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23 Apr 2012
April 4th Lecture
The Sisters Brothers Part 2
How has the figure of the cowboy been updated to appeal to the Canadian audience?
o Designed to sell
Successful in winning literary prizes
Eli is an unusual cowboy
o Sensitive, poetic
The killer with the heart of gold Tony Soprano
o Sympathizes with underdogs
o He longs for the simple life
To run a store
He wants to get out of the western more than anything
o Longs for a female companionship
Has an intense relationship with his brother
Symbol: The Toothbrush
o Repeated in no fewer than 7 scenes in this book
o Constantly brushing his teeth, he loves to
o Convinces Charlie to do it also
o What is the meaning behind the toothbrush?
Sanitize the cowboy
Obsessed with cleanliness, trying to brush away all the roughness that
comes with cowboys
Unusual Western
o Does not set up the typical cowboys vs. Indians/ good vs. evil dichotomy.
Indeed, evil seems to reside within Eli, as he struggles with the morality of
being a killer and a cowboy.
Where do you think the story is going?
o If it’s literature we don’t know where it would go
o Things don’t work out
What actually happens:
o He is a very reliable narrator and he knows it’s wrong to kill these innocent
o He thinks the common life is not coming
o Charlie uses the ability to shoot people by losing his right hand
o Eli and Charlie did not fulfill their mission
o They settle into a quiet existence
What does The Sisters Brothers teach us about “what it is that makes a man great”?
o You make your own luck
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