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From: Michael Andre-Driussi <mantis@sirius.com>
Subject: (urth) PEACE: enigma Doris, Cinderella electric
Date: Thu, 26 Oct 2000 09:39:35 

What a day that was for President Den: Bill Batton with his clockwork
orange, er, clockwork elephant; Eleanor Bold with her rather ominous
request to plant a tree on his grave ("I'm not dead, I feel better--much
better!"); and dinner with dog man Charles Turner!

Difficult to date this day, other than to say that Den is President (safe
bet: age 50 to 60; wild range: age 41 to 60ish).  Is it within the first
few years of his Presidency, or say a dozen years in?

Some relatively short time after the dinner, Charlie Turner wrote his
letter to Den, wherein we learn that they talked a lot about a new carny
girl named Doris and tried to think up a happy solution for her situation.
Charlie gives us the background info and then goes into "what happened
next": as the picture develops we see that Doris is Cinderella.

Doris . . . . . . . . . . Cinderella
Mrs. Mason  . . . . . . . wicked step-mother
Arline Mason  . . . . . . step-sister
Candy Mason . . . . . . . step-sister
Tom Lavine  . . . . . . . Prince
Old Lady from Kilgore . . fairy godmother
Charlie Turner  . . . . . narrator/animal assistant*

(* Some versions of Cinderella have the girl's dead mother rather than a
fairy god mother, and this mom often possesses the body of an animal, which
then talks to and assists Cinderella.)

But this is a twisted version of Cinderella, where the poor girl gets
beaten by the others and then commits suicide through electrocution.

(We can even see Charlie's motives for telling the tale: at first it seems
like it would be the perfect set-up for a con job of one kind or another, a
way to fleece a wealthy old man.  But the death of the girl scuttles that
notion, doesn't it?)

So easy!  So obvious!  So clear!

Ah, but the reference points to Den's life have been erased.  Hence, the
Doris enigma: who is she, or who does Den think she might be, that he cares
so much about her?

Who is the woman in Den's life who looks like Carole Lombard?

If you think that dinner with Charlie happened twelve or more years after
the Gold Hunt (nevermind what year of Presidency), then you might suspect
that Doris is the daughter of Den and Sherry Gold.

If you think the dinner happened within a few years of the Gold Hunt, then
(you assume that Den became President shortly after the Gold Hunt, and) you
might suspect that Doris is Sherry Gold herself.

If you are willing to think Doris is a daughter of Den, then maybe you can
increase the field to include Lois as her possible mother.

Whoever she is, it is relatively easy for me to imagine the following:
Charlie shows up to meet the (new) President, suggesting that Smart
maintained some link to the carnies (perhaps he even inherited Tilly's
invisible empire--is Charlie the emmissary to visit their new king?); at
the dinner, Den recognizes Doris in a photo; Den and Charlie try to plot a
happy landing (so Charlie is a soft agent of Den); afterwards, Den arranges
for some sort of help, the "fairy godmother" at least, maybe even a spy
among the carnies as well; the agent arrives and buys Doris new clothes . .
. but then the happy plot spins out of control and tragedy follows.

However, there are some readers (for instance Bill S. and Roy C. Lackey)
who find Charlie's sudden appearance simply too weird to be true within the
realistic frame.  They think that Den is making it up: the visit, the
dinner, the letter.  It is all a vehicle to tell the tale he cannot bear to
tell--well, I can agree with that part, but if Den is making things up, and
people in the astral projection timeframe =can see and hear= the stuff he's
making up (Bill Batton and Miss Birkhead both see Charlie at the factory),
then it seems to me that rules seemingly established throughout the novel
are being broken, or bent.

Which, in turn, might be a good thing: that Den is finally gaining mastery.
After failing to convince Doctors V and B; etc.

The references within the Doris story seem to point every which way:
"Doris" means "of the sea" (like the princess in her tower?), but it might
be (if we stretch it really far) "d'Or" (of Gold).

"Arline" is an oath; "Candy" . . .

But "Mason," ach!  That points to Litho, and Tilly. And all that bundle of
associations.  Invisible Empire stuff: Tilly had a second wife among the
freaks?  (Well, the wife we know of was a freak.)  As Tilly's heir, Smart
had a second wife among the freaks? (boggle)

Furthermore, dogman Charlie might somehow link back into "The Princess"
story: remember how the prophesy about the child was delivered by a guy in
wolf skins? But Charlie doesn't seem to play any part in "The Princess"
story (which even Den links to Olivia) --he delivers the Cinderella story
(which doesn't have a prophesy).

This funny dog detail causes further contortions: Bill S. wonders if Doris
being electrocuted completes the prophesy regarding Princess Elaia "Fire
will win her"; that whole bride burning thing again.  Remember that Den was
Sherry's third lover.  Scary, scary!

In any event, the Doris story is another case where a fairy tale (this time
a well-known European one) is being told as eye-witnessed in the 20th
century, but the happy ending has been replaced with something very sad;
but here the threads that might tie it all to Den's life (why he cares, why
we should care) have been hopelessly tangled.

The tale becomes rather more like a TAT card (which are real, by the way:
there are thirty of them with pictures, iirc, and one card that is blank)
than the other cases I've expanded upon here, and the reader is both
patient and doctor.


Well, that's all I wanted to say about fairy tales in PEACE.  Next up: time
lines (which is rather big) and the frame tale.


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

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