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From: "Roy C. Lackey" <rclackey@stic.net>
Subject: (urth) PEACE: The Egg; Bah, humbug!
Date: Mon, 27 Nov 2000 23:40:33 

Almost all of the stories in PEACE, imbedded or "real-life" ones, are
unfinished, presumably because they are painful to Weer, one way or another.
The imbedded stories are analogies, evidently, of real-life situations which
were too painful for him to even begin to tell. Two of the real-life
stories, the Tilly tale and Charlie Turner's letter, are ostensibly true,
but neither have anything to do with Weer's life, and Charlie himself, small
as his role is in the two stories, is the only apparent link between them.
The events related in the letter are complete, but the letter exists in a
vacuum; we don't know what came before, why Charlie, a minor character in
Smart's Tilly tale, should suddenly appear in Weer's life forty years after
he first heard the tale. Neither do we know the relevance of the people and
events in the letter to Weer.

The Tilly tale itself is incomplete. We get a fragmented version of its
conclusion from Blaine, but he is so wrong about everything else he says
about the tale that his testimony is hardly trustworthy. What was it about
the tale that was so unsettling to Weer that he couldn't finish it, even
though it was one of the longest segments of the book, and seemingly had
nothing at all to do with his life?

Is it the mere fact that the tale is, in some sense, a ghost story? Did Weer
leave out Smart's finding of Mrs. T's pickled body because he knew himself
to be dead too, just another ghost? Then why tell the story at all? After
all, we didn't get even a hint of Macafee's or Blaine's stories, not to
mention Eleanor Bold's.

Then Charlie Turner shows up after Smart's death (whom Charlie has to thank,
presumably, for forty years of continuing to be a hairy freak), and starts
telling Weer all about the travails of perfect strangers, and follows up
with a fractured Cinderella story that doesn't end happily-ever-after. What
is the point? If a character in a ghost story I heard forty years ago
suddenly showed up in my life . . . well, I don't even want to think about

I said that Blaine was wrong about most everything regarding the Egg Hunt
and Smart's Tilly tale--but was he? Why did Wolfe put Blaine's account in
the book then? His testimony is the only instance in the text of an
alternate account of something Weer related. Weer says, in effect, that his
childhood memories are suspect, that they may reflect things not as they
were, but as they ought to have been (19,20). Consider this: the Egg Hunt
and the story telling at Macafee's 41st birthday party, both occurring in
the summer of his ninth year, together constitute nearly one-half of the
book. Read Blaine's brief account of them (173-175), especially regarding
the presentation of the Egg, then think back on Weer's account of the party,
which he twice states was to be the occasion when Olivia was to give the Egg
to Macafee (74,171). _Why was there not a single mention or hint of the
famous Egg at the birthday party_? It should have been the center of
attention, but doesn't seem to have been there at all.

Weer's mention of his malleable memory comes in the course of his account of
the Christmas he spent at Grandpa Elliot's. It concludes with his
reflections on who switched his mother's and Mab's gifts, and why. As a boy
he thought his saintly mother had switched them, as a cynical teenager that
his grandfather had done it for sexual favors, and as an old man that he had
been right as a boy. I don't think so. His cynical self was correct. Mab's
bedroom was on the second floor (21-22). His grandfather's bedroom was on
the first floor (27). Christmas morning his "grandfather came down" to shave
in the warm kitchen (25). Merry Christmas, Grandpa! Elliot was vain and dyed
his beard. The placement of his dead wife's picture shows that he wasn't
exactly mourning her. If he had bought an expensive diamond-and-pearl
necklace for one daughter, he would have to have given his other daughter
something of equal value, which doesn't seem to have happened. When the
holidays were over his daughters would go back to their husbands; Mab was
there to keep his bed warm year round. Della, and even Den, were aware that
their semi-formal housekeeper/employer relationship was a pretense, put on
by Mab out of respect to Della for her recently dead mother. By recently
dead, I mean that she died during young Den's lifetime, but when he was too
young to remember her (25). I don't see saintly Della slighting her own
mother's memory by endorsing her father's carrying on with another woman by
exchanging gifts, even if she had known what the gifts were before Christmas


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

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