FIND in
<--prev V30 next-->

From: "Robert Borski" <rborski@charter.net>
Subject: (urth) Re: Fifth Head's Last Line
Date: Tue, 14 Nov 2000 12:47:18 

Blattid having wondered:

> Meanwhile, I've just finished reading FIFTH HEAD for, rather
> surprisingly, only the second time, and find that there are some
> pretty basic things I don't understand. I know that many people
> find the last line of the first part very disturbing: I truly
> do not understand _why_.

I'm one of the people who believe this and say so both on my website and in
my 5H review in Ultan's Library.

I have three reasons for so doing.

1) The last line  ("Someday they'll want us") recapitulates George
Santayana's most famous dictim. Specifically, Number Five has not learned
from his father's mistakes, therefore he can only repeat them. Hence he will
not be able to move on to the next evolutionary step, where he and his clan
will be wanted by the high and the mighty of Sainte Croix as something other
than flesh peddlers. Think of Number Five as Sisyphus here, who must forever
toil but ultimately fail at the same task (cf. Number Five's two nightmares
about stasis, one where he's trapped by graveyard pillars, the other where
he's on a ship steered by his dead father, who seeks to find out "why the
ship doesn't move").

2) There is also in the last line the implication that the ends justifies
the means. It's therefore all right if Number Five and his father/brothers
conduct unorthodox experiments on their own cell-line and sell the monstrous
results in the slave market. Think of Number Five as Josef Mengele here,
conducting his own little personal Holocaust--no big deal really, since
someday he'll be lauded for the sacrifices he's made in the name of science,
medicine and personal growth.

3) Lastly, there's a good measure of ironical inversion in the line. Of
course, someday Number Five will be wanted--but by Number Six (the baby
carried in by Phaedria at the end), who will eventually exact his own blood
toll for the atrocities perpetuated against him--thus starting the entire
murderous cycle all over again.

Robert Borski

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

<--prev V30 next-->