Kindred Spirits or Joseph's Race?

I've been thinking a bit about the whole concept of "The race that knows Joseph" lately--some ideas that I want to work into my story, and I thought I'd toss them out here first, to see what sort of discussion springs up (look at me mixing my metaphors!).

I think that in some ways, the whole "Joseph's race" idea can become a snobbery, as in, we can only be friends with people who think like us and act like us. It wasn't that way with the original concept of "kindred spirits." There it seemd that Anne made more of an effort to find something kindred in everyone she meets and because of that is able to befriend almost anyone.

Later on, though, it just acts (in my opinion) as a dividor: "Well, he's not of Joseph's race so we can't ever be good friends, end of story." And how boring is it to only be friends with people who think like you? How are you ever going to be stretched and challenged, which is one of the blessings of friendships?

Look at all of us on here--we all come from wildly different backgrounds, beliefs, ideals, etc., and yet we are able to be friends. That is how I think of kindred spirits--those who can be friends despite many differences because of one common spark--call it the spark of humanity, if you will!

And I suspect that's how LMM originally intended it, but the message seems to have gotten muddled in later books, as though perhaps the second generation didn't quite understand and just took the term "Joseph's race" as a way to distinguish themselves from the rest of the world.

Or maybe that's just my flawed interpretation. What do you all think?
2 Responses
  1. Well, when The Race That Knows Joseph came about, it was from Miss Cornelia. I imagine with her that it actually was a divider. I do think of Kindred Spirits and those who know Joseph as pretty much the same, though.

    I don't necessarily think of The Race of Joseph in a horrible light, though. Some people just aren't of it, and though those who are may actually have differing opinions of many things, they still share that commonality that makes them able to be friends.

    You don't have to be overly poetic or flowery to be of the Race. Heaven knows I don't think that Cornelia was. In essentials though, they all just meshed.

    Call it what you want, but it actually does exist, and though yo may be friendly with someone who isn't of the race or a kindred spirit, you'll never be quite close enough without that thread between you.


  2. Connie Says:

    You know, LMM and her cousins originally used "Joseph's race" among themselves, and as much as it might sound like blasphemy to some, one thing I learned about LMM when I was in PEI was that she was NOT always a very nice person. Her diaries are apparently full of somewhat mean-spirited things about others (as is mine, sometimes). She loved gossip, even if it wasn't "clean" gossip, and drama, and had a somewhat misanthropic view of the world at times. And her family, the Macneills, were the "proud Macneills" of Cavendish, like the Murrays are of Blair Water. So I think it entirely possible she was something of a snob, in real life.

    What I think happened is this: at first, LMM wanted Anne to represent her better characteristics, it was like Anne was an alter-ego, a representation of the girl LMM wanted to be, good and sweet and kind all the time. But by the time Anne got older, Maud had gotten older, too, and I think that she realized it's more realistic and satisfying for a person to be well-rounded, that it wasn't a sin if Anne sometimes was proud or disapproving of others. There are other instances of this in the books (Can you imagine 11 year old Anne telling Di that the Pennys aren't the type of people she should be associating with?) and I think the switch to Race that Knows Joseph instead of kindred spirits was unconscious, but indicative of that subtle shift in both Maud's and Anne's characters.