Explain this Mad Men plot point to me?
September 28, 2010 6:05 AM   Subscribe

Love Mad Men, but something's been bugging me since the first season. Help? Mild spoilers within, if you haven't seen it.

The whole incident in Korea where Dick Whitman became Don Draper -- what am I missing that makes this even partially plausible? From what I can tell, he is injured, along with another guy who is killed, and thanks to a helpful Army mixup, he assumes the dead guy's identity, and Dick Whitman is no more, and Don Draper now lives. Further, upon return to the states, he meets the dead guy's widow, and not only is she totally OK with him breaking the news that her real husband is actually dead, and he will be assuming her husband's identity, but then they become soulmates.

Are there details that I missed, or this the most epic plothole ever? Why would there be no ramifications from any or all of: (the real) Draper's parents, friends, siblings, co-workers, bankers, insurance agents, neighbors, doctors, or anyone else he knew? Who were presumably told (by his widow) -- "Hey, guys -- Don died in Korea, but there's no funeral, body, gravestone, military records, or anything." Or are we to believe her story was that he did return from Korea alive, but then simply dropped out of his world? What was supposed to be Mrs. Draper's motivation for peddling that story?

Trying to avoid chatfilter here, just wondering whether Weiner is just leaning pretty hard on suspension of disbelief, or were there mitigating plot details I didn't catch?
posted by stupidsexyFlanders to Media & Arts (48 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
Draper's story is awfully reminiscent of the real-life Tichborne case, if that makes you feel any better.

The Tichborne case was the basis for The Simpsons' episode "The Principal and the Pauper," if that makes you feel any worse.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:11 AM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's a really, really good question.

I assume Mrs. Draper could have told friends/family that he went MIA.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:13 AM on September 28, 2010


There wasn't really an army mix-up--Dick switched their dog tags because he knew Don was scheduled to go home soon and he wanted out of the war. We haven't seen a lot of why the real Mrs. Draper went along with it, except it didn't seem to be a very happy marriage (she's said her husband was in love with her sister) and felt bad for Dick. As far as we know, the real Don doesn't have any other family and we don't know what she told any friends.
posted by leesh at 6:14 AM on September 28, 2010


From http://madmen.wikia.com/wiki/Don_Draper (with footnotes to episodes)

During military service in the Korean War an officer named Don Draper was killed while the two were posted alone at an isolated base. Dick then switched identification tags with Lt. Draper and assumed his name, cutting off contact with his family and creating a new life for himself.

Dick returns to the states as Don Draper. He takes up a job at a car dealership, where Anna Draper, the real Don Draper's wife confronts him, telling Don that she knows he isn't who he claims he is. Don comes clean with Anna, and promises to help take care of her, and they end up as close friends
posted by ijoyner at 6:15 AM on September 28, 2010


Also, people die without funerals all the time. Even people with families. My father did not have a funeral.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:19 AM on September 28, 2010


Anna totally isn't cool with it when she first finds out. She is eventually, of course, but there is a plot gap explaining how that comes to be.

There's a lot of those sort of gaps throughout the series, but they (in my mind, at least) add to the mystery of it all. Weiner makes a point of not spelling everything exactly out for the viewer, but letting them figure things out on their own as they go along.
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:22 AM on September 28, 2010


Minor correction — it wasn't just a helpful Army mix-up. Dick Whitman swapped his dog tags with that of the real, dead Don Drapers.

Why would there be no ramifications from any or all of: (the real) Draper's parents, friends, siblings, co-workers, bankers, insurance agents, neighbors, doctors, or anyone else he knew?

People don't tend to ask for proof of death from a man's widow. The only real probing questions, as I see it, may have come from family and very close friends who would want to visit the real Don's grave. It may be that his parents were dead and he was an only child, and that no one else ever asked where he was buried. Former co-workers, neighbours and acquaintances and his doctor and dentist and so on would be satisfied to be told by his widow that he was dead.

As for bankers and insurance agents, Anna would already have had access to whatever capital and assets the real Don Draper had (he would have arranged that before going overseas), and she would not have collected on any insurance policies or needed to, because the second Don Draper bought her a house and took care of her financially.

It might have been a good idea for Anna to at some point make some comment about how she'd answered questions from Don's family, but otherwise it's all quite possible.
posted by orange swan at 6:25 AM on September 28, 2010


Anna's sister Patty and Patty's daughter Stephanie seem to know the deal with Dick/Don. Now that Anna's dead, we'll see what they end up revealing. Patty has shown that she is not wild about Dick/Don, the "man in a room with a checkbook."
posted by jgirl at 6:26 AM on September 28, 2010


I think a lot of it hangs on Anna being, basically, a saint. They've never gone into great detail about how exactly Anna and Dick went from their awkward first meeting to being BFFs, except that it involved Dick helping Anna out financially. It also seemed like she had suspected the truth before meeting Dick, so it didn't come as a terribly huge shock.

The only people in that list that I think would really care that the Real Don supposedly abandoned his wife and life would have been his friends and family, and we don't know anything about them. I bet a lot of guys went AWOL (from their lives, I mean) after those mid-century wars. So, yes, I think she allowed anyone who'd care to keep thinking he was alive but had never come home on purpose.

So the conclusion is that Anna allowed Dick to keep being Don out of kindness to Dick. Also probably out of knowing that busting Dick would not bring the Real Don back. It fits with the character as she's been presented to us. The question is whether you believe there are people like that out there. If you don't, then yes, it requires suspension of disbelief.

I would say that this whole series of events is improbable but not impossible, and that it's improbable situations that turn into premises of TV shows.
posted by lampoil at 6:33 AM on September 28, 2010


Well, for starters, Anna Draper isn't "totally OK with" Dick Whitman taking her husband's identity, though she does get past that.

Did you notice that Anna walked with a pronounced limp? (I think it was left over from polio). And do you remember how she talked about having a sister that looked just like her, and the original Don Draper was in love with the sister, but the sister chose someone else so he married Anna instead?

I think those two things provide the motives for everything that came later. A woman's social and economic worth in that day and age was largely tied to her husband, and Anna's chances of getting a husband with that limp were pretty slim. So she took what she could get, even though the original Don Draper was in love with her sister. And there she was, trapped in a loveless marriage (note: Dick Whitman tells Anna that her husband never mentioned to anyone that he had a wife, which hurts her) with nowhere to turn.

While I'm not entirely certain how Anna came to hear of Don Draper 2 and what her motive was for tracking him down, I do know that finding him led to social and economic freedom for her. Dick Whitman didn't want to get caught, obviously (desertion from the Army on top of identity theft), and he was willing to give her money to keep the secret. So Anna can now go out into the world as a respectable widow with an Army pension. She could tell Don's friends and relatives that he was eventually found dead and buried in Korea, while on paper he was alive and benefiting Dick Whitman.

Anna makes the comment in The Mountain King (episode 12, Season 2) that "I always felt that we met so that both of our lives could be better." Dick Whitman and Anna Draper had an opportunity presented to both of them with the death of the original Don Draper, and they simply made the most of it.
posted by magstheaxe at 6:35 AM on September 28, 2010 [14 favorites]


I figured this is why he keeps referring to what he did as desertion: the army sent him back to the US believing he was Don Draper, but his deception would have been discovered if he'd actually gone in and filled out his final paperwork and whatnot at his army base in the US, so he skipped out on that part and "Don Draper" deserted by not formally completing his military service. Don Draper's wife was not notified of his death but may have been notified of his supposed desertion. She may not have considered herself a widow until she found Dick Whitman using her husband's identity, and if she accepted what he was doing she could simply have allowed her family, insurance, bankers, etc. to continue believing that Don Draper deserted from the army and disappeared.
posted by Meg_Murry at 6:35 AM on September 28, 2010


Oh, wait, what Dick Whitman did is still desertion, regardless of Don Draper. Nevermind that part.
posted by Meg_Murry at 6:36 AM on September 28, 2010


Are there details that I missed, or this the most epic plothole ever?

That's not really so much a plot hole as a suspension of disbelief. Then again, people do all kinds of fucked up stuff and trust people they shouldn't, all the time.

I agree that it's weird that her whole family knows him, and presumably knew the first Mr. Draper. Then again, when he goes out to California, I believe she refers to him as Dick. So they may know that the real Don Draper died in Korea and think our Don Draper is just a close friend named Dick Whitman.

As Sticherbeast says, there isn't necessarily any correlation between there being an identifiable body and the ability to have a funeral, grave marker, and the like.

There are plenty of vaguely implausible plot points inserted into Mad Men. My bugbear has always been Joan's mention early in the series that she went to college, which is out of character on about ten different levels, not to mention totally anachronistic.

I think that, early in the series, a lot of things were thrown in with the assumption that they'd only do a season or two, and they'd never need to revisit this minor offhand reference and make it all make sense. Now we're in season 4, and it's considered one of the best shows on television - suddenly, they've got to make all this stuff work.
posted by Sara C. at 6:39 AM on September 28, 2010


...what her motive was for tracking him down

I always assumed it was because she thought he was the real Don and had abandoned her and was living a life somewhere else without giving her either a divorce or alimony. Then she walks into a car dealership in New York State and sees someone who is NOT Don Draper introducing himself with that name.
posted by Sara C. at 6:42 AM on September 28, 2010


Anna's sister Patty and Patty's daughter Stephanie seem to know the deal with Dick/Don. Now that Anna's dead, we'll see what they end up revealing. Patty has shown that she is not wild about Dick/Don, the "man in a room with a checkbook."

Is this from season 4?
posted by morganannie at 6:49 AM on September 28, 2010


I think the key point that you're confused about is that Don/Dick didn't come back to the US and step into Don's shoes and life, he just took the name.

As everyone else has pointed out, the wife tracks him down etc
posted by HopStopDon'tShop at 6:54 AM on September 28, 2010


[Disclaimer: I saw the first season, but have not kept up to date.]

This always struck me as a re-telling of the case of Martin Guerre. Gerard Depardieu was in a French movie re-telling, and Richard Gere starred in the Americanized version (Sommersby).
posted by ES Mom at 7:01 AM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


I figured this is why he keeps referring to what he did as desertion: the army sent him back to the US believing he was Don Draper, but his deception would have been discovered if he'd actually gone in and filled out his final paperwork and whatnot at his army base in the US, so he skipped out on that part and "Don Draper" deserted by not formally completing his military service.

I don't think this is the case -- Dick Whitman deserted by going home as Don Draper. If Don Draper was thought to be a deserter, the army could easily have tracked him down. After all, Anna did.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:03 AM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


The thing I do not understand is why Dick Whitman is concerned with it being desertion, or why he switched tags at all. If the Army thinks he is Draper, and he is openly living as Draper now, isn't he in the exact same situation he would have been in if he would have stayed as Whitman and not switched the tags?

It seems like switching the tags allowed him to change names, and kill of his past, but I am not sure how it allowed him out of the war. Wouldn't he have been sent home and received the purple heart as Whitman?
posted by travis08 at 7:21 AM on September 28, 2010


Important details which make this more plausible:

1. Dick Whitman is assigned to this post with Don Draper alone, and we're given the impression that no one in the military knows either of them.
2. Don Draper (the real one) is horribly disfigured beyond recognition by the napalm (?) accident, leading to the Whitman family burying Draper-as-Whitman in a closed casket, etc.
3. Particularly this season, we're lead to believe Dick Whitman's true identity is known by Anna Draper's extended family. The true Don Draper, it's also suggested, is a relative loner outside the army who probably doesn't have many friends.

travis08: "Wouldn't he have been sent home and received the purple heart as Whitman?"

Yep, but he would have ended up convalescing with his family.

Desertion is the cover he's using with Pete, who assumes that's the only reason someone would change their name.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 7:27 AM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Don't forget: Dick Whitman's (aka the currently living Don Draper) was tracked down by his brother, who eventually killed himself after learning that Don (Dick) wanted nothing to do with him. He was alone, otherwise.
posted by two lights above the sea at 7:45 AM on September 28, 2010


I don't think its a plot hole at all.

When Don Draper gets killed, Dick Whitman switches their dog tags. So there is a body for a funeral for the fake Dick Whitman, but the burial was probably overseas, so there wouldn't have been anyone to verify the body. The real Dick Whitman (who we know as Don Draper) has very little family, so it's easy to just avoid them, and since they beleive he's dead, they aren't looking for him. He hated his family and wanted nothing to do with them or his old life, and escaping that life is motivation for changing identities. (His brother eventually finds him, and is extremely upset about the whole thing, but he commits suicide shortly thereafter.) Anna isn't totally okay with finding the whole thing out, but since she gets the news decades later, and her husband is dead regardless, she is able to process the situation.
posted by Kololo at 7:57 AM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


-People assume the identities of dead people all.the.time. Many never get caught. It used to be even easier than it is now.

-Anna didn't like Don very much. She tracked down "Don Draper" in NYC because she wanted financial support. Which she got. Also, Dick Whitman's story is a very sympathetic one.

-It is not a reach to assume that most of the original Draper family, as well as Anna's family, have just been told that Don Draper is dead, and that Dick Whitman is an old army buddy of his who visits and checks in on Anna. This is mostly true, in fact, and stuff like this happens all.the.time.

-Original Draper was from California, yes? DD2 has made his life on the opposite coast, so I'm sure that helps out with bumping into original Draper's family.

-People have the same names. Assuming an identity- education, military service, SS#, birth date- that stuff is a lot harder for some random person to find out about. If I met someone with my exact same name, I would not immediately think they had stolen my identity. Cripe, I used to work at a medical clinic in a city of 50,000, and do you know how many Michelle L. Williams we had in our files? 14!

-My grandfather was a Korean War veteran, and it took the military 50 years to award him his medals and some financial compensation, because they had given that stuff to some other dude. So the notion that the military could be fooled by a badly burned body does not require willing suspension of disbelief on my part at all.
posted by Leta at 8:09 AM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


travis08: "The thing I do not understand is why Dick Whitman is concerned with it being desertion, or why he switched tags at all. If the Army thinks he is Draper, and he is openly living as Draper now, isn't he in the exact same situation he would have been in if he would have stayed as Whitman and not switched the tags?

It seems like switching the tags allowed him to change names, and kill of his past, but I am not sure how it allowed him out of the war. Wouldn't he have been sent home and received the purple heart as Whitman?
"

I thought that the main reason that Dick took the dog tags is that Don Draper's tour in Korea is ending and he's about to be shipped home. Cutting ties with his family is an added benefit but the main reason he switches identities is to get out of the war early and thus, he would be considered a "deserter" if he's ever caught.
posted by victoriab at 8:17 AM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]



Anna's sister Patty and Patty's daughter Stephanie seem to know the deal with Dick/Don. Now that Anna's dead, we'll see what they end up revealing. Patty has shown that she is not wild about Dick/Don, the "man in a room with a checkbook."

Is this from season 4?


Yes, it's episode 3, "The Good News."
posted by jgirl at 8:18 AM on September 28, 2010


IIRC the real Don Draper's body was brought back and is probably buried in Penn. Dick (as Don) traveled with the body but didn't get off. His brother saw him on the train. Everyone who was related to Dick died except for his brother who killed himself.
posted by drezdn at 8:47 AM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Agree with victoriab: Dick Whitman was just beginning his tour, and if he was mildly injured there's a good chance he would have ended up back in the war zone to finish out his term. Don Draper, on the other hand, was almost done, and so after he convalesced he was through with his service. Thus, Dick-as-Don did desert the army, and has good reason to be worried about being caught.

I'm unclear on what exactly Anna's family knows. She calls him Dick in their presence, but earlier this season Stephanie called Don to tell him Anna died, and she called his office. Did she ask for Don Draper? I guess they must know, but it hasn't been made explicitly clear.
posted by Bella Sebastian at 9:01 AM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


but since she gets the news decades later

It's not decades later when she finds out - by the timeline of the show and the timeline of US history, it would have been more like a couple of years (the whole thing goes down before Don/Dick gets the job for the fur company that introduces him to Betty and sets him on the path to Sterling Cooper). Korea was fought from 1950-53, and Sally Draper should have been born around 1954.
posted by Sara C. at 9:28 AM on September 28, 2010


Did she ask for Don Draper?

She would have had to. Unlikely the switchboard women would have connected her to Dick Whitman.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:29 AM on September 28, 2010


victoriab: "I thought that the main reason that Dick took the dog tags is that Don Draper's tour in Korea is ending and he's about to be shipped home. Cutting ties with his family is an added benefit but the main reason he switches identities is to get out of the war early and thus, he would be considered a "deserter" if he's ever caught."

Don Draper nee Dick Whitman was sent home because of his injuries, which would have happened regardless. The distinction is who he's sent home as. In other words.

If the tags weren't switched: Don Draper has died, and Dick Whitman receives a purple heart, and is sent home to the family he despises.
When the tags are switched: "Dick Whitman" dies and "Don Draper" receives a purple heart and is returned to the US to do whatever he likes.

"Desertion" is the reason Pete assumes Dick Whitman changed his name, and Dick has no reason to reveal the real truth to unsympathetic Pete.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 10:09 AM on September 28, 2010


She got a house out of the deal, right?
posted by fixedgear at 12:48 PM on September 28, 2010


The above answers pretty much cover it...A related question you might have is how did Betty, a "Seven Sisters" college graduate from a wealthy (nearly Main Line) Philadelphia family, marry Don? Certainly her family would have wanted to check him out, and would have wondered at the absence of any friends or relatives.....
People who lived through the 50s and early 60s tell me there are a great many social errors of this sort, as well as errors of prop items, in the series. The series is fun but not at all accurate.
I myself wonder how Joan has such a high, sweet voice and butter-won't-melt-in-her-mouth manner, since voluptuous women are usually hit upon beginning in their teen years, and have a well-developed (if you'll pardon that expression) ability to set up barriers.
posted by ragtimepiano at 2:02 PM on September 28, 2010


It is not anachronistic that Joan went to college.
posted by jgirl at 2:47 PM on September 28, 2010


Ragtimepiano: I think it's because Joan usually has been able to shoot people down while still being calm and sweet, and she thinks of being sweet as the best way to get things done. Look at how she wanted to handle the Joey problem in The Summer Man ("one dinner with the client...").
posted by synchronia at 2:47 PM on September 28, 2010


I myself wonder how Joan has such a high, sweet voice and butter-won't-melt-in-her-mouth manner, since voluptuous women are usually hit upon beginning in their teen years, and have a well-developed (if you'll pardon that expression) ability to set up barriers.

But that's a generalization which is drawn from contemporary experience, no? Which would make it just as anachronistic as the other things you mention.

Not to mention that it's a generalization, and it's also a generalization that implies you've never actually seen the show. Joan uses her feminine outward appearance as a weapon, or as a way to smooth her way through the world. She's not actually a naive and helpless doll. She's probably got more barriers up than anyone on the show with the exception of Don.

A related question you might have is how did Betty, a "Seven Sisters" college graduate from a wealthy (nearly Main Line) Philadelphia family, marry Don? Certainly her family would have wanted to check him out, and would have wondered at the absence of any friends or relatives.....

It's mentioned at various points throughout the series that Betty's father distrusted Don, and that Don was not the sort of man her family would have wanted her to end up with. Very early in the series Betty mentions to her therapist that her mother called her a whore for pursuing a career as a model, which is how she met Don; i.e. it's possible that her family thinks Don basically "bought" her.

It's also never stated that Don had no connections whatsoever, just that he had no family. And considering that most of his family is really dead, and that's not a lie, it's not like the lack of a family should have been a red flag. (FWIW one of my grandmothers is about Don's age and had an almost identical lack of living family - it's not all that weird for the time).

It is not anachronistic that Joan went to college.

Of course it is. In 1960, you did not have to have a college degree to get any job above burger-flipper, as you do today. Especially as a woman. Women went to college either because they planned to pursue a specific career which required a college education (teaching, nursing, some of the fledgling creative/managerial careers like what Peggy is doing sans college), or because they were wealthy and that was the accepted way to meet a man of the proper social class. You did not go to college to become a secretary or an office manager.

Now there could be a story behind how Joan went from college girl to working girl. But as it stands now, yep, it's definitely anachronistic.
posted by Sara C. at 3:11 PM on September 28, 2010


Whitman runs away from his family to volunteer in Korea - he wasn't drafted. I don't get the strong sense from the narrative that desertion was his primary reason for changing tags, or that Draper was about to be sent home.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 3:25 PM on September 28, 2010


I don't get the strong sense from the narrative that desertion was his primary reason for changing tags, or that Draper was about to be sent home.

Original Don says it verbatim in one of the few scenes before he's killed. Something like, "Man, only three more months in this hellhole..." or the like. The audience is explicitly told that he's almost finished with his tour, and that Dick has only just arrived.
posted by Sara C. at 4:02 PM on September 28, 2010


I think a viewing of the most recent episode should clear this all up.
posted by digitalprimate at 6:27 PM on September 28, 2010


A possible note on Joan: my late other-in-law (also Joan!), who would be the same age as Mrs. Harris, used to refer to her schooling as college...secretarial college. And my late father-in-law went to business college. Neither were bachelor's. This is just the sort of thing Matthew Weiner would have Joanie say.
posted by oflinkey at 7:00 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sara C., No, that is not a "generalization drawn from contemporary experience," and it is not an anachronism. That is true in every generation, honey.
It's not just Don's lack of any family members, it's that Betty and her family seemed to know very, very little about Don, about his life experience, background, education, etc. This marriage would very likely never have happened in reality.
posted by ragtimepiano at 7:33 PM on September 28, 2010


> I don't get the strong sense from the narrative that desertion was his primary reason for changing tags

The question isn't "why did Don do what he did?". The question is, "does the Army consider it desertion?". I'm sure they would.

Whether or not Dick Whitman would have been discharged anyway, he still impersonated another serviceman and was discharged from the service on the basis of that deception.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 10:37 PM on September 28, 2010


But oflinkey, Joan's blonde roommate (who had the crush on her) says she met her while they were at college. Women didn't go away to a secretarial college, did they? In fact, what the roommate says to Joan -- about seeing Joan walking across the quad one day and thus wanting to meet her -- was a direct reference by the writers to a very similar line in the film "The Children's Hour" where Shirley MacLaine's character reveals how she met (and, we realize later, fell for) Audrey Hepburn's character.
posted by Asparagirl at 12:18 AM on September 29, 2010


Ragtimepiano - you do get that the whole point of narrative in human culture is to talk about things that would be unlikely to happen in real life, right?

And I still don't think Don and Betty's marriage is that improbable. There are plenty of similarly "unlikely" stories in my own family, from that same time period. Including people who don't have a lot of family, people with troubled pasts who never talk about their childhood, people who married unlikely partners.
posted by Sara C. at 5:48 AM on September 29, 2010



But oflinkey, Joan's blonde roommate (who had the crush on her) says she met her while they were at college. Women didn't go away to a secretarial college, did they?


They often did, especially if they were going to the better ones such as Katharine Gibbs, Mildred Elley, or the Washington School for Secretaries. My older aunt lived in rural Albany County, NY, and she went to Kingston Business School (or College, I can't remember) in Dutchess County in the 30's. I don't know what the housing arrangements were; she might've boarded with a family.

But I still think Joan went to a four-year, bachelor's-granting college. Whether she finished is not clear.

When I get a chance, I'm going to pose this question at TWoP.
posted by jgirl at 11:04 AM on September 29, 2010


Sara C., You must be of the school of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. :-))
Please don't view the whole world through the lens of your family's experience, however interesting that may be.
posted by ragtimepiano at 11:47 AM on September 29, 2010


Kingston is in Ulster County. I've been away a long time...
posted by jgirl at 12:09 PM on September 29, 2010


Please don't view the whole world through the lens of your family's experience, however interesting that may be.

My point was that all the things you've pointed out as impossible are things that actually happened to people I know, at the same time period that they happened on Mad Men. And thus not plot holes or even over-extending the sense of disbelief, at all.
posted by Sara C. at 2:38 PM on September 29, 2010


Don Draper nee Dick Whitman was sent home because of his injuries, which would have happened regardless. The distinction is who he's sent home as. In other words.

No, Dick was not sent back to the U.S. because of his injuries, nor would Don have been. Dick would have convalesced and then gone back to the front to finish the rest of his tour of duty. Dick-as-Don convalesced in a Korean M*A*S*H* unit and then was given a low-risk post for the remaining few months of his tour of duty and then discharged. When we see Dick-as-Don on the train peeping out at his real family as they accept delivery of what they think is his coffin, he seems to be in perfect physical condition.

Interesting comments re: the marriage of Betty to Don and her family's reaction to it. Betty's father obviously distrusted him because of it. Betty's brother comments that Don had not a single guest at their wedding - the guests were all Betty's family and friends.

Betty doesn't seem to have cared much, though. Appearances are almost everything to her, and Don was charming, tall, dark, and handsome, and a good provider. When she finds out the truth she makes a silly comment about how she thought Don was "a football hero who hated his father", and also says she knows Don had been poor and thought he was ashamed of it, but her real issue, quite reasonably, with Don's identity is the fact that he had been deceiving her throughout their entire relationship.

We don't know whether her parents tried to forbid the marriage or how that went down, or what Betty's reaction was to that. She was working as a model despite the fact that her mother at least disappoved, so she seems to be somewhat independent and insistent on making her own decisions and doing what she wants to do.

And as for Joan going to college and then winding up as a secretary, I don't find that a stretch at all. There were very few career options for women then. Plenty of women did get undergraduate degrees in English or History and then end up answering phones or typing for the few years until they got married. Betty went to Bryn Mawr and what did she do with her education? She modelled for a little while and then got married.
posted by orange swan at 10:20 AM on October 8, 2010


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