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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


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