lynching bee

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Senior Member
Dear friends
One of the definitions of "bee" is "a social gathering where people combine work, competition and amusement".
Please kindly advise if above defintion applies to "lynching bee" in the following context, taken from "Paul Bunyan", "1919" by John Dos Passos:
Wesley Everest was a crack shot; Armistice Day he put on his uniform and filled his pockets with cartridges. Wesley Everest was not much of a talker; at a meeting in the Union Hall the Sunday before the raid, there'd been talk of the chance of a lynching bee;
  • Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Yes. They are describing a lynching as if it would be a pleasant social gathering at which they would accomplish something useful.

    The phrase I am most familiar with is a "quilting bee", at which a group of women get together to assemble a quilt. This is a job that requires a lot of time-consuming hand work but which can more quickly and pleasantly done by a group of women who can talk as they work. Other "bees" would be in the same spirit.

    The application of this idea to a lynching is especially grotesque.
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