FIND in
<--prev V30 next-->

From: "Roy C. Lackey" <rclackey@stic.net>
Subject: (urth) Re: PEACE mansion denizens & one stroke or two?
Date: Fri, 27 Oct 2000 13:55:59 

mantis wrote:
>This brings up many good points.  It also seems like an opportunity to
>raise the "one stroke or two medical emergencies?" tangle.

Wouldn't you know it; I just happened to have a piece more or less prepared
on this topic! Unfortunately, it repeats some of the points mentioned by
mantis, but I'm too lazy to change it.

Page numbers from the Berkley paperback, which runs from 1 to 246, if that
helps anyone.

When Den wakes up on page 1, from sleep in his bed before the fire, it was
not because Eleanor Bold's tree fell, as he makes clear. Nor was it, as is
made clear later on when he complains that he is "sicker, even, than I was
this winter, before Eleanor Bold's tree fell" (181), to his Life-After-Death
(LAD) that the tree woke him. For some unknown period of time he has been
experiencing his LAD. The tree falling serves to tell us that he is dead,
and that he has been dead for a long time, as is, not incidentally, everyone
else in the book.

Yet his mind seems to be preoccupied with the effects of what he believes to
have been a stroke. Whether we regard Den as some sort of revenant, a ghost
or ghoul or whatnot with some sort of corporeal substance, or that his LAD
is all cerebral, that he is an ethereal spook lost somewhere between Heaven
and Hell, I feel equally certain, as certain as can the living, that dead
people do not have strokes.

He can use one ax, but not the other. He drags one leg. He lights candles
and fires. He eats, or claims to. He pulls weeds and flowers and vegetables
in his garden for exercise (15), the same garden that was still locked in
the weakening grip of winter a few pages before (2). Dead people do not do
these things, and dead people do not get any deader, do not need advice on
how to treat a stroke. Why, then, does he complain of one, and behave as if
he is suffering the effects of one? Clearly a stroke has impressed itself on
his mind at some time. He told Dr. Van Ness that he woke up with its effects
the morning after Sherry Gold died (14). Whenever Sherry died, it was a long
time ago, long before that elm tree was mature. There seems little recourse
but to assume Weer had at least one stroke in his life, possibly two, the
second of which led to his death, which would account for having a stroke on
his mind whenever he woke to his LAD.

So was it one stroke or two? If one, then how to account for Dan French
reporting that Den's secretary could tell when Den was tired, because he
started to drag one leg (233), which is one of the symptoms he complains of
in his LAD (78)? Did he recover from that stroke, only to die later of some
other malady? If so, then why was that stroke on his mind in his LAD, rather
than whatever malady that eventually killed him? If he recovered from that
stroke, then he had to have had medical attention, hence no need for
imaginary medical advice to treat it from Drs. Black and Van Ness. If two
strokes, then when did he have the first? On the night that Sherry died? If
so, then how much time passed between the strokes? Did he then recover from
the first stroke, more or less completely, which would account for the leg
dragging only when he was tired? Did he then have a second stroke, possibly
years after the first, possibly right after hearing the Sidhe story from Dan
French, the stroke which killed him, which was why he was unable to keep the
doctor appointment he had for that afternoon, the reminder for which was
nailed to his desk?

The two-stroke theory does not explain his claim that he had had only one
stroke (14), that coming the night that Sherry died. I believe that Den died
shortly after hearing Dan French's story, which is where the book ends. If
that is correct, if he had a heart attack that afternoon (which is one of
the things he fears on page 1), he may have lived long enough to have a
stroke (often a consequence of heart trouble), which led to his death, which
is why the subject was on his mind when he woke to his LAD. If Sherry died
the night before this stroke, so much the better (for this theory <g>);
knowledge of her death leading to the stroke. Note also that the enigmatic
Miss Birkhead died the same day as the Dan French story. Coincidence?

As for the stroke/heart attack possibilities: Dr. V asked Den (when he
questioned him about the symptoms of his future stroke) "Do you find it
painful to move about? Very painful?" Den answered no. (14) But, on page
152, in the office in his house, Den writes "My side hurts so much I do not
want to leave my chair. The label on the can says, 'For Den--Merry Christmas
and Happy Memories from Dad', and I have forgotten in the pain what it
contains." He had been wondering if he should buzz Miss Birkhead, because he
thought he heard a door close. _Twice_ in that paragraph he asks "What if
she should answer?"

This scene, I believe, is a reenactment of one which occurred at his real
office, the day that Dan French told him the Sidhe story and Miss Birkhead
died. He suffered a stroke/heart attack, which brought him real-life pain.
He fears Miss Birkhead answering the buzzer instead of Miss Hadow, because
he had just learned that Miss Birkhead was dead. If she answered--then he
must be dead, too.


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

<--prev V30 next-->