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From: mary whalen <marewhalen@yahoo.com>
Subject: (whorl) Names, animals, and meanings (A)
Date: Tue, 28 Jul 1998 11:58:22 

This is Sean Whalen (prion).

It's fairly clear in the Long Sun books that the names of the
characters are meant to have some allusional significance, like the
Councillors having the names of lower primates or Silk and Chenille
both beings semi-related materials.

Here are some similar comparisons.

Abanja.  Arabic, but I can't find a definition.  Based on her
personality, it might mean crafty, sneaky, secretive.

Aer.  Irish for air, sky, climate, gaiety, pleasure, tune, and wonder.
 It is a loan word from Greek aer.

Ah Lah.  The name for Allah in the Writings.

Aloe.  Any of several kinds of plants, or the dried juice of genus
Aloe used for medical purposes.  Perhaps since Aloe is pious, she
helps the sick.

A-man.  The name for Adam in the Writings.  First man, a is first
letter.  He's a man, representing all men.  

Aquifolia.  The holly tree, any plant in its genus Aquifolium, or a
plant in the its family Aquifoliaceae. From Latin, meaning sharp leaf.
 A girl in Marble's class.

Aquila.  Latin for eagle, and the name for a genus of eagles which
includes many species with feathered feet. This is the name of an
eagle, one of Musk's birds.

Arolla.  Arolla pine, or Swiss pine.  No apparent meaning, might be
connected to Orpine, another girl at Orchid's.

Asphodella.  Probably asphodel, an herb of family Liliaceae and genus
Asphodelus or Asphodeline.  It is perennial and was thus formerly
thought to be immortal. One of Marble's girls, a minor figure who
doesn't appear to have any meaning connected with her name.

Aster.  Greek for star.  The name of a genus of plants, which usually
have flowers resembling a starburst (or what someone would call a
starburst).  One of Rose's girls.

Auk.  (Family:  Alcidae).  The name comes from Norwegian and Icelandic
alk, or alka.  There are 22 living species of auk, including
razorbills, puffins, and murres.  They live in the far northern
hemisphere. They are seabirds; divers who live on cliff tops and
rocks.  They spend much time underwater.  They are short, stout, with
short thick necks and usually have broad beaks and webbed feet.  They
are usually black and white.  They are similar to penguins, but are
not closely related to them.  Silk says that Auk is a common name
given by mothers who hope their sons will never leave them, as the
small auks on Lake Limna are flightless.  On Earth, only the great
auk, which is now extinct, was flightless.  All the small species can
fly, except when molting, and Auk actually is the first person to fly
away from the Whorl.  Since auks are black and white, this can be a
symbol of the mixed good and bad parts of Auk.  Mostly black auks
become white in the winter for camouflage, and this could symbolize
Auk becoming purer in the face of adversity and bad times.  Auk
reminds me most of the razorbill (Alca torda), which is broad and
large (over a foot) with a thick broad bill.  It is an auk that
becomes whiter in the winter.  It lives in the North Atlantic Ocean. 
The razor part indicates his criminal nature.  When Silk first meets
him face to face, he feels from his characteristics that Auk is an
assumed name, and he was originally named Bear or Wolf.  He's
apparently wrong, and his brother is Bustard, another bird.

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