Monday, October 20, 2014


The second half of The Book of Genesis includes a great deal more killing, famine, and hardships.  Crumb does not hesitate to show the gruesome side of the story.  The text alone is bland and does not show the severity of the events.  Crumb adds to the story by illustrating people being killed in various ways.  Chapter 38 includes a part where the Lord has people put to death because they are evil.  The text says the men were put to death, but Crumb enhances it with different execution methods.  The story leading up to the killing is what determines how they are killed.
The first picture shows Er lying on his back with his throat slit.  Blood is gathering around his head and neck.  If it is compared to the ram being killed earlier in the book, there is a sacrificial or humane sense in how the man is killed.  However, the killer looks deceitful as he sneaks away holding a bag.  Er could have been killed without seeing him coming.  Even though the text doesn’t say why Er is evil, Crumb builds up a background for reasons Er is evil.  The man walking away with the bag mirrors that of Er killing the man while holding a bag.
                There is another image that has similar text, but shows a different depiction of the killing.  Onan is brutally killed by being hit over the head with a rock.  Crumb uses sweeping lines toward the rock to show the intensity of the strike.  The man doing the killing has barbaric and hairy features.  This similar to the intense way that Onan is murdered.  In the story, Onan wouldn’t give his seed to his brother’s wife.  Onan doesn’t hide his selfishness when he wastes his seed on the ground in front of his brother’s wife.  Crumb’s use of physical impact could show an opinion on how he deserved to be killed.
                Brutality is also seen earlier in chapter 34 when men are being “killed by the edge of the sword.”  The scene is setup with Simeon and Levi walking into the city.  It is hard to determine which person is which in the image.  Next, there is a woman fleeing while a man is lying in a submissive position.  Simeon or Levi is holding the sword above the man in an aggressive stance about to strike.  The gritting of his teeth shows the anger in his face.  The next image shows Simeon and Levi striking men on the ground.  The sweeping arcs behind the sword adds to how much force is applied.  The skull of the person is being crushed by the sword.  This time Crumb displays multiple people being killed which plays on the words “And they killed every man.”  The killer’s face in this image has a blank stare that is almost like a zombie.  It is strange that the two men are positioned with their backs to each other.  The man with the headband seems to be more willing to kill than the man with the hat.
                The Pharaoh’s dream about famine produces another part which shows Crumb’s malicious enhancements.  In chapter 41, the Pharaoh has a dream that seven meager cows eat seven fat cows.  The first image shows their ribs and bony stature.  There is a fat cow standing beside the skinny cow to show their contrast.  The next image changes the viewing angle to accentuate the cow’s hip bones.   When the Pharaoh is recalling the dream, there is a drastic change in how the cows are depicted.  Crumb plays on the fact that the Pharaoh is angry that he doesn’t understand what the dream means.  There are two images like before, but the fat cow is left out of the first image.  Their hunger is shown in the drool and tongue hanging.  The next image shows the cow ripping at the flesh of the fat cow.  The cow’s front hooves are on top of the fat cow this time.  This makes it a more violent and narrow recollection.  The skinniness is also drawn in an extreme way.  The trees in the background are exchanged for something that looks like fire.  This puts more focus on the animals and the killing. 
                The Book of Genesis does not come across as being overly violent.  Crumb enhances the violence in the book and this shows the extreme side of story.  It really opens up the readers eyes and focuses on the negative parts which would normally be overlooked.  The scattering of the violent sections breaks the book up and brings the surreal ideas back to a story telling style.  The violent methods of punishment gives the Lord a sense of human qualities.


  1. I find your argument not very interesting. Yes Crumb chooses to over exaggerate violence in the book of Genesis because the text doesn't depict a detailed act of such. It would be out of character for the book to say, "Such and such was brutally slaughtered and another person repeatedly slammed a rock over their head until blood pooled and brain matter splattered." In a revision, I would probably pick a scene that Crumb interprets differently than what the text says rather than just summarizing a straight-forward argument. The book of Genesis is a violent book, that's an obvious fact. I would also relate your argument to the work as a whole, a part of the prompt which you left out all together. This argument could have been so much more interesting if you related it to a minor detail in the work and created a new interpretation of a small thing. I don't like your famine paragraph because it just seems like it's there because you ran out of violence scenes. Yes he draws overly thin cows so we know they're starving in result of a famine. A cow on the thinner side wouldn't accentuate this point in the text. "The violent methods of punishment gives the Lord a sense of human qualities." This was the one interesting line in your essay. If you expanded on this, that would be a good start to improving your argument and essay as a whole.

  2. I like the idea that Er is shown, at least ambivalently, as a sacrifice. But that’s an argument which needs to be made at greater length to be worthwhile. Why does it matter that there is something vaguely sacrificial about his death? You spend too much effort describing what Crumb is doing, and too little figuring out and articulating what you’re up too. For instance, what are you doing with Onan?

    “And they killed every man.” The killer’s face in this image has a blank stare that is almost like a zombie. It is strange that the two men are positioned with their backs to each other. The man with the headband seems to be more willing to kill than the man with the hat.” -- I actually like the deep attention to detail here, but again - toward what end? This is a scattered if interesting description of Crumb’s depiction of violence, not (yet) an argument about it.

    Overall: You pick interesting moment to describe, and elements of argument do sneak in (especially with Simeon and Levi), but there’s not enough of you here. I have no idea of what you’re trying to accomplish, even though you do choose interesting material to discuss.