fun, and hard work, awaited him (79). These men do no t go on the road to evade hard work, but to pursue it. Yet, such work remains only one of several objectives. In becoming hoboes, they seek to take control of their lives in the one way they can. Mobility allows them to organize and build community, and to get to the jobs that pay the highest wages as a result of those organizational efforts. It also grants access to the variety and adventurethe possibility of self actualizationthat Joe so craves. Even more significant for Joe, as a budding Revolutionary Hobo, than the roads capacity to provide income and adventure is its function as a site of education. The Wobblies treat knowledge as another resource to be shared with those of their class, and so Joe undergoes a period of apprenticeship, learning what his fellow workers have to teach him about rewards and dangers of hobo life. Revolutionary Hobo narratives do not romantically celebrate all travelers, so among his many lessons, Joe soon learn[s] that all hearty good fellows, dressed like stiffs, and tal king the language of the road,

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265 were not his friends. Rather, they may be part of that criminal and semi criminal fringe which has always existed around the floating population (107). He also learns that the solidarity of Wobblies on the road helps to pr otect them not only from exploitative bosses but also from highjacks, the sorts of traveling thieves who prey on itinerant laborers and other drifters, and who so repelled Tom in Waiting for Nothing for their abandonment of class solidarity in favor of individual advancement. The editorializing narrator of Ashleighs novel explains that such men if caught by members of the IWW would likely become the object of the harsh justice which the workers deal out to parasites. The hobos themselves are the victim s of the law; it does not protect them. Who can condemn them, if they themselves administer the code of the road upon those who would deprive them of their earnings? (107). The rigid and uncomplicated moral dictates of the dominant social order in this ca se, prohibition against violencebegin to lose their shape for those who occupy this social stratum, not because those occupants fail to see the utility of any moral codes in greater numbers than other demographics, but because society decrees them to be outside its bounds, and so beyond the protection it offers. Consequently, once taking to the road, Joe finds that his relationship to the dominant social order has been instantaneously transformed. On the one hand, this transformation carries with it a dist inct liberatory quality. Having made the decision to leave town, he feels an immense well being within him, and a sense of ease and unburdening. No more bother about getting jobs in those rotten offices! He was a hobo! He was going on the road! (84). On the other hand, it also means isolation and fear. Waiting in the shadows to make his first illegal ride on a freight train, he is abandoned

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266 to danger and dread, cut off from the easy safe ways of his life; alone and outcast, here in the dark, a hunted enemy of the law (95). Because it necessarily entails such criminalization of the subject, life on the road as a hobo facilitates the shedding of bourgeois mentality and its attendant moral proscriptions. A critical moment in the evolution of Joes subjectiv ity occurs when circumstances force him to overcome the internalized self loathing and repugnance he feels about begging for food. Separated from his hobo mentors and alone on the road for the first time, Joe finds himself ditched from a train in a small town and completely broke. Not having eaten in fourteen hours and having no prospects of acquiring food in any other way in the immediate future, Joe resolves to beg. His thoughts rendered on the page as free indirect discourse, Joe thinks, How does one start? Well, one just starts, and thats all there is to it, yet he finds himself unable to act when the first citizen he espies simply walks past him (157). Despite the obvious material necessity of panhandling in this situation he will starve if he does not eat, and he does not have money to buy food Joe remains in the grips of an ethic that ascribes disgraces to the person who would ask to be fed. He has had enough of a radical education to recognize this conditioning for what it is. He was horribly ashamed. Yes, he was. He, the rambling kid, London Slim, was ashamed of being a street beggar; and also he was ashamed of being ashamed. He was scared; he couldnt do it. Christ, what a fool he was! Every stiff bummed when he was broke. What else could one do one had to eat. God damn it, he was getting hungrier and in more of a fury at hunger, at the world, at himself. (158) In stark contrast to conventional moral standards, the novel treats Joes success in overcoming this self imposed obstacle as a maj or triumph, a crucial turning point. He finally approaches a maternal looking fat Jewish woman, the proprietor of a furniture

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267 store, and she rewards him with fifty cents, largely because she has decided that Joe does not look like a real beggar (15815 9). The handout leaves him feeling not humiliated, but elated, [o]utside on the sidewalk with a half dollar! Enough to buy a real meal. The satisfaction of his hunger prompts a cataloging of his spoils, a recounting of the glory of steak smothered in onions, and hot strong coffee, plenty of fresh bread and butter, frie d potatoes. From a strictly material standpoint, the meal leads to the same ends regardless of how Joe obtained it: Whether the price were honestly earned, or secured by touching motherl y hearts did it alter the sweet taste of it all? (159). As a result of his experiences on the road, Joe has undergone a significant ideological shift, now able to explicitly reject platitudes, meant to enforce an ethos of labor and consumerism, that decre e a person should savor most that which has been earned by hard work. Meanwhile, on the road, the inability to overcome bourgeois moral conditioning in similar circumstances leads to tragedy. Joes friend Elsie had a middleclass upbringing among the liberal intelligentsia (such that [h]is somewhat languid unhurried air, and his refined pronunciation, had earned him the feminine nickname) before abandoning a promising college career to join the revolution, yet he struggles with developing a revolutionary subjectivity (113) Blackie explains to Joe, who had become temporarily separated from his friends during their travels, that he and Elsie had arrived in Salt Lake City destitute, only to find the town overrun with hundreds of hungry transients, so that t here were no jobs to be had. Although Blackie insisted that he could bum enough for two, Elsie refused to allow it, because of what Blackie calls that god damn fool pride of his bourgeois morality I used to call it. Tension was mounting between the vag rants

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268 and the city authorities, and because he recklessly initiated a confrontation, [t]he bulls shot Elsie. He wouldnt beg, you know (166). Conversely, Blackies own rejection of conventional moral standards leads him not only to beg, but to engage in classconscious theft, as well. He maintains that he would never rob or cheat a working man. His victims were the well to do people of the cities. After all, Blackie reasons, They rob our class, dont they? Well, then, Im only getting a little of o ur own back from the thief! (109). Joe declines to join Blackie in these endeavors [n]ot because he had any special objections on moral grounds to crooks, but because it didnt pay (172). In other words, the criminal invariably got caught, and so when one accounts for the time spent incarcerated, the rate of pay does not represent a significant improvement over a workers wages. More than that, Joe felt to become a criminal was to undergo an ontological shift to leave the working class. A crook wasnt a wageearner, but an individualist (173). When Blackie drifts away from the IWW and pursues crime on a more dramatic scale, Joe remains loyal to his friend, yet feels hesitant only because criminal activity potentially interfered with his own way of li fe. The narrator makes clear that Joe is right to have no sympathy for the victims. They were not workers. He had no ethical compunction about taking the money (209). If the novels rhetoric has been effective, the reader has shadowed Joes development and arrives with him at this point of view. In its representation of the Revolutionary Hobos world, The Rambling Kid contains several examples of what DePastino calls hobo folklores preoccupation with the hobos body ( Citizen 120). The narration linger s over descriptions of Joe and his comrades, emphasizing the positive impact of transient labor on their physical health.

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269 Joe has worked like hell during the harvest, and [h]is muscles became as steel and his chest girth increased. His face tanned deepl y beneath the stubble of whisker (103104). On the road and at work sites, the hobo occupies a homosocial space, and IWW cultural production tends to imbue the ideal radicalized worker with such physical manifestations of innate masculinity. Largely cut o ff from women for much of the novel, Ashleighs hoboes bond deeply with each other. The narration comments on Joes love for his companions more than once. DePastino further argues the Ashleighs novel reveals the typical uneasiness with female companions hip and a reluctance to settle down, even while noting that the author, like most hoboes, was heterosexual, and the love he expressed for his fellow stiffs was brotherly, not erotic ( Citizen 91). In fact, Ashleigh did not conceal his homosexuality and was for a time romantically involved with novelist Claude McKay (Kellerman xiii). More importantly, this reading ignores a significant plot development. As evidence, DePastino cites the line, He loved her. But not so much as he loved the stiffs (191). Only a few pages later, however, Joe sneaks away from a rally to join her her being Millie, a young politically radical woman Joe has met recently. The two become intimate emotionally and physically, and Millies Jewish radical parents welcome Joe into their home. The two even contemplate permanency, although they both understand that commitment to radical change may separate them at some point (200). Circumstances, not a refusal to settle down, ultimately drive them apart, when nationwide mass indictm ents of IWW members force Joe to flee the country. Even as he travels to Russia to work as a propagandist for the revolution at the novels conclusion, Joe laments that he had to leave Millie behind.

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270 Joes attraction to a possible domestic scenario with M illie serves to illustrate what are ultimately the limitations of the Revolutionary Hobos mobility. While a sense of adventure does play a part in motivating Joe and his fellow workers to embrace that mobility, politically it serves only as a temporary and reactive tactic, not a sustainable strategy. These men travel in order to bring about the end of an economic system that compels them to travel in order to survive. While Joe does not disagree when a hobo he meets argues that its easier to travel than to stay in one place, he also understands that mobility as such fails to offer true liberation (154). In fact, the road begins to lose its romance relatively early on, when Joe becomes separated from his traveling companions after tripping over a switch w hile trying to catch a moving train. Sitting in damp clothes on a cold night, he sarcastically says to himself, Its a fine life, on the road. Who wouldnt be a hobocare free, reckless? Hell! (151). He comes to view mobility as a temporary measure in hi s own life, saying, I dont mind the life on the road, but wouldnt want it to last too long. Theres not much fun for an old man on the road (129). The long term effects of a life on the road are demonstrable in the older men, like Gold Tooth, who had made these journeys so often during the years that he had no more the joyful wander fever of youth (136). Joe is not alone in having such thoughts. At times, his companions also openly express their desires for stability and domesticity. One of them ponders whether maybe its better to settle down. Get a regular job in a city, and have a girl. Eat regular, and no bulls or dicks to be afraid of (115). Such a comment represents neither a moment of weakness on the part of the speaker nor a minority opinion. Joe thinks that he and his companions share a basic need for sustainable romantic companionship, but it was

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271 beyond the reach of these homeless nomads and will remain so until after the revolution, as another Wobbly half seriously remarks (1 15). When he first sought the mobility available to the Revolutionary Hobo, Joe paid his dues to the IWW, but was really not interested in anything very much, except the small daily drama of living (111). In addition to the adventure he desired, however, he also received an education in radical subjectivity while on the road. Once his initial self interest dissipated, Joe found he still wanted something, some obscure thing which was now hidden from him a meaning, a purpose. His interests expanded, and h e came to understand that there would always [be] something lacking, whether you stayed at home or went on the road, until society underwent a revolutionary transformation (152). To create the meaning he desired, he finally eschews mobility and becomes a committed autodidact, reading constantly, embarking on the adventure of the mind (187). In charting Joes growth, illustrating the transition through which he comes to view the railroads mobility as a means rather than an end in itself, this Revolutionary Hobo narrative deflates the individualist romanticism of the Americana Hobo representative tradition. Still, the Revolutionary Hobos capacity for self criticism encounters a limitation when he fails to recognize the ways in which his narrative replicates certain other exclusionary measures of the dominant society. In effect, the traditions rigid masculinity serves to undercut its full subversive potential, as it omits oppositional figures that nonetheless do not embody this particular ideal. Additionally, rhetoric extolling a national tolerance of dissent will always threaten to fold the Revolutionary Hobo into the American a Hobo tradition, coopting the image and attenuating its critical import, unless the particular figure exhibits some trait utterly incompatible with that tradition. So, the

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272 Outlier Tramp the third of the three Critical Tramps I treat hereenacts a radical commentary not only by virtue of living outside mainstream society as a tramp, by also by occupying a space outside of the tramp narratives rapidly ossifying conventions. In its representation of a female railroad tramp, so often discursively associated with prostitution, Sister of the Road: The Autobiography of Boxcar Bertha presents a significant, yet complicated, example the Outl ier Tramp. First published in 1937, it has been approached until quite recently by many historians and critics as the genuine memoir of a particular female h obo.2 Marketing materials aggressively and sensationally sold the book in those terms, with Dr. Ben L. Reitman receiving merely as told to credit. Archival and textual scholarship, however, has demonstrated that Reitman did not merely mediate the story on behalf of a female vagabond, but actually invented the character and composed the narrative. Joanne Hall notes that an examination of Reitmans papers yields several overt references to writing Sister as well as marked similarities between Sister and both his own unpublished memoirs and his earlier published writings, including The Worlds SecondO ldest Profession (225). Reitmans biographer Roger Bruns characterizes the book as a variation on the authors ow n life story ( Damnedest 262), while Marylyle McCue argues that Berthas voice provided a safe means to both question and justify his own beliefs and life decisions (29). Indeed, Reitmans colorful history does coincide in many ways with certain events described in the book. Like Bertha, Reitman grew up in poverty after his father abandoned the family, played in freight yards as a child, ran err ands for pimps and prostitutes, and by ten years old had quit school to travel the country as a tramp. Eventually, both Ben and

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273 Bertha would assume the role of sociologist, serving for a time as laboratory assistants, researchers, [and] statisticians [w ho] worked with, and for, hoboes (Hall 225n6). The author, like the character he would create, moved through the world of radical politics and agitation. An anarchist and advocate of free love, he maintained a long time and tempestuous affair with Emma G oldman while also managing her speaking tours. Eventually earning a medical degree following his first youthful stint on the road, Reitman would emerge as something of a radical gadfly, practicing as a physician among societys lowest tiers, treating prost itutes and hoboes for sexually transmitted diseases, and spending time in jail for distributing literature on birth control. His affinity for the dispossessed manifested as well in his direction of educational program s at Chicagos Hobo College, an institu tion with which he had been associated since its founding. Writing Sister of the Road after his own autobiography was rejected by publishers, he injected his own experiences and observations drawn from the women he had treatedalong with a healthy dose of salacious details into the narrative. Marketing materials highlighted the last of these elements, even while framing the book as a contribution to the field of sociology. A press release announced it as [t]he first book on one of the most fascinating problems of modern society the female vagabond, and warned potential readers that [y]our own daughter or sister, given certain stimuli, may become a sister of the road (qtd. in Cresswell 98). Meanwhile, many contemporary reviewers positioned the text in a sociological discourse even while treating the work as an autobiography (Hall 227). Reitmans book consequently appears to straddle multiple genres, making use of autobiography, fiction, and the social sciences in its sympathetic account of the hobo world (McCue 1).

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274 While all of these factors indicate that Sister of the Road invites a variety of critical approaches, reading it as a novel deemphasizes the particulars of Reitmans life history, the texts function as a vehicle for Reitmans political views, and the disciplinary concerns of sociology, and instead focus es on the cultural work performed by representations of the fictional narrator protagonist and the other female vagabonds she encounters. Hall makes the case that even if its narrator has since been revealed as a male authors invention, the work nonetheless occupies a position of primary importance in the lexicon of female hobo representations (225226). This assessment has much to do with the relative dearth of female hobo narratives, a ci rcumstance that renders any such narrative significant merely by virtue of its existence. In cultural discourse and (to some degree at least) historical fact, the road and its narrative traditions have long been deemed the domain of men, so that in hopping a freight train, sitting down beside the fire of a hobo jungle, or telling tales of either, a person enters a thoroughly masculinized space. Consequently, it seems that for decades following the emergence of the tramp phenomenon and the accompanying scare, society literally could not conceive of a female wandering vagrant. The assumption that tramps were men was codified in the legal definitions of tramps instituted by nineteen states during the 1870s and 1880s, notes human geographer Tim Cresswell (92). Cresswell goes on to argue that this legislative trend reflects the dualist approach to knowledge acquisition and organization, which hinges on such binary analogs as male/female, public/private, outside/inside (93). According to this cultural logic, the male tramp is a problem to the extent that he is at risk of becoming too masculine, in that by becoming a member of a wholly male subculture he has cut himself off from the civilizing influence of women.

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275 More specifically, by willfully embracing homelessness, he has cut himself off from the balancing effect of the domestic space. Only through this balance was the production of responsible citizens and a functioning society possible. Both Cressell and DePastino point out that in the discourse of the late nineteenth century, the social anxiety surrounding the (necessarily male) tramp typically found expression in portrayals of the tramps supposedly unbounded sexual impulses (94; Citizen 27). Set apart from feminine influence, the tramp would inevitably return to violate the individual female. If the essence of the discursively constructed tramp resided in the threat he posed to women, it seems impossible that women could simultaneously be tramps. Because she verges on the unthinkable, the female vagabond fosters taxonomical confusion. This pertains not only to legal definitions, but to the classification efforts of sociological studies, as well. According to Lynn Weiner, during the late 1800s and early 1900s, women self identified as tramps and hoboes who took to the road for adventure or work defied existing categorical schema so thoroughly that the data compiled during that time simply refused to acknowledge their existence (171172). For example, in the revealingly titled 1916 investigation Why There Are Vagrants: A Study Based upon an Examination of One Hundred Men, Frank Laubach writes: It is often asked why women do not become vagrants in as great numbers as men. There are perhaps three answers to the question. The first is that they do become the female kind of vagrant, namely, prostitutes, in many instances. The second answer is that society will not tolerate in females the same kind of vagrancy that it will tolerate in men. The third is that perhaps most women do not have the same roving disposition as men. It has been men who have done most of the exploring in history, who have manifested most of the spirit of adventure and love of taking chances, and who have constituted the radical wing of society, while women have been domestic and conservative. It m ay be that wanderlust is allurement to which the male sex is most susceptible. (71)

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276 While society certainly did express an intolerance of female tramps, Laubach opts to exclude them from his study by denying their existence with a simple essentializing ges ture that fails to acknowledge the possibility that such social intolerance could artificially restrict womens expression of the urge to travel. This gesture in turn allows for further denial: because only men experience wanderlust, women who fall victim to its pull necessarily must lack that which constitutes womanhood. In other words, a woman on the road by definition ceases to be a true woman. Of course, economic factors did in fact create a floating female labor force, but in response to employment opp ortunities and social pressures that labor force tended to follow an intraurban circulation pattern, which both obscured its nature and excited less moral panic than the segment of the population that pursued employment across greater geographical distanc e s Female laborers of this type had not yet strayed so far as to forfeit all claims to social respectability. With the onset of the Depression, however, conditions induced more and more transient working women to leave the city and take to the road just like men. As a result, a greatly expanded population of female tramps became more visible and thus motivated increased local and federal government efforts to stem the tide of homelessness (Weiner 184). With so many of them on the road, these new lady hoboes roaming about the country could not simply be dismissed as gender deviant aberrations who barely merited acknowledgment. What could it mean, then, when a woman did leave behind the domestic sphere and unambiguously enter the uncivilized masculine space of the boxcar and the hobo jungle? If, as DePastino observes, the prospect of a homeless man threatened the delicate balance between workplace and home, public and private, men and women,

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277 that the middle class had long considered crucial to a healthy social order ( Citizen 25), then the appearance of a transient woman signaled the arrival of outright anarchy the potential end of family, home, and (ultimately) society. Thus, when legal and academic authorities did finally acknowledge her existence, they reacted to the female vagabond as the embodiment of a radical rejection of dominant cultural values (Weiner 184). Yet, the threat entailed by that particular mode of rejection does not lend itself to the easy quantification that often appears in the ch aracterizations of the threat posed by male tramps. Hordes of unsocialized men, after all, present an immediate physical danger to society, its citizens, and the wives of its citizens. Again, the delicate balance necessary for civilization would be upset because of the tramps exercise of excessive masculinity, not by a fundamental challenge to masculinitys discursive construction. The gendered implications of the tramp phenomenon did not arise in a vacuum. In the decades before and after the turn of the twentieth century, anxiety regarding tramps both male and female overlapped historically with social and political shifts that weakened the rigidity of prescribed roles, seen most obviously in the drive for womens suffrage that culminated in the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920. Here, in concrete legal terms, an exclusive male privilege had been lost, and the erosion of that sort of exclusivity or even the threat of it prompted extreme denunciations. For example, in 1913 immunologist Almroth E. Wright published The Unexpurgated Case Against Woman Suffrage, which builds upon arguments he had made in a letter to the New York Times Positing that only unmarried (and thus necessarily unhappy) women demanded the right to vote, he argued that [f ]ailure to recognize that man is the master and why he is the master lies at the root of the suffrage movement. The loss of

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278 naturally endowed male mastery had geopolitical implications: The woman voter would be pernicious to the State, not only because s he could not back her vote by physical force, but also by reason of her intellectual defects (Declares). Increased geographical mobility by women undermined the ideological basis for power distribution in much the same way their increased political mobility did. When a woman became a tramp, she bypassed that civilized masculine public sphere tempered by its connection to the home and infiltrated a world located on the polar opposite end of the presumed gender continuum from her own. A female so utterly divorced from the domesticity to which it was assumed she was naturally most suited by virtue of her sex implied that the gendered separation of spheres might not, in fact, be natural. Yet, on entering that world, she met further opposition. Homeless men w ho self identified as either tramps or hoboes often actively participated in the construction of the representational modes through which the vagabond figure is interpreted, using much the same basic material as observers who would condemn them, but approaching it with a divergent angle of vision. While the dominant society saw danger in the boundless masculinity of vagabond life, cultural production by male vagabonds tended to celebrate the exclusive and exclusionary brotherhood of the road. So, the female tramp violates not only the parameters imposed by the dominant society, she troubles the gender boundaries of the tramp and hobo narrative genre, as well. The telling of any female tramps story, then, potentially doubles as a critique of both the mainstr eam and the subculture, as the protagonist seeks to negotiate parallel barriers to her mobility. It is for these reasons that the female vagabond similarly conforms to neither of the two prevailing representational traditions of the Savage Tramp and the A mericana

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279 Hobo. These cultural categories less rigorous if not less ideological than those devised by legislation or the social sciences served as the means by which the transient homeless phenomenon was interpreted, yet they made no space for this particul ar variation on the figure. While the former originated in the discourse of those who condemned the vagabond and the latter reflected the vagabonds self mythologizing gestures, both described a world of men. Significantly, a categorical space for the fema le wanderer eventually develops, if only by analogy, through the shifting deployment of the word tramp. As hobo settled into the general vernacular as the catch all appellation for homeless menwhether mobile, worker, both, or neither by the 1920s the word tramp came to designate a woman at least figuratively adrift from the domestic sphere by virtue of her perceived sexual promiscuity (Mills 239). Contrary to the central tenets of both the work ethic and the family ethic, notes Kathi Weeks, the tr amp is in each usage a figure of indulgence and indiscipline (166). In both cases, the term identifies an individual who would embrace a deviant form of mobil ity. Yet, while the pejorative nature of either use holds fast for women, a patriarchal culture allows for heroic constructions of men who wander spatially or sexually. In many ways, Sister of the Road seeks to rectify this disparity as it pertains in both acceptable society and the world of the tramp. Rather than portraying its title character as the exceptional woman who ultimately reinforces the notion that mobility (of any kind) should remain the exclusive domain of men, the story of Boxcar Bertha situates its protagonist within a community of sisters of the road, and in doing so challenges the gendered structure of canonical American road narratives, as Christine Photinos puts it (659). More overtly didactic than the other texts discussed in this

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280 chapter even the deliberately propagandistic novel The Rambling KidSister announces its oppositional and critical stance vis vis the dominant culture from the beginning. Aligning herself with an aberrant sociality, Bertha casually notes on the first page, In my world somebody was always getting arrested (7). In an unapologetic, assertive first pers on narrative mode, she identifies hers elf as an alternative subject position, according to which the criminal, the lascivious, the deviant, and the crazy all seemed natural to me, an attitude given me by my mother, to whom nothing was ever terrible, vulgar, or nasty (7). This mandate to radically withhold moral judgment serves as the central tenet of an informal education that in turn facilitates Berthas movement through the world in search of experience. From her position as a neutral observer, she collects such experience almost systematically as a quasi sociologist, for the most part eschewing sensationalist language when reporting on various submerged social strata. The ideological import of education emerges as one of the books major themes. The no vel functions in some ways as an idiosyncratic Erziehungsroman in the emphasis it places on the protagonists early instruction, which assumes a form (or, rather, multiple forms) that encourages her curiosity and prefigures the later unstructured learning experiences she will undergo once she takes to the road in earnest. Bertha spent much of her childhood living in a communal colony in the hills outside of Little Rock, Arkansas, where a married couple acted as teachers, adapting the methods of Francisco Fe rrers Modern School, providing instruction and guidance to the colonys seventy one children. Seemingly unsure of the concept, she tentatively admits that these teachers did not issue much regular school work, probably (15). The children, however, did l earn about inconsistencies of religion, and about government, labor, and

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281 economics, with a particular emphasis on how exploitation under capitalism is facilitated by the state (15). Rather than standard textbooks, Bertha read utopian, socialist, and lite rary work in order to better prepare to live in a free cooperative society (16). From a young poet, she learned the shorthand she would later use to record her observations about the world. Through the requirement that everyone, even children, do some s ort of useful work in the colony, she came to understand the dignity of labor (17, 16). It is important to note that this version of the work ethic differs from that held by the Americana Hobo, whose view essentially coincides with the free labor ideal in that the residents of the colony understand both study and work as oriented toward the collective goal of finding a way to live without exploitation (17). The pedagogical methodology that Bertha describes seems to anticipate Paulo Freires theorizat ion of a libertarian, dialogical, problem posing model of education by which the educator and students engage in critical thinking and a quest for mutual humanization (62). Bertha comes to appreciate this method all the more when her family relocates to Seattle and she enrolls in high school, which she did not take seriously, given that [i]t seemed ridiculous to study Latin grammar when the whole exciting world was waiting outside (20). She much prefers the anarchist commune where she spends much of her time, and where study, work, and play all elide together. Even while recounting the value of these loosely organized lessons, the narrator continues to highlight the ways in which her subjectivity derives directly from maternal instruction. In her lengthy recollections of her mothers words and deeds, Bertha presents her readers with a model for questioning dominant social attitudes (Photinos 668). Operating according to this model, from an early age Bertha learns to question the

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282 veracity of what official morality designated good and bad, noting that many people, including the police, said [Mother] was a bad woman. But she never agreed with them, and she had a way of lifting her head when she talk ed back to them that made me know she was right (7). Her resistance to official morality does not entail the wholesale rejection of moral judgment, however. In the most striking example, she confronts the father who had gone absent her entire life. Berthas generous approach to narration allows him ample space to make his case, in which the radical propagandist claims that [t]here are fathers, and there are educators. I am an educator (92). Her mothers example exposes this claim as a false dichotomy, and Bertha makes clear that she could not accept her f athers justification of his complete lack of responsibility or his complete impersonality (94). True education, Bertha understands, does not happen in vacuum, somehow independent of a commitment to a larger community. This ethic informs her own pedagogical gesturethe telling of her story. In grounding the narratives development in the lessons delivered by Berthas mother and structuring the remainder of the story around the educational experiences those early lessons enable, Sister of the Road fost ers an explicitly pedagogical relationship between the text and the reader. In dramatizing Berthas education, Sister reveals one of its primary didactic agendas: to probl ematize prescribed gender roles, even if the case may be made that it ultimately rein scribes at least some of the values it initially appears to reject. A strong presence that will resonate throughout the text, Berthas mother enacts a complex and at times seemingly contradictory amalgamation of traditional and radical gender performances. Providing Bertha with her first model of femininity, she instructs her

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283 daughter to never let [men] make a slave of you while simultaneously embracing the identity of universal caretaker so completely that everybody called her Mother Thompson, and indeed Bertha will at no point supply any other name for her (9). Yet, even the nature of this caretaking resists easy characterization. On the one hand, Mother Thompson teaches Bertha and the other girls how to cook and clean and to wash mens clothes, those apparently gender normative domestic skills appropriate to a traditional nuclear family (9). By watching her, Bertha further explains, I learned the urge I now know so well, for serving men who work and drink and talk (11). On the other hand, Mother Thompson also extends such caregiving outward into the social realm by insuring that Bertha knows her family history, focusing particularly on her grandfather, who spent his whole life trying to right the wrong of the oppressed, first moving in abolit ionist circles with the likes of John Brown and later (but still ahead of his time) advocating for womens liberation, birth control, and free love, while deviating from social dictate in advising his daughter, Berthas mother, not to marry the father of her child (11). In perhaps the most profound divergence between the socially constructed parameters for maternal domesticities and the practice Bertha sees as a direct model, Mother Thompson leaves her children at the colony for almost a year while she goes crusading through the country with her lover in support of anti militarist and free speech campaigns during the First World War. Bertha simply notes, I didnt have a doubt in my mind about the need of her going or the rightness of her cause (17). Bert ha herself would later oscillate between mobility and domesticity, alternately expressing her attraction to each.

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284 Leaving these tensions regarding gender roles unresolved, the novel demonstrates the potential to disrupt a fundamental cultural organizing principle: as Freud observes, When you meet a human being, the first distinction you make is male or female? and you are accustomed to make the distinction with unhesitating certainty (343). Throughout the story, gender differentiation exhibits a fluidi ty that undermines the strictly mandated roles of the dominant culture. Sometimes the challenge to convention arrives through obvious visual cues, as in Berthas childhood when the girls dressed just like the boys (9). Bertha would have grown up in an er a when fashion helped enforce gender delineation by restricting womens range of bodily motion, well before women adopted more comfortable clothing during the Jazz Age, so Berthas off hand comment reveals a meaningful transgression that her narration cont inues to explore. Similar in their cross dressing were the various female train tramps who would occasionally stop briefly at the railroad camps where Bertha spent her earliest years or visit the Little Rock cooperative colony where she later lived. The fr eer movement afforded by mens clothing allowed them to more easily take advantage of the mobility of the railroad. The apparent rejection of femininitys trappings by women such as these prompted outrage among commentators representing conventional wisdom Writing in Scribners magazine in 1929, for example, Cliff Maxwell scoffed, Show me a lady hobo and Ill show you an angular bodied, flint eye, masculineminded travesty upon her sex (292). By contrast, these women remind Bertha of her own mothers wa y of raising up her head proudly with an idea of telling a funny story or in talking without embarrassment about hustling and living with men and leaving them (11).

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285 For these women, the blurring of gender lines coincides precisely with their embrace of m obility in its various forms. On leaving the camp, one of the women hoboes demonstrates her physical agility when she flip[s] a freight and ride[s] the rods right out of out camp to the astonishment of the railroad construction gang (11). By riding the rods an extremely dangerous method of train hopping by which the tramp lies across the metal struts underneath the floor of the freight car, only inches above the groundshe figuratively and physically asserts her autonomy, as she remains inaccessible to anyone else on the train. It turns out that this exercise in geographic mobility was preceded by acts of sexual freedom in that this particular tramp had spent a couple of nights over in the mens shacks, but neither Bertha nor her mother finds this rem arkable. Far more important to Bertha was the look on [the tramps] face as she talked about going west, and the sureness with which she swung under the freight car, which set my childish mind in a fever. From these observations, Bertha concludes, The world was easy, like that. Even to women. It had never occurred to me before (12). These violations of gendered sartorial and sexual practices signal the profound disruptions embedded in Berthas own embrace of mobility. When first taking to the road as a tramp herself, she adopts the habit of wearing mens clothing, and the women she encounters on the rails often had their hair cut short like mens and at first glance they didnt look much like women (28). Yet, she does not maintain that she is somehow different from other women, that she lacks femininity and possesses masculine traits disproportionately. Rather, in embracing mobility between overdetermined spheres, she troubles genders culturally constructed definition, obliquely positing that certain behaviors are not the exclusive prerogative of masculinity.

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286 As it was for the fe male vagabonds she met during her childhood, Berthas relationship to sex comprises a form of mobility in its transgression of gender proscriptions. Without self recrimination or even little more than the cursory acknowledgment that her audience might condemn her behavior, she refuses to deny herself the education that comes with experience merely because convention would forbid it for women. Again, her attitudes and actions r eveal her mothers influence. Mother Thompson makes clear that a womans sexuality is her own, and has demonstrated that she is at liberty to choose when a sexual companionship will end. Part of Berthas educational program includes direct instruction regarding sex intended to ensure that she has a greater level of individual bodily autonomy, which Mother Thompson demonstrates in part through her refusal of monogamy. On this matter, in almost Nietzschean terms, she advises Bertha, Babe, if a man wants you a nd you want him, just take him. There isnt much to it. I have had all kinds of lovers, and it never did me any harm. Dont be afraid of life and love and nature. Anything you do is all right with me. Nobody can hurt you but yourself. Every experience you have makes you all the more fit for life. Men are wonderful. When y ou get tired of them, or they of you, leave them without bitterness or regret. No matter what happens to you, Ill stand by you. (2122) Mother Thompson here prescribes for her daughter a f orm of relational and sexual transience essentially analogous to the other interrelated forms of mobility that Bertha embraces over the course of the narrative. In these endeavors, Bertha does not behave passively. Reunited with two different former lovers at an anarchists meeting in the Bronx, she asks herself, Whom did I love best, Mallettini or Jordan? Whom would I ask to take me home? (105). Although she forms emotional bonds with at least some of her lovers, she does not forget her mothers equation of men and experience, a formula that allows Bertha to reverse the direction of the objectification process that informs

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287 heteronormative sexual relations under the prevailing conditions of power disparity. Rather than an object of conquest (in a socie ty that denies unmarried sexually active women access to cultural capital) or ownership (in a society that denies married women access to economic capital), she constructs herself through her narration of these encounters as a subject who decides both the terms and the meaning of the encounter. Berthas desires when entering a sexual relationship take precedence: What did I want from him? What did I want from all the men to whom I was drawn? In her answer to these questions They had experience for me sh e asserts her subjective mobility (108). Like the Spanish picaro whose narrative details the traversing of various social strata, Bertha moves between romantic and sexual partners who will grant her access to different modes of living as a temporary partic ipant observer. Seeking to experience and understand various modes of sexual transience, Bertha eventually turns to an investigation of sex work, even if she never uses this specific terminology. Like that female hobo who laughingly and unapologetically told stories of hustling while on the road, other transient women Bertha meets characterize the market exchange of sex for money or goods as a pragmatic, economic transaction. For instance, lifelong hobo Maggie is completely frank about her sexual promis cuity. She accepted the fact that it was easier for a woman to get along on the road if she was not too particular and she frankly considered her body as her working capital (2829). Consistent with her capacity to withhold judgment and her pursuit of educational experiences, Bertha later describes her brief tenure as a prostitute at a brothel with a similar frankness and lack of contrition, although she is less motivated by material need than Maggie. While living in a seedy hotel in Chicago, she discovers that several

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288 prostitutes and their pimp, Bill, are among her fellow residents. Bertha soon enters her sociological mode, collecting these womens stories. Before long, however, she decides that only direct experience will provide answers to her questions regarding the persistence of the sex trade: Why do these men go to such women? What have these women to give them? I wanted to know. For a long time I had wanted to know. Even so, Bertha cannot help but suffer from a bout of cognitive dissonance when c onsidering the ways in which her decision to be a whore and give my money to a pimp directly conflicts with her previous education, those lessons of her grandfather[,] who had worked for womens emancipation and her mother[,] who was free and honest and who had taken her lovers with a clean heart (119). In a rare example of prejudgment, Bertha has concluded in advance that sex workers necessarily are unfree and of unclean heart. So, in order to reconcile herself to this endeavor she must foreground her identity as a participant observer, to envision herself as a chameleon taking on the conditions of every new environment (119). In this way, Bertha is able to maintain distance from her experiences and assert to herself and her audience that she has actively chosen to become Bills slave so that she can, as she tells another prostitute, learn why women let their feelings make slaves of them (119, 120). At this point, the text subtly destabilizes Berthas status as a self aware narrator. In her explanation of her actions, she seems to rationalize uncritically her submission to a charismatic and manipulative pimp who, in his attempts to seduce her, goes so far as claim the he used to be a union man and remains invested in radical movements that w ill one day bring about a system in which therell be no more whores, no more wage slaves (118). As Photinos observes, Bertha initially appears utterly passive and

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289 powerless before Bill (676), unable to follow her mothers directive never to allow a ma n to make a slave of her. Furthermore, her claim of special motivation seems to constitute a form of special pleading whereby she separates herself from her fellow workers and violates her mothers instruction to view nothing as terrible, vulgar, or nas ty. Yet, Bertha eventually regains her reliability when she flatly tells Bill, Youre just an experience with me. I needed an excuse to be a whore in order to continue her ongoing education and conduct fieldwork as amateur ethnographer (132). Even as she avows anew her autonomy in her quest for experience, she likewise abandons the pretense that some unique quality inherently distinguishes her from the other women around her: Only one day, and I was a full fledged prostitute. Thats the way it happened to women (128). In the end, she also manages to disentangle her perceptions from the moralizing that had informed her apparent need to justify so thoroughly her actions in the first place. She does so by redefining the problematic of sex work, in essence removing the emphasis from the sex and placing it on the work As she explains, I didnt feel that anything had changed in me because I have become a prostitute. I just felt completely wornout, as thought Id finished an unusually hard days work (128). Unlike the work she had done on the commune as a child or the work she would go on to do among women, for women, compiling data on female transients for a social research bureau, her work as a prostitute progresses toward no common goal (178). Perhaps of equal importance, she makes clear how she and her coworkers are exploited as laborers dissecting the wage relations that prevail in the industry. Bertha recounts that on her first day of work, she saw forty clients, who paid a total $133. However, she took away only $40, after half went to the house and approximately

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290 another 20 percent went to cover protection, teddy and stockings, the maid, the roper, the runner, and towels. Then, of course, of the remainder, her pimp took all but two dollars. The iss ue then becomes not the depletion of the prostitutes virtue, but the appropriation by capital of the surplus value she has generated through her labors. Through this maneuver, she deflects the moral censure of the dominant society while reframing her experiences in terms consistent with the education she received from her mother, grandfather, and other radicalized sources. While Waiting for Nothing resists bourgeois morality by showing Tom and Yvonne making the one choice left to them, Sister of the Road o ffers a more aggressive critique. After briefly acknowledging it, the text dismisses as invalid the question of whether or not Bertha has become a fallen woman as a result of exchanging sex for money. In fact, although she ends her career as a prostitute bearing the traditional markers that accompany the disregard of feminine propriety disease and pregnancy with a bastard child both are soon r obbed of their semiotic power. In a turn of events that strains credulity, s he undergoes successful treatment for gonorrhea and syphilis, and she comes to regard childhood and motherhood as yet another educational experience worthy of celebration. While many of the transactions she describes appear to entail some degree of exploitation motivated by economic necessity for instance, women on the road seldom get food free unless they repay the men who set it up for them with what every man wants from a woman (30) Bertha denies neither herself nor the other women she encounters all agency in these matters. If their bodies are to be commodified, they will play an active role in negotiating the terms of the exchange. In characterizing her own and other female tramps sexual acts as deliberate choices, she contrasts them with

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291 other unambiguous violations of womens bodily autonomy, emphasiz[ing] the threat of rape for women on the road (Photinos 674). For instance, she bluntly retells a particularly disturbing story of an assault on a young female hobo who is subsequently abandoned by her husband. She also recounts her own experiences with and resistance to sexual exploitation. On one occasion, a railroad detective nabs her outside a train yard in Cleveland, pulls her into a little section hands shanty and shut[s] the door, giving Bertha a choice: If I took you over to t he police station theyd give you sixty days, he said. If you are nice to me Ill let you go and give you a little change besides. His face was ugly. He was used to getting what he wanted. I had a vision of all the girls on the road running into him and being taken into the same shanty before they could get through Cleveland. I saw red, and I hauled off and slapped him across the face. Give me [sixty] days, I said. (65)3 Even while working as a prostitute, Bertha refuses to forfeit her agency. When one aggressive customer simply hands her two dollars and roughly throws her on the bed before she has time to prepare, she protests and calls for help, and the man is violently ejected from the establishment. Although a client may pay for sexual relations, he has not purchased Bertha in any essential way. While her mother, her lovers, and many of the various women and men she encounters serve as teachers, as sources of experience and information, the text purposefully develops the notion that the mobility granted by the road itself in the specific form of railroad technology provides a vital site for education. Well before she became an actual hobo, the railroad permeated Berthas childhood entirely. Spending her first years in railroad camps, she learned to spell from the names on box cars and she learned geography from stories told by the wandering men who moved through her

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292 daily life (8). Like Mother Thompson, these transients offer a model for obtaining experience and thus the sort of education that Bertha has come to value. So, it is only natural when a seventeenyear old Bertha and her younger sister decide to go traveling, that they take what they have learned from the various transients they have known and seek to add to it by following a proper course of study. At the Hobo College in Los Angeles, they gather information on the best routes to New Orleans (the Southern Pacific, they are told), and then accept the offer of a mentor, who declares himself an expert. Im your guide and Ill show you the ropes, he promises. Before we get to New Orleans Ill make first class hoboes out of you (25). It is at this point that Berthas figurative mobility elides into literal mobility, and these two modes of transience will reinforce each other for the bulk of th e novels remainder. Highlighting this interrelationship, Bertha frequently interrupts her own travel narrative with digressions about transients more common to the literature of the social sciences, so that her educational mobility takes on a more specifi c disciplinary shape when her narration adopts the language of sociology and Bertha assumes the role of participant observer. The faux autobiographical structure of the novel becomes increasingly more malleable, creating a space for myriad stories, many of them told by underrepresented voices. Bertha recounts these personal narratives much in the manner of case histories, summarizing what she has heard from anarchists, labor organizers, career criminals, college girls, social workers, prostitutes, and vagabonds. She frequently privileges the last category, devoting several pages to hobo history and sociology. Unsurprisingly, the hobotramp bum taxonomy often attributed to Reitman finds its way into these passages, at which point Bertha clearly counts herself among

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293 the tramps, the unattached penniless [men and women] tramping around for excitement and adventure, although she will frequently default to the use of hobo (35). In her telling of it, transience entails a series of opportunities for knowledge acq uisition of varying degrees of formality; she rather defensively counters preconceptions by insisting that hoboes are not a bunch of dumb ignoramuses (53). At the Hobo College in Chicago, Bertha enters a vibrant intellectual environment, and recites for the reader the wide range of speakers whose lectures she attends. While many of the speakers had impressive credentials, she insists that [b]y far the most brilliant teachers and most interesting speakers who taught at the College belonged to us the comm unity of hoboes and tramps and came from the life we knew (53). In her exploration of hobo subculture, Bertha places especial emphasis on women, eventually formalizing her studies when she takes a job investigating the conditions and motives of her fellow sisters of the road. In presenting her findings, the text directly engages with conventional wisdom. Even more so than vagrant men, transient women were pathologized according the assumption that no normal, healthy woman would choose to take to the roa d. Female hoboes must possess some individual character flaw a deviancy that motivates their dislocation. Men might at least be perceived as adventurous, and in some cases even heroic, in hop p ing a freight train out of town, while most sociological studies from the 1920s and 30s tended to insist upon a strong correlation between female delinquency and mobility, thereby implicitly endorsing the notion that such physical movement functions as a kind of metaphor for female transgressions of conventional ge nder roles (Photinos 659). Bertha, however, sets aside moral judgment in order to consider the issue materially, and so arrives at the

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294 conclusion that the most frequent reason they leave is economic and that they usually come from broken or from poverty stricken homes. They do not necessarily become mobile in order to seek jobs, but to escape from reality, to get away from misery (13). Yet, as Photinos observes, Bertha does not relegate all female transients to passive victimhood (669). She acknowledges the agency exercised by those who seek self expression or romance, or who flee parental discipline or boredom, while still others are just seized with wanderlust (13). Bertha theorizes the last of these can be traced to the technology of the railroad itself. Two of the women Bertha interviews in a hobo jungle had lived in railroad division towns. Many of the men had also. And that I have always found on the road. The trains going in and out to places as they grew up gave them the wanderlust (167). M odernity has provided a means for radical mobility why should women be any less inclined than men to exploit its full potential? The road also affords Bertha the opportunity to challenge and expand on her understanding of morality. Like Joe Crane in The Rambling Kid Bertha eventually ceases to view both begging and theft in terms of moral imperatives while on the road. In contrast to those lessons the narrator delivers directly, the reader accompanies her through the dramatized educational process. May, one of Berthas many traveling companions, offers instruction in both skills. After a brief demonstration in successful mendicancy, May steals an entire basket of groceries, to which Bertha protests and then decides she will use what little money she has to pay for them. Why dont you go over and pay for all the rides youve stolen from the railroad company? [May] asked angrily. Is it any worse to steal groceries than to steal rides from the railroad? I had never thought of it that way. It had never occur red to me that riding freights was stealing from the railroad. May made her point. (60)

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295 Like Joe, Bertha never does become a thief, but she associates herself with a criminal gang for an extended period of time after getting romantically involved with one of its members. Once again, among her motives is a desire for experience and knowledge: I didnt want to steal myself, but I was glad to see how it was done (76). Without judgment, Bertha describes the gangs organizational structure and methods, as well as the dispositions and activities of its members. She discovers that conventional wisdom entails a good deal of inaccurate information about the lives of professional criminals, much as it does regarding hoboes, so Bertha takes the opportunity to gather data directly. In the end, she chooses not to participate actively in this form of criminality because [s]omething in [her] heart rebelled against it, but much like Joe, she refuses the role of moral arbiter (75). For all its overt preoccupation with a mobility enabled experiential education, the texts most radical pedagogical maneuver is simultaneously its least conspicuous. In short, Sister of the Road essentially proposes its protagonist as a complement or even an alternative to the heroes of national folklore and mythology. Given the generally disinterested quality of her narration, Bertha herself never deliberately highlights the mythological aspects of her life story, but they start to accumulate from the beginning of the text. T he details surrounding her birth read like a Western tall tale: somewhat unbelievable, gently and humorously exaggerated. The cheerfully matter of fact tone Bertha employs while recounting the series of events leading up to and immediately following her birth serves to mute the provocative quality of the individual elements. Berthas mother, having taken a much older freethought and eugenist propagandist as a lover, chose not to get married after becoming pregnant. Once she began to show,

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296 the neighbors began to talk, and five days after I was born, the village parson, the sheriff, and three good citizens came and asked bluntly whether mother was married or intended to marry (10). After her grandfather defiantly asserted that no such formality was necessary, the new mother and father were arrested, as was Berthas grandfather when he refused to pay the fine levied against him. This particular family unit, however, acclimates quite quickly to its incarceration, using the time to read and write. Ever maternal, Mother did the jail cooking and sewing, nursed me, and studied Esperanto and socialism (10). Perhaps not as outrageous as the origin tales of Paul Bunyan or John Henry, an unorthodox conception and jailhouse infancy would certainly not be out of place in a mythologizi ng folk song or yarn. Her mythology gains new components when Bertha earns her nickname in early childhood after her penchant for exploring the boxcars located in the railroad camps where she spent the first several years of her life. Much as the historical John Chapman would evolve into the legendary Johnny Appleseed and so provide enduring pioneer lore and attendant agricultural symbolism for a young country, Bertha Thompsons rechristening as Boxcar Bertha provides a symbolism appropriate to an industrial America. Bringing together the potent iconography the railroad, a log cabinof emphatically American historical or legendary figures, such as John Henry and Abraham Lincoln, Bertha recalls that she and her childhood friends took for playthings all the g rand miscellany to be found in a railroad yard. We built houses of railroad ties so big that it took four of us to lift one of them in place (9). As the technology of industry expands through what is no longer the nations frontier, it scatters detritus ( miscellany) in its wake in much the same way the Johnny scattered his apple seeds, which Bertha

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297 cannot help but exalt (she finds it grand) as she giddily constructs her playground amidst such progress. A true child of the twentieth century, she harbors no pastoral nostalgia, instead embracing and making her own a life seemingly determined by biological and national genetic inheritances. I am truly married to the boxcars, she tells a friend toward the end of her narration in one her rare self mythologi zing rhetorical flourishes. Theres something constantly itching in my soul that only the box cars satisfy (196). (Her friend ups the mythological ante, calling Bertha a mystic, a Christian anarchist riding in a boxcar to find God [197].) Bertha goes s o far as to suggest directly that the vagabond life in general (if not her own life specifically) constitutes the basis of a new American folklore. I dont ever remember anyone telling me a real fairy story in my whole childhood, but the tales of the gandy dancers, and of the bindle stiffs, of their jobs in the wheatfields of Minnesota and the rides on the blinds to and from them, and the breathtaking yarns of mushing in Alaska, or getting pinched in San Francisco, or of drunken brawls in New Orleans dive s were thrillers I remember to this day. (8) This rhetorical gesture, like so much of what Bertha has to say about her early childhood, performs a sophisticated dual function, bringing together the conventional and the radical. Seen from one perspective, s he participates in the ongoing nationalist project of developing a distinctly American narrative tradition. From the early nineteenth century, with the young nations infrastructure solidifying and expanding, and external threats successfully kept at bay, citizens of the United States could focus more of their energy on the production of a native culture. In terms of literature, this effort would culminate in what F.O. Matthiessen calls the American Renaissance, encompassing the works of Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Melville, and Whitman. Less self consciously, it also produced enduring folktales that recounted the adventures of Paul Bunyan and

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298 Johnny Appleseed. Still, remnants of the Old World culture lingered, as fairy tales [b]orrowed from European lore continued to permeate American culture (Watts 134). So, in proposing a set of new fairy tales that replace characters derived from European sources, Bertha contributes to her countrys cultural independence. At the same time, her new fairy tales subver t the crucial pedantic socializing function the stories of Hans Christian Anderson, Charles Perrault, and the Grimm brothers have played in lives of American youth. As vehicles for the transmittal of ideology, these stories tend to normalize strictly delineated gender roles; the tales the Grimm brothers collected placed a great emphasis on passivity, industry, and self sacrifice for girls and on activity, competition, and accumulation of wealth for boys (Zipes 60). In direct contrast to traditional fairy tales, the Berthas own life and the stories she retells undermine such gendered prescriptions. Alongside such heroically productive figures as Johnny Appleseed, John Henry, and Paul Bunyan, Bertha would have us venerate wild, independent, and occasionally criminal characters who prioritize mobility over a commitment to work. Crucial to this new national folklore, mobility whether across sexual restrictions, gender roles, intellectual debates, or geographic space nurtures critical thinking and facilitates experience, thus serving as the foundation of a true education. By the end of the twentieth century, the number of women who chronicled their train hopping experiences had increased dramatically with the burgeoning of the underground zine culture, renderi ng the character of Boxcar Bertha less of an anomaly while disseminating the ideals she embodied. Although a highly idiosyncratic textual genre, zines typically are intensely personal, individually produced, irregular,

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299 nonprofessional, unprofitable, low ci rculation publications. They vary in length from a single sheet of paper to well over a hundred pages, and their publishers address an array of sometimes obsessively specific topics, but as Stephen Duncombe explains in Notes from Underground: Zines and the Politics of Alternative Culture, they are united by their fascination with the margins (9). So, while Duncombe proposes that most of these zines fit into the broad categories of fanzines, political zines, personal zines, scene zines, network zines, fringe culture zines, religious zines, vocational zines, health zines, sex zines, travel zines, comix, literary zines, and art zines, he still acknowledges that the contents of many titles are poorly served by these headings, and still more fall under none of them. (For example, in my modest personal collection, I have zines devoted exclusively to sneaking into abandoned buildings, dishwashing, volunteering for medical experiments, and thrift store shopping.) They often exhibit a handmade aesthetic in accordanc e with the doit yourself ethos that governs the genre, featuring an at times jarring aggregation of collage images and alternately handwritten and typed text, although some editors do make sophisticated use of desktop publishing software and a tiny minori ty even utilize a mechanical printing press. Most publishers assemble and reproduce copies of their zines via physical cut and paste techniques and a photocopier. They then distribute the finished artifact primarily through the mail, but also in person at shows, on consignment in stores, or through the odd distributor that specializes in underground publishing. Rarely charging more than a couple of dollars, zinesters are usually quite willing to operate on a barter system, and some even give their work away for free. These circulation methods suggest the intended audience: those sympathetic to the resistance of a passive, oneway cultural consumption model.

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300 Especially before the ubiquity of the internet, zines allowed their publishers a means of expressing and delivering their art, ideas, and concerns in a manner unmediated by the dictates of professional publishing. While the early 1990s boom in zine production (which coincided with the mainstream appropriation and successful marketing of punk and alternati ve music and culture4) has subsided somewhat with the prevalence of the personal weblog, they are part of a continuing trend in late capitalist culture in the twenty first century (Piepmeier 2). The zine phenomenon does not overlap precisely with the punk rock scene plenty of zine publishers have no interest or affiliation with punk, and certainly not all punks read and/or produce zines but in its insistence on unrestricted self expression, it does demonstrate what might be called a punk attitude. Indeed, in his history of the medium, Duncombe identifies both the rise of science fiction fanzines in the 1930s and punk music fanzines in the 1970s as crucial touchstones in its development (6, 7). Whether or not particular practitioners deliberately articulat e it, the rejection of corporate modes of production and strident anti authoritarianism that permeates both zine culture and punk culture owes a philosophical debt to anarchism (Duncombe 35). Moreover, in the 1980s and 1990s, a segment of the anarchist, anti capitalist punk community engaged in a reimagining of tramp identity and took to train hopping, squatting, and dumpster diving in their efforts (sometimes more self aware and deliberate than others) to evade what they perceive as the oppressive drudgery of life under consumer capitalism and to withhold their contribution to the process es of globalization. Inevitably, then, narratives of train hopping began appearing in zines produced by those traveling anarchist punks who could manage to pull a photocopy ing scam at Kinkos. Perhaps the

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301 best known zine devoted exclusively to stories about illegal train riding is Theres Something about a Train, which started in the late 1980s as a small newsletter and has since grown into something that looks like a full size magazine of well over a hundred pages per issue, published moreor less biannually. (Coincidentally, Amtrak used that same phrase in an adver tising campaign from the 1990s [Theres Something]. ) The zines editor and publisher, Lee, became a minor media personality in the late 1990s and early 2000s as both the mainstream and alternative press sought to cover the apparent renewal of train hopping as a mode of travel, which had been taken up not only by punks but also professionals who were eager for truly unpredictable adventure. Gentle, genial, and a bit older than the average trainriding anarchist punk he was in his mid forties at the turn of the twenty first century Lee celebrates contemporary tramp culture through his zine by publishing stories writ ten by a new generation of riders, both men and women.5 Like those participants in the historically parallel Riot Grrrl movement of the early 1990s who sought to call attention to and overcome the barriers that kept women from full participation in the supposedly anti establishment punk scene, female punks who started train hopping confronted not only the sexism of the dominant culture but also that of the tramp subculture. In the preface to the sixth issue of Theres Something about a Train, Lee makes note of the proliferation of hobas and the particular circumstances they faced: Starting in the late 80s & into the 90s many more wimmin than ever before started doing the steel on steel thang, primarily among the youngins. Could it be that these outlaw subc ultures are tuning into & promoting the absurd idea that wimmin can do any adventure as well as any man? mmmGender unbalance & sexism have plagued hobo culture for a 140 years things are changing. Exciting stuff! (2)

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302 Appropriately, then, the zine featur ed several pieces written by women riders, and many of these authors draw a direct line between their experiences as rail riders and a specifically feminist liberatory agenda, as explicit at times as the narrator of Sister of the Road. In hopping trains, t hey not only separate themselves from the dominant patriarchal culture, but they problematize the prevailing male privilege of a subcultural space and practice deemed too dangerous or masculine for women. In a contribution to the omnibus zine, Clare Corcoran recounts her first trip as a hobo, a long and wonderful and just plain full adventure that left her glowing when she finally returned home after weeks on the road (82). Interestingly, the bulk of the narrative focuses not on the details of that tri p, but on her memories of riding the New York City subway as a nineyear old child on her way to fifth grade class at the Convent of the Sacred Heart, that training ground of upper class femininity (83). Unaccompanied by the adult supervision of either her parents or the nuns who tried their best to teach us to be ladies, she and her sister experienced the subway as a site of liberated mobility, a Temporary Autonomous Zone occupied while en route to the Ideological State Apparatuses of family and school (83). Here, Corcoran purposefully invokes anarchist writer Hakim Beys conceptualization of a transitory uprising which does not engage directly with the State, a guerilla operation which liberates an area (of land, or time, or imagination) and then di ssolves itself to re form elsewhere/elsewhen, before the State can crush it (99). For the author in her childhood, this uprising consists of ebullient physical risk taking struggling to stay on her feet while surfing the subway train, passing between cars on the narrow open walkway, hanging from the hand loops, swinging from the poles, entering the forbidden last car of the train where

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303 the perverts and weirdos [ sic ] lurked all the while free from repressive adult rules (82, 83). Without providing any details, Corcoran intimates that on entering puberty she soon lost the capacity to know such pleasure and freedom, as many adolescent girls do when they realize that this world doesnt want women to have much fun and thus discourages them from revel[ing] in being smart, creative, mischievous, and from feel[ing] joy in their athletic bodies (83). She counts herself fortunate when the muscle memory of those childhood adventures on the subway is rekindled by a particular moment during her adult tram p travels, just after she has caught a freight train on the fly i.e., boarded while the train is in motion, a difficult and dangerous feat for maybe the third time. I held onto the ladder, leaned out, watched the train snake muscley [ sic ] around along the curved track, felt my own arm muscles holding me to the train, felt as one with the train, like one big animal. I felt the train a half a mile ahead of me as part of my own body. Like riding a bikeyou share your center of gravity with the train (82). Ag ain, she characterizes her sense of freedom as undeniably embodied, rather than theoretical; it is their palpability that links the two experiences. Much like Boxcar Bertha, Corcoran stresses the continuity between her childhood and adulthood, noting that her train hopping trip was the most fun Ive had since I was about 9 years old (83). In this way, she suggests that those early experiences on the subway indirectly facilitated the liberation she finds on the rails, while the summer she spends train hopping allows her to formulate retroactively a more compl ex interpretation and appreciation of her childhood. After almost 30 years of learning and unlearning how to be a woman, she concludes, collapsing the time that separates the two experiences of tempor ary

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304 autonomy, I think Ive finally slogged through to the other side of adolescence, and found that happiness looks a lot like the last joyful glory days of little girlhood, surfing the NYC subway (83). In both youth and adulthood, the unambiguously phys ical experience of freedom manifestly derives from the unsanctioned appropriation and use of the industrial technology of mobility. In the passage above, her relationship to that technology assumes a remarkably intimate character, and through such characterization Corcoran avails herself of a venerable trope. This sort of personification, by which the vagabond narrator figuratively imbues the train with an animating spirit and sometimes even sentient awareness, pervades tramp and hobo lore. Jack London, in his tramp memoir The Road, offers a variation on this theme when he walks the reader through the process of decking her her being the trainand then holding her down, markedly observing that only a young and vigorous tramp is able to deck a distinctly feminized train (43). Yet, whereas London speaks of the interaction between tramp and train as a unidirectional and quasi sexual conquest of subject over object, Corcoran uses the language of affinity and collaborative union. In contrast to London, she foregrounds the trains constitutive impact on the rider. Indeed, her narrative explicitly positions her union with the freight train (which may have been a mile and a half or longer, weighing tens of thousands of tons) as the crux of her rediscovery of her physicality, and thus crucial to the development of an alternative subjectivity that allows for the occupation of a temporary autonomous zone. Each of the major texts discussed here grants access to a critical subjectivity through which to challenge c onventional morality and expose naturalized imperatives as

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305 materially contingent constructions with profound ideological implications. Even when not deployed within the context of an explicitly revolutionary agenda, iterations of the Critical Tramp such as that offered by Corcoran conceptualize the figure in terms of apparent and active resistance to disciplinary control. This resistance may not correspond to a consistent or coherent program, but it informs all of the figures actions. Put another way, according to these conceptualizations, the impulse toward unrestricted movement defines the character. Of course, a similarly basic sense of liberty informs constructions of the Americana Hobo figure as well, so that the difference between the two becomes mainly one of degree. In either case, the vagabond obtains and asserts this freedom through the adoption of the radical mobility afforded by riding the rails, but for the Americana Hobo this act serves to further a freedom to be left alone, a freedom from the irritations of modern life. The Americana Hobo does not seek to enact structural change, or even necessarily inspire others to engage in a thoroughgoing critique of political and social institutions. In short, the Americana Hobo adopts a form of passive resistance motivated only by individual disposition, thus becoming essentially another tolerable and even celebrated nonconformist, like the figure of the Western pioneer. Conversely, the various permutations of the Critical Tramp enact a freedom to disrupt, to actively undermine disciplines role in the production of the ideal subject, to evade panopticisms sight. In his analysis of Benthams original panoptic schema, Foucault theorizes an apparatus of power that spread[s] throughout the social body to perform a generalized function, reproducing self disciplining subjects who have internalized the implications of their visibility (207). The disciplinary society operates in the service of production, fixing and accumulating bodies whose labor produces s urplus

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306 value and facilitates the further accumulation of capital. By virtue of their radical mobility, Critical Tramps subvert disciplines antinomadic technique and threaten the smooth functioning of the modern liberal democratic state (Foucault 218). They provide a negative example, an alternative subjectivity that challenges the naturalization of capitalism. In this resistive mode, the tramp adopts an active position, often motivated by anger or disgust and intended to prompt an engaged critique from the audience, rather than distanced admiration. 1 For biographical information on Kromer, I drew from Casciato and West 2 For example, human geographer Tim Cresswell, in The Tramp in America (2001) historian Kenneth L. Kusmer, in Down and Out, on the Road (2002), and critic Christine Photinos in Transiency and Transgression in the Autobiographies of Barbara Starke and Boxcar Bertha Thomps on, all accept and discuss Berth Thompson as a historical individual, using the book as source material in their respective discussions of the female tramps experience. 3 All my references are to a 2002 reprinting of Sister of the Road. This edition erroneously print Berthas reply as Give me thirty days, whereas she says sixty in the original text. 4 Like producers of alternative music, some zinester s were actively courted by major publishing houses, which hoped to capitalize on a thriving underground print culture. 5 Full disclosure: in 1999, I rode freight trains from California to the Hobo Convention in Britt, Iowa with Lee and a couple of other fr iends, and we stayed in touch by mail for a few years, trading letters and zines. (I have since fallen out of touch with him, and have been unable to determine whether he still publishes his zine.) Several articles and small documentary films about train h opping appeared around that time, and Lee popped up in many of them, speaking of his love of trains and the place of new riders in hobo history. Rather than hiding from view, Lee served as a public relations manager for riders, wishing to demystify the hobo subculture and happily encouraging people who were dissatisfied with their lives to give tramping a try. He similarly endorsed squatting, and lived in a Santa Cruz, California forest in an illegal shelter he built from scavenged materials. For more on Lee specifically and new riders generally, see Catching Out: A Film about Trainhopping and Living Free, directed by Sarah George.

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307 CHAPTER 5 THE UTOPIAN TRAMP In the Big Rock Candy Mountains Theres a land thats fair and bright, Where the handouts grow on bushes And you sleep out every night. Where the boxcars all are empty And the sun shines evry day Oh, the birds and the bees and the cigarette trees, The rock and rye springs where the whangdoodle sings, I n the Big Rock Candy Mountai ns. The Big Rock Candy Mountains1 It is not particularly controversial to note that Ray Bradburys 1953 novel Fahrenheit 451 serves as an exampl e of dystopian narrative. It follows a trajectory familiar to readers of the genre: Montag, the protagonist ... is a man coming to consciousness and attempting the overthrow or reformation of the closed, total itarian, futuristic world he valued at the start (Huntington 136). As in Brave New World or 1984, a site of resistance to this totalitarianism is found, even if perhaps only briefly, once the individual protagonist works his way out of the obsessively and oppressively ordered society and into a space apart, where he can engage in practice the State would label deviant. At these moments and in these spaces, he gives expression to a basic utopian impulse. In Bradburys novel, to escape dystopia is to enter t he wilderness of nature, although it does not involve a total rejection of human society. In fact, the hero encounters the representatives of a particular, and decidedly nonscience fictional, subculture once he leaves the confines of the city. Wise old Faber advises Montag, a rogue fireman fleeing a massive police manhunt, to hit the old railroad lines going out into the country, follow them. ... Ive heard there are still hobo camps all across the country, here and there; walking camps they call them, and if you keep walking far

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308 enough and keep an eye peeled, they say theres lots of old Harvard degrees on the tracks between here and Los Angeles. Most of them are wanted and hunted in the cities (132). Even if the railroad tracks no longer carry trains, t hese remnants of a nineteenthcentury technology remain as vital to the transients of this future world as it did to the tramps of the 1870s. Tramps populate the land outside the city, and Montag is eventually welcomed at a hobo jungle There, Granger, one of these tramps, delineates the habits, workings, and ethos of the group: [W]e walk the old tracks. ...The organization is flexible, very loose, and fragmentary. ... [W]ere the odd minority crying in the wilderness (152). In fact, there are Thousands [of tramps] on the roads, the abandoned railtracks, tonight, bums on the outside, libraries inside, transients who have committed themselves to memorizing works of literature in order to preserve them for a world in which books have been banned (153). As ide from the precise details of their mission, this characterization is not specific to the tramp s of this particular story; the speaker could be describing the rail riding, transient membership of the Industrial Workers of the World at the height of its i nfluence in the early twentieth century. Or, at least, he could be describing the members of the I.W.W. as the organizations own propaganda would have characterized them: rather than portraying themselves as honest workingmen, this contingent celebrate d their identities as sons of rest who preferred the simple life in the jungles to the workaday world of traditional, homeguard labor activists, and so propagated a folklore of the hobo that would outlive both the IWW and the subculture from which it emerged; this new folklore also advanced the contentious proposition that hoboes, by virtue of their footloose detachment from the bonds of settled community, were by nature the real

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309 proletarians and more revolutionary than other groups of stationar y workers (DePastino, Citizen 96, 97). These liminal characters at the end of Bradburys tale occupy the interstices of civilization; one of the tramps Montag encounters explains that the city has never cared so much about us to bother with an elaborate chase like this to find us. A few crackpots with verses in their heads cant touch them, and they know it and we know it; everyone knows it (154). Admittedly, these tramps have no hopes of directly overthrowing society, in part because you cant make peo ple listen. They have to come round in their own time (153). Still, in this pastoral setting, the tramps escape not only detection by the municipal authorities, but also the bombs being dropped on the metropolises around the country as war begins in earn est, placing them in the position to rebuild a society according to their own cultural (and, implicitly, social and political) desires. This science fiction novel becomes explicitly romantic in the end, when Montag joins this group of intellectual tramps w ho serve as the repository of literary knowledge. And it is along the railroad tracks, in the hobo jungle, that the potential for a utopian alternative emerges. On first consideration, the tramp might not seem an appropriate vessel to embody utopian potential. Bradbury is probably one of the few speculative writers to attempt to integrate this clearly dated figure into a vision of a future world. Still, despite the apparent incongruity the railroad tramp would seem radically out of place in a heavily technologized futuristic setting the authors decision makes some kind of fundamental sense. The world of the railroad tramp, that specifically American subcultural space formed in the years following the Civil War and comprised of the practices of the tramps and hoboes who lived their lives along the nations spider -

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310 w ebbed network of railroad lines, has since its inception in the last decades of the nineteenth century served as an alternative to the regimented, rationalized life of toil and oppression under industrial capitalism. This alternative finds utopian expression in various forms of cultural representation, particularly in fictional literary narratives. Considered from this perspective, many narratives about tramps may be said to form a subset of a broad er genre that employs such a dystopianutopian structure as that seen in Fahrenheit 451 (Huntington 137). So, while scholars have thoroughly compiled and examined a vast catalogue of American narrative utopias, concentrating especially on those produced during the strikingly fruitful last decades of the nineteenth century (during which over a hundred such works were published [Pfaelzer 3]), another textual tradition serves as an interesting appendix to the existing bibliographies of American utopia: the narrative of the railroad tramp. Just as the kind of story traditionally designated as utopian underwent a production boom in the 1880s and 1890s (a golden age for the genre), authors of stories and books describing the life practices of railroad tramps and hoboes were likewise especially prolific from the 1890s and into the first decades of the twentieth century.2 The historical proximity of these two trends warrants comment: just as pervasive anxiety regarding the conditions of the Gilded Age stimulated the composition and reception of programmatic narrative utopias, frustration with the limited practical impact of those nobleyet often esoteric solutions arguably generated an interest in narratives still exhibiting a genuine utopian impulse while als o o ffering more immediate responses to (and rebellions against) those conditions. Structurally, tramp texts bear a distinct family resemblance to those narratives already absorbed by the

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311 expanding canon of utopian literature, although this resemblance has rem ained mostly undeveloped by scholars of utopia and tramp literature alike. Indeed, t ramp narratives may be read as present tense utopias. If they do not engage in speculative visions of some distant future or alien society, they clearly reveal many of the primary utopian impulses of their historical moment in their critique of social, economic, and political conditions, and in this sense they fulfill a purpose similar to that of canonical narrative utopias that have as their settings some imagined future world that has resolved (or, in the case of dystopias, completely fallen prey to) contemporary social ills. Efforts to theorize representations of utopia typically commence with at least an acknowledgement of the difficulty of establishing generic boundaries, and it is not my primary intention here to enter the fray by rehearsing some novel definitional formulation. For the purposes of this analysis, I will adopt the broad yet modest definition provided by Kenneth M. Roemer: A literary utopia is a fairly detailed description of an imaginary community, society, or worlda fiction that encourages readers to experience vicariously a culture that represents a prescriptive, normative alternative to their own culture. This alternative, according to the author, i s much better than his own culture (3, italics in original).3 Essentially, expressions of utopian impulses act to articulate desire, so that narrative utopias constitute a form of wish fulfillment. To this definition I would add Phillip Wegners particularly germane characterization of the functionality of narrative utopias: they have material, pedagogical, and ultimately political effects, shaping the ways people understand and, as a consequence, act in their worlds. In short, narrative utopias serve as a way both of telling and making modern history (xvi). Meanwhile, w ithin this broader category of the genre of narrative

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312 utopia, the anti utopian narrative operates primarily as a reactive gesture that, as Lyman Tower Sargent explains, use[s] the utopian form to attack either utopias in general or a specific utopia (The Three Faces 8, italics added). W hile not offering fully cohesive programs for sustained utopian alternatives to extant material conditions, tramp narratives produced in the first decades of the twentieth century do adhere to many of the formal conventions established by this anti utopian iteration, placing the protagonist in a totalizing scenario in which the logical end of a specific utopian project that proposed by the rhetoric of freemarket capitalist ideology in this casehas been reached, yielding disastrous results for the vast majority of people living in America. Within these anti utopian settings, an alternative utopian impulse, either explicitly or implicitly anticapitalist, finds expression by way of the protagonists entry into a utopian enclavethe world of the railroad tramp. Unlike the future scenarios proposed by formal utopias, access to this enclave is immediately available, and that access is granted by the rejection of labor and the work ethic and an embrace of the radical mobility available through st olen rides on trains. The tramp anti utopians find much existing utopian material on which to draw and against which to react Americas history and identity are imbued on a structural level with utopian thinking, as demonstrated in texts ranging from the travelogues generated by Europeans (e.g., John Smiths Description of New England), to the sermons of colonists (Jonathan Winthrops Model of Christian Charity ), and the foundational national documents such as The Declaration of Independence. America was (and remains, at least rhetorically) the New World. The official narrative continues to characterize this country as an absolute meritocracy, the land of opportunity wher e

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313 anyone, by industriousness and thrift, can rise from the lowest ranks of society, even (as we tell our children) to become president. This mode of thought infiltrates social and political discourse throughout the nations history, so much so that at times it might seem easier to identify instances of thinking that deviate from it. Importantly, however, the utopian rhetoric does not imply stasis; Americaas utopia is perpetually in a state of becoming, of advancing toward perfection. In the middle of the nineteenth century, Ralph Waldo Emerson articulated this idea when he observed that the combination of land, commerce, and government had produced a distinctly American character, such that, It seems so easy for America to inspire and express the most expansive and humane spirit; new born, free, healthful, strong, the land of the laborer, of the democrat, of the philanthropist, of the believer, of the saint, she could speak for the human race. It is the country of the Future ( The Young American 371). Eme rson goes on to provide a crucial element of this view when he deliberately conflates freedom with trade, in that trade represents a beneficent tendency, omnipotent without violence, [that] exists and works. The necessary foundation is securely in place and progress is inevitable, thus [o]ur part is plainly not ... to block improvement (379). The idea of Americaas utopia suffered greatly during the Civil War In the last two decades of the nineteenth century, however, the country witnessed a surge in t he production of literary utopias, most of them envisioning some scheme for progressive social reform. During this time, for example, Edward Bellamy published perhaps the most famous and influential American example of the genre, Looking Backward (1888) w hich describes a future socialist society. Concurrently, however, another utopian project was taking shape, and this version of the good place also produced several

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314 formal literary utopias with conservative agendas. As Sargent demonstrates in his bibliog raphic survey of capitalist narrative utopias, the idea of a completely unregulated economy also found expression through a significant number of imaginative literary titles (194, 192). For example, David Hilton Wheelers Our Industrial Utopia and Its Unhappy Citizens went so far as to claim that utopia already exists in 1895, the year of its publication (194). In the novel From Earths Center, A Polar Gateway Message (1894), S. Byron Welcome writes, It may seem incredible to you but it is true, nevertheless, that governmental operation of any public service ever tried here has proved inefficient, and been superseded by private enterprises. Not that we have arbitrarily displaced the one with the other, but by the natural law of competition, private individuals have taken the place of public officials (qt d in Sargent 194). These fictional texts have faded into obscurity, however, and are less immediately significant than other works produced as part of the more general endeavor on the part of proponents of laissez faire capitalism to construct, in aggregate, a cohesive, positivist, and specifically American system and program of utopian thinking, employing a variety of genres and forums. Obviously, the virtue of an unregulated economy was not a new c omponent of American thought, but, as David Riesman argues, previous to the Civil War capitalism was singularly unconcerned about propagandizing itself as an ideological system. Perhaps this is because it was so much taken for granted that it did not need verbal defense (175). This new verbal defense was heavily influenced by the work of British sociologist and philosopher Herbert Spencer, who coined the phrase survival of the fittest and applied Darwins ideas concerning biological evolution to the evolution of

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315 social bodies. Arguing that through adaption evolution can end only in the establishment of the greatest perfection and the most complete happiness, Spencer provided supporters of economic laissez faire with a scientific rationale for their posi tion (qtd. in Hofstadter 37).4 The articulation of this ideological trend was tied to the material conditions of the historical moment: the country was experiencing a period of unprecedented economic and industrial expansion. At the same time, the count ry bore witness to increasing class differentiation and miserable living and working conditions, yet this program promises its audience that a utopia predicated on freedom, material comfort, rationality, and inclusion is readily achievable, in the near fut ure, not some distant year (as was imagined in many of the narrative utopias produced at this time). Better yet, it postulates that America is already on the proper course; those who propose social reform via legislative measures will only serve (as Emerso n had argued) to impede this progress. While simultaneous ly employing language that suggests a vision for the future while advocating for the maintenance of the status quo, this discourse describes what it claims to be the best of all possible worlds. One of the most important documents of this ideology, from which derives a useful appellation for the intellectual movement as a wholethe gospel of wealth is steel magnate Andrew Carnegies essay Wealth (1892). Carnegie proposes, in effect, what he sees as an achievable utopia, a scheme for social organization for which America already possesses the tools. His somewhat defensive rhetorical position lends further credence to Risemans argument that capitalism, while previously uncontested in any serious way, was now being challenged by alternate arrangements to govern production, and so must clearly assert itself as the most justifiable of all options. The

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316 material conditions c reated by the rapid expansion of industrial production fostered skepticism among many Americans regarding the promise of capitalism: corporations continued to expand unabated, consolidating into monopolies; government officials appeared to be available for purchase by magnates of industry and commerce; tensions between capital and labor turned violent more and more frequently; and the population appeared to be increasingly bifurcated, in the words of the Populist Party Platform of 1892, into two great classes tramps and millionaires (qt d in Heffner 236). It is unsurprising, then, tha t Wealth (published in 1889) appeared in the midst of the most intense period of utopian textual production in U.S. history, a production that to a large extent promoted alternatives to the logic on which capitalism is predicated, typically emphasizing an equalization of wealth and cooperative relations. Carnegie makes it plain that he seeks to distinguish his ideal society specifically from any brand of radical socialism or communism or even reformist measures that might draw inspirations from either of these political philosophies, which (he insists) would require a fundamental change in human nature. His central thesis is worth quoting at length: There remains, then, only one mode of using great fortunes; but in this we have the true antidote for the te mporary unequal distribution of wealth, the reconciliation of the rich and the poor a reign of harmony another ideal, differing, indeed, from that of the Communist in requiring only the further evolution of existing conditions not the total overthrow of our civilization. It is founded upon the present most intense individualism, and the race is projected to put it in practice by degree whenever it pleases. Under its sway we shall have an ideal state in which the surplus wealth of the few will become, in t he best sense the property of the many, because administered for the common good, and this wealth, passing through the hands of the few, can be made a much more potent force for the elevation of our race than if it had been distributed in small sums to the people themselves. Even the poorest can be made to see this, and to agree that great sums gathered by some of their fellow citizens and spent for public purposes, from which the masses reap the principal benefit, are more

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317 valuable to them than if scattered among them through the course of many years in trifling amounts. (660 italics added ) This vision of a pragmatic, near future utopia found expression not only among industrial capitalists, but within the academy, as well. William Graham Sumner, a highly influential professor of the social sciences at Yale, served as an avid and articulate partisan for free enterprise, providing both practical and moral rationales, arguing that any society based on contract is a society of free and independent men, who form ties without favor or obligation, and cooperate without cringing or intrigue. A society based on contract, therefore, gives the utmost room and chance for individual development, and for all the self reliance and dignity of a free man ( What Social Clas ses 26). Appealing to a faith in historical inevitability, he admonished those who would reform the economy that our farther gains lie in going forward, not in going backward ( What Social Classes 26). Rhetorically, he was careful to link the economic wit h the political, making it clear that laissez faire industrial capitalism and democracy were, if not synonymous, at the very least inextricably interdependent: the democratic principle which means that each man should be esteemed for his merit and worth f or just what he is, without regard to birth, wealth, rank, or other adventitious circumstances ... is a principle of industrialism. It proceeds from and is intelligible only in a society built on the industrial virtues, free endeavor, security of property, and repression of the baser vices ( War 208). Members of the clergy likewise echoed Carnegies gospel of wealth. Baptist minister Russell Conwell delivered his Acres of Diamonds lecture over 6,000 times (earning eight million dollars in the process). In it, he extols the virtues of both democracy and the free enterprise system, insisting that in America, the opportunity to

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318 get rich, to attain unto great wealth, is here ... now, within the reach of almost every man and woman who hears me speak tonight ( 17). Other religious leaders agreed. Henry Ward Beecher, the famous and influential minister of Plymouth Church, Brooklyn, yoked the accumulation of wealth to godliness, and godliness to Christianity, and Christianity to democracy, which (adopting an endo f history rhetoric) he saw as the the final form of government (May 69). He either denied the existence of poverty or attributed it to personal failing, claiming that [e] ven in the most compact and closely populated portions of the East, he that will be frugal, and save continuously, living every day within the bounds of his means, can scarcely help accumulating wealth under the present politica l and economic conditions (qt d in May 69). Similarly, Phillip Brooks, bishop of Massachusetts, argued that [ e] xcessive poverty, ... actual suffering for the necessities of life, terrible as it is, is comparatively rar e in America, a place where, [w] hen society shall be complete, it shall perfectly develop the f reedom of the individual (qt d in May 65, 66). Catholic Archbishop John Ireland held the respect for capital in high esteem and advocated on behalf of the exercise of individual enterprise available to the American citizen: It is energy and enterprise that win everywhere. [T]hey win in the Church, they win in the State, and they wi n in Business (Cross 110; qt d in Cross 164). All of these figures opposed social and economic reform, and even private alms giving. We see, then, the articulation by industry, the academy, and clergy of a consistent, optim istic, quasi religious worldview that holds, in essence, that adherence to the system of industrial free enterprise will inevitably lead to a perfected society that allows for the free development of both industry and the individual. More simply put, it is the American Dream as utopia. The logic of the ideology informing this discourse had

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319 its critics, of course, and many of them presented their criticisms by way of formally generic narrative utopias. Indeed, as previously intimated, any discussion of the nineteenthcentury American utopian narrative must include (and most likely begin with) Bellamys Looking Backward, which Wegner, in his study Imaginary Communities refers to as the single most influential narrative utopia of the nineteenth century (62), on par in terms of popularity and impact on national discourse with Uncle Toms Cabin (63). Employing a technique common to narrative utopias, representatives from the year 2000, at which time the majority of the novel takes place, express shock and wonder at the conditions accepted with little comment in the latenineteenth century, making the point that, when seen from another perspective, those conditions seem both absurd and intolerable. Julian West, the narrator protagonist, goes to bed one night in 1887 and awakes the next morning to discover that he has been in state of mesmeric sleep for 113 years. He discovers that, in the intervening years, America has now fulfilled its long standing utopian potential: West encounters a world in which total economic equality has been achieved; currency, the banking industry, advertising, and even the need for legislation have been eliminated; and consolidation of all industry is total, with the nation acting as the sole manufacturer and employer. Furthermore, Dr. Leete, Wests twentieth century guide, repeatedly emphasizes that this social reorganization has occurred as a result of gradual evolution rather than via radical insurrection. Like Machiavellis The Prince, written in part to promote Italian national uni ty, Bellamys fable appears to have been motivated by a desire to impose some sense of order on the chaos of the Gilded Age, which threatened to topple society (43). West himself personifies the anxiety of the age: The nerv ous tension of the public mind

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320 caused by social and economic unrest (an anxiety keenly felt by those at the top who have no guarantee of retaining their privilege) finds a reflection in Wests own nervous disorder, which prevents him from sleeping and thus sets into play the conceit that allows him to slumber for more than a century so that he may encounter the wonders of the future (44). (He not only requires the aid of a mesmerist, he also sleeps in a hidden, underground chamber where he may remain undiscovered and undisturbed for such a length of time.) Although West and Leete discuss at length the deplorable conditions of all classes of society in the 19th century, and West goes so far as to offer an implicit criticism of those who encourage people at the bottom of the social ladd er to hold out hopes of possible compensation in another world for the hardness of their lot (3940), both characters attribute this particular feeling of anxiety to reformers and radicals. In fact, Bellamy appears to come close to endorsing absolute inaction, in that his characters repeatedly observe that all disorder was resolved and the labor question (rather than, say, the capitalist question or the corruption question) answered as a result of a process of industrial evolution which could not h ave terminated otherwise. All that society had to do was recognize and cooperate with that evolution, when its tendency had become unmistakable (61). This shift occurred inevitably (168). In other words, the narrative suggests despite itself, the propon ents of laissez faire capitalism are right, in that their promises that rejection of regulation and reform would ultimately bring about a better life for all have been fulfilled; the seeds of future utopia have already been planted by the time of Bellamys writing. Additionally, West carefully avoids any suggestion of class struggle (beyond acknowledging that different classes

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321 do, in fact, exist) and asserts that he would never accuse the rich in general of being responsible for the misery of the world (228). Consequently, captains of industry are reassured and progressive activists and reformers rebuffed by this iteration of the narrative utopia. West even retroactively criticizes the actions of radicals and labor organizers as being useless at best and harmful at worst, speaking specifically of the alarm resulting from the talk of a small band of men who called themselves anarchists, and proposed to terrify the American people into adopting their ideas by threats of violence, while completely ignoring the growth and achievements of labor unions (44) Likewise, Leete explains that The movement toward the conduct of business by larger and larger aggregations of capital, the tendency toward monopolies, which had been so desperately and vainly resisted, was recognized at last, in its true significance, as a process which only needed to complete its logical evolution to open a golden future to humanity (65). This evol utionary process explains why [t] he labor parties, as such, never could have accomplishe d anything on a large or permanent scale (183). He then goes even further, suggesting that agitators did so much damage to social progress that they actually must have operated in the employ of i ndustrialists, observing that [n] o historical authority now adays doubts that they were paid by the great monopolies to wave the red flag and talk about burning, sacking, and blowing people up, in order, by alarming the timid, to head off any real reforms (182). Bellamy was far from alone in proposing in the form of a narrative utopia a programmatic solution to the problems of the age. As the bibliographies and surveys compiled and conducted by scholars of utopia demonstrate, the Gilded Age represented

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322 the zenith of such textual production. Several of these novels like Looking Backward contained narrative descriptions of future worlds which had achieved a kind of stasis by establishing harmonious alternatives to laissez faire capitalism. The ideology of commentators like Carnegie also soon directly inspired formal anti u top ias, such as Ignatius Donnellys novel Caesars Column (1890) and Jack Londons The Iron Heel (1907), which seek to reveal to the public the agency controlling capitalist society by projecting a nightmare future vision of the free market s log ical co nclusion: a society lorded over by capitalist oligarchies (Wegner 122) .5 Relatively unexplored, however at least from the vantage point of utopian studies are the anti u top ian visions of the contemporary historical moment, set in the time during whi ch they were composed, visions far removed from the speculative or science fiction tradition. While American literature had previously produced fiction offering what arguably could be considered protoanti utopian critiques of capitalism such as Rebecca Harding Davis novella Life in the Iron Mills (1861), in which Hugh Wolfe s fate belies the utopian laissez faire dictum, Make yourself what you will. It is your right (56) the group of texts I will analyze have added a secondary narrative strategy, sugges ting an escape, at least on a temporary basis, from the hellish conditions they described: in all of them, characters find in the tramp underworld a utopian alternative to the world created by adherence to the capitalist mode of production. Fredric Jamesons theorization of the utopian enclave in Archaeologies of the Future offers a useful prism through which to view this alternative. He conceives of this enclave as a temporary, imaginary cognitive space separate or even hidden from the material and social conditions created by the hegemonic ideology, into which a person

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323 or small community may withdraw in order to perform the intellectual labor involved in the production of utopian thinking and narrative. In other words, it is precisely this enclave that al lows the potential utopianist to think the otherwise unthinkable. Such enclaves, he explains, are something like a foreign body within the social: in them, the differentiation process has momentarily been arrested, so that they remain as it were momenta rily beyond the reach of the social and testify to its political powerlessness, at the same time that they offer a space in which new wish images of the social can be elaborated and experimented on (16). According to this notion, these spaces provide the conditions necessary to the production of utopian fantasy, but the tramp narrative literalizes these enclaves, demonstrating through the physical actions of the characters what Jameson describes as an intellectual process. T he tramp utopics illustrated in such works necessarily entails a modal praxis: in the tramp underworld, the generation of utopian thinking cannot be divorced from utopian action. Because of their grounding in present tense, real world conditions, more so than any science fiction narrativ e or any other text that situates achievement of utopia in the future or imaginary world, tramp texts provide a m odel of immediately accessibleif temporary utopian space and practice. Jack Londons short story The Apostate, first published in Womans Home Companion in September of 1906 (a year before the appearance of the authors formal dystopia, The Iron Heel as well as his tramp memoir, The Road ), provides an anti utopian response to the idea of Americaas utopia. The story centers on the daily life of Johnny, a twelveyear old boy who has been rendered an automaton by his labor winding bobbins in a jute mill. Employing a trope that would become common in

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324 dystopian fiction, London makes the most of his metaphor of human as machine, returning to it thr oughout the story. Johnny, we learn, began work at age seven to help support his single mother and his younger siblings. Five years of continuous labor have turned him into the perfect worker and [f] rom the perfect worker he had evolved into the perfec t ma chine (226), working mechanically according to a machine consciousness (225, 234). In fact, Machinery has almost been bred into him, in that he was born on the factory floor, amidst the crashing roar of the looms, inhaling heavy lint with his first breath (226). His life of labor has not only had a crippling affect on his mind and spirit, but on his body, as well: He did not look like a man. He was a travesty of the human. It was a twisted and stunted and nameless piece of life that shambled l ike a sickly ape, arms loosehanging, stoopshouldered, narrow chested, grotesque and terrible (238239). London so offers a fictional rendering of Paul Lafargues polemical claim in The Right to Be Lazy (1883) that [i] n capitalist society work is the cause of all intellectual degeneracy, of all organic deformity (10). Each day, Johnny drags himself to work before sunlight; he will leave for home after sunset. London dedicates several paragraphs to descriptions of the mindnumbing labor, capturing the repetitive movements demanded of the mills employees. Johnnys is an existence of severe deprivation, utterly devoid of pleasure or joy. Over the course of his life, he has acquired only a handful of cherished memories: the time his mother bought prunes, the two occasions she made custard, and when he found a quarter. This is the system of industrial labor that, according to the utopian promises of laissez faires partisans, is supposed to ensure both the freedom and the material comfort of the individual. Johnny has never known other than this dystopia and has

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325 consequently absorbed the dominant ideology. The narrator bluntly informs the reader that Johnny had a way of accepting things (226). Toil is inevitable, and Johnny even imagines that it imbues him dignity, so embracing what Lafargue terms the delusion of the love of work (9). He once entertained fantasies of upward mobility through hard work. After all, he has become finely tuned, wasting no motions, so that his employers recognize his value: promotion was waiting for him. ... He would next go on the starcher, and later he would go into the loom room. There was nothing after that except increased efficiency (231). (Even as he makes these advances, however, his wages fail to keep pace with expenses, and his familys living conditions grow worse.) He imagines himself achieving career success (as embodied by a managerial rather than manual labor position) and marrying the bosss daughter. This specific fantasy recreates a trope often employed by H oratio Alger in his rags to riches stories for young boys, in which the main character exemplifies the social mobility presumably available to anyone in America, provided he is honest and hard working. These traits, combined with a little good fortune, hel p the main character in these tales to advance socially, landing a job in which he will have the opportunity to impress both the boss and the bosss daughter. The engagement or marriage ceremonially confirms the characters ascendancy up the social ladder, resulting in the achievement of two interrelated elements of the American Dream: financial stability and heteronormative, domesticated romantic love. The implicitly utopian Horatio Alger Myth posits this social mobility as a meritocracy, an attractive not ion. Hildegard Hoeller suggests that there was something about Ragged Dick that sounded particularly right to a lot of readers at the time, such that the novel would become a central American text that for many would remain a

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326 shorthand for America itsel f and the opportunities it offered to all ( Preface x). His characters typically attain (or stand poised to attain at the conclusion of the story) middle class stability and respectability, rather than the great wealth of a Carnegie or Rockefeller. In deli berately evoking this trope, London position s it as mere unrealistic fantasy, demonstrating its flaws and its inapplicability in the real world. Londons character, as young and industrious as Ragged Dick or Mark the Match Boy, works hardhe is, in fact, a cknowledged by all as a model worker, and takes pride in that status but will never advance. This is the naturalist counterpoint to the ideology of laissez faire utopianism promulgated by Alger from the 1860s onward (he published over a hundred such morall y didactic dime novels for young people), during the decades of some of the greatest social and economic upheavals in US history. Comparison with Algers novel continues to generate useful insight when we consider Hoellers observation that Ragged Dick allows for access by the middle class readership (in the role akin to that of a tourist) to the poverty of New York City, as a Barnumesque, freakish curiosity, rather than an outrage: By offering his [Dicks] rags to riches story, the novel allowed its middl e class readers to indulge their curiosity and to face and appease fears about pressing social issues such as extreme urban poverty, immigration, the rise and threat of finance capitalism and concomitant social mobility and fluidity ( Freaks 255). In thi s sense, Algers representational strategies function in opposition to Londons. Ragged Dick plac es the blame on the individual character: Dick was careless of his earnings and he indulges in minor vice, which is apparently all that prevents him from liv ing a comfortable existence (6). When he rejects vice for virtue, he achieves his goals. The Apostate, conversely, clearly presents the problem and cause

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327 of poverty as structural, and consequently does aim to inspire outrage among the presumably middle c lass readers of Womans Home Companion. Furthermore, it is a problem that cannot possibly be overcome by personal, individual initiative (i.e., by adopting the habits of hard work and thrift) at least, not as long as one attempts to overcome those circumst ances while still participating in the established system of production. When, toward the end of the story, Johnny does gradually come to question his faith in the inherent value of hard work, he enacts the typical character arc of the dystopian protagonis t: whereas in the beginning of the narrative the thought of questioning the legitimacy of the system under which he lives and labors never occurs to him, by the end he rebels, seeking to escape the systemic totality that has engulfed his existence. Johnny finally announces, I aint never goin to work again (237). Work (and so life) for Johnny has been nothing but repetitive movement. He calculates, with the help of his younger brother (who has been attending school unlike Johnny ), that he makes twenty five million individual moves a year working on the looms. This emphasis on repetitive movement and its dehumanizing effects, of a piece with Londons description of Johnny in machinic terms, reflects a particular contemporary conversation about the natur e of factory labor. The publication of The Apostate coincided with the general emergence of the practice of scientific management, which found its greatest theorist and proponent in Frederick Taylor, who had been developing and refining his system during the final decades of the nineteenth century and articulating it in publications such as A Piece Rate System (1895), Shop Management (1903), and, most famously, Principles of Scientific Management (1911). (Indeed, Taylorism is

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328 often used as a synonym for scientific management.) In his promotion of this system, Taylor was savvy enough to emphasize its potential to address the labor problem of the era, which occupied headlines as well as the concerns of industrialists, although (as scholars have obser ved) the issue of human labor is only one of many addressed by this new approach to management. According to Taylor, his measures would not only help to eliminate strikes and other obvious conflicts, but it would also serve to eliminate less obvious forms of worker resistance, suc h as production slowdowns. T he innovative implementation of time study as a means of achieving this optimal efficiency in output remains his most notorious legacy. These studies divided each productive process into discreet units o f movement, measured the duration of each with a stopwatch, and then combined these times to determine a per unit production rate, thereby eliminating from calculations any wasted time between each individual movement (Nelson 41). He then employed a wage s ystem a variable per unit piece ratethat rewarded high production and punished low production (Nelson 42). This management methodology further contributed to the anxiety prompted by the sense that the human worker faced increasing mechanization and dehumanization. In an article published in the Federationist in February of 1911, American Federation of Labor founder and president Samuel Gompers addresses this concern in his sarcastic characterization of motion study: So, there you are, wageworkers in gener al, mere machines considered industrially, of course. Hence, why should you not be standardized and your motionpower brought up to the highest possible perfection in all respects, including speed? Not only your length, breadth, and thickness as a machine, but your grade of hardness, malleability, tractability, and general serviceability, can be ascertained, registered, and then employed as desirable. Science would thus get the most out of you before you are sent to t he junkpile. (Qt d in Nadworny 51)

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329 Of co urse, Marx had raised these concerns previously in the first volume of Capital in which he details the relationship between the introduction of machinery into the system of production and the dehumanization and objectification of the laborer. In a factory operating within a capitalist economy, [m] achinery is put to a wrong use, with the object of transforming the workman, from his very childhood, into part of a detail machine. At the same time that factory work exhausts the nervous system to the uttermost, it does away with the many sided play of his muscles, and confiscates every atom of freedom, both in bodily and intellectual activity (408, 409). Given the passages addressing Johnnys mechanization and physical and mental exhaustion, Marxs words mig ht be used, without alteration, to describe concisely many of the thematic concerns of Londons short story. So, it is precisely significant that when Johnny rejects work, he explicitly and deliberately rejects rationalized movement, as well: Ive ben moving ever since I was born. Im tired of movin, an I aint goin to move any more (237). Instead, hes jes goin to set, an set, an rest, an rest, and then rest some more (238). Still, despite her sons resolve, Johnnys mother sees no possibl e alternative to a life of labor. Voicing the socially dominant view, she sees this rejection of work as insanit y and, suggesting the quasi religious character of the work ethic embedded in the ideology of laissez fair e capitalism, blasphemy (236, 237) H er sons actions are literally beyond her powers of comprehension. (Her disbelief is further explicable in light of the fact that Johnny also necessarily rejects all domestic obligations, observing that his brother Will, whose formal education Johnny has funded, now must get a job.) Nevertheless, in the last two paragraphs of the story, Johnny finds a specific alternative to work: he enters a rail yard

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330 and sneaks into an empty boxcar. At this moment, by virtue of this act, Johnny adopts the central princ iples of a tramp utopics. Here, stepping out of the realm of oppressive, dead end, dehumanizing labor and into the world of the tramp, Johnny finds that he is finally afforded that coveted opportunity to rest, and (in the storys final sentence) a smile cr osses his face. The odds created by existing conditions and relations of labor render success impossible, so that Johnnys only option is to quit, to opt out, to refuse absolutely to participate in what he is beginning to grasp as coherent system of oppres sion and exploitation. This act of refusal grants the individual access to the tramp s utopian enclave. The title, then, is apt: the hero does indeed ultimately commit apostasy, overcoming and rejecting a faith in an economic system that dictates that he h as no choice but to be an exploited laborer. It is only as a tramp that Johnny is finally able to fulfill his desire for what the British socialist and utopianist William Morris identifies the hope of rest embedded in all useful human endeavor (288). In his essay The Tramp (1901), London had already delineated explicitly the reasons a person might choose a life on the road over a life of labor. Explaining the psychological motivation behind the decision to enter the world of the tramp, London claims th at on some people the effect of the social pit will be to discourage [a person] from work. In his blood a rebellion will quicken, and he will elect to become either a felon or a tramp. This person will discover that, as a tramp, He has loafed, seen the c ountry and green things, laughed in joy, lain on his back and listened to the birds signing overhead, unannoyed by factory whistles and bosses harsh commands; and, most significantly, he has lived That is the point! He has not starved to death. Not only has he been care free and happy, but he has lived! And from the knowledge that he has idled and is still alive, he achieves a new outlook on life; and the more he experiences the unenviable lot of the poor worker, the more the blandishments of the road t ake hold of him. And finally he flings his

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331 challenge in the face of society, imposes a valorous boycott on all work, and joins the far wanderers of Hoboland, the gypsy folk of this latter day. (485486) Londons essay, with its emphasis on the ludic natur e of tramp space and practice, provides us with a notion of the fate awaiting Johnny after the closing of The Apostate. In his reading of this story, Wegner expands on Mark Seltzers characterization of Johnnys final actions as the neurasthenic invers ion of the work ethic by pointing to T.J. Jackson Learss observation that the nervous condition was explicitly coded in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century as the disease of choice of the new urban middle class. (Notably, it is this disea se from which Julian West suffers in Looking Backward .) Consequently, Wegner argues, the decision on Johnnys part to become neurasthenic and quit work should be understood as nothing less than an expression of the desire to ascend into this nascent mid dle class, as a rejection of the movement of labor in favor of movement up the social ladder (143144). I agree that Johnny certainly does reject the regimented movement of manual labor and opt for movement of another kind, but we have seen that he has al so already rejected social mobility within the plot of the story, when he abandons his Alger esque vision. While his illness may have aspirational connotations, if Johnny has made any social movement at all, it is downward, from proletarian to lumpenprolet arian. In fact, he has rejected the logic and movement of both labor and social mobility, instead embracing the radical mobility of the tramps utopian enclave, which entails an appropriation of the crowning achievement of nineteenthcentury American indus trial capitalism, that technology of mass movement: the railroad. Johnny, climbing aboard a boxcar, joins the ranks of tramps who have decided that rather than offering their labor their movement in the

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332 service of capital, they would now let the technology of capitalists provide the movement for them. Central to the rhetoric of industrial capitalism is the notion that technological advancement, which is best perpetuated by the competition of a free market, will lead to ever greater relief from toil for the laborer, yet in practice, as Marx observes, machinery, while augmenting the human material that forms the principle object of capitals exploiting power, at the same time raises the degree of exploitation ( Capital 404). The tramp, in stealing a ride on a freight train, insists on reaping this benefit long denied, fulfilling the utopian impulse not by passively waiting for the inevitable elevation of all that supposedly accompanies development of the capitalist economy (as envisioned by both the proponents of the gospel of wealth such as Carnegie and critics such as Bellamy), but by actively inverting the purpose of this material and symbolic pinnacle of capitalist technology. Trains are intended to move raw materials, finished goods, and paying customers, not those who would refuse to procure those raw materials, convert them into products, or consume the finished goods in the marketplace. Thus, a certain irony exists in the fact that the modern tramp utopia is made possible by the very existence of the rai lroad, in that the potential for mobility becomes critical to survival for a person who has rejected labor; it is in the wideranging motion the railroad affords that the tramp finds refuge, in that it brings him in contact with resources and a nationwide community of peers while delivering him from the oppressiveness (in the form of law enforcement, lack of resources, weather conditions, etc.) of any particular locality. Londons short story functions as a tramp origin tale, and his essay implies that the adoption of the tramp life is a rational response to conditions

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333 as they exist, that life on the road potentially provides escape in the form of a temporary and mobile utopian enclave The protagonist of Upton Sinclairs novel The Jungle (also published in 1906), Lithuanian immigrant Jurgis Rudkus, is deeply invested in the promise of the American Dream at the beginning of the narrative, far more so than Johnny ever was. Having imbibed the Dreams narrative before arriving in the United States the Dream havi ng prompted his and his familys journey in the first placehe has infinite faith in his ability to find and keep a job, and strongly believes that any obstacle can be overcome by hard work. Those who fail to find wor k in America, he asserts, are [b] rokendown tramps and goodfor nothings, fellows who have spent all their money drinking, and want to get more for it. Do you want me to believe that with these arms ... people will let me starve? (23). Jurgis takes as gospel the notion that in America, rich or poor, a man was free ... he did not have to go into the army, he did not have to pay out his money to rascally officials he might do as he pleased, and count himself as good as any other man. So America was a place of which lovers and young people dream ed (24). When Jurgis and his family first c ome to Chicago, the city seem[s] a dream of wonder, with its tale of human energy, of things being done, of employment for thousands upon thousands of men, of opportunity and freedom, of life and love and joy ( 32). On their arrival in their adopted city, they initially ignore the problems of Packingtown, their backs literally and figuratively turned to one of the many hellish images scattered throughout the novel, so that they do not see the symbolically bloodred western sky under which the tops of houses shone like fire (32).

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334 The process by which Jurgis loses his faith by which he becomes a man coming to consciousness is accompanied by dystopic imagery, such that Antulio Joseph Echevarria argues that whil e other authors offered futurist visions, Sinclairs novel, which exposed the inhuman conditions of the working class, might be considered a dystopia of the times although he does not further develop this notion (20).6 Like London, Sinclair emphasizes the ways in which the deadly brutalizing monotony of toil has a mechanizing effect on the laborer (90). Initially, Jurgis celebrates his employment, his chance to become a cog in this marvelous machine, and first saw his co workers as wonderful machi nes ( 35, 62). He is shocked to discover that most of his co workers in fact hate the job, the bosses, the owners, and the entire industry. Only gradually do Jurgis and his family become disabused of their faith in the American Dream as the narrator height ens the dystopic rhetoric. Here, the characters, like Johnny, find they occupy a world devoid of beauty: the men, women, and children who make up the great packing machine ... never saw any green thing, not even a flower (115). The workplace is alternately described as an inferno (109), a purgatory (114), a hell (143), a witchs cauldron (119), with certain jobs tantamount to a torture like being burned alive (114) or like the thumbscrew of the medieval torture chamber (123). In a letter to hi s editor, Sinclair explains that he sought in this novel to communicate to even the dullest reader that this tragedy is, in its every detail, the inevitable and demonstrable consequence of an economic system. If that is to be done, the reader must first h ave the system in his mind ( qtd. in Gottesman xviii). These words might be used to describe exactly the rhetorical and representational strategies of the dystopian author. This system, as Sinclair portrays it, functions as a totality that impacts

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335 every as pect of these characters lives. The meat packing industry in Chicago represents the greatest aggregation of labour and capital ever gathered in one place ... it was a thing as tremendous as the universe the laws and ways of its working no more than the universe to be questioned or understood (44). And there is no escape; the workers are tied to the great packing machi ne, tied to it for life (115).7 Although Jurgis begins as a true believer in the totalizing system of industrial capitalism in which he l ives, the gradual accumulation of evidence becomes too much for him to ignore. His wife and child have died. His family has been turned out of their house. He has seen coworkers l ose their limbs and sometimes their lives. He first experiences disillusionment, then a feeling of rebellion. This rebellion results in a radical break; like Johnny, Jurgis becomes an apostate. He enters the tramps world on a wild impulse, the result of a thought that had been lurking within him unspoken, unrecognized (239). H e catches a freight car on a passing train at a railroad crossing, and t he effect is immediately liberating. Whereas Londons story only hinted at the liberation inherent in the protagonists entry into the world of the transient nonworker, The Jungle dw ells on the point. Jurgis realizes that [n] ow he was going to be free, to tear off his shackles, to rise up and fight (239). His health returning to him, Jurgis enters a community, a fellowship of tramps, from whom he receives an education on how to obtain what he needs with neither work nor money. Sinclair dramatizes Jurgiss subsequent refusal of work and highlights the myriad virtues of life on the road. Jurgis experiences, perhaps for the first time since his arrival in America, the joy of the unbound life, the joy of seeking, of hoping without limit. There were mishaps and discomforts but at least there was always something new; and only think what it meant to a man who for years had been penned up in one place, seeing nothing but one dreary prospect of

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336 shanties and factories, to be suddenly set loose beneath the open sky, to behold new landscapes, new places, and new people every hour! To a man whose life had consisted of doing one certain thing all day, until he was so exhausted that he could only li e down and sleep until the next day and to be now his own master, working as he pleased and when he pleased, and facing a new adventure every hour! (244) As is implicit at the end of The Apostate, the tramp passages in The Jungle make clear that mobility is essential to this version of utopia, which makes perfect generic sense if one grants Kumars assert ion that [u] topia retains throughout its long history the basic form of the narrative of a journey. The traveller in space or time is an explorer who happens upon utopia. He (or, more recently, she) meets its people, usually at first its ordinary people, observes them at work and play, sees their dwellings and their cities ( Utopianism 89). The novel renders in fiction Londons claim in The Tramp that t he transient life occupies a ludic space and comprises a ludic practice. Still, if Sinclair makes clear all the positive attributes of tramping, he also allows that it is at best a temporary solution and ultimately unsustainable. For Jurgis, it is one step on the way to his ultimate conversion to socialism, an obviously more pragmatic and systematic mode of utopian thought. London concludes his story such that entry into trampdom serves an end in itself; Johnnys final act within the narrative is to board a freight train. Sinclair locates his characters experience as a tramp twothirds of the way through the novel, so that it functions as a turning point in the narrative, a definitive break from Jurgiss previous mentality, a utopic respite, and an essential first step toward liberation and eventual socialist consciousness. John Dos Passos, however, in The 42nd Parallel (1930), the first volume of his U.S.A. Trilogy guides a main character toward the tramp life early in the narrative. The social and economi c contexts had changed since the early 1900s. His

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337 novel was published a quarter of a century after The Jungle in the first year of the Great Depression, when the tramp had reemerged as a far more common figure, with well over a million people eventually t aking to the rails. Also, during the Progressive Era, government and the public had become increasingly skeptical of laissez faire rhetoric. Thus, Dos Passos need not devote as much of the narrative to establishing dystopic conditions and detailing his tramp protagonists losses of faith. Whereas Londons Johnny, as an uneducated and isolated boy, at no point expresses a coherent political position, and Sinclairs Jurgis comes to radical politics only after passing through the temporary utopia of tramp life the tramp characters drawn by Dos Passos treat radicalism and tramping as interrelated. Frederick Feied, in his survey of literary representations of the hobo as cultural hero, makes this point clear: The hobo Dos Passos describes is intensely politic al. Economic considerations or the desire to see the country may enter into his taking to the road, but more often it is some political motivation that is the cause, the need to get somewhere to participate in a strike or demonstration or revolution (43). Thus, far more explicitly than either prior author, Dos Passos draws a line connecting tramping and revolutionary potential. Mac, one of the five point of view characters in The 42nd Parallel will spend much of his narrative immersed in the life practices and radical politics of tramping The reader encounters his story exclusively over the first third of the novel (aside from the brief biographical sketches or historical figures and the Newsreel and Camera Eye fragments that weave through the entire tril ogy), and he appears again in another chapter toward the end. In this way, his life, experience, and worldview receive a privileged treatment structurally, so that they inform the other characters narratives, at least implicitly. As Michael

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338 Denning observ es, the masculine romance of the migratory workers who made up the Wobblies always hovers on the edges of U.S.A. (186). The trilogy thereby suggests that the tramp experience is crucial to any attempt to articulate artistically the national experience in the first decades of the twentieth century indeed, to articulate U.S.A. In fact, the entire series begin with a preamble of that title (which Dos Passos added after completing all the individual components of the cycle), which describes an unnamed and apparently homeless young man pounding the city pavement in search of work. The description and narrative perspective moves from his individual experiences toward a universalizing rhetoric, so that the tramp becomes a sort of everyman. Even from childhood e ach of the novels five protagonists is afforded his or her own origin story Mac seems destined to reject wage labor and take to the road. Early on in life, well before adulthood, he learns multiple, interdependent lessons that will inform the remainder of his narrative, particularly his time as a tramp. He learns by experience that it is both rational and possible to evade authority by flight: caught illegally distributing leaflets, Mac gave the cop one look over his shoulder, dropped the handbills and ran just as he will later escape authority via hopping freight trains (14) As well, his Uncle Tim (with whom Mac lives in Chicago after the death of his parents) provides him with a series of didactic maxims. After losing his business, Tim is the first to introduce Mac to the concept of political economy. He admonishes his nephew to read Marx study all you can, remember that youre a rebel by birth and blood Dont blame people for things No, I blame the system. And dont ever sell out to the sons of bitches, son (28). In fact, the remainder of Macs narrative concerns his at times wavering commitment to his uncles imperative that he avoid selling out. To this

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339 end, he also learns that he should eschew domesticity (which he periodically embraces and rejects), because, as Uncle Tim puts it, its womenll make you sell out every time (28). Both before and after receiving the foundation of a critical framework from his uncle, Mac has repeated exposure to the dystopic nature of capitalism, having seen t he impact of the system on both his father and Tim, even if Macs experiences are less brutal than those described in either The Apostate or The Jungle. He has seen his apolitical father, a watchman, reject organized labor in an expression of loyalty t o his employer only to discover later that his employer has given him the sack to take on a bunch of thugs from a detective agency (6). Her earning burden consequently increased, Macs mother essentially works herself to death in an effort to provide for the family. Later, after his father has died, Mac bears witness to the politically motivated bankruptcy of Tims printing business. (Although the exact causal relationship remains ambiguous, because the novel in these sections only reports the events from Macs nave childhood perspective, it appears that the bank has foreclosed on the business in response to Tims affiliation with organized labor.) Mac has had his own negative experiences as a laborer, as well, working for Dr. Bingham, a huckster who peddles cheaply printed books and pamphlets ranging in content from the sacred to the literary to the pornographic. Ultimately, Mac receives no pay and is abandoned (as was his father before him), penniless and far from home, by his employer. Even if Macs experiences under capitalism do not culminate in the abject dehumanization suffered by Johnny and Jurgis, the novel situates those experiences within a generally pervasive oppressiveness and exploitation encountered by multiple

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340 characters. Rather than narrowl y focus on a particular workplace or industry over a relatively brief span of time (like London and Sinclair), Dos Passos employs a sweeping historical and geographical approach, such that the trilogy in general charts in an elegiac tone the the struggle between the Party and the Bosses for control of America, in which the public relations counsel [J. Ward Moorehouse, the only character to appear in all three volumes] steps inquite sincerely believing himself to be without ideology and hands Labor over to Capital (Goldman 476). The anti capitalist critique is embedded throughout the three novels of the trilogy not just in the experiences of the fictional characters, but also in the tone of the more than two dozen miniature biographies scattered throughout the text. The author clearly sympathizes and admires with the radicals (Eugene V. Debs, Big Bill Haywood, John Reed, and Randolph Bourne, among many others) while he savages the capitalists and their friends, many of whom have otherwise achieved the status of American heroes (including Andrew Carnegie, Thomas Edison, and Henry Ford). So, when Mac initially goes tramping, it comes as no surprise that he and his first mentor of the road, Ike, almost immediately reveal to each other their sympathetic socialis t orientations, discussing The Appeal to Reason Looking Backward, and Marx (the latter of whom neither Mac nor Ike have yet read) (48, 49). From there, Mac has little political distance to cover before he becomes a Wobbly and travels to Goldfield, Nevada, to join a strike campaign, although in the meantime he does fail to heed his uncle and temporarily becomes mired in a domestic scenario. In Macs ambivalence about this diversion, the radical rejection of the nuclear family entailed in the tramp revolutionary program receives extended treatment. When Mac tells his girlfriend Maisie that he has quit an oppressive job in order to aid in the

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341 strike, Maisies response (But I thought you loved me [72]) typifies the conflation of love and labor, of domesticity and capitalism that the tramp program opposes: according to the prevailing logic of the work ethic, to pursue heteronormative relations is necessarily to have steady employment, which is counterrevolutionary. As Fred Boff, an idealized and idealistic I.W. W. member and organizer of the Nevada strike, asserts, A mans first dutys to the working class so [a] wobbly oughtnt to have any wife or children, not till after the revolution (81, 82). As if to prove Boffs point regarding the distractions and obligations wrought by romantic relationships, Maisie becomes pregnant the first time she and Mac have sex. Mac, on making the decision to leave Maisie for good and beat it to Mexico makes the incompatibility and transient radicalism apparent: Im free to see the country now, to work for the movement, to go on the bum again (98). (Significantly, in this formulation, going on the bum and abandoning traditional employment does not entail a refusal of revolutionary work.) For Ben Compton, more intellectual and disciplined and better educated (he attends college and actually reads Capital ) than Mac, the road also necessarily entails a radical political education. His story occupies only one chapter of the trilogys second volume, Nineteen Nineteen (1932), b ut in his relatively brief appearance he fully embraces the utopian promise of the tramps enclave. As a young man who has tramped a bit, he takes a temporary job where he meets Nick Gigli, a young immigrant anarchist who counsels that Benny ought to be ashamed of himself for wanting to be a rich businessman; sure he ought to study and learn, maybe he ought to get to be a lawyer, but he ought to work for the revolution and the workingclass; to be a businessman was to be a shark and a robber (425). Nick al so offers Ben a lesson

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342 regarding domesticity similar to that provided by Hoff to Mac, warning that women took a classconscious workingmans mind off his aims, they were the main seduction of capitalist society (425). (Ben appears to obviate this potential snare when he becomes involved with Helen Mauer, herself a radical.) Ben joins Nick and the other Italians in walking off the job after they are shorted in their pay, and the two of them take to the road, with Nick again offering Ben mentorship. Bens tr amp apprenticeship, both in terms of politics and road survival skills, continues later under the tutelage of Bram Hicks, a Wobbly who encourages Ben to get a red card and go out to the Coast (433). The two of them steal rides from the New York City area to Duluth, Saskatchewan, and Seattle, following I.W.W. campaigns. This process of radicalization informs Bens later commitment to pacifist agitation (for which he sacrifices his freedom) once America enters the war in Europe. For Ben, as for Jurgis, immersion in the temporary utopian space of the tramps existence serves to give strengthen and focus to his revolutionary stance, his desire for broader utopian change. For Dos Passos (in contrast to London and Sinc lair), trampings utopian potential even on a temporary basis, exists only during a particular historical moment. While the trilogy begins with Mac and his tramping experiences, it concludes in The Big Money (1936) with the otherwise unnamed tramp Vag, to whom the final miniature biography is dedic ated. Significantly, all of the other biographies save one have concerned famous historical figures; the only other exception, along with Vag, is that of the unidentified body of fallen soldier. In both cases, these figures actually exist, but as a type re presentative of a larger group, rather than as particular historical personages Vag is an individualized representation of the forgotten man, given a voice by Dos Passos

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343 indeed, given the final word in a narrative explicitly conceived of as a magnum opus, a grand statement on America. While Mac and Ben each, in different ways, embody the radical utopian potential of the tramp, Vag is strikingly impotent, in no way obviously engaged in political thought or action. His lack of employment is not the result of a conscious, radical agenda, but of the material conditions of the era. Vag is one of the discouraged carcasses crowded into a transient camp, one who exudes the carbolic stench of the jail, whose taut cheeks betray the shamed flush from the bori ng eyes of cops and deputies, railroadbulls (554). As the title of the novel suggests with deliberate lack of artfulness, at this moment capital has consolidated into absolutely irresistible force a faceless, omnipresent authority dictating every aspect of social, political, and economic life. The revolutionary moment of the transient (most fully realized in collective actions of the I.W.W.), Dos Passos seems to be saying, has passed. Now is no longer the tramps time. Instead, the present belongs to the transcontinental passenger aboard the silver plane in the sky above Vags head, a passenger now free to think contracts, profits, vacationtrips, mighty continent between Atlantic and Pacific, power wires humming dollars, cities jammed, hills empty, the indiantrail leading into the wagontrail, the macadamed pike, the concrete skyway; trains, planes: history the billiondollar speedup (555). As Feied observes, when Ben reappears in the final volume of the trilogy, he is no longer a tramp, and the tactics o f the transient, trainriding Wobblies, repudiated by the new crop of radicals, no longer appear to have any real relevance. Even while Bens story seems intended to suggest the courage and dedication of the large number of politically conscious hoboes enrolled in the I.W.W. at that time there is little to relieve the sense of futility with which one is overwhelmed

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344 (52, 53). Central to the trilogy is the theme of the gradual dissolution of hobo strength and the transformation of the onetime militant wobbly of its inception to the homeless and dispossessed vag of the conclusion (55). Denning notes in The Cultural Front that despite the trilogys privileging of the tramp, U.S.A. repeatedly breaks away from the conventions of the road novel. He writes t hat U.S.A. became neither a novel of the road nor of the ho me, but of the cocktail party 189); alternately, the story of U.S.A. is no longer the story of tramps on the road, but of the roller coasters of the American amusement parks; and finally, the proletarian road novel in U.S.A. is displaced by a Hollywood novel (190). For all the revolutionary potential embedded in the figure in turnof the century Wobbly rhetoric and extended in the fiction of London and Sinclair, the tramp at best serves as a vehicle for mere critique, rather than active resistance. In fact, he ultimately cannot even provide a sustainable structure for the Trilogy s panorama. In giving Vag the concluding section, Dos Passos deflates the romantic utopian mythology of the tramp t hat nostalgically informs his depictions of both Mac and Ben Compton. Ultimately, in this rendering of the U.S.A., the world has changed too much, and the tramps romantic utopianism has lost its relevance. Moving more quickly than even Dos Passos along this trajectory, Chicago writer Nelson Algren plunges the reader into the tramps world in the first chapter of his first novel, Somebody in Boots (1935). Over the course of the book, Algrens portrayal of the tramps life reveals itself as ultimately far more ambivalent than that of London, Sinclair, or Dos Passos. While Mac learned to reject capitalism relatively early in his life (and in the novel he occupies), Algrens anti hero Cass McKay seems to have inherited his

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345 disillusionment; the book opens by des cribing his father, Stub McKay, as embittered by the feeling of daily loss and daily defeat, a feeling of having been tricked or been cheated by Somebody stronger than anyone else (12). The novel later identifies that somebody else as the titul ar somebody in boots, a figure that appears in many guises and personifies hegemonic authority. Along with images of abject, hellish poverty, it is largely from this idea that the novel constructs its dystopian vision. Authority seems as inescapableas r epresentative of Foucaults reimagining of Benthams Panopticon as the mechanical hound that relentlessly pursues Montag. Cass, who teeters on the brink of the kind of political awakening seen in the work of Dos Passos without ever going over, strives to r esist this authority by periodically embracing the tramps mobility Unlike London and Sinclair, Algren is relatively unconcerned with presenting the tramp underworld as an actual utopia. Instead, his narrator addresses the reasons for the persistent appeal of the tramp mythology, specifically focusing on its utopian implications of that mythology. Cass spends a good deal of his young life hanging around the hobo jungle [o]n the edge of town (16). The novel likewise spends more time in this emblematic tra mp space than either The Apostate or The Jungle. In the hobo jungle, Cass finds companionship, education, information, and mutual aid everything missing from the world he occupies most of the time. And i n the jungle Cass temporarily fulfills his desire f or community based on shared material conditions and interests : Most of the boys felt that they belonged. They were, definitely, underdogs. Between themselves and those above they drew a line for all to see. It was always We and Them. ... In judging a man, Cass learned, the larger question was not whether the

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346 man was black, white, or brownit was whether he was a transient of One of them inside folks (18). It is in the jungle that Cass can escape his tyrannical father and immerse himself in an idy llic scene where [b] oys little older than himself lay idling about in long sunshadows there, talking, jesting, eating, sleeping, waiting for one train or another. They boiled black coffee in open tins or ate beans with a stick; they rolled cigarettes sin gle handed and sang songs about far away places. Cass never listened without wonder, he never watched without admiration (16). The tramps to whom Cass listens consciously construct a utopian narrativ e, eliding over details that fail to conform to this mod el, such that the narrator observes that [t] hese men seldom spoke of the terrible hardships they endured (19). Yet, e ven if the narrator undermines the tramp myth later in the book, these early scenes acknowledge that myths power to serve as a catalyst for utopian desires. At this point in the story, Cass ... retains sufficient romanticism to be attracted by the open roads promise of freedom and adventure (Giles 39). In a novel largely devoid of joy or pleasure, the road suggests a possibility for hope. Each of these tramp centered texts locates the source of this utopian hope in the interrelated tactics of mobility and the rejection of work, the two primary concerns common to all tramp utopias. In adopting work as a central concern, these texts do not deviate from the concerns of the utopian genre as a whole. As Kumar observes, The centrality of work in modern utopia reflects the wider phenomenon of the discovery of labour as a, perhaps the significant factor of production, and widespread attempts at this time to make the poor a productive resource ( Utopia 70). This trend only makes sense in the decades immediately following a bloody, protracted Civil War that

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347 concluded with the triumph of wage labor, the legal doctrine of freedom of contract. B latantly visible styles of domination and exploitation yielded to new forms, which were disguised as commodity exchange and justified by the ascendant discourse of equal rights and freely contracted arrangements (Montgomery 4). The radical nature of the t reatment of work in tramp utopias comes into greater relief when contrasted with the way the subject is treated in Looking Backward. As Wegner observes, although Julian West cites the labor question as the dominant concern of his time, the reader encount ers very few examples of actual labor being performed within the action of the novel (74) Still, the subject of work, at least in the abstract, occupies a primary position in the narrative; it dominates the conversations between West and Leete, which make up the bulk of the text. Work, we learn, is intimately related to the concept of citizenship: When the nation became the sole employer, all the citizens, by virtue of their citizenship, became employees (69). No one finds exception to the imperative to work. Rather, [a] man able to duty, and persistently refusing, is sentenced to solitary imprisonment on bread and water till he consents (107). The punishment for shirking takes on an even more profound implication when we discover that it is in fact the only remaining transgression even designated as crime in this perfected future society. Leete explains to West that jails and prisons have been eliminated, because the condition of economic equality necessarily removes the motive for the vast majority of criminal acts. Those who do engage in what was once considered anti social or criminal activity (or atavism, as Leete calls it) are now treated in hospitals, receiving health care rather than jail time (150). In this utopia, the single act still designated as a crime warranting a punitive response, rather than as a mental illness to be treated by doctors, is the

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348 rejection of work. As a result, Leete may confidently claim that there are no idlers now (167). Obviously, the premium placed on personal li berty (100, 188) in this new order has its limits. Interestingly, Leete even develops a genealogy of that prototypical shirker, the tramp econom ic and social conditions oblig ed social thinkers of the Gilded Age to address the tramp question in some capacity, and Bellamy was no exception echoing that offered by Londons essay on the subject, except with a divergent rhetoric. The previous fluctuations of the economy under competition, he explains, threw multitudes of men out of employment for periods of weeks or months, or even years. A great number of these seekers after employment were constantly traversing the country, becoming in time professional vagabonds, and then criminals. During the economic downturns of the nineteenth century, this army swell ed to a host so vast and desperate as to threaten the stability of the government (175). Again, the social chaos that so worries Bellamy apparently stems not from the actions of the capitalist class, but from the behavior of those who are forced out or choose to opt out of an oppressive system of industrial wage labor. This view of the tramp, which for Bellamy is a source of anxiety, finds positive expression in the tramp utopias of London, Sinclair, Dos Passos, and Algren: these untethered transients, in their rejection of work, suggest in aggregate a revolutionary potential. The railroad tramp, by virtue of his utter rejection of the free labor ideal in its entirety, at least temporarily subverts the conditions that, according to Marx while allowing a laborer to quit any particular job, leaving the employ of any individual capitalist determine the worker, whose sole source of livelihood is the sale of his labour power, cannot leave the whole class of purchasers, that is, the capitalist

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349 class, without renouncing his existence. He belongs not to this or that capitalist but to the capitalist class ( Wage Labour 205, italics in original). Anarchist writer Hakim Bey provides a perspective from which to further develop the meaning of the tramp spaces and tramp practices as depicted in these narratives. Like London, Sinclair, Dos, Passos, and Algren, he is concerned with present tense utopics. His concept of the Temporary Autonomous Zone, which he presents in his polemical, elliptical essay of the same name (fi rst published in book form in 1991), serves as an attempt to theorize those impermanent moments in place and time that allow a person or group of people to evade the established structures and methods of social control. The concept may also be seen in part as an attempt to resolve the problem of the lumpenproletariat that so bothered Marx, who worried that this class would likely find itself appropriated for reactionary purposes. Bey does allow for the distinction between revolution and insurrection or upri sing, but he sees the latter as potentially forming the basis of a coherent strategy with explicitly utopian implications. Assuming freedom as the ultimate goal of any utopian project, Bey asserts that [t] he concept of the TAZ arises first out of a crit ique of Revolution, and an appreciation of the Insurrection. The former labels the latter a failure; but for us uprising represents a far more interesting possibility, from the standard of a psychology of liberation, than all the successful revolutions o f bourgeoisie, communists, fascists, etc. (100). According to this view, [t]he TAZ is like an uprising which does not engage directly with the State, a guerilla operation which liberates an area (of land, of time, of imagination) and then dissolves itsel f to re form elsewhere/elsewhen, bef ore the State can crush it (99). Rather than engaging in direct confrontation or opposition, participants in the TAZ

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350 engage in th e tactic of disappearance, or a refusal of participation (126) Consequently, the TAZ does not serve as an end in itself, but rather one means of struggle by which to bring about an alternate reality. While inherently short lived, the TAZ operates along a horizontal rather than vertical structure. This temporary place/time thus affords its participants experience with nonhierarchical social relations, and as such suggests a possibility for replacing, rather than merely rejecting, oppressive institutions. The ideology attending the differential process of which Jameson speaks and which is re jected by utopian tramp narratives the economic laissez faire of the Gilded Age has, after a period of dormancy initiated by the Great Depression, resurfaced in a remarkably unreconstructed form in recent history. Capitalists like the Koch brothers have funded political movements with the expressed intentions of rolling back various New Deal initiatives including social programs, industrial regulation, and particularly those governing labor relations, such as the Wagner Act (e.g., the legislative attacks on unions in Wisconsin, Michigan and several other states). The gospel of wealth has found renewed support among the clergy, as well, particular those associated with certain megachurches: Joel Osteen and Kirbyjon Caldwell (the latter of whom offered the o fficial benediction at both of George W. Bushs presidential inaugurations), for instance, both promulgate what has been labeled Prosperity Theology, which posits a correlation between faith in God and material wealth.8 In these ways and others (such as th e popularity of the Tea Party movement and elected officials such as Texas politician Ron Paul), America has witnessed a return to the rhetoric and a reinstitutionalization of the conditions of the 1890s.9 At the same time, commentators

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351 responding to the global financial crisis of 2008 were quick to draw parallels between contemporary scenarios and those created by the poverty of the 1930s. Perhaps it is no wonder, then, that the utopian impulse embedded in representations of tramp practice lingers in fact it undergoes a rearticulation and renaissancein the late twentieth and early twenty first centuries, notwithstanding the notion put forth by both Dos Passos and Algren that the utopian potential of the tramp enclave has faded into history Within under ground punk anarchist culture, many instances exist (with the occasional portrait surfacing in the mainstream in t he form of a kind of hobo vogue10). Central to this alternative discourse, in addition to an emphasis placed on individual freedom, is a privil eging and celebration of adventure (often from a white male perspective that ignores specific circumstances of women and minorities), to the extent that liberty and adventure are treated as virtually synonymous. Perhaps paradoxically, given that the railro ad is one of the greatest achievements of nineteenthcentury industrial capitalism, the contemporary iteration of the tramp utopia often recalls a romantic pastoralism, especially within the anarchoprimitivist milieu associated with the Pacific Northwest and Eugene, Oregon in particular and the black bloc window smashers who first gained national attention at the end of 1999 at the World Trade Organization protests in Seattle. This breed of trainhopping punks finds inspiration in the writing of John Zeran (an academically unaffiliated philosopher and author of books with titles like Elements of Refusal and Running on Emptiness: The Pathology of Civilization), who in turn evokes at times (and excerpts for an edited anthology titled Against Civilization ) Wil liam Morris on the idea of meaningful work.

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352 For instance, the anonymous author of the memoir Evasion (which originally appeared as a series of photocopied underground zines that were eventually gathered and published in book form by CrimethInc., a Situatio nist inspired anarchist collective), while not necessarily primitivist, explicitly posits the trampand its attendant practices (e.g., hitchhiking, squatting, dumpster diving, scamming, shoplifting) as utopian. Taken in aggregate, his nonchronological r ecollections function as a sort of tramp manifesto. From the first page, the author acknowledges his suburbanpunk vantage point and declares his mode of poverty as romantic (although he does not follow the logic of this moment of intellectual honesty through to its conclusion: his is a voluntary poverty, whereas for the vast majority of the impoverished, it is not a choice). Rejection of both work and consumerism serves as the dominant motif, with the author almost obsessively recounting what he has obtained for free and explicitly arguing that the freedom from labor has granted him a small shortcut to utopia (104). He has received previously produced tramp texts didactically he endeavors to recreate every hobo book [hes] read (157) and places himsel f within that particular and peculiar literary tradition. For him, the tramp perspective actually coheres into a particular worldview, such that as a tramp he sees the same object or conditions differently (or even in a direct inversion) from a person steeped in the dominant ideology. He writes that with a tramps sense of humor, kids begin con fusing precious towns of limitless possibility with boring voids (59). Likewise, what others view as Squalor when properly contextualized may be seen as glor y and grandeur (61). It is in these realizations and others during which hegemonic ideology comprised of internalized capitalistic values (166) is pierced that one achieves utopia: They never tell you hopping trains is, like,

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353 the most inspiring activit y ever That tramp life opens up a world of infinite possibility and adventure (224). The author not only describes his own experiences in this utopia, but advocates that his readers join him there, arguing (however naively and/or arrogantly) that he has undergone a personalized cultural revolution, a sort of deprogramming, and is now living a post revolutionary life under prerevolutionary conditions. In the end, his thesis consists of the proposition that capitalist, consumerist America actually is utopi a so long as one rejects wage labor and lives a tramp life of subversive leisure: American retail, I dont know its all just so much fun! And all very post apocalyptic they had taken our communities, paved them over, put up nicely trimmed hedges, thr ew up huge stores, played nice soothing jazz music in the background Clearly the only option was to laugh at the absurdity of such a mess capitalist monuments to slavery and unregulated homogenizationview it as an amusement park, and play! (250) This point, of course, simultaneously demonstrates the ultimate lack of sustainability of a tramp utopics: the rejection of work and adoption of radical mobility is, in the end, contingent on the continued existence of capitalism. This paradox l ies at the heart of the one utopian tramp text to have received extended treatment by scholars of utopia: The Big Rock Candy Mountain, a song ( a version of which is quoted in the epigraph) first composed by Harry Haywire Mac McClintock in the 1890s, recorded by him in 1928, and subsequently performed by a wide variety of musicians.11 Scholars typically place the song within the utopian tradition including the Land of Cockaigne, that medieval folk utopia that describes a land of abundance, idleness and instant and unrest rained gratification representing the dream of the labouring classes of all ages, to be free from toil and drudgery (Kumar Utopia 7). Hal Rammel, in Nowhere in America, has provided an engaging (if idiosyncratic)

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354 treatment of the song, observing that in the fictional world it creates places a premium on not only abundance without toil, but also the absence of authoritarian restraint (31). The song, then, expresses and provides representation of two basic desires common to all tramp utopias: to have acc ess to material necessities and sensual pleasures in a manner unbounded by poverty, and to be free of the authoritarian oppression that enforces the doctrine of work. Cigarettes and alcohol spring from natural sources and food is endlessly and effortlessly available. In this place, where they boiled in oil the inventor of toil, work remains anathema. Curiously, this imagining of the perfect world does not jettison all representatives of law enforcement, but instead describes a place where they have been r endered impotent: All the cops have wooden legs, the bulldogs all rubber teeth, the r ailroad bulls are blind, and [t] he jails are made of tin ( qtd. in Milburn 88). Similarly, freight trains are plentiful and easily accessible, which raises an obvious question: if the tramp has located paradise, why would he worry about trains at all? Perhaps this scenario suggests that tramps require the presence of both authority figures (even powerless ones) and trains (even if they dont go anywhere) in order for paradise to retain its value. It is impossible to imagine a wholly original world, one that leaves behind those elements that so defined the tramps existence. Here, utopian fantasy confronts its limits. Or, perhaps we should read this element of Big Roc k Candy Mountain as indicative of the ephemeral nature of the utopian space comprising by the tramps place in the world as it actually exists: though perhaps few and far between, every generous handout, every unguarded chicken coop, every evasion of the yard bull, every train ridden provides transport to this temporary tramp paradise.

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355 All the authors previously discussed situate themselves on the political left, as is made clear in their lives as well as these particular works, so that we may reasonably conclude they were interested in more than temporary escape from the conditions of capitalism. London, a well known speaker and writer on behalf of (a peculiar understanding of) socialism, constructs a scathing portrait of life under capitalism; Sinclair en ds his novel with a didactic call for socialist revolution through the ballot box; Dos Passos (although he eventually converted to his own particular brand of political conservatism) incorporates celebratory miniature biographies of real life socialist and anarchist figures into his trilogy; Algren quotes the Communist Manifesto and favorably portrays political agitators in Boots So, we may reasonably conclude that these writers at one point or another saw utopian potential in reform and/or revolution. Sti ll, they all offer a space for temporary utopian practice in a tramp enclave, and their tramp narratives invert expectations: rather than demonstrating how liberation will be achieved through progress, they offer romantic regression as a solution (in a str ategy not dissimilar to pastoralists like Morris). The characters, when they become tramps reject what the dominant ideology holds as unquestioned and unquestionable goods: work, stability, employment, income, home, family, social status. In these text s, to become a tramp is to refuse both work and consumption, to refuse to participate in the dystopian socioeconomic system described so vividly by the authors of these texts. The reader encounters a mode of existence that operates according to a logic wholly other than that of industrial capitalism. The tramp is a self directed figure; the tramps world is a self regulating community. The tramp strives to evade the totalizing force that previously confronted him in his role as a laborer by resisting physical and organizational

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356 architecture and instead operating within a horizontal web of informal networks (which figuratively mirror the rails he rides). Rather than offering a sustainable utopian scheme that rectifies economic and social disparities in the manner of Bellamys Looking Backward these fictions propose an intermediately achievable solution for their characters: they may not realize a social and political revolution by becoming tramps, but through their individual insurrections they do enter a libera tory (if temporary) utopian enclave. 1 This epigraph is drawn from The Big Rock Candy M ountains II (qtd. in Milburn, 8788) 2 While generating an exhaustive list of all trampcentered narratives in various genres has proven difficult, one source notes that the fifty year period from 1890 to 1940 saw the publication of around forty tramp autobiographies. (See Allen, 95 .) Because the tramp problem so pervaded discussion during that period, it is not surprising that the figure often found representation in fictional narratives, as well. 3 For a more recent and far lengthier analysis of utopias formal characteristics, see Jameson, Archaeologies of the Future, especially Part One. 4 O n Spencers intellectual influence in the United States, see Hofstadter, 3150. 5 Wegner treats The Iron Heel as an early example of what Tom Moylan calls a critical utopia, in that it relegate[s] the narrative elaboration of the utopia n space, what Moylan calls the utopian blueprint, to the margins of the text; instead, the narrative focus is then redirected toward the delineation of the conflicts involved in the process of social change, in order to highlight the untenability of the progressive faith at the heart of such earlier utopias as Looking Backward (100). Wegner further notes that Caesars Column anticipates elements of Londons novel, as it similarly portrays the ominous consequence of the exacerbation of the current social crisis: the collapse of democratic institutions, the establishment of military authoritarianism, and the slide of the great masses of the populace into bestial servitude (122). I refer to Londons and Donnellys novels as anti utopias not to di spute this convincing reading, but only to emphasize that the texts reject the utopian claims embedded in laissez faire rhetoric. 6 Of the texts discussed here, The Jungle is the only one even occasionally designed by critics as dystopian, although the ana lysis rarely goes further than the perfunctory application of this adjective. 7 These images (as well as similar descriptions found in The Apostate ) predict by two decades the horrific imagery of Fritz Lang s cinematic dystopia, Metropolis (1927), with i ts iconic scenes of fully dehumanized, mechanized workers. In all three texts, the human and the machine are conflated. In the film, workers toil in a great underground industrial factory, locked behind metal bars during their s hifts. During a shift change, rigid lines of dour workers move in lethargic unison, with awkward motions, heads bowed in supplication. While at their tasks, the workers attend to massive machines (the product of which is never made clear, offering a perfect metaphor for the concept of alienated labor), their limbs jerking repetitively and mechanically. In one the film s most famous scenes, a worker operates a massive dial as tall as he, the goal of his task obscure while he manipulates a pair of levers that resemble nothing so much as the hands of an immense clock (wage labor having done so much to rationalize the experience of time) on which the worker appears to have been crucified. Eventually, an inventor in employ of the

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357 leader of Metropolis reveals that he has created the man of the future, the Machine Man, which he proposes to render indistinguishable from mortals. Although Lang s imagery is stylized and allegorical rather than strictly realistic, in it visually replicates key concerns of Sinclair s novel and London s short stor y. 8 A 2006 article in Time magazine describes a sermon at Osteens Houston megachurch before 14,000 att endees as a nonstop declaration of God's love and his intent to show it in the here and now, sometimes verging on the language of an annual report. D uring prayer, Osteen thanks God for your unprecedented favor. We believe that 2006 will be our best year so far. We declare it by faith. Today s ser mon is about how gratitude can save a marriage, save your job [and] get you a promotion (Van Biema and Chu). 9 In addition to the spate of anti union legislation that was either proposed or enacted in Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Florida, and elsewhere in the early 2010s, Missouri State Senator Jane Cunningham introduced a bill (SB 222) in 2011 that modifies the child labor laws by eliminate[ing] the prohibition on employment of children under age fourteen, removing [r] estrictions on the number of hours and restrictions on when a child may work during the day repeal[ing] the requirement that a child ages fourteen or fifteen obtain a work certificate or work permit in order to be employed allowing [c]hildren under sixteen will also be allowed to work in any capacity in a motel, resort or hotel where sleepi ng accommodations are furnished, remove[ing] the authority of the director of the Division of Labor Standards to inspect employers who employ children and to require them to keep certain r ecords for children they employ, and repeal[ing] the presumption that the presence of a child in a work place is evidence of employment (Ruff) 10 I discuss this phenomenon in the chapter on the Americana Hobo. 11 Th is song reentered American popular consciousness at the end of the twentieth century with the release of the Coen brothers film O Brother Where Art Thou? (2006) and it s bestselling soundtrack The film itself ostensibly completes the project begun but finally abandoned by John L. Sullivan (Joel McCrea), a comedy director with a desire to make a serious social problem picture, in Preston Sturgis 1941 fil m Sullivan s Travels Albeit in different ways, both films slyly comment on the centrality of hobo mythology to the American narrative. The song, in its original, explicit version, is one of seduction, a promise of an older jocker to a young punk of al l the rewards that await a person who takes to the road. Interestingly, in the obscure original version of the lyrics, each fantastical promise is revealed as a lie, undermining the later utopian incarnation.

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358 CHAPTER 6 CODA: TOWARD A TRAMP PEDAGOGY Things I learned in a hobo jungle W ere things they never taught me in a classroom Like where to get a handout W hile bumming through Chicago in the afternoon. Merle Haggard, I Take a Lot of Pride in What I Am The utopian impulse present in many trampcentered texts begins to suggest the ways in which representations of such life practices might provide a model for an alternative subjectivity, yet more remains to be said about the didactic efficacy of those representations. Additionally, the mere existence of an alternative to the social subject formation accompl ished by the forces of hegemony does not necessary equate to a critical, oppositional subject position relative to those forces. In The Eighteenth Brumaire Marx raises such a concern in cataloging members of the lumpenproletariat: degenerate wastrels on the take, vagabonds, demobbed soldiers, discharged convicts, runaway galley slaves, swindlers and cheats, thugs, pickp ockets, conjurers, card sharps, pimps, brothel keepers, porters, day labourers, organ grinders, scrap dealers, knife grinders, tinkers and beggars This whole amorphous, jumbled mass of flotsam and jetsam that has little sustained direct contact with th e forces of production occupies a social stratum outside or underneaththe formal economy (63) A survey of the appearances of the railroad tramp in popular culture would yield characters who engage in most, if not all, of the occupations Marx enumerates. By virtue of their transience and irregular work habits, tramps necessarily lack allegiance to any specific trade and so exist beyond the delineated confines of the productive classes ; certainly, their position is distinct fro m both the stationary rural worker and the urban proletarian. In The Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels make clear that the lumpenproletariat does not

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359 comprise a source of prospective revol utionaries, arguing that this dangerous class, the social scum, that passively rotting mass thrown off by the lowest layers of old society, may, here and there, be swept into the movem ent by a proletarian revolution, as its conditions of life prepare it far more for the part of a bribed tool of reactionary intrigue (482). It is true that the tramp as a member of the lumpenproletariat, has little access to economic machinery and thus has limited ability to seize it directly. W hat little economic power he possesses becomes disconnected from the setting in which it is earned; like the modernday undocumented (and criminalized) migrant worker, he does not invest in the community in which he earns his wage. Still, he does, in aggregate, derive power from his ability to cause social disruption, and t he suggestion of that power permeates any text in which the tramp makes a significant appearance. In order to address the subversive potential embedded in the reproduction of tramp subjectivity, I want to conclude with a brief discussion of tramp pedagogy. In Emperor of the North Pole a 1973 film about railroad tramps set, according to an opening title card, during the height of the Great Depression, the experienced tramp A No. 1 (played by Lee Marvin) takes the neophyte road kid Cigaret (Keith Carradine) under his wing. Although the main plot revolves around the rebellious A No. 1s attempt to outsmart an authoritarian and sadistic shack (i.e., brakeman) and ride a line supposedly never ridden from origin to destination by any tramp while under the shacks watch, much of the actual screen time is devoted to the mentor apprentice relationship between A No. 1 and Cigaret. Over and over again, A No. 1 schools his naive protg in the skills and tactics necessary for survival as a member of a socially ostracized and illegal subculture. The elder tramp demonstrates how to escape from a

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360 sealed boxcar, ride the rods, evade a deadly effort by the shack to knock them from the train, and bring an entire train to a halt using salvaged buckets of grease. The vast majority of the audience necessarily assumes the position of the younger tramp: we are ignorant of the tricks of this particular trade and thus require a thorough education during which our instructor may assume very little (if any) prior knowledge as a foundation. Like Cigaret, we are unable to find our own solutions to the various problems a tramp faces; indeed, each problem initially appears insurmountable, and we are as inclined to abandon hope as Cigaret. Yet, in the face of each problem, A No. 1 patiently employs the same pedagogical strategy: he never explains what he is doing, instead issuing only minimal instructions, so that both audiences (within and outside the film) must simply have faith that his at times inscrutable actions will produce the desired results. A No. 1 requires his protg to act before the latter grasps the reasons for acting; in other words, A No. 1 explains or demonstrates a practice without first explaining the theory behind it. (At one point, the frustrated younger tramp exclaims, What the hell are you doing? Teaching you, A No. 1 replies gruffly.) In each case, his seemingly improvised methods reveal themselves as sound, even ingenious, in that he achieves the desired effect, so that in each case Cigaret (and the films audience) has learned a new trick or tactic, an d in fact has had a hands on experience in implementing a new skill. Because the student learns by doing, the value of the newly acquired skill is immediately made self evident by the execution of the action. Granted, these examples appear in a fictional film, one that features at times overwrought performances (especially Ernest Borgnines portrayal of the evil shack) and a somewhat maudlin title song and score, but the filmmakers exhibit an almost

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361 obsessive attention to detail when illustrating each of A No. 1s lessons demonstrating how these sorts of practices areor, at least, weredone. In fact, this level of detail seems to serve as the main reason to watch the film: the viewer learns the mundane yet fascinating details and practi ces of an alien mode of living. In a broader sense, the sitespecific pedagogical methodology of the tramp subculture remains vital. It is important to note that there was in fact an actual, historical tramp who traveled under the tramp moniker A No. 1 his real name was Leon Ray Livingstonand he wrote several florid accounts of his adventures, publishing them as illustrated pamphlets in the first decades of the twentieth century and selling them in train stations for twenty five cents apiece. With titles like The Curse of Tr amp Life (1912), The Ways of the Hobo (1915), and Coast to Coast with Jack London (1917), these writings serve an unstated didactic function similar to the lessons of their filmic rendering, but to his readership the value and applicability of those lessons were more immediately apparent. Indeed, many of the habits and much of the culture of the railroad tramp revolve around the act of teaching, albeit within a distinctly homosocial context. Older tramps (jockers) often took neophyte trainhoppers (punks ) under their wings, offering training and protection in exchange for labor and companionshipand, sometimes, sexual favors. This relationship is depicted not only in a cinematic reconstruction like Emperor of the North Pole but also in wide variety of t exts produced by tramps themselves Personal narratives written by former or even current tramps typically contain explicitly didactic and pedantic elements. Unlike more traditionally conceived pedagogical models, however, these didactic elements function as part of a larger pedagogical project that offers instruction in a mode of living that in terms of content and objectives runs counter

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362 to the hegemonic Western liberal humanist ideology that informs most social and economic organization and potentially l imits progressive change. As such, tramp pedagogy serves as a potential alternative means of subject formation. According to Louis Althusser for a social formation to perpetuate itself citizens must participate in the reproduction of submission to the r uling ideology (132). However, the seizure and p ossession of state power does not sufficiently explain the process by which an ideology achieves social and cultural hegemony Instead, through established social practices and institutions this ideology is realized and realizes itself and so becomes the ruling ideology (185). Specifically the ideological State apparatus which has been installed in the dominant position in mature capitalist social formations is the educational ideological apparatus (152, emphasis in original). Terry Eagleton further observes that w ithin our particular kind of society a society operating according to the liberal humanist model that appraises the values of individualism and freedom above all else the teaching of l iterature in particular serves as a moral technology to map, measure, assess, and certify the emotive and experiential aspects of subjectivity. T he social order uses the technology of literature not to teach the student specific moral values (though i t surely does this too), but rather to teach one to be moral fostering a content free brand of moral formalism as a result (98). This pedagogical method produces the radically depoliticized purely formal subjectivity which capitalism needs a subj ectivity that rejects the conflict, break, contradiction that would attend radical social change in favor of growth, gradualism, evolutionary continuity ( 99, 103).

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363 Susan Miller similarly argue s that pedagogy as such should be understood as a cultural project that arose in the nineteenth century with a precisely moral agenda, designed to colonize mass populations and facilitate the construction of a new class ident ity (In Loco Parentis 156). Yet, t he particular material conditions that gave rise to the specific pedagogical project Miller describes also contributed to the production of the railroad tramp, whose project may perhaps be described as precisely a moral If the goal of cultural pedagogy (as embodied in literacy and philology) is to train (rather than educate) the public while replacing the home as the primary civic unit of society and assuming monitorial duties, then one could argue that reproductive pedagogical practices of the tramp similarly replace the home while pushing the stud ent toward an alternative and potentially radical subject position. I n myriad ways representations of the rail riding tramp depict a subcultures almost parodic appropriation of traditionally conceived pedagogical strategies in all their variety including apprenticeships, classroom s, and textbooks to f acilitate subjectivity formation while simultaneously advocating behavior s and goals often sharply at odds with the objectives of the dominant order Miller argues that the monitorial goals of cultural pedagog y are socially regulatory in nature and function, with the purpose of steer ing the student toward endeavors deemed social acceptablei.e., toward alternatives to asylums, jails, and prostitution (In Loco Parentis 158). Conversely, even while broadly re plicating certain formal element s of hegemonic cultural pedagogy, tramp pedagogy seeks to reproduce a specifically (and perhaps paradoxically) antisoci al community member. Inherent to a membership in this subcultural group is participation in an intertwine d set of activities that will potentially lead to the very institutions or institutionalizations from which the

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364 dominant cultural pedagogy s trives to shield its students. B y training students to become a member of a ( criminalized ) subculture that embraces radical mobility and rejects the imposition of rationalized wage labor, tramp pedagogical practice actively resist s the specific colonizing goals of traditional pedagogy. Access to tramp p edagogys values and methods, its theory and practice, may be granted by the narrative literature generat ed by the subculture Because didacticism plays such a key role in this subcultural discourse, a tramp text produced for a broader audience remains free to make overtly pedantic maneuvers without violating the implicit formal aesthetic contract between author and reader; these two positions will have already been constructed as analogues for mentor and student. Lee, a latter day train rider, discusses this aspect of tramp narratives during an interview in the 2002 docume ntary Catching Out : The stories by their nature are informational in a lot of ways. You know, if you read somebodys story and they say, Yeah, we were down in the bushes hiding from the bull waiting for our southbound hotshot heading out towards Tucson, you know, its like, even someone whos never hopped a train, never heard any of that lingo before, if theyre curious about that stuff theyre going to pick up a certain amount of information. Its like, Oh, bulls: those must be the railroad police. Oh southbound hotshot: that must be a fast train. So, the function of the stories, while probably primarily are literary and a form of entertainment, are also sort of informational. Thats a big part of the hobotramp community, how people can help each other with information to make the going a little easier. Of course, it may be argued that any cultural artifact serves an instructional function. In Throwaways: Work Culture and Consumer Education, Evan Watkins explains how consumer culture itself acts as a generalized form of education, performing a socializing function, operating didactically to instill in its students a commitment to a particular set of values. Like public education, he writes, consumer cultures

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365 payoffs always involve the differentiations and distinctions of social position; like public education, it speaks to and with the languages of rising social expectations; like public education, it promises the positional rewards of mastering crucial lessons across elaborately structured curri culum of subject areas; and thus, like public education, it involves continually contested zones and intricately negotiated individual itineraries. (6) Such lessons as Watkins describes complement those of the dominant ideology however and herein lies a crucial difference. If the pe dagogy of the tramp has achieved its objectives, the subject no longer feels compelled to follow what Dale Maharidge describes in his portrait of Blackie titled The Last Great American Hobo as the basic rules and assumptions that forbid most of us from understanding or even accepting other realities (Williamson and Maharidge 29). In terms of its content, the pedagogy of t ramp narratives not only deviates from the lessons of formal mass education, it also deviates from the les sons of consumer culture. Indeed, tramp produced texts may be read as instructional manual s for the construction of an alternative to the bourgeois subjectivity that is the goal of the Western educational project, a project that prepares citizens to be dis ciplined and domesticated as workers and consumers and thus ultimately to maintain current power relations. Todd DePastino has argued that members of the tramp subculture in the latenineteenth and early twentieth centuries felt a powerful sense of collective identity and that participants in this subculture shared distinct rules of membership, codes of behavior, and notions of the good life, many of which were in conflict with those of the dominant culture ( Citizen xx). The swelling ranks of this group during the series of economic crises in last decades of the nineteenth century and early decades of the twentieth caused sufficient anxiety among politicians, policy makers, businesspersons, and reformers who sought to demobilize the roving army of hobo labor and thus

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366 created, in effect, the modern American home, redistributing its benefits as well as its burdens ( Citizen xxi). The practical threat posed to bourgeois liberal humanism by the historical tramp finds articulation in the culturally constructed version of the figure. For example, Livingstons writings present in aggregate a potentially destabilizing lesson for readers. Livingston provides the reader with extended definitions of tramp terminology and practice, often by embedding these voc abulary lessons within accounts of his own period of apprenticeship, thereby accentuating the identification of the reader with Livingston; the reader plays the role of student along with Americas most celebrated tramp (self proclaimed). In each chapter of his books, he uses terminology specific to the tramp subculture while simultaneously providing a definition by one of various means. For example, in Life and Adventures of A No. 1 he receives a lesson in tramp vernacular from Frenchy, an older tramp he meets in Lathrop, CA, and with whom he travels by rail east to Florida. A Gay Cat, said [Frenchy], is a loafing laborer, who works maybe a week, gets his wages and vagabonds about, hunting for another pick and shovel job. Do you want to know where they got their monica (nickname) Gay Cat? See, Kid, cats sneak about and scratch immediately after chumming with you and then get gay (fresh). Thats why we cal l them Gay Cats. ( Life 34) In addition to the primary definition for Gay Cat, the author provides a series of auxiliary definitions parenthetically. After giving this sexually tinged explanation, Frenchy takes on the author as a protg, and gives him lessons in riding the rods, avoiding trouble from other tramps and the police, and making an easy dollar. Once the apprenticeship period has ended, Frenchy ceremonially certifies Livingstons knowledge acquisition. Listen, Kid, said he, Every tramp gives his kid a nickname, a name that will distinguish him from all other members of the craft. Y ou have been a good lad while you

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367 have been with me, in fact been always A No. 1 in everything you had to do, and, Kid, take my advice, if you have to be anything in life, even if a tramp, try to be A No. 1 all the time and in everything you undertake. I believe I have a good and proper nickname for you, one never borne by any other tramp, I am going to call you A No. 1 ( Life 4446). Not all the lessons contained in Livingstons writing announce themselves quite so overtly. He inevitably signals the deployment of a term specific to the tramps vernacular by placing the word in quotation marks; the definition of that term might then arrive directly, parenthetically, or contextually. Despite these didactic moves, however, Livingston deliberately rejec ts a formalized and rationalized pedagogy in favor of alternate modes of learning. He recalls that he was reproved by teachers for sitting with eyelids held widely open but with eyes entirely oblivious to sur roundings allowing daylight dreams to drag me away to far off shores and on and ever onward seeking hair raising adventures (presumably an urge he shares with his reader pupils), a habit which in turn led to the willful neglect of [his] lessons ( Coast 14). At the same time, in order to buttress hi s position as an instructor in possession of a particular and rare expertise, Livingston takes pains to establish his ethos as a teacher by making frequent references to the authenticity of his experience.1 He provides one of many examples of his command o f privileged knowledge when he observes that to the uninitiated the railroad systems of the northeastern United States looked as much alike as an equal number of beans in a pod. But to the professional hobo there were no end of fine distinctions to be discerned ( Coast 18). The tramp instructor passes along more than mere training; he offers his pupils exact knowledge, which is of an almost invaluable

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368 importance to the devotee of vagabondage although A No. 1 seems willing to sell such knowledge for a mere two bits ( Coast 19) In case his reader has failed to grasp the full implications of claims such as these, Livingston even goes so far as to bluntly state that he is regarded by newspaperdom as an authority concerning everything pertaining to the Road ( Coast 9). Even if he makes it clear that he might identify with the motives of his readership and suggests that he would be just the man to serve as a mentor, Livingston also repeatedly claims that his own experiences are exceptional, that he alone among tramps had gloriously made good while the vast majority of other tramps end up as broken men ( Coast 8) He also often adopts a moralizing tone; for instance, he insists that he abstained from tobacco, alcohol, and gambling, and daily repeated a vow no t to associate with bad company Perhaps in order to obviate any charges of moral corruption (such as those that were leveled at London on the publication of his memoir of trampdom), Livingston includes in his books a warning addressed To Restless You ng Men and Boys: DO NOT Jump on Moving Trains or Street Cars, even if only to ride to the next street crossing, because this might arouse the Wanderlust, besides endangering needlessly your life and limbs. Wandering, once it becomes a habit, is almost i ncurable, so NEVER RUN AWAY, but STAY AT HOME, as a roving lad usually ends in becoming a confirmed tramp. There is a dark side to a tramp's life: for every mile stolen on trains, there is one escape from a horrible death; for each mile of beautiful scener y and food in plenty, there are many weary miles of hard walking with no food or even water through mountain gorges and over parched deserts; for each warm summer night, there are ten bitter cold, long winter nights; for every kindness, there are a score o f unfriendly acts. To tell the truth, the Road is a pitiful existence all the way through, and what is the end? ( Life 2) Yet, even while Livingston makes the overt claim that he has rescued thousands of waywards from an unnatural existence which was the straight path to mental, moral

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369 and physical perdition and that he intends his books as warnings rather than instructions to potential tramps, his adventurefilled descriptions (deliberately or not) constitute a narrative advocacy that runs counter to this claim ( Life 8) Livingston struggles to argue that young men should not follow his lead, yet he cannot help but celebrate the adventures he has had as a result of an incurable wanderlust that has taken him across the U.S., as w ell as abroad to Eur ope, Japan, West Indies, New Zealand, etc. ( Life 136). In the end, he is able to turn all the hardships and dangers I passed through since childhood to final advantage ( Life 135). In fact, all his ostensibly negative experiences ultimately lead to som e cultural or material benefit, however much the authors explicit caveats and narrative tone attempt to suggest otherwise.2 In one passage, he describes being robbed by tramps, and claims that he subsequently hardly ever spoke to and never again traveled with tramps ( Life 61). Three sentences later, however, he describes approaching a tramp at a hobo jungle. Significantly, although Livingston formally completed his apprenticeship under Frenchy, he may reenter the ro le of the student at any moment, as th e tramp practices a form of informal, lifelong learning. To illustrate this point, the tramp Livingston encounters in the jungle lets him in on a local scam, so that A No. 1 is able to get new shoes, new clothes, and a warm meal at no cost ( Life 66). Perha ps the prototypical example of this specific iteration of memoir is Jack Londons The Road (1907) first serialized in Cosmopolitan magazine. Along with Livingstons writings, this episodic and anecdotal book serves as source material for the Emperor of th e North Pole (in fact, Cigaret was one of Londons tramp names), despite the fact that the book covered experiences Livingston and London underwent in

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370 the 1890s, well before the chronological setting of the film. The book begins with a chapter titled Confession, in which London emphatically asserts regarding his former life as a tramp, I do not apologize, for I am unashamed. It was youth, delight in life, zest for experience, that brought me to this mode of living; furthermore, It did me good (29). Thus eschewing any warning or disclaimer akin to that Livingston offers in his books, London employs a boastful, digressive, and anecdotal strategy typical of the tramp narrative (whether written, spoken, or sung) while he assumes the position of mentor to an apprentice, carefully walking the reader through the steps involved in catching a train and holding her down, explaining the art of begging a meal, describing how to avoid detection and cope with the police, and defining sundry tramp slang. London, i n his role as mentor seeks to act as a model for (at least some of) his reader pupil s and thus reproduce his tramp identity through them. London is both a far more artful storyteller and a more complex thinker than Livingston, thus his rhetorical strategy operates more subtly. Formally, however, the two authors take similar approaches: like Livingston, London peppers his narrative with terminology drawn from the tramp lexicon and provides embedded definitions (variously formal, operational, by example, or accompanied by visual illustrations), consequently positioning himself as an official interpreter of tramp lingo and guide to the tramps world. For example, he methodically translates the seven entries on a hobo bill of fare found engraved on the water tank at San Marcial, New Mexico: the phrase Main drag fair indicates that begging for money on the main street is fair, Bulls not hostile means that the police will not bother hoboes, and so on (102). More importantly, he establishes an operational definition of a good hobo, explaining that such a character

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371 can hold down a train despite all efforts of the traincrew to ditch him (32). Then, in order to define by example, London offers himself as the illustration of a capable hobo (33). To establish simultaneously his authenticity and his authority to demonstrate how and why he is an expert and the reader a novicehe refers to his own experience and personal hardship. After providing a thorough example of how to catch an illegal ride on a tr ain, London explicitly (if somewhat awkwardly) acknowledges his didactic and definitional agenda when he writes, I have given the foregoing as a sample of what holding her down means (51). London devotes an entire chapter to delineating the process of illegally catching a ride on a train, the single most important skill for the transient to possess. London situates this lesson within a n anecdote chronicling an experience during which he was one of more than twenty tramps trying to steal transportation s ervices on a train leaving the Ottawa depot. Not only do these tramps face the logistical challenges involved in boarding a moving train, they must outrun and outwit a railroad crew that actively seeks to prevent them from doing so. London explains that the ensuing events function as a sort of examination for tramps: The weeding out process had begun nobly, and it continued station by station. Now we were fourteen, now twelve, now eleven, now eight. It reminded me of the ten little niggers of nursery rhyme (38). This last comparative aside functions in a multiplicity of complicated ways and warrants close attention. The reference reinforces the authors didactic goals, in that it explicitly evokes a standardized pedagogical tool that Londons reader pupil ha d likely encountered as a child. A story told through negative counting rhymewhich began life as that minstrel song Ten Little Injuns before being refigured with the racial epithet to apply to recently

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372 emancipated and enfranchised African Americans and eventually codified as a trope found in educatio nal counting books published during the latenineteenth century Golden Age of childrens literaturethe plot describes the mostly violent individual fates of each member of the original group of ten until then there were none.3 These types of books gave voice to macabre fantasies of black mutilation with the durable hope that blacks left to their own devices will eventually destroy themselves (Asim 103). Like these little niggers, London and the oth er tramps face a potentially bloody fate should they run afoul of a hostile train crew or the railroad police. After recounting the dangers involved in traveling bad roads (bad because of the behavior of anti tramp railroad employees) and describing one particularly sadistic and potentially fatal method a crew member might use to dislodge a tramp from a train, London describes the attitude of the media and the public at large in reaction to the news of a tramps demise: The next day the remains of that t ramp are gathered up along the right of way, and a line in the local paper mentions the unknown man, undoubtedly a tramp, presumably drunk, who had probably fallen asleep on the track (33). Indeed, during the post Civil War era (when the railroad tramp fi rst emerged as a social category), the tramp problem engendered a social anxiety akin to that demonstrated by Southern whites following Emancipation. For instance, Francis Wayland, the dean of Yale law school, warned in 1877 of the railroad tramp as a s pectacle of a lazy, shiftless, sauntering or swaggering, ill conditioned, irreclaimable, incorrigible, cowardly, utterly depraved savage (10). The language used here recalls quite strikingly the sort of characterizations often applied to African Americans during the period of Reconstruction

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373 and Jim Crow. Both subjugated groups were perceived as threats to the privilege maintained by white, middle class, American society. Furthermore, both groups were subject to violent, extralegal reprisals as a means of c ontainment and subjugation. Significantly, London himself explicitly emphasizes this parallel when he writes that I was resolved that I should be the last little nigger. If I werent the last little nigger, I might as well quit the game and get a job on an alfalfa farm somewhere (38). He crosses racial lines and emphasizing his connection with an oppressed stratum of society; although London certainly exhibits regressive views on race in other forums, here he deliberately privileges socioeconomic class over race as a unifying principle. In a version of the story published in an 1894 childrens book, the danger posed by the last little nigger in the rhyme is contained and neutralized once the character gets married: One little nigger boy living all alone; / He got married, and then there were none. Thus, the constraints of domesticity obviate the perceived threat a free black man (for, although the rhyme refers to its subjects as little, the images in the books illustrations are clearly those of adult men) might pose to white society. London, however, inverts this idea: to remain the last (tramp) man standing entails a resistance to domesticity, in that the tramp necessarily remains unmarried, untethered to any heteronormative conception of home and family. In fact, London quite blatantly offers the negativefantasy scenario of a stationary, complacent life on an alfalfa farm (evoking Thomas Jeffersons pre industrial vision of America as a nation of yeoman farmers tied to the land) as his only alternative should he fail to prove himself as a tramp. Thus, his reference to the didactic childrens rhyme compresses multiple social and political lessons into a single sentence.

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374 Like the writings of A No. 1, The Road in many ways functions as a book about le arning; London, acting as teacher for the reader student, constructs in miniature his own tramp Bildungsroman. The conceptualization of the Road as a place of learning becomes most overt in the seventh chapter, titled RoadKids and Gay Cats, in which Lon don recounts the specific process of his own education. When he first meets a group of roadkids, he concurrently makes the acquaintance of a new vernacular (124) and discovers a new world (he initially gains access to it via the kids stories of lif e on the Road), which London now shares with the reader. Details about this world, his tone implies throughout the book, comprise privileged information. London adopts the role of an observer learner: I would lie silently and listen (124). Although he acknowledges these road kids superior knowledge regarding this particular subject, his competitive, adventurous streak asserts itself: he compares his former experiences as an oyster pirate in San Francisco Bay Area to their railroading and finds the form er lacking, and he sees this lack as a challenge he must face (124). London, throughout the book, has been attempting to replicate for the reader the simultaneously alienating and attractive effects this exotic vocabulary had on him the first time he heard it, although he deliberately constructs an image of himself in the position of ignorant student (like readers when they first open the book) only after he has established his pedantic authority over the last six chapters. As a new student, London must go over the hill (i.e. the Sierra Nevada mountain range) in order to prove himself to his mentors and thus matriculate (125). In this way, the r oad is positioned as a school, an alternative but analogous site of learning recalling Ishmaels assertion in Moby Dick that A whale ship was my Yale

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375 College and my Harvard ( Melv ille 120). The process is ritualized: like Livingston, London receives both the tutelage of a mentor and a road monica, or official certification, once he has met the necessary crit eria ( 127, 125). When a fireman he has managed to evade on a train calls him a son of a gun, London thrill[s] as a schoolboy thrills on receiving a reward of merit (47). In stealing a Chinamans hat on the streets of Sacramento, London passes a kind of final exam proctored by the road kids and obtains a symbol of his initiation, or graduation; the hat functions as a sort of diploma, albeit it a diploma self conferred as is appropriate to a decentered mode of learning (129). C haracteristically boastful, he insists that his own period of apprenticeship remained remarkably brief: he declares that he was never a prushun beholden to an older tramp, thereby asserting his heterosexual masculinity (133) I n other words, he is such a masterful student th at he bypasses a stage of tramp education, immediately becoming a roadkid, skipping his gay cat apprenticeship, then in a short time earning the status of profesh (133).4 Both London and Livingston express frustration with the traditional classroom even as they replicate many of its forms during their apprenticeships. In doing so, they describe a gendered pedagogical mode of reproduction that proposes the masculine road as site of learning as a replacement for the feminine schoolroom and home (and al l the practices required to maintain a home). The schoolmarm becomes a sort of unstated metonymy for everything against which these tr amp writers define themselves.5 Not content merely to offer definitions of unfamiliar terminology to a bourgeois audience, London in his role as t ramp mentor also insists on redefining common language. In DePasti no words, London uses his picaresque narrative mode to achieve

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376 a critical distance from the mai nstream culture (Introduction xi). Specifically he strives to induce in his readership what Wittgenstein calls an aspect change regarding the word and concept of labor. He insists on referring to his efforts to beg food and clothing as a form of work, making repeated use of the word while ironically describing his day as one might any other that operates according to the dictates of industrial capitalisms clocktime : At eight sharp in the morning I started out after clothes. I wor ked energetically all day. I did not even knock of f work for dinner. At six I quit wo rk (34). He also situates his storytelling at a set down (i.e., a meal in someones home) with two sheltered women within the rhetoric of labor: by toil performed in detailing his adventures as a tramp, he proves the claim [he] had upon their charity (56). London, then, provides instructions and (re)definitions that aim to do more than more merely satisfy the prurient curiosity of a nontramp reader about this subculture; he seeks to identify and challenge the unseen assumptions on which his middleclass audiences subject position rests and thereby ultimately foster a change in social and economic organization. In this way, along with lessons in the practical aspects of tramping, London offers lessons in the form of an implied critique of socioeconom ic conditions in capitalist America. His writing has a political end he seeks to illuminate the brutality of a society that gives rise to the trampwhich one cannot fully divorce from his purely pragmatic, instructional gestures. With this claim, I break f rom recent arguments made by two scholars of Londons tramp writings. Christine Photinos assert s that in The Road London jettisons the economic analysis that ultimately replac[es] individual blame with an indictment of industrial capitalism present in such earlier essays and stories as The

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377 Tramp, How I Became as Socialist, and The Apostate (Tracking 176). According to Photinos, The Road instead replicates and celebrates the individualism London previously criticized, mocking the collectivist ethos that motivates other members of General Charles T. Kellys 1,500member Industrial Army, with which London briefly traveled as it made its way toward Washington, D.C. in 1894. Photinos attributes this rhetorical shift to Londons marketing savvy in tailoring the essays that would make up The Road for their initial publication in Cosmopolitan magazine. Similarly, John Lennon finds that the London of The Road exhibits an individualistic, competitive hobo identity that allows for no class solidarity in the boxcar (Can a H obo 11, 13). While Lennon reads this textual version of Londons tramping as an act of resistance against the exploitative nature of labor under industrial capitalism, he concludes that it is the resistance of the lone individual w ho relies on the invisibility enabled by the railroad, and that through his use of this invisibility, London constructs himself as an exceptional figure, deliberately isolating himself from collective political action (14). No doubt, as Photinos argues, London tempers the critical rhetoric of his early tramp writings. Furthermore, Lennon convincingly argues that critics have too often overstated the transformative effect of Londons experience as a trainhopping tramp, merely taking the author at his word when he declares in his early essays that it was because he had once been a tramp that he became a socialist. Generally, despite his frequently stated commitment to and advocacy on behalf of socialism, Londons politics reveal what may be generously termed an unresolved tension between his critique of capitalism and his urge to venerate the exceptional individual, the latter of which he rationalized through his misreading of Nietzsche. Certainly, Londons actions at the time

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378 of his tramping suggest a commi tment to the individualist ethos at the time. Yet, to focus so narrowly on the content of those actions, as Photinos and Lennon do, passes over the critique manifested in Londons representation of his experiences. Both Photinos and Lennon cite Londons bl unt acknowledgement of the individualism that motivated him during his time as tramp as evidence that The Road and the mode of tramping it describes undercut any critical message they might otherwise carry. As evidence, they each refer to a passage in whic h London describes the ways he and nine other self interested tramps, all members of Company M, break solidarity with Kelleys Industrial Army in order to pilfer the best of the provisions that classconscious sympathizers have set aside along the Armys r oute. In the language of Social Darwinism, London explains, We were independent of the collective, individualists who possessed initiative and enterprise, and who ardently believed that the grub was to the man who got there first (138,139). In Phot inoss reading, The Road lacks such mitigating passages as those of his early tramp writings in which he attributes his early faith in individualism to youthful arrogance, navet and self delusion (Tracking 177). Yet, The Road offers a direct apology for his acts of individualism: [R]ight here I want to say to General Kelly and Colonel Speed that heres my hand. You were heroes, both of you, and you were men. And Im sorry for at least ten per cent of the trouble that was given to you by the headboat of Company M (144). Significantly, throughout the text, London has consistently refused to apologize for any of the other crimes he committed while tramping. Indeed, in the sentence of the book, he states quite bluntly, I dont want to apologize (15).

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379 Moreover, London imbues the descriptions of such self interested behavior with a heavy dose of irony, consistently equating it with the individualistic motivating force underpinning laissez faire capitalism. This irony functions didactically, denaturalizing ideological assumptions that designate certain activities as immoral or criminal and others as economical ly sound. Following his arrest for vagrancy, London finds that prison meals provide inadequate nourishment, so he and another convict collude to stea l bread and sell it to their fellow inmates, once again favoring enriching personal initiative and violating solidarity with members of his class. It would seem absurd, our retaining this bread, London admits, but he insists, We were economic masters inside our hall, turning the trick in ways quite similar to the economic masters of civilization (85). He repeats this analogy several times, claiming that we but patterned ourselves after our betters outside the walls (8586). He becomes even more speci fic, declaring that [w]e were wolves just like the fellows who do business in Wall Street and their self serving accumulation and control of resources were modeled after capitalistic society (87, 92). According to this logic, Londons reader pupil mu st either accept Londons actions or condemn prevailing economic principles. Rationalizing the digressive pedagogical gestures contained in the autobiographical narratives by authors such as Livingston and London, other tramp writers produced formal how t o manuals published by small presses or self published as far back as the 1920s and as recentl y as the 1990s. Nels Anderson, the sociologist and former tramp, published The Milk and Honey Route: A Handbook for Hoboes in 1931 under the pseudonym Dean Stiff .6 (Anderson later called this book a parody of his own pioneering observer participant sociological work on the hobo, as well as of the

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380 reams of sometimes quasi scholarly and even sensationalist literature that followed in its wake [ Men on the Move 2].) Along with his subtitle, Andersons choice of an alias suggests the alternate discursive mode he has assumed for this project, compared to his other writings on the subject: he clearly wishes to distinguish this volume from those works he has written for a more specialized, academic audience. Yet, he still yokes together the academic authority figure (punning on the name Dean, thereby gently mocking his own position as a scholar) and the hands on, real world persona of the tramp (a figure also known as a bindle stiff). Like Livingston and London, Anderson stresses the importance of subculturally specific jargon, going so far as to include as an appendix a comprehensive and unexpurgated glossary of various terms tramps might use, pointing out that many of these terms began in Hobohemia and were taken up in time by other groups and helpfully cautioning against overuse: many contemporary hobo writers think by the use of slang to add a bona fide touch to the fiction they weave ( title page, 198).7 In stressing the centrality of the railroad in the life of the tramp, he explains that this figure like the sociologist possesses a specialized knowledge, that he knows his railroads as the gangster knows the street corner (23). This comparison emphasizes t he tramps legally and morally marginalized position in society, while at the same time positions him as an object of intrigue. Anderson initially demurs from the instructional implication s of this book, insisting that It is not the purpose of this [writin g] to tell the young novice how to get over the road. That would be like telling the groundling how to fly. If your foot is swift, your hand deft and your eye keen, the rest will come easy. To roam the roads of Hobohemia you need to be ready of wit, for il l fares the witless hobo. You may be as sure of yourself as any greenling, but too

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381 often self confidence backed only by desire may outstrip your sanity and lead you to grief. (2526) In effect, Anderson posits that theoretical instruction simply cannot substitute for the sort of hands on learning that A No. 1 offered Cigaret in Emperor of the North Pole: It would be folly to undertake here to tell you how to become a train rider. You will have to develop your own style. If you want to take your style secondhand from a book then you must be content to remain a secondclass hobo (26). Still, Anderson admits, theory does have value, as there are things that the novice can learn in advance, such as how to interact (or avoid interacting) with railroad crews the value of keeping out of view, points of hobo etiquette, and the importance of a reasonable grasp on geography (26 27). Tramp pedagogy as practiced does not offer an unproblematic model of knowledge formation. It may be radical, but as it exists in t hese texts it fails to become truly revolutionary. It ultimately remains unable to imagine an alternative that does not rely on a gendered discourse that excludes the feminine as the opposite against which to define itself Its specific practices (such as riding freight trains or scavenging usable material resources from the waste of others) depend on the existence of a capitalist model against which to rebel. As an alternative it can only exist within the architecture of the dominant liberal humanist ideol ogy. Tramps do function as an apparent challenge to that ideology, as an indigestible remainder that cannot be subsumed within the dominant culture; the formation of the subculture is situated both within and against the dominant culture. In this dialectic the tramp subculture provides an image against which the liberal humanist ideology can structure itself. As London argues, the tramp ultimately benefits capitalism. The challenge facing any pedagogical model derived from

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382 that demonstrated in these tramp texts is how to rid itself of its gendered narrative and extend its practice to all groups while maintaining itself during times of economic prosperity. The scope of a project detailing and analyzing the creative potentials of a tramp pedagogy does not end with this cursory look at a few texts produced during the first waves of rail riding. The idea of a tramp handbook persists beyond long after the historical decline of the figure, in the form of such recent volumes as The Freight Hoppers Manual for North America (by Daniel Leen, first published in the 1970s and subsequently revised for the next three decades) and Hopping Freight Trains in America (published in 1993, and written by Duffy Littlejohn, a lawyer and freight trainriding enthusiast). Documents of an even less formal nature also abound, such as the Crew Change Guide, which circulates along a completely underground circuit, photocopied and passed from rider to rider (and deliberately not published on the internet, in order to prevent rail company police officers from gaining access to it), while also being amended and expanded each year with contributions coming from the rail riding community, would also serve as a useful case study. These writings, unlike those of Livingston, London, or even Anderson, offer little to almost no autobiographical content, instead presenting pure information and instruction. In other words, in these documents, the pedantic goal of tramp pedagogy has been made both primary and formal. A recent title in this ever expanding genre, Josh Macks The Hobo Handbook: A Field Guide to Living by Your Own Rules (2011), continues the tramps practice of deliberately and playfully appropriating the methods of cultural pedagogy much as the

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383 tramp appropriates the mobility of the rai lroad in opening with a multiple choice Hobo Aptitude Test The introduction then sketches a scenario that might resonate with the reader: The daily grind has ground you down and there are days when given the option of sticking pins in your eyeballs or lis tening to your voicemail youre not sure which way youd lean. The one day perhaps today after youve been on hold for twenty minutes and the automated customer service person is asking you to repeat your selection for the third time or press pound to return to the main menu, the obvious solution to your societal incarceration hits you: quit your job, donate your car, toss your credit cards, and become a hobo. Awestruck, you stop dead in your tracks and wonder why you didnt see it before, thinking of all the time you could have saved if a hobo had just come in to school on career day and with a wink shown you the door marked exit. (xx) By up ending the presumptive response to a loss of employment, possessions, and home, t his passage subverts the threat of precarity that keeps the vast majority of us frantically working for the benefit of the dominant order The railroad tramp arrives as a figure of romantic fantasy to interrupt the citizens prescribed trajectory. Significantly, that interruption occur s during career day, that point at which the forces of school and work come together to reinforce an overdetermined subject formation. We nod in recognitionyes, how great it would feel to be free of all these obligations, these trappings of postmodernity. Perhaps we read the rest of the book, learning what to a tramp should bring on a journey, where and how to catch a train, how to negotiate the social space of a hobo jungle, what to expect in an encounter with the law The more adventurous of us might act ually go so far as to take a few rides. But thats still just tramping. Only when we become tramps this and other such pedagogical texts maintain, do we see that things can be other than as they are.

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384 1 Even the most sympathetic readers of the adventures of A No. 1 tend to regard his tales as embellished variations on the truth. 2 This apparent paradox anticipates the claim attributed to Francois Truffaut that it is impossible to make a true anti war film, because in cinematic representation tends t o heighten the adventure and thrill of combat, whatever the intention of the filmmaker. 3 The McLoughlin Brothers of New York and Birn Brothers of London published books based on the song in the 1870s, 1880s, and 1890s. Mother Goose anthologies of nursery rhymes also included versions of the song during this period. (See Martin 1977 for an extensive history and analysis of the Ten Little Nigger genre.) McLoughlin Brothers also produced a card game, based on Old Maid, of the same name in 1895 (Asim 104). A sample verse from the rhyme: Seven little nigger boys chopping up sticks / One chopped himself in half, and then there were six The basic plot still exists in contemporary counting books, of course, but with monkeys or other animals replacing the raci al epithet. It also serves as the acknowledged basis for the plot of Agatha Christies novel And Then There Were None, which was originally published under title Ten Little Niggers .) 4 London similarly exhibited an accelerated trajectory through his studies when he returned home from the road and enrolled in school to prepare for college entrance exams: he completed the work so quickly that the administration returned his tuition. 5 DePastino thoroughly explores the idea of the hobo metanarrative as opposit ional to domesticity in Citizen Hobo. 6 This work might be usefully compared to Abbie Hoffmans Steal This Book in that both books offer their readers explicit and precise instructions in breaking the law and leading a subterranean existence. 7 Anderson i ncludes among his definitions an entry for Livingstons hobo persona: A No 1 A famous tramp who writes his name on everything like J. B. King. He writes books about his alleged adventures. Many young hoboes write this monicker [ sic ] on water tanks, and chalk it on box cars (199).

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401 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Christopher Wylie Lenz received his Bachelor of the Arts degrees in philosophy, history, and English from the University of Houston in 1998, 2003, and 2005, respectively; his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing from the University of Florida in 2007; and his Doctor of Philosophy in English from the University of Florida in 2013. He is coeditor of Gen eration Zombie: Essays on the Living Dead in Modern Culture published by McFarland in 2011.