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From: "Robert Borski" <rborski@charter.net>
Subject: (whorl) Babbie and Horn: In A Pig's Eye
Date: Wed, 23 Aug 2000 14:35:08 

Ian Smith having previously written:

< "I found him in the forest, sitting in the dark under the trees. I could
not see him, it was too dark to see anything. But I knelt beside him, and
lay my head upon his knee, and he comforted me." (OBW p.378)>

<At first I thought this was another Neighbor encounter, but in IGJ Horn
says he hasn't encountered them since they moved him to a new body. It could
also be a particularly obtuse dream sequence, I suppose. Any ideas?>

To which Nick Gevers responded:

<When I read OBW, I was under the impression that the Horn / Babbie
transference was a
trick the Neighbors pulled to allow Horn to escape the inhumi; the latter
have no interest in a hus, and would become confused. Of course, if the
Neighbors are responsible, they are acting remotely, so Horn isn't really
"encountering" them.>

My reading of the scene in question is somewhat different than everyone
else's, I suspect, because I've always seen Babbie as more than a simple

First off, he's the gift of Circean Mucor, which plays to the Homeric angle
of transformed animals.
("Babbie's more like people," "Babbie's a person," etc., etc.)

Secondly, as Mucor says her goodbye to Horn from the cliff, there is this

"At the top of the cliff, I saw a small dark figure that seemed almost a
cluster of boys, or two men upon their hands and knees. It vanished, then
reappeared as it made a flying leap from the top of the cliff. For the
moment I thought its target was the sloop, and that it would strike it and
die. It sent up a waterspout five cubits from the tip of the bowsprit,
however, and vanished as if it had sunk like a stone." (OBW, 105)

On the very next page, however, Horn writes:

"I see that when I described my departure from Mucor's Rock, I never
actually mentioned that Babbie came on board, his black snout and little red
eyes breaking water just aft of the rudder, and his stubby forepaws
clutching the gunwale beside me that reminded me unpleasantly of the

Almost certainly the "cluster of boys, or two men on their hands and knees"
is a Neighbor. Given that "it" jumps into the water, and Babbie suddenly
appears, I don't think it's unreasonable to conclude they're one and the

Thirdly, when Horn is lying in the pit, he records the following

"I kept my eyes closed, knowing that it would be painful to look at the sun.
It vanished, and I opened them to see what had become of it, and saw
Babbie's familiar, hairy mask peering at me over the edge of the pit." (195)

I maintain that *mask* is the key word here. It's also possible that the
"sharp faces" Horn sees while in the pit (note the plural) are a Neighbor's
(the glittering eyes appear to belong to Krait).
But almost certainly the following passage refers to a Neighbor, although it
is recollected later:

"Once, as I lay there at the bottom of the pit, it seems to me that a man
with a long nose (a tall man or an immense spider) stood over me. I did not
move or even open my eyes, knowing that if I did he would be gone. He
touched my forehead with something he held, and the pit vanished." (203)

The "long nose" attribute, I suspect, may be another clue linking Babbie
with the Neighbor, and for what it's worth a very similar scene to the "He
touched my forehead with something he held" occurrs in GREEN, when Horn is
annointed with sweet-smelling oil by a Neighbor.

Fourthly, and very close to the episode under discussion, Seawrack notes the
following: "When [Babbie] goes into the trees, it will be a real person
going in there. But he won't be a real person for long." (340)

Finally, we reach the scene in question. Horn writes:

"After a time that seemed long to me, three or four hours I would guess,
when I was practically alseep too, I heard myself calling Babbie.

"Certain that I had been dreaming nad had spoken aloud in a dream that I
could no longer remember, I rubbed my eyes and rolled onto my hands and

Shortly thereafter:

"Someone on shore called again for Babbie, and I understood that he meant
me...He who called me seemed quite near, and he called me with more urgency
than Seawrack ever has."

But how does Horn reach the conclusion that whoever's calling Babbie is
actually calling for him? This seems more an element of dream logic than
anything else, and if I had to bet the farm on anything, I'd wager it's a
misapprehension; that either "Babbie" himself is calling out his name
("Babbie can talk") in order to lure Horn into the woods (perhaps to say
goodbye), or that another Neighbor is calling Babbie. What seems to justify
to most of you the interpretation that Horn has switched personalities with
Babbie is the line about how Horn "knelt beside him and laid my head upon
his knee, and he comforted me." But if Babbie really is a Neighbor, and has
resumed his native form, couldn't this be a Neighbor's knee, given that we
know the Vanished People are all extremely tall?

I'd also like to note what appears to be Horn's last word on the subject,
which takes place during his stay with Brother and Sister. Writes he: "I
asked them about the Vanished Gods. They said there was one in the forest,
so I told them about him." Apparently at least he believes he's seen a
Vanished God--perhaps indicative of some intermediate shape Babbie has
taken, but one not recognizable to Horn as either Neighbor or Babbie.

On a related note I also continue to hold out that Babbie may reappear as
Pig in the final Short Sun book. Babbie, as Mucor tells Incanto, has
returned to her Rock, but given the enormous difficulty this must have
encompassed, crossing leagues of ocean and land, I find it rather difficult
to believe that a mere hus--even an extremely intelligent and resourceful
one--could manage the journey. In other words, if the Neighbors can morph
themselves along theric lines, why not human? Hence perhaps Babbie's return
is actually from the Whorl.

I also find the following line from Blue intriguing: "Because I could not
leave Pig blind, these people were able to bring me here, and so ended any
chance of success I might have had." In adventures still to come, will Horn
donate an eye to Pig and spend the rest of his life half-blind?

Robert Borski

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