In In the Midst of Alarms (1894) by Robert Barr, a man was talking about a self-sufficient people in a Canadian village, saying:

“Why, that this is the proper way to live. Old Hiram has an anvil and an amateur forge. He can tinker up almost anything, and that eliminates the blacksmith. Howard has a bench, saws, hammers, and other tools, and that eliminates the carpenter. The women eliminate the baker, the soap boiler, and a lot of other parasites. Now, when you have eliminated all the middlemen, then comes independence, and consequently complete happiness. You can’t keep happiness away with a shotgun then.”

I know the literal meaning of "You can’t keep happiness away with a shotgun then", but what does it have to do with being self-sufficient?

1 Answer 1


My interpretation is that the passage means that "happiness will surely follow". A shotgun is a rather fearsome weapon, which would be sufficient to ward off most things. However, once one has achieved self-sufficiency and independence, one cannot keep from being happy. Happiness here is personified somewhat as something that comes to you, but you could not keep it away even if you had a shotgun to ward it off.

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