What Is The Theme Of The President Vanishes, By Rex Stout

1938 Words 8 Pages
The mere act of living was a struggle at the beginning of the 1930s. The last third of 1929 had plunged the United States into the worst economic disaster in its history. The task of resolving the crisis fell into the hands of President Herbert Hoover, who simply increased the damage. In 1933, people hoped that Franklin Delano Roosevelt could save the country with his New Deal, but growing threats from international powers promised a new impending conflict. With unemployment rates at an all-time high, citizens sought freedom from everyday life, and they found it in entertainment. Ready to answer the call were the Marx Brothers and Charlie Chaplin, but not everyone could afford a movie ticket. Along came the writers of America, including Rex …show more content…
The book opens with the news that the president -- here named Stanley so as not to enforce an unwanted connection -- has been kidnapped. The citizens of Stout’s America are not vastly different from those of the real one: “War..is indeed the only human activity that is rottener than politics,” one of them declares (5). Stout’s Americans are determined to emerge from the Depression -- they have “got to protect [their] food supply” (16) -- are a bit more than slightly racist -- “colored [girls refill] glasses” at wealthy homes (182) and one character suggests that “when a Jap pops up anywhere [to] just simply shoot him” because “Japs” are “the real menace” (19) -- and, of course, are sucked in by mass media and driven by lust for money -- the government is accused of using newspapers, movies and radio to persuade “morons to go get their heads shot off to put...steel mills back on three shifts” (23). The Communists are here, too, with the same lofty platform as the ones that started the Red Scare. In the novel, they are led by the conveniently-and-fatally-named Lincoln Lee, who shouts to the streets from on top of a soapbox, in the literal and figurative sense, that “we’re all Communists, and we’re all workers, and we’ve got rights and we’ve got blood” (8). Lee becomes the prime suspect in the kidnapping of the President for no reason other than that he is a Communist. Given the fears in the real America of the president’s kidnapping by Communists, this would have been Stout’s readers’ reaction to the supposed crime as well. Americans, and the characters, need no other reason to suspect him. The police are later instructed to arrest a Communist man who is mistaken for Lincoln Lee. When they realize the identity faux pas, they arrest him all the same “for not being Lincoln Lee” (40). Female subordination is another

Related Documents