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From: "Robert Borski" 
Subject: (urth) Doris
Date: Thu, 1 Aug 2002 14:54:02 -0500

Blattid having objected to my certitude about the Weer-Gold parentage of
Doris:

> Cool ... One thing, though ... Robert, you refer to Doris as
> "almost certainly" the daughter of Den Weer and Sherry Gold.
> Perhaps I've missed (or simply forgotten) something in the
> past coinscriptions on PEACE, but ... how does this, which
> seems to-me-here-now highly conjectural, reach the point of
> almost certainty?

In my original draft of "The Devil His Due" I included a lot of footnotes,
but later dropped them on subsequent rewrites. It was also here that I
attempted to elaborate why I thought the evidence was strong that
Doris-the-carnie was Den Weer's daughter by Sherry Gold. Let me now attempt
to reprise those notes for you.

I believe the best evidence that Doris is Den's daughter can be found in the
letter written to Weer by Charlie Turner, canis carnivalis.

For starters, there's Charlie's rather upfront reason for writing, which he
states immediately after his odd reading predilections (Dickens, Jane
Austen, Stendhal, Proust, but no Albert Payson Terhune): "The reason I am
writing to you is because of some of the people we talked about that night
when you had me to dinner." Though we do not know it yet, he is specifically
writing to tell Weer that Doris--a homeless girl whose tale roughly reprises
that of Cinderella--has died. Moreover, as we will also soon learn, Den
seems to have expressed some early interest in Doris during his original
get-together with Charlie. Writes the dog-boy: "You remember that when I was
at your place we talked about Doris and had fun thinking about what could
happen to her that could be good." But whysoever would Den be interested at
all in the life of this poor girl or imagining how it could be better? This
seems totally alien to the Den Weer we come to know in PEACE; if on the
other hand Doris is his daughter, that would go a long way to explain his
interest.

Secondarily, there is the mysterious visitation of an unidentified woman
when Mrs. Mason's little tit-and-raree show hits Gladewater, Texas. Remarks
Charlie: "A lady came looking for Doris there--a woman about fifty, maybe,
dressed nice the way country people dress." Doris will later return "dressed
nice in new clothes from Sears, some of them with their labels still on."
Ethel Fishman, the snake charmer, talks to Doris and learns that her
benefactress is "an old girl friend of Mr. M.'s [supposedly her father], and
when he died--this is what the lady told Doris, but I don't know any reason
not to think it's true--he wrote her and said how he was turning his
daughter over to Mrs. M., and asked the woman to check up on her if the show
ever got close to Kilgore, which was where she lived."

I would now like to suggest to you that this mysterious woman is none other
than Margaret Lorn Price of the Murchison clan. You may see this as
literally or typologically so, depending on your druthers--the same way Mr.
Tilly may or may not be Julius T. Smart. But for me it works either way.

Margie, an old girlfriend, would now be about fifty, and as a Christian
woman might be a little more forgiving of Den's sexual escapades than
others. Plus Doris might represent for her the child she and Den never had.

Just as Em Lorn, her mother, wished to sell the Chinese egg so she could buy
a sewing machine and make clothes for the poor, Margie clothes poor
tatterdemalion Doris.

Margie is a farm girl (Den will later describe the Murchisons--Margie's
relatives on her mother's side--as "Country people"), and when Den as a boy
visits the Lorn farm, he contrasts their clothes with those of his aunt "in
her beautiful clothes."

At fifty, Margie's children by her husband Mr. Price may well be grown and
gone from the nest. It seems likely that as an only child she would have
inherited her parents' farm (if they kept it, that is, and didn't return to
missionary work), but keep in mind Louis Gold's observation about how
"Country families don't stay in the country these days," as well as the old
potato farmer's remarks about the demise of the family farm. Is it possible
that in her later years Margie Lorn (or her typological equivalent) moved on
to do charitable work of her own, heading down "close to Kilgore?"

But why of all places here?

Well, considering that Texas is Gene Wolfe's native state (and I'm surprised
Lone Star Roy didn't pick up on this), surely he's aware that just down the
road from Kilgore (in fact they share the same latitude, being separated by
only 1 of longitude) is a small town with the serendipitous name of
Murchison.

Could it be here--home in a sense--that Den's long lost love at last finds
peace?

Robert Borski


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