Ralph Waldo Emerson, who led the transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century, once wrote, “The virtue in most request is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion. ” The Transcendentalist were a group of people who believed that everyone was equal and had power inside them as an individual. In the mid-19th century Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Walt Whitman were the main writers and thinkers of the transcendentalist movement. In the 1960’s as African American’s fought for civil rights in a cruel society.
William Melvin Kelly combines the two in the book “A Different Drummer. ” This book tells the story of Tucker Caliban, a black farmer who encourages a huge amount of blacks to leave the south when he decides to salt his crops and burn down his house and leave. Tucker embodies the characteristics of a Transcendentalist according to Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman in three ways: he does what he wants without an explanation, he’s self-reliant, and he fights a corrupt system in his own way. Tucker does what he wants without an explanation or logic.
Tucker stays out all night to teach Dewey how to ride a bike, even though his grandfather would be mad. Tucker also burned his house down and salted his crops without explaining this to his wife or to anyone else. Tucker writes Dewey a letter in college, he ask about the bike he taught him to ride. Dewey doesn’t understand why because Tucker really didn’t explain what he wanted to know about the bike. This shows Tucker really doesn’t tell anyone his logic behind his actions. “To be great is to be misunderstood”, Emerson.
This quote refers to Tucker because he is misunderstood by the whites. This shows he’s also self-reliant and free spirited. Tucker Caliban is self-reliant and unique. Tucker self taught himself to farm and ride a bike. He also doesn’t believe in the civil rights movement which most other blacks strongly believe in. He also believes everyone has to free themselves or else there not really free. This shows that Tucker Caliban is not just any other black, he’s unique. But he also fights the south’s corrupt system in his own one of a kind way.
“We but half express ourselves, and are ashamed of that divine idea which each of us represents. ” This quote refers to Tucker because he is different and others are afraid to be different. Tucker Caliban is a rebel and he fights the system. He burned down his house and salted his crops because that’s where the slaves worked for the Willsons. He broke the grandfather clock because it was bought the same day as the African. He cut down the tree that separated his land from the Willisons, that was there from the days of slavery. He did all of this to cut his ties from slavery and from the south.”
Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of everyone of its members. ” This refers to the south and other blacks like Tucker. Therefore Tucker Caliban embodies the characteristics of a Transcendentalist according to Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman in three ways: he does what he wants without an explanation, he’s self-reliant, and he fights a corrupt system in his own way. Tucker’s movement from the south is a strong step in the right direction for racism in the south. To me what Tucker did was strong and no else was strong enough to leave before Tucker did it.