Charles Ramsey is Burma Jones

A-Confederacy-of-DuncesMy most favorite character in literature is Burma Jones. The only black, the only sane, possibly the smartest and yet the funniest person in A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, he works for “minimal wage” – not his only mispronunciation – as a janitor in a shady bar to avoid being re-arrested for alleged vagrancy, although his arrest was probably sparked more by racism.

Sadly, I don’t remember much of the dialogue, except for the exclaiming “Whoa!” which accompanied many of Burma Jones’ sentences, his mispronunciations like “po-lice” and “a-ward”, comparing the work at the bar to work “on a plantation” as well as the messed-up grammar and syntax. If you have A Confederacy of Dunces at hand, please add a few of his quotes in the comments below to give other readers an impression of the style. If you haven’t, go and get a copy. You will enjoy it!

Despite its literary success, A Confederacy of Dunces has not yet been turned into a movie. Since this week, I know who could play Burma Jones very well:

(Charles Ramsey, who helped rescue three kidnapped girls in Cleveland, Ohio on 6 May 2013)

That’s exactly how Burma Jones sounds in the novel and how I imagined him!

About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a writer, a spy or a hobo.
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14 Responses to Charles Ramsey is Burma Jones

  1. Ah yes, while the rest of the world produces Shakespeares and Hemingways and Gandhis, here in the great state of Ohio they produce Chuck Ramsey. I respect what he did, and wish there were more people willing to take action like he did, but it still evokes the same gut reaction in me….

  2. El Guapo says:

    While I use the phrase “confederacy of dunces” constantly, I haven’t read the book.
    Maybe I’ll check it out.

  3. dunce fan says:

    ooo-whee, I gonna show that Lana Lee. Maybe I git my own Night o’ Joy dump and tell the po-lice theys a two-bit hustler tramp takin vantage o po orphins with some kinda United Fun scam. Tell her she needs to push a broom over my flo fo minimal wage o they throw her Nazi ass in jail with the color folk. Whoa!

  4. carolynquinn says:

    That would be perfect casting. WHOA!

  5. Robert Goldie says:

    Hey! All you peoples draggin along here. Stop and come stick your ass on a Night of Joy stool,” he started again. “Night of Joy got genuine color peoples workin below the minimal wage. Whoa! Guarantee plantation atmosphere, got cotton growin right on the stage right in front your eyeball, got a civil right worker gettin his ass beat up between show. Hey!……..

  6. Robert Goldie says:

    For anyone that hasn’t read ‘A Confederacy of Dunces’, I cannot recommend it enough. I originally picked up a dogeared copy in an old bookshop for 40 pence (roughly 50 cents) and I’m glad I did, whilst reading I laughed so much, I was in a near constant flood of tears.

    • It’s one of these books I want to read again every few years. Wonderful characters, brilliant dialogue, extreme fun and even a good plot.

      Somehow I think that if you liked “A Confederacy of Dunces”, you might also enjoy “Twelve Chairs” by Ilf and Petrov.

  7. Mel says:

    Whoa! color people’s Cain fin no job, But they sure cain fin an opening in jail.

  8. Andrea Clark says:

    “You better be glad you’re working.’
    “Ever night I’m fallin on my knee.”

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