Friday, August 26, 2022

Walter R. Brooks, Freddy and the Bean Home News (1943)

So now World War II is explicitly going on.  Part of this book involves an effort by the animals to have a scrap iron drive to gather metal for the war effort.  “No country can fail to win its wars when even the animals are patriotic,” we are told.  Of course.

But the main plot, obviously, involves the newspaper that Freddy starts.  You see, the Centerboro newspaper, the Guardian, is under new management.  The editor, Mr. Dimsey, Freddy's friend, owes too much money to the villainous Mrs. Underdunk, so she yoinks it away and now it's under the management of her brother, the equally villainous Herb Garble who, among other things, wantsFreddy's other friend the sheriff to be defeated in the upcoming election.  We've seen the sheriff before, but this is the first book where we've really seen his prison-resort, where none of the prisoners want to be set free, in action.

Things go from bad to worse when Mrs. Underdunk gets Freddy arrested for, allegedly, running wild and biting people.  He has a trial, but the problem is (as Garble puts it in a editorial) “the solid citizens of Centerboro have swung into action, and have passed a law that any animal found on our streets, unaccompanied by his owner, becomes the property of the town, and may be seized and disposed of as the town sees fit.”  That doesn't strike me as Constitutional, somehow.  But what can I say?  Rules must be obeyed.  Freddy is found not guilty, but then there's this plan the animals have to figure out how to get their hands on an iron deer that Mrs. Underdunk has in her yard, so they can win the scrap drive.  They capture Freddy; he gets away; everything's jake.

Good stuff, good stuff.  Also, a LOT of examples of the dissonant “murdering sentient animals” thing.  At this point, I'm pretty sure Brooks is doing this intentionally, but still, it's all amusing enough to be worth noting.

“My hunch is that Herb Garble will ask the judge to sentence you to be sold at auction.  And if that happens, he'll buy you in.”  

“And if he owns me, he can take me down to the butcher shop and sell me,” said Freddy.  “Oh, dear, what shall I do?”

THAT IS EXTREMELY NOT A PRETTY PICTURE.  Also, per Old Whibley the owl, Herb "shot my grandfather and had him stuffed.  Has him over the mantle.  Stuffed owl not cheerful to contemplate, even when not your own grandfather.”  No indeed, but neither perhaps is this exchange between Jinx and Freddy:

“I wanted to thank him,” said Freddy.

“You know he doesn't like to be thanked for anything.”

“I know.  But my goodness, he saved my life!  I ought to send him a box of mice or something.”

Freddy!  Dude!  You're talking pretty darn casually about murdering Eek, Quik, Eeny, and Cousin Augustus!  But...well, owls do rather famously eat mice, so what can anyone do?  And Freddy talking to Peter the bear:

“Nobody's dare shoot at a bear this time of year; you're out of season.”

“Sure, I know that, said Peter.   “The hunting season on bears doesn't open till fall.”

Dude!  It's considered socially acceptable to murder intelligent bears for sport!  Okay...I guess that's not so different than the real world.  But still.

“Supper's on the table,” said Mrs. Bean.  “Sheriff, you and your nephew had better come in and have a bite. . . . We haven't got much—just fried chicken and cold ham and Lyonnaise potatoes and grilled tomatoes and gingerbread and mince pie and pickled and coffee—but you're welcome to what there is.”

I know the joke—this is a recurring thing in the series—is that the Beans, particularly Mr. Bean, eat comically excessive amounts of food, but I can't help but feel that that's burying the lede, which is that the Beans are EATING FREDDY, CHARLES, AND HENRIETTA.  Where'd that meat come from, Mrs. Bean?  What's that blood on your sword, Edward?

Also, I must call this out:

Henrietta had never tried crowing before.  Like most hens, she thought she could crow as well as a rooster can.  But when she got up on the post and opened her beak, all that came out was a cackle, and if Mr. Bean or any of the animals heard it, they just thought it was Henrietta scolding Charles, and turned over and went to sleep again.

Brooks, dude.  If you're to be a chauvinist like this, you have to be consistent: several times in past books, you very consistently stated that hens could crow just as well as roosters; they just didn't want to.  Let's get serious here.


Blogger Pan Miluś pontificated to the effect that...

“No country can fail to win its wars when even the animals are patriotic”

Golly! It's a good thing that at the time all the animals in Germany, Japan and Italy apparently where bunch of traitorous, unloyal, double-dealing, colaburating, Janus-faced, bosom nourished vipers that would eagerly sold their beloved motherland to whomever throws few pieces of silver, huh?

9:58 AM  
Blogger Pan Miluś pontificated to the effect that...

As for the meat eating... Perhaps at some point we shall get a scene where some dude who lost his way and been lost for hours will stumble at Mr. Bean's farm and go there to ask for direction just to be tackled by Freddy who then will start feasting on his body greedily

"Mr.Bean look through the window and gaze in silence at his farm friend munching on the flesh of what was once some confused stranger. - Oh, well - he shrug his arms and went back to reading his stories. After all, in a world where people eat inteligent, talking animals it was fair that humans are equal opertunity meal and as long the man's family won't come snooping around looking for him it didn't raise any controversy. After all Mr. Bean agree that once he is gone his wife will simply put him outside for Jinx as a award for all the mice-catching all over the years. Charles on other hand was more critical of Freddy's actions.
- You sure eat like a pig - he commented looking at mess around Freddy, who only roll his eyes at the predictiple pun."

And then they will go to have adventure on the beach for the rest of the book or something.

Still it would bring some balance and equality to their world building.

3:35 AM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. pontificated to the effect that...

It did occur to me to wonder about those Axis animals. You can't trust them, I say!

And hey, the Freddy fanfic field is wide open, so go for it.

7:46 AM  

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