Copyright © the Estate of Ross F. Lockridge, Jr., 1948, 2001, All rights reserved

An Outline of "THE DREAM"

by Ross Lockridge, Jr.


An Outline of "The Dream" (an unpublished Volume V) of Raintree County by Ross Lockridge, Jr.

. . .

    This outline of the Dream Section is the final portion of a 32-page "skeletal outline" of the entire 2,000 page manuscript of Raintree County. It was written (June of 1946) along with another lengthy document of revisions Ross, Jr. was willing to make. He was early to defend the Dream Section. It is likely he hoped that this outline would help in that defense and make the Dream Section more accessible to his editors.

    "He'd decided the title of the novel should be simply Raintree County; he had submitted it with a misleading one, The Riddle of Raintree County. There were other sensible revisions but he didn't wish to cut for the sake of cutting. And first and foremost he didn't wish to drop the Dream Section . . . ."

    --Shade of the Raintree, Larry Lockridge, p. 264

(facsimile of page 27)

     (Note: This entire section, MS. Vol. V, presents the night dreams of the five characters who have received special treatment during the Day. Mr. Shawnessy has dream sections corresponding to five different eras or conceptual patterns of his life, and between these the other dreams are interpolated. The general intended effect of the dream passages is to mingle all the important psychological, religious, and personal symbolism of the Day and Flashbacks into a single rich texture. Mr. Shawnessy's five dreams interpret respectively: (1) The period of beginnings (corresponding to MS. Vol. I), the opening of a quest, the fall from innocence, and leavetaking from Raintree County. (2) The identity of the Individual and the Republic (roughly corresponding to MS. Vol. II), a recapitulation of American history, a political episode tracing the Growth of the Republic with its Indian beginnings, the conquest of the West, and the southern aberration, leading to (3) Wars of the Republic, featuring especially the Civil War and suggesting throughout the old analogy between things military and amatorial. (4) The City and the Gilded Age. (5) Homecoming to the eternal verities of Raintree County and the consummation of the quest. In between these five dreams are the dreams of (1) The Reverend Lloyd G. Jarvey, suggesting the Freudian source of the stern old Father-Religion, which is guilt for the memory of a crime of parricide. (2) Mrs. Desmore J. Brown, a stately progress of 19th century feminist and reform with charming sexual implications. (3) Emma, a dream symbolizing the eternal contest for her soul waged between Father and husband. (4) Elsie, a dream reflecting her great strong love for her father and the nightmare feeling of infantile guilt arising from it. All proper names in the Dream are in lower case, the theory being that in dreams all things are individual and symbolic, dissolving in and out of each other, and the completely individual reference of the proper name no longer has any validity.)


Dream I, pp. 1-47

            having come, etc.

     Mr. Shawnessy's dream begins with vague impressions of an earlier dream, which is a memory of the sacred place, the source and destination of human life. Over this like a masque is drawn the Court House Square where he explores some of the antiquities of Raintree County with the Lady Custodian and returning to the river enacts the Shakespeare analog of his life. He and the real William Shakespeare have a chat, clearing up various ambiguities in the life of the bard. Then Mr. Shawnessy returns to the old academy building like Theseus to lead the young sacrifices through the maze of learning. His Ariadne is Nell Gaither, with whom he finds his way onto the stage of the Opera House and then to a Photographer's Shop, from which he goes unexpectedly into a scene of festival and fun (the County Fair) on the Court House Square. From this, there is a vague feeling of approaching guilt, and Satan-like the Perfessor appears on the scene. The human race begins, and Johnny ends up in a hump of hay with Nell. He has the statue of a naked woman in his room, and the posse of respectability is after him. He is escaping from Raintree County, with a feeling of having fallen from innocence.


Dream II, pp. 48-52

     The Reverend Lloyd G. Jarvey dreams of his own flight from Raintree County. A memory of his boyhood home blends with a scene suggesting the pagan roots of emotional Christianity. The Oedipus of the two inexcusable crimes, he is the hero who killed his own father at a crossroads and married his mother. From the memory of himself as the amoral bullgod, the jahveh-man of Raintree County passes over to the Hebraic and Christian guilt-dream and in the Revival Church conceals the body of his slain father, beneath the alter. For expiation, he is driven out eyeless like Oedipus across a sunblasted biblical desert.


Dream III, pp. 53-132

     Of parting--
                      and farewell, etc.

     Mr. Shawnessy dreams of the republic of America, which is one republic--the moral republic of the human soul--and also many republics, the innumerable physical republics of human experience. American history is wackily recapitulated beginning with the Indian heritage, blended with the Indian motifs from JWS's own life (his wife, etc.). From this, there is a change to the westward politics of the young Republic, and JWS is involved in a political contest with Garwood Jones. The western scenes burlesque the dime-novel concept of the Beautiful West, Custer, the wide-open boomtown, etc., but also suggest at the end the tragedy and beauty of the real West. From the meeting of the railroads, the dream twists to the history of the Southern Republic, and we pass through a series of southern, negro, slavery motifs, blending, as usual, facts and faces from American history with the private memories of JWS. Johnny reenacts Uncle Tom's Cabin and is rescued from the river to enter into a legislative and judicial contest to uphold the moral law. From this, he repeats the Lincoln analogies in his own life and becomes President, and with this scene the section closes.


Dream IV, pp. 133-156

     Of clubs,
                      committees, etc.

     Mrs. Brown leaves her house and steps out into an iambic and Victorian landscape of feminist reforms. There are many pleasant parodies of the Victorian poets, especially Tennyson, as Mrs. Brown makes a progress full of concealed erotic longing for Mr. Shawnessy. She becomes the Queen of a Century of Respectability, where all things, including the men, are feminized, except Mr. Shawnessy. She becomes active in various reforms, attacks the saloons, participates in one of the fourieristic experiments, walking with other nudists and free love advocates in a vast park. The experiment breaks up over details, and she and Mr. Shawnessy leave on a train together, symbolic of intercourse and childbirth. The romantic 19th century literary motifs continue, as Mrs. Brown reenacts a Tale of Two Cities and is variously enslaved, sold, bartered, and delicately abused by men. In the end, she returns to her own garden, where she repeats in dream the scene of her wild little maenad dance, described by Mrs. Passifee in MS. Vol. II, #37 of the Day passages.


Dream V, pp. 157-223

     Of wars
                    and rumors of wars, etc.

     The image of battle (and especially the battle of Gettysburg) suggests the combat of life, beginning with Birth (Seminary Ridge) and ending in Death (Cemetery Ridge). After leaving the seminal and pelvic ridge, Johnny Shawnessy wanders into a scene of bulletins reporting a war's beginning. He chats with Willie Shakespeare of the historical plays. Coats of arms and other male timocratic and warlike motifs are blended, suggesting their resemblance to amatorial conquest. The Battle of the Shawmucky is fought, being a Thurber-like war between the sexes. Johnny is back in the Chattanooga era of his life, lonely and seeking for love. An award is made to the campfollowers for their part in the Great War. Johnny, about to go into battle, takes leave of Nell, attempting a final embrace but baffled by a stream of busybodies. Gettysburg is reenacted in Raintree County. Johnny, approaching the General Headquarters, finds it is the Old Home Place. While various famous military figures and their exploits are debunked, Johnny keeps restoring the line (by having a succession of children). Civil War scenes are now reenacted by dead men, as JWS goes about trying to find the Army of Sherman and his lost self, Corporal Johnny Shawnessy. He is finally back in the Civil War Hospital as concluding motifs of the Great War stream on and on. He sees Whitman and Lincoln, whom he wishes to save from assassination. Then he walks in the ruins of the Republic's capital city, and there are analogies with the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. The combat of life suggests the ultimate doom and overthrow of the human race by other species as Johnny wanders through an immense mausoleum of his people. Raintree County and the Republic have both been lost now in the vast waves of the dream, and the transition is begun to the City as JWS mounts a tall monument and looks down like Jesus, tempted by the devil (Professor Stiles), upon the crass mammon-loving age that followed the Civil War.


Dream VI, pp. 224-232

     Of the earth,
                        dark earth, etc.

     Emma dreams of being back again in her Father's house. She reenacts the terror and violence of her father's love for her. Dreaming of the New Court House (Mr. Shawnessy), she is disturbed to find it is after all the Old Court House (her Father). She is preparing to go West, but escapes into the memory of her schooling with Mr. Shawnessy and then a deified memory of her whole life with him, the mythical and godlike human being. Returning to a memory of Lake Paradise, she reenacts under the tree of life the ancient contest between the Father-God and the Husband-Man, lingering once more between the two worlds of her being, and preparing again to make the great decision that will give life unto the world.


Dream VII, pp. 233-293.

     Of a city
                    whose walls were golden
                                                        and serene with summer . . .

     Mr. Shawnessy dreams of the City of Human Years, the Great Modern City. In a train station, he hunts for a beloved face and meets Edith again, the feminine symbol of the sensual and twisted City. He revisits the Centennial Exposition and repeats the gay, sensual, materialistic memories of the Great Fair of Mankind. Various American exhibits are made--The Biggest Ear of Corn in the World, the Great American Blonde, the Great American Restaurant, and the Great American Department Store, in which last (cf. Veblen.) everything can be had for a price. Mark Twain, promoter-writer of the Gilded Age, appears and is gobbled up by his own invention. Machinery Hall features huge decaying machines in a vast cathedral. Spiritual death in a mammonistic age is suggested by the now recurrent chant, God is dead! JWS reverts to the great Mansion in the City of New York during his metropolitan days. There are savage and sensual rites therein, suggesting the blood sacrifice that underlies the republic's most sacred rites and beliefs (cf. Mann). JWS seeks an erotic conquest of the City, but becomes involved in the Great Strike again and is himself the victim of capitalistic exploitation and oppression. Emperor Justinian Webster Stiles presides at a Roman Holiday, and Mr. Shawnessy learns the answer to the riddle of the Lady or the Tiger. God, the Grand Old Man of American Finance, is dead and mourned. But the real god of human tenderness and love is a millworker killed in the Great Strike. Now Johnny returns to a City that is New York, Washington, and other world capitals rolled into one, where a play is to be reenacted, a Study in Fate. It turns out to be the assassination of Lincoln, in which JWS has collaborated and indeed has the leading role. Behind the Scenes of the Great City the dream disintegrates into cynical and decadent fragments. There is, however, a moment of erotic consummation as he discovers Edith Vaughn's secret, but it is immediately followed by the closing of the Centennial Exposition and the end of the City passage, as a telegram recalls JWS to Raintree County.


Dream VIII, pp. 294-305

     Elsie dreams of the old house in Bluntsville (her father) and of the pond (her mother) and of her own birth, as from a box into a schoolroom. She leaves the schoolroom to retrace the most memorable pathway of her childhood, the way from Moreland schoolhouse to her home, and on the way she has her great nightmare of seeing her Father's head chewed by dogs (like everything else in the dream sections, all this has been carefully planted back in the Day and flashback sequences of Vols. I to IV). It is the guilt nightmare with infantile sexual implications. She blends some sentimental and literary motifs with memories of her own life, and has her moment of hoped-for triumph, returning as a mature woman to the places of her childhood, with nostalgia for the faces and memories of those old days when her father touched her into beauty and noble aspiration.


Dream IX, pp. 306-356

     Of hunting
                      for a way
                                    to get back home . . .

     JWS returns to Raintree County, trying to find again the eternal moral and mannered garden of mankind. He leaves a train station and finds that he has begun his trip home from an atomic and interplanetary age, riding a great Fourth of July Rocket (cf. Vol. IV, Last Day tie-over, # 66) with some remnants of the human race from a disintegrated earth. The progress home is now made on a less modern contraption, the beginning of the horseless carriage (which still has the horse in it). The road of progress, looking backward, now involves a number of bicyclists chasing the Almighty Dollar. At last there is only the wheel, the great stone wheel, one of man's earliest and most brilliant inventions. Mr. Shawnessy finds himself in the Acropolis, Grecian archetype of the Raintree County Court House Square. Seeking a memorable statue in the most conspicuous place on the Parthenon, JWS follows the Lady Custodian (Venus) through periclean temples. The marvelous grecian vision of eternal and harmonious verities is symbolized as JWS now approaches a consummation of his own lifelong quest for the Good, the Beautiful, the True. Graduation Day finds him with his diploma, summa cum laude, and he ascends to the pediment of the Parthenon to enact with the Lady Custodian the famous forbidden picture in a unique copy of the Raintree County Atlas. His way home is resumed, now by the river Shawmucky. In the more and more primitive wilderness of a Dark Continent, he meets Mr. Livingston, a symbol of the human amenities kept alive even in the Great Jungle. The Great Swamp now envelops him, and he is retracing the beautiful but sinister descent of man from his animal beginnings. So he meets the Perfessor in a digging, reconstructing Dawnman. The Perfessor makes a last effort to drag Mr. Shawnessy and the human race down into the slime of the Great Swamp, but Mr. Shawnessy administers a good shaking, during which the Perfessor reveals in a final image his protean and satanic being, whose ancient secret is of course human after all--perhaps the infantile and unadjusted grief for the loss of one's mother. Last stop on the road to home brings Mr. Shawnessy into Raintree County--but in its prehuman times. Johnny Shawnessy, emulating Johnny Appleseed, has a chance to strike the earth into form again with seed of ideas. Hence, he sows the seed of the American faith and way of life and of his own personal myth as he walks toward the sacred place (with whose memory the dream section had begun). This finale and true climax of the book recapitulates all of the most important characters and motifs in a rushing dithyrambic stream of anapestic prose, until the hero arriving at the sacred place reveals in the last conundrum of the book man's eternal identify with his own earth-dream.



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