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Author Topic: Mormon Elements in Novels
BBegley
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I'm not a Mormon (raised Catholic, not currently religious at all), but I've been very interested to discover elements of Mormon theology in Card's books. I never notice them immediately, which is the point of this post. What stories am I missing references to in Card's (and other Mormon writers, like Sanderson) stories that a Mormon would spot immediately, but would go right over the head of the average non-Mormon? Here are the ones I already know about:

1) Abraham writing down knowledge about celestial movements, the earth circling the sun, etc.. in Sarah.
2) I know that the the homecoming series is supposed to be sort of a retelling of (some of, or all of?) the Book of Mormon.
3) I just ran across a reference to the possible belief that Quetzalcoatl may be Jesus (Andrew Sullivan's blog).

Are there other inspirations/retellings that I'm missing, but that are obvious to anyone really familiar with Mormon theology?

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Aros
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One of my favorites is Sazed in Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy.

Many religions preach that only the clergy can properly interpret scripture. Not only does the Mormon church encourage members to read and interpret their own holy books, members are encouraged to read the works of other faiths and assimilate truths into their own beliefs. The core of the Mormon faith is that people shouldn't just accept religion as a heritage, that but that they MUST experience religion personally and develop their own testimony.

I think Sazed was the embodiment of this thinking.

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Annie
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The Seventh Son series has a lot of allusions to the life of LDS prophet Joseph Smith.

And welcome to Hatrack, BBegley! [Smile]

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advice for robots
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Twilight. Easy pickings because of the author, but I thought the novels had a Mormon flavor to them. The tension between Bella and Edward over getting married is straight from Provo. Maybe even Bella wanting to become a vampire first. I don't think Meyer was inserting any overt archetypes into the story, but the perspective is definitely there.
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by Aros:
One of my favorites is Sazed in Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy.

I never picked up on that, but you are right!

----

The discussion of "aia" in Children of The Mind is almost certainly derived in part from the Mormon concept of "intelligences". The pre-spirit consciousness.

Also when Quim is captured and has a theological debate with Warmaker there is a reference to their debate rivaling the council at Nicea. Many Mormons look to that event as a sort of linchpin where the true church was lost, and Joseph Smith's restoration then became necessary if it wasn't already needed.

Pastwatch discusses Native Americans who in certain respects are scientifically more advanced than their European counterparts. This might have some origins in the Book of Mormon where the inhabitants are portrayed much more civilized and scientifically industrious but then lose those attributes due to widespread sin. The BOM also discusses the idea that if the inhabitants remained faithful they would have been protected from outsiders like Christopher Columbus and would still retain posession of their lands. These dynamics are not mirrored in the book, but the question of what the world would look like if the Indians had banded together seems related.

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Speed
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Welcome to Hatrack. Do your own homework. [Smile]
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BBegley
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quote:
Originally posted by Speed:
Welcome to Hatrack. Do your own homework. [Smile]

I appreciate the welcome. I've read this board for a long time, and with a few notable exceptions (that I don't plan to note) the conversation is typically thoughtful and interesting.

I'm willing to read the book of Mormon at some point, but I'm never going to grow up steeped in Mormon life, and I'm really not interested in joining a church.

I never thought of Pastwatch as having any Mormon influence/inspiration until a couple days ago. I assumed his interest in Aztec/Mayan culture was based on his mission in Brazil (which I'm sure is also true).

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dkw
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quote:
Originally posted by Aros:
Many religions preach that only the clergy can properly interpret scripture.

Name one.
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scifibum
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quote:
Originally posted by Annie:
The Seventh Son series has a lot of allusions to the life of LDS prophet Joseph Smith.

Hmmm...not sure I can see it.

[Razz]

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SteveRogers
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Orson Scott Card's own Homecoming series is a science-fictionalization of stories in the Book of Mormon.
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Hobbes
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I find Card's books reflect his Mormonism best in the mindset, or approach to the world that he takes rather than in specific references or ideas. He has written a few direct links in his books, and some purely Mormon works as well (such as Saints). Not to say that all latter day saints have the same approach to life as each other, but his books are based on the same moral world that any LDS parishioner would be comfortable with.

Also, to go along with what BlackBlade mentioned, a lot of his projections of science into the future are based on LDS concepts of how the world works. Though there's probably more drawn from his reading of history than his faith you can still certainly see the latter come into play when he talks about physics thousands of years in the future. [Smile]

Oh, and I'm pretty sure Speed was being factitious, so don't worry about it.

Hobbes [Smile]

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odouls268
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I'm pretty sure Mormons use the same elements as everybody else. I mean, I've thumbed through the Book of Mormon once or twice, and I've never seen a "Periodic Table of Latter Day Saints" or anything.
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Speed
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You've never heard of Teancum or Rameumptum?
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BlackBlade
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I lol'd.
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Jeff C.
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quote:
Originally posted by dkw:
quote:
Originally posted by Aros:
Many religions preach that only the clergy can properly interpret scripture.

Name one.
Well, historically, I'd say Catholicism, which is probably what Aros was referring to. There was a point in time when only the clergy were allowed to read or teach the gospels, mostly because they were the only ones who could read the language.

I don't know of any other religions that have ever been like that, but I'm sure they exist.


Back on topic though, another example of the Mormon influence is in Ender's Game. Ender's father is named John-Paul, a typical Mormon name, and he was raised to be a Mormon. It gets explored a bit more in the short stories as well.

There's also the Folk of the Fringe stories, which revolve around Mormons. I haven't read them, but that's my understanding.

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The Black Pearl
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The emphasis on "making babies" in a lot of relationship stuff, particularly in Shadow Puppets. And I always cringed at that wording. If he had literally worded it as "raising children", I actually would have been less annoyed. I enjoyed the book, but that wording was dumb.

yo i'm making babies wassup

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dkw
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quote:
Originally posted by Jeff C.:
Back on topic though, another example of the Mormon influence is in Ender's Game. Ender's father is named John-Paul, a typical Mormon name, and he was raised to be a Mormon. It gets explored a bit more in the short stories as well.

Ender's father was Roman Catholic. His mother was Mormon.
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maui babe
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And John-Paul is not remotely a Mormon name. It's Catholic as well.
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Jhai
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quote:
Originally posted by dkw:
quote:
Originally posted by Aros:
Many religions preach that only the clergy can properly interpret scripture.

Name one.
Some strands of Hinduism. First of all, the Vedas are traditionally only written and spoken (for the non-literate) in Sanskrit, which limits access tremendously. Most Hindu marriages (and other rites), for example, are done in Sanskrit with no translation, so people don't actually know what they're vowing to do. Even when you get translations, there's often a presumption that the translation is not accurate enough for a true understanding of the scripture. And then there's the sects/regions/traditions where no one outside of the Brahman caste is allowed to study the Vedas or other religious texts. That's pretty much textbook "clergy interpret the religion for the masses".
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daventor
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I think the magic system of making in Alvin Maker (which basically involves him persuading matter to do what he wants it too) is probably based off of certain Mormons' interpretation of scriptures and doctrine (I'm thinking of Cleon Skousen, in particular) that all matter has some intelligence bound to it and that God is able to command those intelligences to do as He desires.

With Brandon Sanderson you keep seeing this idea of deification come up in stories again and again. In both Elantris and Warbreaker normal people become godlike beings; and, in Mistborn

(SPOILER! SPOILER! SPOILER! Sazed and, to an extent, Kelsier, seem to gain godlike powers and manipulate events in the temporal world from behind the scenes. SPOILER OVER).

While the examples from his plots operate quite differently from what we believe about men and women eventually becoming exalted beings, I'm pretty sure that was a big influence on turning his thoughts again and again to that sort of thing.

And if you ever read John Brown (another Utah-based fantasy author, like Sanderson) his book, Servant of a Dark God [which is pretty dang good, btw] is chalk full of little Mormonisms. There's a line that keeps coming up about "Things that act or are acted upon" (something like that), which is a paraphrase of a scripture from the Book of Mormon: 2 Nephi 2: 14- 14 And now, my sons, I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning; for there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon.. Also, early on in the book the main character walks up to a town and the town's fortifications consist of man-made mounds of earth surrounding the town with wooden walls on top of the mounds- the Book of Alma in the Book of Mormon describes towns being fortified in exactly this manner.

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TomDavidson
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To be fair, "man-made mounds of earth with wooden walls on top of the mounds" is the classic motte-and-bailey.
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Jeff C.
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quote:
Originally posted by dkw:
quote:
Originally posted by Jeff C.:
Back on topic though, another example of the Mormon influence is in Ender's Game. Ender's father is named John-Paul, a typical Mormon name, and he was raised to be a Mormon. It gets explored a bit more in the short stories as well.

Ender's father was Roman Catholic. His mother was Mormon.
Ah, my mistake. I could have sworn he was the Mormon of the pair.
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daventor
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Tom Davidson: To be fair, "man-made mounds of earth with wooden walls on top of the mounds" is the classic motte-and-bailey.


You're right, that sort of fortification can probably be found in a lot of different historical accounts but I remember when I read the book (it was over a year ago) there were specifics about the description that strongly reminded me of the descriptions in the Book of Mormon. Don't have the book on hand, so I can't point them out, but I really think he was drawing from the Book of Mormon in this instance.

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pooka
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Is it my imagination, or do people assume that writings by Mormons are more likely to be steeped with their religious tradition than the average writer of another religion?

My first exposure to this was my sunday school teacher's description of Mormon themes on Battlestar Galactica (the old one.)

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Aros
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quote:
Originally posted by dkw:
quote:
Originally posted by Aros:
Many religions preach that only the clergy can properly interpret scripture.

Name one.
Predominantly Catholicism, as it's a main tenant in their religion.
http://www.billmounce.com/blog/05-24-2010/can-individual-interpret-scripture-2-pet-1-20

But most religions restrict interpretation within their dogma. If you dig down into it, Mormonism leaves quite a bit up for interpretation.

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advice for robots
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If elements of my religion become too overt in a work of fiction, instead of being flattered I tend to stop reading. I'm not a big fan of allegory. It doesn't matter what the ideology is, from Mormon to humanist--if the author starts preaching, I toss the book.

I'm also not a reader or a proponent of LDS fiction, i.e. stories by LDS authors with LDS themes and settings. Blech. That is one of the parts of Utah LDS culture that I still cannot stand, even after 16 years of getting acclimatized to it.

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BBegley
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quote:
Originally posted by pooka:
Is it my imagination, or do people assume that writings by Mormons are more likely to be steeped with their religious tradition than the average writer of another religion?

At least for me, I'm just less likely to catch it while reading the book. I catch most overt biblical references, and occasional Shakespeare references, but due to my lack of familiarity with LDS culture, I'm probably missing most of those.

I remember while reading Saints running across the scene where Alvin fights with Mike Fink and realizing I was missing something when I read the Alvin Maker books.

I've never felt that Card tried to push a religious or theological element into a novel that damaged the story in any way.

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dkw
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quote:
Originally posted by Aros:
quote:
Originally posted by dkw:
quote:
Originally posted by Aros:
Many religions preach that only the clergy can properly interpret scripture.

Name one.
Predominantly Catholicism, as it's a main tenant in their religion.
http://www.billmounce.com/blog/05-24-2010/can-individual-interpret-scripture-2-pet-1-20

But most religions restrict interpretation within their dogma. If you dig down into it, Mormonism leaves quite a bit up for interpretation.

You really shouldn't take an accusation on an anti-catholic blog post as evidence of anything about the main tenets of the Catholic religion.
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JohnHansen
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quote:

I remember while reading Saints running across the scene where Alvin fights with Mike Fink

I am confused by this. Is there a scene in Saints where Alvin fights with Mike Fink?

I am inclined to believe that it is easy to make too much of the presence of Latter-day Saint themes/elements in fiction written by LDS authors. Sometimes it really is there and is there intentionally. Other times it is there by accident. And a lot of times it isn't really there but we like to think it is there because it makes us feel special. I.e., a hidden message only us insiders truly understand or get. In any case it doesn't matter much unless it gets in the way of good story telling.

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kmbboots
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I think that it is true that, historically, the Catholic Church has discouraged the laity from reading the Scriptures on their own. This was hardly absolute and, bear in mind, the set of people who were both untrained in theology yet able to read at all was pretty limited. That said, we still think that Scripture needs some explanation from those who have some training.

I think that is a good thing in general.

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BBegley
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quote:
Originally posted by JohnHansen:
quote:

I remember while reading Saints running across the scene where Alvin fights with Mike Fink

I am confused by this. Is there a scene in Saints where Alvin fights with Mike Fink?



There is a scene that involves Joseph Smith fighting with a river rat that very closely resembles the fight between Alvin and Mike Fink

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MrSquicky
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
I think that it is true that, historically, the Catholic Church has discouraged the laity from reading the Scriptures on their own. This was hardly absolute and, bear in mind, the set of people who were both untrained in theology yet able to read at all was pretty limited. That said, we still think that Scripture needs some explanation from those who have some training.

I think that is a good thing in general.

But Harold Camping has finally figured out when the (completely unfounded in the Bible) Rapture is going to happen!
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Sean Monahan
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quote:
Originally posted by JohnHansen:
quote:

I remember while reading Saints running across the scene where Alvin fights with Mike Fink

I am confused by this. Is there a scene in Saints where Alvin fights with Mike Fink?

I am inclined to believe that it is easy to make too much of the presence of Latter-day Saint themes/elements in fiction written by LDS authors. Sometimes it really is there and is there intentionally. Other times it is there by accident. And a lot of times it isn't really there but we like to think it is there because it makes us feel special. I.e., a hidden message only us insiders truly understand or get. In any case it doesn't matter much unless it gets in the way of good story telling.

I think he might be referring to the fact (and my memory my be *very* cloudy about this - it's been twenty years since I read Saints) that there is a scene in Saints were Joseph Smith (I think) fights someone, and the scene is very similar to the scene in the Maker series where Alvin fights Mike Fink. In particular with the loud obnoxious boasting that the bad guy bellows before the actual fight. This may have led him to believe that the fight in the Maker series was based on an actual fight Joseph Smith had.
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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by MrSquicky:
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
I think that it is true that, historically, the Catholic Church has discouraged the laity from reading the Scriptures on their own. This was hardly absolute and, bear in mind, the set of people who were both untrained in theology yet able to read at all was pretty limited. That said, we still think that Scripture needs some explanation from those who have some training.

I think that is a good thing in general.

But Harold Camping has finally figured out when the (completely unfounded in the Bible) Rapture is going to happen!
Poor man. I thought he gave that up. Of course, we have plenty of our own ass-backwardness.
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BBegley
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quote:

I remember while reading Saints running across the scene where Alvin fights with Mike Fink

quote:

I am confused by this. Is there a scene in Saints where Alvin fights with Mike Fink?

quote:

I think he might be referring to the fact (and my memory my be *very* cloudy about this - it's been twenty years since I read Saints) that there is a scene in Saints were Joseph Smith (I think) fights someone, and the scene is very similar to the scene in the Maker series where Alvin fights Mike Fink. In particular with the loud obnoxious boasting that the bad guy bellows before the actual fight. This may have led him to believe that the fight in the Maker series was based on an actual fight Joseph Smith had.





It did in fact lead me to believe that. It never occurred to me that Card would write the same completely fictional scene in two different novels. I assumed that the Joseph Smith story was rooted in fact. I guess not.

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Jeff C.
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quote:
Originally posted by pooka:
Is it my imagination, or do people assume that writings by Mormons are more likely to be steeped with their religious tradition than the average writer of another religion?

My first exposure to this was my sunday school teacher's description of Mormon themes on Battlestar Galactica (the old one.)

That's a good point. I have told quite a few people that OSC is a Mormon, and they usually give me a strange look. Then I spend the next few minutes explaining that he didn't go crazy with his religion in the Ender books (I mean, Ender is basically Agnostic). But even still, it's silly to assume that an author is going to go nuts with their religious views in a science fiction book. I mean, I can understand seeing it here and there, but you really have to look for it.

Unless I'm just oblivious, which very well could be.

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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by BBegley:
quote:

I remember while reading Saints running across the scene where Alvin fights with Mike Fink

quote:

I am confused by this. Is there a scene in Saints where Alvin fights with Mike Fink?

quote:

I think he might be referring to the fact (and my memory my be *very* cloudy about this - it's been twenty years since I read Saints) that there is a scene in Saints were Joseph Smith (I think) fights someone, and the scene is very similar to the scene in the Maker series where Alvin fights Mike Fink. In particular with the loud obnoxious boasting that the bad guy bellows before the actual fight. This may have led him to believe that the fight in the Maker series was based on an actual fight Joseph Smith had.





It did in fact lead me to believe that. It never occurred to me that Card would write the same completely fictional scene in two different novels. I assumed that the Joseph Smith story was rooted in fact. I guess not.

Well, Joseph Smith was not a stranger to fist fights. Not that he was famous for brawling, but he certainly had more than one. If one reads the complete account of his getting the gold plates, he claims he was assaulted three times on his way back home and each time defended himself. He broke his hand (arm maybe?) punching one of the assailants.

edit: I also recall a few times where he threatened to fight folks with less than nice intentions.

[ October 31, 2011, 06:22 PM: Message edited by: BlackBlade ]

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Jeff C.
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
quote:
Originally posted by BBegley:
quote:

I remember while reading Saints running across the scene where Alvin fights with Mike Fink

quote:

I am confused by this. Is there a scene in Saints where Alvin fights with Mike Fink?

quote:

I think he might be referring to the fact (and my memory my be *very* cloudy about this - it's been twenty years since I read Saints) that there is a scene in Saints were Joseph Smith (I think) fights someone, and the scene is very similar to the scene in the Maker series where Alvin fights Mike Fink. In particular with the loud obnoxious boasting that the bad guy bellows before the actual fight. This may have led him to believe that the fight in the Maker series was based on an actual fight Joseph Smith had.





It did in fact lead me to believe that. It never occurred to me that Card would write the same completely fictional scene in two different novels. I assumed that the Joseph Smith story was rooted in fact. I guess not.

Well, Joseph Smith was not a stranger to fist fights. Not that he was famous for brawling, but he certainly had more than one. If one reads the complete account of his getting the gold plates, he claims he was assaulted three times on his way back home and each time defended himself. He broke his hand (arm maybe?) punching one of the assailants.

edit: I also recall a few times where he threatened to fight folks with less than nice intentions.

Oh, that nutty Joseph Smith. He's such a rambunctious little rapscallion!
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