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From: tony.ellis@futurenet.co.uk (Tony Ellis)
Subject: (urth) The "Number Five = Five Gen
Date: 6 Apr 1998 17:01:44 +0100

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

 The "Number Five =3D Five Generations" Theory

Some interesting ideas on "Number Five" equating to five
generations of clones. Here are my latest thoughts:

Robert Borski:
The only slight problem I have with your interpretation is that you
count Mr. Million twice, once as a human being and again as the
simulator, which feels like cheating to me! Since the simulator is
a faithful copy of the original person, I don't think they can be
regarded as separate entities to the extent that the various clones

And don't forget that Dr Marsch says that the first GW was 
someone "neither of you have ever seen". If Mr Million was
the first GW, that would mean that Maitre never saw his own
grandfather; in any event, Number Five and Maitre can see Mr
Million's face in his screen. So for this reason too I don't think
Mr Million can be simulating the original GW.

If I'm going to go along with the Five Generations theory I think
I'll have to take Pedro Jorge's interpretation, where there is still
another "Gene Wolfe" behind Mr Million, who was the first.

Having said that, do we know for sure that even Mr Million's 
"father", Number Five's great-great-grandfather, was the first of
the line? Dr Marsch's remark could be taken to suggest that
the line of clones stretches back quite far. This is why I'm not 
dropping my theory that Fifth equates to "Fifth Head of the 
Family" either.

And here's another reason:
"if, as I had always thought of them, the three heads represented
Maitre, Madame and Mr Million... then indeed a fourth would have
to be welded into place soon for David himself"

This basically foregrounds the idea that the heads of Cerberus
represent the (living) heads of the family. If the number five does
equate to five generations, it definitely equates to the five
family heads too.

>I submit that Phaedria, Number Five's early love interest (and later his
>housemate) is his sister, the biological daughter of Maitre.

Ingenious, but... 
To tackle your points in order: (1) If Maitre had sold his daughter to
Phaedria's parents, why should they now hope, as they do, to
marry her back into his family? (2) The broken ankle\Aunt 
Jeannine link seems very tenuous: a broken ankle really isn't that
much like having no legs at all! (3) If Phaedria's name is supposed
to be a classical allusion, why not actually name her after someone
who committed incest with her brother, rather than a stepson? (4)
I'm not sure I understand why you think letting his girls attend the
play would further any designs Maitre might have.

Another objection is that Aunt Jeannine looks strongly like Maitre.
You would expect any sister of Number Five's to have the old
family likeness too.

*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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