OF THE BABY NAME ALEC
Alec is the teenaged boy who comes to own the Black Stallion, the magnificent horse in Walter Farley’s bestselling series, starting in 1941, under the title, The Black Stallion. “The Black” is a prized stallion belonging to an Arabian sheikh, who comes into Alec’s life when they are both shipwrecked on an island off India. They come to depend upon, trust and love each other through their mutual need for survival. After their rescue, Alec, still not knowing the Black’s origins, trains and enters him in a race, with an exciting and surprising outcome. In subsequent books in the series, we are introduced to the Black’s eventual offspring, come to know his back story, and grow to love him as much as does young Alec. Called “the most famous fictional horse of the century”, the Black has enchanted youngsters and adults for generations. It was also made into a 1979 movie starring Kelly Reno as Alec.
Alec is the object of desire of Maurice Hall in E. M. Forster’s story of the love between two men, Maurice, written in 1914 but, due to the sensitive nature of its theme, not published until 1971, posthumously. (It was made into a movie of the same name in 1987, with Rupert Graves in the part of Alec.) Maurice is trying, unsuccessfully, to change his sexual orientation, when he visits a country home and encounters the young gamekeeper, Alec. (What is it about the pull of the upper-class English toward their gamekeepers?!) Naturally, after their episode together, Maurice panics, mistreats Alec, and is subject to Alec’s blackmailing. One doesn’t have much to lose as a gamekeeper, after all. Maurice, unable to be “cured” of his “affliction”, considers leaving the country. All is resolved, however, if only in a clandestine way, when Alec and Maurice vow their love for each other and throw their fates together. That fate, alas, means they become woodcutters (and Maurice with his university education!), but presumably, they are happy woodcutters together. We may assume that the character of Alec represents true, unfettered nature, free of the stifling mores of the upper classes.
Alec is a character in Thomas Hardy’s 1891 novel, Tess of the d’Urbervilles, adapted many times over in various media. Alec is the son of the d’Urbervilles who have merely purchased the title, and he has base designs upon poor Tess, who wrongly thinks she must stay in his employ to help her impoverished family. The not-very-nice Alec rapes her against her will, impregnating her and leaving her to give birth to a child who dies and must be buried in unconsecrated ground. After two years, Tess is eager to make a new start outside the village, obtains work as a milkmaid and becomes reacquainted with an earlier beau, Angel Clare, son of the parson. Not until their wedding night does Tess own up to her sullied past, and Angel is appalled. Off he goes to Brazil (but of course), off she goes to her next milkmaid assignment, where she one day encounters the bad boy, Alec, who has now been converted to a Christian preacher by none other than Angel’s father. Alec begs Tess not to tempt him ever again (!) but shortly thereafter denounces his Christianity and begs her to marry him. Tess is still guiltily and lovingly tied to the absent Angel, however, but when he remains away, she finally agrees to become his mistress. Bad timing – here comes Angel to make things up. Tess, in her rage and despair, kills Alec and finally is executed. And Angel walks away hand in hand with her sister. Lesson: it looks to us as if poor Alec really did get the worst of draw in this contest, no matter how much he may have deserved it.