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Brighton Metz

salzburg // writer + illustrator // cat person

4

22

Final Draft - Of Honorable Blood

Final Draft: Again, thank you for the valuable feedback! I apologize that I haven't responded to some of the comments, but I was away from internet for a while, and will respond to them now. I'm calling this the final draft, as I feel comfortable with where it stands, I've done a few polishes and given it a good deal of thought, and I'm ready to set it down. If you'd like to comment with final thoughts, opinions, or reviews, I'd be honored. Thank you again, and best wishes to everyone!

UPDATE (14/07/14): Having written everything out as I saw fit, I wonder if I strayed from the goal I had in the beginning, to reveal Thomas Greene as the villain. Did I stay true to that reading? Did the message of Elsa and Frances being bonded by this villain come through in the end project?

I also wanted to further flesh out the revelation that Hamilton offers her mother, close to her final years. One commenter, Eric E, mentioned wondering how he found out the secret. While I don't completely reveal that, I did want to add more to this end scene, and hope that it feels more completed now.

Second Draft: Thank you to those of you who have commented with feedback! I tried to address the concerns brought up about length of description and amount of action blocks, adding some more dialogue that will hopefully help to better set up the characters. Please take a look!

First Draft Finished: Can be viewed here. Any feedback is appreciated! I especially would like people's opinions on if I have done what I set out to do. It's only my first draft, so I'd like to review it with my theme in mind and try to compare the plan with the result. Thanks!

Logline:

Two women struggle to live with the birth of a child, raised by one, rued by the other. A question of birth, blood, and the choices we make.

Source:

I was a peasant girl from Germany,

Blue-eyed, rosy, happy and strong.

And the first place I worked was at Thomas Greene’s.

On a summer’s day when she was away

He stole into the kitchen and took me

Right in his arms and kissed me on my throat,

I turning my head. Then neither of us

Seemed to know what happened.

And I cried for what would become of me.

And cried and cried as my secret began to show.

One day Mrs. Greene said she understood,

And would make no trouble for me,

And, being childless, would adopt it.

(He had given her a farm to be still. )

So she hid in the house and sent out rumors,

As if it were going to happen to her.

And all went well and the child was born—

They were so kind to me.

Later I married Gus Wertman, and years passed.

But— at political rallies when sitters-by thought I was crying

At the eloquence of Hamilton Greene—

That was not it. No! I wanted to say:

That’s my son!

Source Material Choice:

When I leafed through The Spoon River Anthology at a too-tender age, I remember being particularly struck by the words of Elsa Wertman, a German immigrant, "happy, rosy, and strong." It caught me again in preparing for this project. Her story begins with such optimism, absolutely flattened when her first employer, Thomas Greene, forces himself upon her while his wife is away. Elsa cries for the shame, her lost hope, her growing pregnancy.

The themes of her exploitation and remorse at the pride in her secret son are underlying threads, but what I really hope to explore is the tie between these two women, Elsa and Frances Greene. Both have been victimized, both must force a dependent relationship with each other, but both women are villains in the eyes of the other. Rather than turning their anger towards the real antagonizer in the situation, they protect the "valiant and honorable blood" of Thomas Greene.

Setting:

Imagining American culture in the post-war era of the early 1920s, I wanted to use a time setting that would highlight the struggle of a foreign immigrant, the struggle of a social-status seeking, reputation-driven housewife, and still feel true to the original material. The major thrust of the plot will take place in this time, then jump forward about 35 years to briefly tell the story of Hamilton Greene, the eloquent politician raised by a mother not his own.

Characters:

The two most important characters are Elsa and Frances, two sides of a very broad spectrum. If we turn to the source material, written from Elsa's point of view, we see a young woman remorsefully looking back on her stolen carelessness. "Blue-eyed, rosy, happy, and strong." Faced with misfortune and fear of "what would become of [her]," Elsa chooses to give up her baby to continue living her own life. Even through her own retelling, Elsa is a somewhat passive character, merely a medium for the lust of Thomas Greene, a problem to be solved, a chance at motherhood for Frances, and later, passively present in the crowd watching Hamilton Greene. For this reason, I've decided to portray Elsa as being in her late teens, not yet able to fully take action and still somewhat afraid of the world outside.

We know much less about Frances. We're only given the opinion and conclusions that Elsa has drawn about the adoptive mother of her son, and the few words offered by Hamilton Greene. From his mother, he says, he inherited "vivacity, fancy, language." A woman of culture, educated in language and the finer things, we can picture Frances as being more than the well-to-do farm wife that Elsa describes. We know that she is socially-centered, offering to adopt Elsa's baby as her own, and hiding away in the house to convince others of her pregnancy. But why does she adopt the baby? Why does she take pity on the German servant girl, impregnated by Frances' own husband, instead of simply tossing her out to ruin? I believe Frances means her actions as a show of charity. She will save the life of the servant, and the life of the son. In turn, she can silence the rumors of nosy neighbors casting doubt on her marriage- and condemn her disloyal husband to live daily with his big "mistake."

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