IF YOU SAY SO, CLAUDE by Joan Lowery Nixon


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Like most pioneer women, Shirley meekly answers, ""If you say so Claude,"" when her scruffy white-bearded mate decides to leave their Colorado Territory mining town and seek peace and quiet in Texas. She protests but acquiesces when Claude wants to stop in a nrrow rocky canyon; but then Claude himself decides to move on when a bullet Shirley aims at a rabbit bounces back and forth across the canyon and zooms straight through the top of his hat. An unpleasant experience with a wild hog and a rattlesnake drives them on past Claude's second choice, a bleak, flat landscape with (says Shirley) ""the worst case of the uglies I've ever seen."" A wolf disturbs them in his third, which is dusty, dry, and bumpy-lumpy. Then when Shirley finds a likely spot--so pretty Claude fears it will soon fill up with people--she covers up a bobcat's appearance and talks Claude into staying. When he comes round, she's all demure: ""If you say so, Claude."" This is intended perhaps as a sly demonstration of a rifle-totin' woman's underhanded power play. But Cauley's crassly obvious style is about as sly as a charging hog; Nixon's telling is also short on surprise and nuance; and though Shirley's indirect tactics were a necessary resort in her day, they'll only make today's young feminists' blood boil.

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 1980
Publisher: Warne