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From: Michael Straight <straight@email.unc.edu>
Subject: (urth) Weer is not dead.
Date: Tue, 25 Aug 1998 10:34:49 

On Sun, 23 Aug 1998, Jason Voegele wrote:

> For starters, it does appear the Weer is dead from the outset of the
> book--many have noted that the falling tree disturbs his grave. 

For starters, I agree that Weer is not only 'dead,' but has been for a
long time.  Recapping evidence others have presented before: Eleanor
Bold's hobby is planting trees on the graves of her friends, elm trees are
said to be planted to keep the dead from walking about as ghosts, Weer
says that the elm Eleanor planted fell (freeing his ghost), the time from
planting a tree until it falls is likely to be very long.


> On other
> theme in the book that I'm fond of (though I've had little luck convincing
> anyone of this) is solipsism.  Weer's universe seems to exist solely in his
> thoughts, but his relating of the stories of the dead breathes new life into
> those old bones.  

I think the very end of the book hints that you are righter than you know. 
The book ends with a reference to the story of the Chinese pillow and with
a voice calling Dennis to wake up.  I think this is the glimmer of grace
that redeems the whole book.

Just like the young man in the Chinese story, young Dennis has been given
a dream of an entire life (and even part of an afterlife) that might await
him if he makes certain choices.  It is a life of power and riches, that
from the outside looks very successful, but perhaps a lonely life, a life
in which he might have to kill to get and hold on to his wealth.  And
then, at the end of the book he wakes up, with the opportunity to make a
choice (perhaps the choice not to fight/kill Bobby that day?  Is that
where it all started to go wrong?) 

In the story of the Chinese pillow, we are not explicitly told why the
young man, when offered a life of power, wealth, and many sons, would,
when he wakes, choose to take another path, although much of the poignancy
of the story is in imagining why.  But in Weer, we see the same story from
the inside.  We are experiencing the dream of the Chinese pillow along
with Dennis, and so we see why he might not choose this life.  The story
told in Peace is the life (and death) Dennis *might* live. 

The story of the Sidhe near the end is a message to Weer: trying to
prolong yourself as a ghost is fruitless (the Sidhe living on as the flock
of geese are like Weer living on as a ghost).  You must die (in baptism we
die and are buried with Christ) in order to live again.  But how can Weer,
who is already dead, die?  He can't, but young Dennis can wake from sleep
(=death) in order to live a new, different life.


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

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