On my local version of "Exploring TWL" I have the following note for
There have been several suggestions to the significance of the name
Stetson. Stetson was the name of a co-worker at the bank at which
Eliot worked. However, Eliot's friends saw this as a reference to
Eliot's American friend, Ezra Pound. The name may stand for
"everyman"; a less common verson of Smith or Jones.
In 1988 Donald J. Childs proposed a more elaborate and complete an
explanation. To him Eliot used the name Stetson to represent a soldier
of the Australia and New Zealand Army Corp (ANZAC) and, in turn, the
ANZACs signified the failed Gallipoli campaign of World War I. This
was where Eliot's friend Jean Verdenal was killed. The ANZAC soldiers
wore Stetson hats.
Childs' explanation of the use of Stetson connects him with parts of
the poem in ways that the other explanations don't. Perhaps most
obvious is the war connection between Gallipoli and the Punic War
battle of Mylae mentioned on line 70. There would be plenty of corpses
for Stetson to bury. There is also the connection with the brothel
madame, Mrs. Porter (see the commentary attached to Eliot's note to
line 199 ). Further, the rats that formed part of the life of the
soldiers in the trenches appear here and there in The Waste Land.
The parade of the workers across the bridge line 62 may have reminded
Eliot of the parades of the ANZAC veterans that several times marched
In the same essay, Childs discussed the significance of the Smyrna
merchant (see the Smyrna merchant commentary ). He also supplied
information about the Gallipoli campaign's battle of Krithia that saw
the French dead being disposed of in the sea. There may be some
connection with Phlebas the Phoenician.
Childs, Donald J., "Stetson in The Waste Land," Essays in Criticism,
(April 1988) pp. 131-148
P.S. On the http://www.5rar.asn.au/hat.htm webpage (mentioned in an
In 1903, after federation, the slouch hat became the
standard headdress in the reorganized Australian
army and the hat appeared with the left side clipped
up to enable the rifle to be carried at the slope without
fouling the hat brim.
In the U.S. armed forces the rifle (not the gun, that's for fun) is
carried on the right shoulder when marching. On the other side of the
world and equator that gets reversed (just as the sun sets in the east
;-) and the brim of the hat has to be turned up over on the left to
keep the hat in place. The Aussie slouch hat is my usual head gear
when hiking but I wear it with the brim down so my left ear doesn't
get redder than my right one.