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From: "Roy C. Lackey" <rclackey@stic.net>
Subject: (urth) "KM" defense II
Date: Sun, 7 Mar 1999 02:39:52 

On 3-4-99 Tony Ellis wrote:

>>Once again: since the story doesn't tell us one way or the other whether
the elder Malone grew up on the estate, it can't matter. We're not
supposed to know precisely what memories KM has or believes he has. All
we need to know is that he thinks he's the son of Betty and the elder
Malone, and that there never was a son.<<

    But we _do_ know what memories he claims. He states that his father was
the "man-of-all-work", his mother the "parlor maid" (p-45). He does _not_
state that he was the son of the dead couple. The elder Malone was the
    The narrator says of the staff-photo he is shown: "Two dozen people,
most of them in livery of one kind or another, ..." (p-40) This is not mere
verbal ornamentation by Wolfe; it is a clue. Twenty-four people to service
an estate occupied by two people is overkill. That they are in livery
indicates that they wear "uniforms" appropriate to their peculiar stations.
A gardener wears different clothing from a chauffeur or stableman.
Presumably a parlor maid wears clothing that distinguishes her from other
maids. There is something of a caste system involved and one servant does
not perform the services that are properly the domain of another, as in
certain trade unions. The Pines is built on an Italian model, but the
servants are stereotypically British. My point here is that with such a
large staff, each position is discrete. A man-of-all-work is _not_ a
    KM's memories of growing up on the estate are just what he says they
are,and he went into the orphanage because his parents "lost their places".
Yes, he is possessed, but by the estate itself. Which is what happened to
Marcella, as well.

Tony also wrote:

>>.... No offense, but your explanation turns a fine,
insidiously creepy story into something pretty flat.<g>   <<

    How so? Our fundamental disagreement is only over who/what does the
possessing, not the fact of it. My idea accounts for Marcella's otherwise
inexplicable behavior at the end of the story.


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

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