Meteor of War: The John Brown Cycle
After all the noise and drama of his explosive life and death, John Brown’s body finally hanged, eerily silent and ominously swaying in the crisp Virginia air of December 1859. Jacob Lawrence’s interpretation of this eternal moment places Brown between two worlds, the heavens opening behind to let him in (figure 7.1). Lawrence’s Brown is an emblem, a timeless and abstract figure, transformed in death from man to myth, more important for what he represents than for his individual humanity. The white cloud behind the figure suggests a land mass, the blue sky of the ocean around North America, and so Brown feels like a national symbol, lifted above and superimposed onto the United States.
KeywordsLabor Leader Greek Tragedy American Character Ritual Execution Democratic Experiment
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