Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Swearing in Fiction, Part 6

Today, another excerpt to consider with swearing, this time from a novel called Imaginary Jesus by Matt Mikalatos. An adult satire, the story starts with a Christian hanging out with his Jesus when a burly, fish-loving man named Pete Jonason interrupts their time together. Conversation quickly escalates into confrontation:

I put a hand on [Pete’s] arm and told him to calm down, but he ignored me and said, “What exactly do you want from my friend Matt here?”

Jesus stared at him. “I have plans to prosper him, plans for peace. I want him to be happy and rich. If he follows my instructions, that’s exactly what will—”

Pete punched Jesus hard, in the face, causing his head to snap to the right and bounce off the window. I jumped up to intervene. Pete dragged Jesus from the table, and Jesus kicked over his chair, feet flailing. Pete had him in a bear hug, and Jesus elbowed him in the stomach. Pete lost his grip, grabbed Jesus by the hair, and slammed him to the ground. I shoved Pete with all my strength and he stumbled backward, flipping over a table and shattering a chair on the way down.

I helped Jesus up. “Are you okay? You should have called down some angels to protect you.”

With a guttural roar, Pete launched himself across the table, straight for Jesus’ head. Jesus sidestepped, turned, and ran out the door. Pete shook himself off and rose to go after him, but before he could leave, I picked up a leg from the broken chair and clocked him as hard as I could right in the back of the head. That didn’t stop him, but it did slow him down enough for Jesus to get a good head start. I watched as he gathered his robes in his hands and ran like crazy, his white legs flashing out, his sandals eating the pavement like a dog licking ice cream.

Pete stood up, rubbing his head. He glared at me and then at the rapidly retreating Jesus. “Damn it,” he said and kicked the table.

“You shouldn’t curse.”

“Sometimes a curse is called for. That—” Pete pointed out the window at the racing back of my Lord—“that was an imaginary Jesus, my friend. I choose my words carefully, and I said what I meant.”

So what do you think? Is this a legitimate use of swearing, why or why not?

(Disclaimer: “At the Red and Black,” Chapter Zero, Imaginary Jesus by Matt Mikalatos, copyright 2010, is used under the fair use provisions of the United States Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C §107, for educational and critical purposes.)

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