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From: Peter Cash <cash@rsn.hp.com>
Subject: (urth) Re: Digest urth.v014.n007
Date: Mon, 22 Jun 1998 11:56:20 

I've been wondering: why does everyone buy into the notion that Marsch
was killed by V.R.T.? It seems to me that in 5th Head, _everything_ is
possible, and here one obvious possibility has been overlooked: Marsch
is, precisely as his Kafkaesque captors insist, a spy and assassin.
(Consider Wolfe's fascination with spies in, e.g. the Long Sun books.
There is a positive abundance of spies in the Whorl.) The clues that he
is an abo have been deliberately planted by Marsch to mislead his
interrogators. In particular, his writings are full of disinformation
designed to create doubt about his identity and intentions.

In fact, Marsch has a double cover story: first, that he is an
anthropologist from earth. This primary cover is the one he used when
moving about Port-Mimizon. He activated his secondary cover when he was
arrested: hoping to take advantage of the Sainte Croix natives'
ignorance of "abos", he began to pretend that he was an abo trying to
pass as an anthropologist from Earth. 

How much of Marsch's journal is fabrication? I think it's essentially
true (but full of lies by omission) up to the point where the reader is
supposed to think that V.R.T. killed Marsch. The reason why I think it's
true to this point is that there are Sainte Croix agents on Sainte Anne
who could refute a completely false story. For example, one of his
interrogators makes reference to the "new" boots Marsch sold on Sainte
Anne. If Marsch had never gone on his expediton with an abo guide at
all, his captors would know it. At the point where the killing occurs,
Marsch changes his handwriting and style to make it appear as though
V.R.T. is making the entries--though it is Marsch who has shot V.R.T.

Why did Marsch do this? Two obvious reasons occur to me. First, he was
doing what any good spy would--creating the background for a cover story
he might have to use later. Second, there may be sexual jealousy
involved--at one point, Marsch writes that he would "kill them both" if
he caught V.R.T. and the native girl _in flagrante delicto_. 

What was Marsch's mission on Sainte Croix? I'm not certain--and he seems
to have hidden this successfully from his captors as well. But I do
suspect that he is guilty of the crime of which the authorities accuse
him: killing Maitre. It may be that this was, in fact, his mission.
(Someone on this list has speculated that Maitre may be the secret ruler
of Sainte Croix; if so, the Annese may have known it.)

Consider the complete absence of any narrative of the actual killing. We
have Maitre, Number 5, and Marsch in the same room. Suddenly, Number 5
accuses Marsch of being from Sainte Anne--thus blowing his cover. Number
5's accusation, "You are an abo, and not from Earth" must be seen in
this context: Number 5 is not accusing Marsch of being a shape-shifter,
but simply of being a native Annese, and not an Earthman. Then we have
one more sentence: "And in a short time, my father and I were alone."

What happened in that "short time"? I think either Marsch or Number 5
killed Maitre. Perhaps there was a pre-arrangement whereby the two would
act together when Number 5 voiced his accusation. In either case, they
parted in agreement: Number 5 would take "credit" for the crime, do his
time, and inherit.

I will close with the obligatory note on names: "Marsch" is German for
"march", and thus has military connotations. It's interesting that it
sounds exactly like the English "marsh", which makes one think of the
boonies of Sainte Anne...

Sgt. Rock

*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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