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From: m.driussi@genie.com
Subject: (urth) Ernie Cotha
Date: Tue, 22 Jul 97 22:02:00 GMT

[Posted from URTH, a mailing list about Gene Wolfe's New Sun and other works]

Reply:  Item #5064841 from URTH@LISTS.BEST.COM@INET#

More about "The Changeling":

Ernie Cotha is the character who picks up the narrator while
hitchhiking.  He also appears in the fourth grade picture, standing
in front of Peter Palmieri, who has taken Pete Palmer's place.  Ernie
is thus Pete's age but doesn't seem to have been in the army.

OTOH, Golgotha =does= appear in the story, since the Peter Pan island
has a knobby hill on it where narrator and Paul find Peter and three
boys, whose wooden swords with cross-pieces are stuck in the ground
and nobody moves to get them.  I.e., there are three, maybe four
crosses stuck in the sand on top of the hill.  FWIW.

If Peter Pan looks eight years old in 1964, then his year of birth
would be 1956.  Papa is worried that he will leave the Palmieris soon
since the family fiction is becoming unsustainable--Mama has to claim
to have given birth to Peter when she was in her fifties, now.

Maria plays the role of Wendy to Peter's Pan.  When Pete Palmer hit
Maria with a rock, it was Peter who attacked him, perhaps setting
many things in motion.

If Peter Pan has determined that it is time to change families, it
might be that he is going to set himself up as the son of crazy
Pete--we can imagine the townsfolk saying, "Little Pete looks just
like his dad at that age--look at this fourth grade photo from 1944."
(Shades of "Suzanne Delage," oooo . . . )  As a final bit of revenge.

These dates make me wonder if the Wolfe short "Houston, 1943" has any
bearing on this?  (In anthology TROPICAL CHILLS, fwiw.)

Is it significant that when Peter Pan first shows up in the Palmieri
house he sleeps on an "army" cot?  It certainly presages Pete
Palmer's stint in the army.  If Pete was in the army and in Korea
before the war, he must have joined when he was younger than sixteen.

TIMELINE (revised)
 1931 -- Maria Palmieri born in Chicago; birth of US soldiers who
will be eighteen years old as Korean War begins.
 1932 -- Palmieris move to Cassonsville, where 8 year old Peter
appears and warps reality around him.
 1935 -- fourth grade class of 1944 born (kindergarten for most
at age five, fourth grade for most at age nine); narrator Pete
born in Cassonsville?
 1939 -- Peter is Maria's twin brother.
 1940 -- Paul Palmieri born in Cassonsville. <Eight year mark>
 1944 -- fourth grade photo (in spring); Pete wrestles with
eternally eight-years-old Peter Palmieri over fate of a frog (and
Pete had hit Maria with a rock); Pete and family leave
Cassonsville (change names?) (in summer).
 1945 -- fire burned old newspapers.
 1948 -- <Eight year mark>
 1949 -- Pete's father dies in Buffalo while Pete in army in
Korea before war, teaching demolitions. Pete would be age
 1950 -- Korean War begins.  Pete would be age fifteen.
 1953 -- War ends. POW exchange, Pete refuses and goes to China
where he works in a textile mill.  Birth year of Paul Palmieri's
1954 Chevy, which he will rebuild himself (just as Pete Palmer is
built and rebuilt).
 1956 -- <Eight year mark>
 1959 -- Pete back in US, faces court martial.
 1964 -- out of US prison, Pete (changes name?) goes to
Cassonsville.  Pete would be age twenty-nine. <Eight year mark>

The eight year marks are there because every eight years Peter Pan
has to shift things a little.  Also "twins" and "one mortal/one
immortal" go very well with "eight years," according to Robert Graves
at least.  Sacred king/tanist stuff, tied to sun/moon cycles of
eclipse.  Since it seems likely that Pete has finally been usurped
by the fourth cycle, I wanted to plot the other ones and see if
anything might show up.  Pete's father's death =might= be a year
earlier than my guess--this would line it up.  Year 1956 =might= be
the point when commie Pete changes his mind again and begins attempts
to return to USA.

(FWIW and if anybody couldn't tell, this really =is= one of my
favorite stories!)


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