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From: "Roy C. Lackey" 
Subject: (urth) PEACE: 3 Misses
Date: Sat, 17 Aug 2002 00:56:28 -0500

Before this latest PEACE discussion dries up altogether, I still have a few
things lying around from the last discussion. This is one of them.

Some elderly people, as their physical and mental abilities decline with age
and they loose the ability, even willingness, to cope with the present,
often become preoccupied with the past, with their youth, particularly their
childhood. One of the ways this manifests itself is the tendency to call
things by their old names; say when a store or company changes its name,
they often continue to call it by its old name. In the same way, the place
where you buy gas for the car is a "service station", even though it's
decidedly not anymore, and you store food in the "ice box", not the
refrigerator, because that's what those things were called when they were
growing up. I think A.D. Weer is like that. The little that we learn of his
life is mostly from his childhood; not much about his adulthood and almost
nothing about the prime years of his manhood. As Weer himself says in his
"what went wrong" soliloquy: "When I recall my childhood, and forget (as I
sometimes do) everything else . . .".

This is the only good reason I can come up with for his persistence in
calling certain married women by their maiden names. He does this with three
females. He does it in the presence of other people in the story, and
directly to the reader. Two of these females the reader knows he knew when
he was a child, Eleanor Bold (Porter) and Margaret Lorn (Price), so calling
them by the names he first knew them by might be understandable for a
befuddled old dead man in his second childhood. But then we have Miss
Birkhead. We don't learn that she was married with children until Miss Hadow
interrupts the concluding Sidhe story. That bit of information, coming where
it does in the book and otherwise contributing nothing to Weer's story, must
be significant. We don't know what she looked like, or how old she was when
she died. The only clue along those lines is that she had been Smart's
secretary before Weer's, but we don't know for how long. Weer was grown
before he went to work for Smart, and it seems doubtful that he would have
had much, if any, contact with Smart's secretary, even if she had been
working there that long ago. When he was a middle-aged employee he saw Smart
only once every two years. So when did he pick up the habit of calling her
Miss? If she was unmarried when she became Weer's secretary, then she must
have been relatively young, because she went on to have two children. Weer
was in his mid-to-late forties when he took over the company, much too old
to excuse his lack of respect for her married state, if she got married only
after he became president, and too old for him to be referring to her as
Miss in the frametale, if he was reverting to childhood associations as he
apparently did with Eleanor and Margaret.

The mystery is deepened by the fact that Miss Hadow, someone Weer claims
never to have seen before, doesn't bat an eye when he asks the whereabouts
of Miss Birkhead, even though she clearly knows that that is not her name.
She apparently even calls her Miss Birkhead too, when she asks about sending
flowers. Miss Hadow should have no reason to do that.

Could Miss Birkhead be some unnamed, or differently named, female from his
childhood? Someone who appears in the book, or is at least hinted at?



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