From: "Robert Borski"
Subject: Re: (urth) Doris Date: Fri, 2 Aug 2002 19:34:54 -0500 Deep in the heart of Texas, with his calendar and stopwatch in hand, Roy L. has written: > The visits of Bill Batton, Charlie Turner, and Eleanor Bold Porter all > happened on the same day. I don't agree with this. They may _seem_ to take place on the same day, but also on that same day we see Den's secretary, Miss Birkhead, being healthy enough to report to work at one stage, sick enough a short time later so she has to leave and be replaced by Miss Hadow (neither secretary apparently communicating this to the man they work for), then still later on the same day a notice is posted that Helen Birkhead Tyler has died and we learn that she is neither single nor childless, and moreover that she has been A. D. Weer's "long-time secretary." According to information presented in the Peace Indexicon, however, Miss Birkhead was originally Julius Smart's secretary, and old uncle Julius has only recently died, leaving the factory to his nephew--yet Miss Birkhead is Den's "long-time" secretary? I find it much more likely to assume that he inherited her with the president position rather than think Julius Smart shuffled her off to him much earlier. (Do we know at what previous stage in his career Den was assigned to a position where he would even need a secretary?) Others have offered their interpretatations of the Birkhead anomaly, but I believe it represents a conflation of events over years, seen over the trajectory of Miss Birkhead's life: single at one stage, married and twice bearing children (surely, she would have required maternity leave), and finally dying. As others have noticed, this merging of different temporal strata takes place throughout PEACE (another good example of this is when Den first meets Sherry Gold and asks to be excused for not rising because he suffers from stroke-induced partial paralysis--yet the cerebrovascular event in question is some 15 years or so in the future) and probably represents the workings of a disordered mind. Therefore attempting to wrest a tried-and-true chronology from such flawed data is not only extremely precarious in my opinion, but subject to extreme individual interpretation. If Charlie Turner's visit and letter reception take place close to the day on which long-time secretary Helen Birkhead Tyler actually dies, this might well be later in A. D. Weer's presidency--perhaps even as late as a decade and a half after he couples with Sherry Gold, which would then allow him to have a teenage daughter. Robert Borski --