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From: Adam Stephanides <adamsteph@earthlink.net>
Subject: (whorl) Who is he? (RTTW spoilers)
Date: Fri, 09 Feb 2001 19:07:42 +0000

My first post about the identity of the protagonist of RTTW, and of much of
the other two books, was written in haste.  Since them I've thought about it
more, and I've come to the conclusion that I was more right than wrong:
"Horn" is Silk, or at least more Silk than Horn, from the time he "finds
himself" beside Hyacinth's body in Whorl.

The two alternatives I've seen suggested here are that it is Horn in Silk's
body until Horn visits Pig at the West Pole, then Hornsilk until some point
after the return to New Viron, then Silk (if I understand correctly what
mantis wrote); or that it was Horn in Silk's body until Remora reads him the
hyacinth passage.  Against the first hypothesis, I didn't observe any marked
change in "Horn"'s personality or behavior after the visit to the West Pole;
nor is there a change in others' reactions to "Horn" (more on this below).
Against the second hypothesis, I don't see why hearing the hyacinth passage
should drive Horn's spirit out of Silk's body, or make it want to leave,
whereas in my earlier post I gave an explanation for why it would bring Silk
to realize his identity.

Against both these hypotheses, neither provides a good explanation for why
"Horn" fails to realize he is in Silk's body, or even entertain the
possibility.  He knows he is in another body; he seemingly can't walk five
steps on Whorl without somebody calling him Silk; he knows Pig thinks he is
Silk; and Mint bluntly tells him that he is Silk laboring under a delusion
(all this before he goes to the West Pole).  Yet he never draws the obvious
conclusion.  If he really is Horn, he's astonishingly dense.  I don't think
that Horn's not wanting to believe that Silk could have attempted suicide,
as has been suggested before on this list, is a sufficient explanation.  But
Silk's not being able to accept that Hyacinth is dead is.

My final argument is subjective: I think the series is much better if "Horn"
is Silk.  Silk, escaping from his wife's death by burying own identity, is
much more moving than Horn or Hornsilk stumbling around on a quest he
inexplicably doesn't realize is finished.  More than this: "'Horn' is Silk"
feels _right_ to me, in the same way that "Weer is dead" felt right, and as
"Horn is in Silk's body" never did.

On the other hand, there is some evidence contradicting my original
assertion that only Horn's memories were transferred to Silk's body.  First,
as David DiGiacomo points out, the Neighbor had told Horn that his spirit
would be transferred, not his memories.  This could be gotten around; but
there is also the evidence of the astral journeys.  On "Horn"'s first trip
to the Red Sun Whorl with Hoof, he looks, apparently, like a mix between
Silk and Horn (p. 346) and this is apparently true of his earlier astral
trips as well, and of the next-to-last trip to the Red Sun Whorl (p. 388,
IGJ p. 373).  On his final trip to the Red Sun Whorl, though, he looks like
a younger Silk (p. 388).  This is perplexing, because nothing happens
between the next-to-last and last trips which could be expected to drive
Horn's spirit out of Silk or make it want to leave.  (The only possibility I
can see that might be plausible is Horn's bargain with Scylla, but why that
should have this effect I have no idea.)

Be that as it may, if "Horn"'s changed appearance on the last trip does
indicate the departure of whatever portion of Horn's spirit had been
present, we should see some change in "Horn"'s behavior.  And we do: it is
on the last trip that "Horn" provokes Juganu to kill him.  It seems unlikely
that "Horn" would want to die because he failed to bring Silk, as he claims.
I think that Silk, free of whatever restraining influence Horn's spirit
exercised (and, perhaps, with the awareness that he is Silk and Hyacinth
dead coming closer to consciousness), is trying to finish his interrupted
suicide, though giving it an explanation that fits Horn's memories.

So my current theory is that the Neighbor did send Horn's spirit into Silk's
body.  There it did not continue existing separately from Silk's spirit, as
in possession; rather, it merged with Silk's spirit, as is shown by the
astral appearance. In this merger, the components deriving from Silk's
spirit were dominant, although "Silkhorn" believed himself to be Horn, to
avoid facing Hyacinth's death.  Between the next-to-last and last visits to
the Red Sun Whorl, the remnant of Horn's spirit departed for some reason,
leaving "Horn" wholly Silk.  I can't claim to be able to explain everything
in this account, but it seems to me that it fits the text better than any of
the alternatives that have been proposed.


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