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From: m.driussi@genie.com
Subject: (urth) Grandmother Dorcas
Date: Fri,  9 Oct 98 00:32:00 GMT

Robert Borski,

Now this is something interesting.

Just to shore up another data point, the estimated age of Dorcas is
supplied by Agia when the trio is at the Inn of Lost Loves (I, ch.
26): he guesses age 18 or 19, she guesses 16 or 17.

So if we take the low number, age sixteen, then Dorcas was married at
age twelve.

Re: Dorcas's line, "I lived with my husband above a little shop, and
took care of our child," is a few pages into ch. 11.

(What I'm actually more interested in is the big mystery Dorcas has
been sketching before she makes this remark: that is, what is the
thing that keeps a family rooted to a location long after the
neighborhood has gone to hell?  "A grave, perhaps," says Dorcas.
Okay, let's go with that--a grave of whom?  Dorcas herself?  No--she
was in the Lake, relatively far to the north. Someone on Dorcas's
side of the family?  =What= is she thinking of?

Back up.  She has seen a chair, check.  The chair reminds her of her
past life--it is =from= her past life, check.  Presumably the chair is
from her home above the shop, though it might be from the house she
grew up in [or both--she might have taken it from her childhood house
with her to her own home].

[But how can they have recently busted into a locked house and gotten
this chair?  Boatman seems to say that he doesn't even have a nail
left from the old shop--that doesn't sound like a boarded-up treasure
hoard waiting for archaelogical salvagers from Thrax to find just
last month.]

Or is the entire point of this whole "family treasure" thing just
this: the rational for the treasure hunters from Thrax who go looking
for antique furniture and anything better that they can find?)

Dorcas's memories are vague and jumbled, so I'm not sure how much
weight we can put to her one statement about taking care of the
child--that might be true, or it might only be a supposition she
makes based upon the images she has dredged up by that point. Her
dreams in CLAW (ch. 22) are of buying tiny clothes (i.e., baby
clothes) while a woman makes lace like a Fate, and of being in a
tiny boat with an old boatman.

The first dream seems drawn from a pre-labor time (the expectant
first time mother buying clothes); the second seems drawn from a
post-death time. The death imagery in both cases comes from classical
mythology, even though we have reason to believe Dorcas was a good
Catholic girl (re: the crosses they sold). The odd thing is that the
Old Boatman, her husband, has a similarly haunting memory of seeing
Dorcas's eyes snap open when her body hit the Lake water.

It seems highly significant to me that both the boatman and the dead
woman (yet another dead mother--don't forget SHADOW ch. 1 or
NIGHTSIDE ch. 1) have memories of their parting.  And since in one
reading ghosts are "real" (Miles's early memories; etc.), then it
makes perfect sense.

But still, the death of Dorcas seems mighty mysterious to me.  The
Boatman's memory of her eyes opening comes amid much talk of
skullduggery--it seems that the dead walk and have to be put down
from time to time, and/or the corollary: maybe live people are
slipped in with the dead; the graveyard as a perfect place for

What if Dorcas was murdered, in a "Terminator" style attempt by the
Other Lords to halt an unacceptable future from evolving?  (Like
every time-travelling "stop Hitler in the womb" story.)  On the
surface, this quiet assassination would make sense only if Ouen is
the one they are trying to snuff out, since with hindsight we know
that Ouen is Severian's father, and Severian is the real deal.  So
trying to eliminate Ouen's hypothetical sibling would be pointless.
(Unless in some Ur-timeline it was the sibling who then became the
ancestor to some sort of non-Severian New Sun . . .)

Or the murder might be done by the New Sun team, since all the women
are under tight (protective?) wraps: Catherine in the tower, then
only appearing on feast days; Dorcas in the lake; Valeria in the
complex around the Atrium of Time.  Three pivotal women who are
beyond the reach of the Other Lords.

Anyway, said murder theories are highly speculative and only come
into play because they are such cliches in time-travelling tales.

But it is true: Dorcas could have died in the labor of her second
child; this hypothetical child may have lived or died; a second child
could come within a year after the first (so she could have Ouen at
fifteen and baby number two at sixteen--urf!).  Text supports that
much, at least.

(P.S. I've been wondering if Casdoe's mother, whom she says lives in
Thrax, could possibly be anybody we meet in the text.  Couldn't be
Cyriaca, since she's armigette.  How about the woman who runs the
Duck's Nest inn, where stayed Hethor, Agia, and Dorcas?)


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

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