I'm pleased to welcome Jennifer Quinlan, Managing Editor of Legacy Romance, to Confessions of an Avid Reader today for a great guest post related to The Magnificent Ambersons. I'm also pleased to host a giveaway for a digital copy novel courtesy of Legacy Romance -- details can be found under the guest post.
Cursing, Georgie Minafer-Style!
At the age of nine, George Amberson Minafer, the Major's one grandchild, was a princely terror, dreaded not only in Amberson Addition but in many other quarters through which he galloped on his white pony.
Georgie Amberson Minafer, the dynamic central character in the Pulitzer Prize winning The Magnificent Ambersons, makes an unforgettable entrance into the story, and it sets the tone for his character as the reader watches him grow and mature over the course of the novel. As a child, his mother dotes on him and dresses him in Little Lord Fauntleroy-style, complete with a mop-head of gorgeous curls, and Georgie takes some ribbing about his appearance from the other boys in the neighborhood. But they learn soon enough how deceiving appearances can be. Behind Georgie's angelic looks lies a fierce boy with a foul mouth and a devilish temper. He loves to ride his horse at reckless speeds through the town and he takes pride in his repertoire of curse words, picked up from his Uncle George and the stable boys. One by one the neighborhood boys run afoul of Georgie with painful consequences. But Georgie doesn't hold grudges. After he beats them up, he befriends them. We first get to meet Georgie and get a taste of his attitude when he's out for a ride on his pony and comes across a strange kid in town, who taunts him:
"Look at the girly curls! Say, bub, where'd you steal your mother's ole sash!"
"Your sister stole it for me!" Georgie instantly replied, checking the pony. "She stole it off our clo'es-line an' gave it to me."
"You go get your hair cut!" said the stranger hotly.
"Yah! I haven't got any sister!"
"I know you haven't at home," Georgie responded. "I mean the one that's in jail."
The hapless, unsuspecting new boy then challenges Georgie, in his little black velvet suit with lace collar, to get off his horse and confront him, and Georgie is only too happy to oblige. But it turns out the new boy is the minister's nephew come to visit, and the minister quickly steps in to break up the fight. He gives Georgie quite the scolding, but Georgie gives him quite the shock:
Before setting off at his accustomed gallop, he paused to interrupt the Reverend Malloch Smith again. "You pull down your vest, you ole Billygoat, you!" he shouted, distinctly. "Pull down your vest, wipe off your chin—an' go to hell!"
These are some of Georgie's favorite naughty phrases and they make several appearances in The Magnificent Ambersons, but they've mostly disappeared from today's vernacular. "Pull down your vest!" originated with the frequent admonition from mothers to sons and husbands, during the fashionable period when waistcoats were shorter and would get bunched up around the middle, to pull down their vests and tidy up their appearance. This phrase took on a more general meaning and in slang it came to mean: "Mind your own business!"
"Wipe off your chin!" has undergone several meanings throughout the years, but in Georgie's day it meant: "Shut up!" Here's another of Georgie's favorites, given this time to a group of ladies who made the mistake of stopping to coo over and chat about his handsome face and sprightly curls:
Georgie, annoyed because they kept standing upon the circle he had chalked for his top, looked at them coldly and offered a suggestion: "Oh, go hire a hall!"
"Go hire a hall!" is an expression of reproof to someone who is talking too loudly, basically suggesting that if one wants to continue running his or her mouth in such fashion, one should go hire a hall in which to give their speech.
Nine-year-old Georgie is indeed a terror, but as he gets older, his manners become more refined, and he learns to conduct himself as a gentleman--for the most part. Georgie's selfish nature and hot temper are still evident when he reaches adulthood, but they are tempered somewhat by his heart-stopping good looks and confident aura, and as it turns out, those inexcusable youthful antics only served to enhance his adult bad-boy charm, especially with the ladies, because:
There was added to the prestige of his gilded position that diabolical glamour which must inevitably attend a boy who has told a minister to go to hell.
Giveaway for a Digital Copy of The Magnificent Ambersons
- Contest is open INTERNATIONALLY;
- Leave a comment including your email address for a chance to win; and
- Contest will be open until midnight on 4 May 2012.
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