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South PacificParadise Rewritten$
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Jim Lovensheimer

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195377026

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195377026.001.0001

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You’ve Got to Be Carefully Rewritten

You’ve Got to Be Carefully Rewritten

The Distillation of Racial Intolerance

(p.82) 5 You’ve Got to Be Carefully Rewritten
South Pacific

Jim Lovensheimer

Oxford University Press

After a preliminary discussion of race and World War II that draws from historian Micahel Bess’s work on the subject, this chapter demonstrates how Hammerstein repeatedly subdued South Pacific’s criticism of prejudice throughout the creative process. Beginning with an examination of Nellie Forbush and what her background in 1930s prewar rural Arkansas would have been, the chapter moves on to reveal how Hammerstein retained her prejudice while making it increasingly less abrasive than it was in James A. Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific. Attention is then shifted to Joe Cable, whose grappling with prejudice provides the musical’s tragic subplot. Act 2, scene 4, the musical’s climactic scene, is analyzed in its many manifestations indicated by the numerous drafts and sketch studies for it found among Hammerstein’s papers. While some representations of race in the musical remain problematic—references to the Japanese enemy and the characterization of island women, for example—this chapter demonstrates Hammerstein’s ongoing commitment to racial equality and tolerance that anticipate the American civil rights movement.

Keywords:   Hammerstein, South Pacific, James A. Michener, Tales of the South Pacific, Michael Bess, American civil rights movement, racial equality, sketch studies

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