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From: Jim Jordan <jbjordan@gnt.net>
Subject: Re: (urth) St. Paul & the Werwolf
Date: Tue, 07 Jul 1998 01:12:24 

At 11:25 PM 6/29/98 -0500, R. Borski wrote regarding "The Hero as Werwolf":
>Paul, our titular hero, is symbolically innocent when we first meet him,
>although he will receive wisdom in the course of the narrative. This is
>signaled by the very first sentence of the story, where an owl shrieks and
>Paul flinches. Notice as well how Paul derives from the Latin word for
>'small' and the way he is sitting, with his knees together (the virgin
>position), while later, when he contemplates luring potential victims he
>considers crying like an infant (significantly, however, he rejects this
>notion and plans on using a silver bell, a much more Christian image). The
>victims in this case are the new stewards of Earth, the so-called Masters,
>genetically re-engineered humans, whereas Paul and his kind have remained
>true human. 

	I'm not sure how you're seeing this story. Do you see it as an allegory,
with the Masters as the Church, and the older humans as Jews and pagans? If
so, I find trouble seeing it through. Or, are the Masters a false
development of humanity, with Paul as a potential savior of what remains of
humanity? The latter is how I take it.

 These so-called Masters also revere science
>over religion, as witness the four-dimensional diorama built to Hugo de
>Vries, the father of mutation, who undergoes, as Paul watches, death,
>"rots" and then is reborn in the manner of Christ (although "rots" conveys
>the truer nature of de Vries' artificial resurrection). 

	I don't see how this shows that the masters revere science over religion,
and I don't see how the diorama, which starts de Vries over as an embryo,
connects to the idea of resurrection from the dead. It just does not seem a
valid parallel. But they HAVE been tearing down churches, so in general I
think your first point is right.
	Hmmm. As I think about it, maybe I see what you mean. The de Vries diorama
is the new replacement icon for the cross or icon in the Church. But unlike
the Christian "diorama," we don't have death and transfiguration to a new
kind of life and existence, but an endless cycle of rebirth in the present
world. Man playing at being God, but getting no farther than endless
repetition; as in "Fifth Head."

Paul's stalking of
>Masters might also be considered a parallel to St. Paul's persecution of
>Christians, whom he considered traitors to Judaism, at least until he
>himself converted. 

	Maybe, but then he should be "Saul," not "Paul." I'm not trying to be
contentious, but this just does not quite seem to "fit." He's PAUL. He's
fighting "principalities and powers in high places."

>But just as Paul is about to attack his two victims--a fat man and a woman
>wearing a dress "of flowering vines the color of love" (the flowering vines
>may represent orchids, research on which allowed de Vries to formulate his
>theories on mutation; they also represent sexuality, as does the serpent of
>gold supporting the woman's breasts)--two other figures join the scene, a
>grey-haired man named Emmit Pendleton and his young daughter Janey. 

	The golden serpent attacks Janey, recalling the serpent's attack on Eve in
the garden. The "masters" (recall Maitre, in *5th Head*) are antichrists,
dominating a future world that has gone to evil under the mask of progress
and scientific achievement. The serpent does not succeed, which might
relate to the serpent that bit Paul in Acts 28, which bite had no effect. (?)

>trio of humans kill the two Masters, but a quarrel breaks out after the
>slayings as to how they will divvy up the goods. Paul is also immediately
>attracted to Janey (he senses her "femaleness, the woman-rut"), symbolizing
>his growth from childhood to adolescence. But Paul and the Pendletons soon
>part, each with a dead Master, although already Paul is contemplating life
>with Janey. (Note however how Paul mentions the dead male Master's meat
>will be tainted by his testicles i.e., sexuality spoils corporeal worth).

	Not only testicles, but also feces spoils the meat. I'm not sure this has
any meaning other than to add to the realism of the narrative.

>Then in one of the story's more surprising moments the dead woman Paul is
>carrying speaks to him. This symbolizes a false resurrection (cf. the de
>Vries diorama scene), and eventually the woman will be totally dead,

	Well, the woman SAYS that she is already dead. Since she does not see this
as any kind of resurrection, I'm not sure we can. Again, this seems to me
to be merely part of the "SF realism" aspect of the story, without any
symbolic overtones. Given that Paul kills these masters immediately, the
only way we can see him have a conversation with one, and thereby learn a
bit more about the scenario, is for them to live on for a while. I don't
think, today at least, that Wolfe had any further intention.

>the scene also conveys several important plotpoints. Asks the woman of
>Paul: "How come you didn't change? When the rest changed their genes?"
>Paul's reply: "We didn't want to. We are the human beings." Thus some
>choice has been involved with his remaining human (unlike the Pendletons
>who have had changing withheld from them). The woman also tells Paul she
>and the other dead Master were not married. It's important as well to
>notice how her eyes' growing opaqueness signifies the imminence of true

	Yes, that they weren't married hints that these masters are not morally
superior, and would militate against this being an allegory. (Of course,
maybe they were just friends.) 
>Libidinously aroused by Janey, however, Paul delays eating the dead Master
>and instead goes looking for the Pendleton's lair, which he finds in an old
>bus. Notice how Paul's house has a turret, with its association of
>churchliness (it's also respected by the Masters, who fear destroying it
>"will bring back the old times"), while Janey's father calls their home "a
>dump." The bus also stinks of blood (an image of death). 

	Paul's house IS a church. A garden between the two wings hints at it, as
do the 8 windows in the turret. Paul thinks people should be superstitious
about this particular kind of building, though the woman says that the
masters had torn down plenty of them. Again, the masters seem to be
	This is as good a place as any to point out that the Bible, and Jesus of
course, require that Christians be servants, not masters. "If any among you
would be great, let him be servant of all" (Mark 10).
	The bus with darkened windows reminds me of the catacombs. If I am right,
we have Roman Masters persecuting Christians in this story.

>Emmit Pendleton subsequently begins to fill Paul in on his family's
>background and one of the things we learn right away is that the Pendletons
>have been rejected as candidates for gene therapy/mutation because they
>carry potentially deleterious genes  (do bad genes equal original sin?);
>thus their humanity has nothing to do with choice, it's theirs by
>circumstance; i.e., to bring in the Christian parallel, they are not
>believers by choice, but falsely so, by omission. 

	Well again, these are the kinds of people Christians are supposed to be
especially solicitious of. The masters clearly are not. So I don't think
their failure to be accepted into the masters connects to their not being
made Christians. Rather, they don't fit the "brave new world."

Now consider the name
>Emmit. Emmet (its closest cognate) derives from the Hebrew word for truth.
>Notice again the missing signal *e.* Emmit, I submit, means 'false truth.'
>As for Pendleton, pendle = pendant (OED), and a pendant weighing a ton
>recalls the millstone of Bibilical provenance ("Whoso shall offend one of
>the little ones which believe in me [remember Paul means small], it were
>better for him that a millstone were hanged around his neck and that he
>were drowned in the depth of the sea"). 

	Here I think the opposite is meant. Emmit seems a good man, though like
every good man he is aware of his badness. He wanted to marry his daughter
to Curtain (Kirchen), which you rightly say is doubtless "church."
Moreover, he moved to the city to get her a husband; he's not clinging to
her. He seems to have good intentions throughout. Pendant might just as
easily allude to the cross Christians often wear around their necks.

>Emmit also mentions a previous suitor of Janey's--"Nice fellow, a German.
>Name was Curtain--something like that." I submit the word Emmit means is
>'kirchen,' German for churches. The suitor in question, despite having been
>promised Janey's hand, has never returned, symbolizing God's withdrawal. 

	I don't think so. All the story says is that the masters probably got him.
And we know that they've been destroying churches, so it fits the theme.

>Then there are the chickens the Pendleton's used to raise for their
>livelihood; all of them have died of sickness, and if we accept the egg as
>a potent sign of rebirth, this symbolizes their failed rebirth as humans.

	My tendency is to go with the story's own explanation: the masters did not
care to provide for the remaining humans, and so the chickens also died.
Not only people but nature suffered.
	Perhaps there is an allegorical element, derived from Matthew 23:37 -
Jesus wanted to gather the people as a hen gathers chicks, but they
refused, and so they died. The Masters kill the chicks. The Masters are the
Romans, who kill the Jews (chicks) and persecute the Christians (Paul,
Emmit, etc.).

>Then there are a number of images that play off of blindness. Perhaps it's
>best at this point to remind everyone that St. Paul was struck blind, but
>recovered and converted to Christianity. Remember the pearl-colored eyes of
>the Masters, as well as the growing ocular opaqueness of the dead woman
>Paul has killed? Emmit's sister Clara (despite her name) is born blind in
>one eye, and later Janey will have to be veiled because there is "a
>blankness of eye" to her that betrays her as non-Master. All of these
>symbolize the Pendletons' inability to see (i.e., believe in and accept

	Maybe, but I'm coming to think that the humans are the good guys, and the
masters the bad guys. Recall that in the Bible Leah had bad eyes, but she
was a good wife to Jacob. Also, the girl in "Westwind" is blind and has a
discolored eye, but she's a Christian. I can see that the imagery is eye
and sight is in the story, but I'm not sure you've got it put together aright.

Lastly, notice how machines tear up the Pendletons' farm the night
>before Xmas and how a brother named Tom has his leg impaled by a
>two-by-four (read Crucifixion), whereupon "rot" sets in (cf. the de Vries
>diorama), and he dies. 

	Well, if it's crucifixion, then Brother Tom is "Jesus" and Emmit is
definitely "Truth." It seems to me.


>No consummation between the new Mr. and Mrs. Gorou takes place, although in
>the very next scene Janey is wearing a grotesque parody of a wedding dress,
>complete with red veil. Here she is less Little Red Riding Hood and more
>the Scarlet Whore of Babylon  ('lupa' in Latin means both she-wolf and

	I think not. Mary Magdelene is portrayed in a red robe, and Janey is
definitely Mary Magdelene in the last scene. Of course, the red robe is
also that of the Whore of Babylon, which I suppose is why MM has the red
robe in iconography. But I don't think the Whore of Babylon is in view
here, but simply MM.

 and she and Paul manage to trap a potential victim in a
>downshaft. It's important to note here Janey's physical (as opposed to
>spiritual) hunger as she takes the lead in chasing after the boy; Janey
>also has no dialogue in the entire story, although she does moan and sob,
>and she delights in cutting up her victims while they're still alive,
>recalling animals who play with their prey like cats. All these images play
>to her unredeemed bestial nature.

	Yep. She's Mary Magdelene.
>But then something miraculous of a sort happens.

	Before we get there, we have to notice that Paul and Mary ASCEND on air.
There has to be some reason why Wolfe wrote such an event into the story,
and describes it in detail. Have they ascended to a counterfeit heaven,
where they will be discovered and judged? 
	It seems, though, that they escape, and therefore descend again. But along
the way:

 Paul is trapped in a
>closing door by his foot, like an animal in a trap, and Janey must gnaw his
>foot to the bone so he can escape. Her concern, in other words, has turned
>to the altruistic, to something other than satisfying her baser needs, and
>this is symbolized by the act she ritualistically performs on her husband,
>not of eating meat, but freeing him from the fleshly bonds that constrain
>him. I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention the Eucharistic significance of

	I'm not sure of the Eucharistic overtones, but Paul does receive the
biblical foot-wound (Genesis 3), making him a Messiah. Meanwhile, a voice
is saying that a certain girl is going to grow up to be a physician, and
Jesus is the Great Physician. The hint is that Paul will change from being
a killer to being a healer, with Janey at his (churchly) side.
	Maybe. :-)
>The last image we have of Janey then recalls Mary Magdalen (another
>reformed 'lupa') washing the feet of our Lord: "Over the pain he could feel
>the hot tears washing the blood from his foot."

	Yes. I think she has been MM all along.

	Well, I'm sure this is not the last word! Thanks to Robert for getting
this started. 

Jim Jordan

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

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