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From: maa32 <maa32@dana.ucc.nau.edu>
Subject: Silk as toy of mother
Date: Sat, 29 Dec 2001 19:03:50 -0700

Thanks for the kind words about my idea of female spys in the Book of the 
Short Sun, Alice.  I myself am fascinated by the appearance of Dr. Crane's 
ghost near the end of Return to the Whorl.  Ok, here are some of the important 
associations with Seawrack that I think indicate she has more power over the 
narrator than is at first apparent: 
In On Blue's Waters, the narrator considers the song of the Mother and thinks 
of it as a song of time, while specifically stating that Seawrack's song seems 
a song more like "wind".  With all of the foul wind blowing from the sea 
throughout the book, it seems that the wind goes against his boat at very 
interesting times: while he and Seawrack while away the hours before reaching 
the island, the wind stops to prolong the time they spend together.  Horn 
believes the song of the mother was employed to improve his reception of 
Right before the narrator is going to return home to see Nettle at the end of 
Return to the whorl, all the wind beats fiercely against him, delaying him and 
causing him to stay in the town of New Viron until he can get a boat.  Often, 
mention of Seawrack's song involves mention of the wind and the weather.  
While not significant by itself, the wind becomes important in the augury that 
"silk" performs with Olivine.  His prophecy there involves clouds, whirlwinds, 
and darkness twice over.  All right, none of that means too much by itself.  
Then, we have the strange thoughts of Horn right before he is freed from the 
pit in On Blue's Waters, before Krait reveals that paradoxes resolve 
everything (he who tries to save his life will lose it, he who casts it away 
will save it).  Horn thinks of his blue painted string man, who he thought he 
was so skillful at controlling.  Then he says how jealous he was that his 
Mother could control that blue painted string man much more effectively 
without even trying.  In Return to the Whorl, in Chapter 8, Sad Experience 
Teaches Me, "Silk" thinks of his famous song "fair young girls live to deceive 
you" and thinks of himself as a blue coated puppet.  The blue painted puppet 
spies a tempting woman in the garden as he steals an apple.  If Horn regrets 
that he cannot control the blue painted puppet and admits that the Mother 
controls him more effectively, then perhaps Silk (or whoever the narrator 
is)has been a puppet all along for the Mother, who Horn can no longer control.
The passage from the Chrasmologic writings that the narrator reads from in 
Chapter 12 of Return to the Whorl during Olivine's sacrifice is interpreted by 
Silk (with those weird finger motions on the cheek that he does) as "Wild 
whirlwinds are to rise. ... if he didn't believe we needed a warning, I doubt 
that he would have provided it. ... Clouds?  I can't make much of that.  It 
may mean perfectly ordinary clouds, such as we see every day.  It may also 
refer to the god's veiling the minds of those he intends to destroy. ... The 
whirlwinds, clouds, and double darkness therefore refer not merely to this 
whorl, the Long Sun Whorl, but to Blue as well"  While Seawrack has been 
associated with winds before, clouds have not really been mentioned except in 
the storms that the wind instigates.  Interestingly enough, in the previous 
chapter, Windcloud the Neighbor testifies for "Silk", admitting that "Silk" 
works for the Neighbors, and "Humourously" declaring that the narrator has not 
been working against his own kind.  We learn that the Neighbors infected 
humanity with inhumi, in order to judge the character of the visitors in their 
Perhaps Windcloud, whose vanished people used to worship the mother, knows 
that Silk could be a tool of the Mother, played by a fair young girl as 
effectively as if he were a marionette in the hands of the mother.  Windcloud 
gives a fairly unflattering analogy for humanity when he compares them to 
fishcatcher birds who infest a chimney without permission (and from Inclito's 
mothers story about people getting stuffed in chimney's, there is nothing too 
positive associated with them).  Perhaps Windcloud's people and the Mother are 
still interested in controlling humanity through Silk/Horn.  In the neighbor 
Windcloud's name, the symbolism of the wind and clouds from the augury are 
joined (and "silk" observes that he cannot see the eyes of the neighbor 
Windcloud, and has never been able to see their eyes - whereas Babbie talks 
with his eyes when he returns in Return to the Whorl, and it is Babbie who 
attacked Seawrack before the Song of the Mother placated both Horn and Babbie 
into accepting her.)  
Also, while I cannot locate the exact place where it occurs in the text but I 
have it written in a note, the narrator comments at one point that some 
character's mother attempted to guide his decisions and actions, and "my own 
Mother had done the same, and I am not sure it was always for the best".  
(that is probably a paraphrase from my notes: I will look for the precise 

Is all that nasty wind blowing enough to indict Seawrack?  What about all 
those corpses she feasted on before, and Krait's claim that "she lies all the 
time"?  Seawrack's ring might invoke the neighbors.  Are they all working 
against humanity, or for it?  Tough to say.  Hopefully these word associations 
are intelligible to most people ...

(Interestingly enough, the dictionary definition of Silk includes something 
about blooming corn - I didn't think of the Silk on corn until I happened to 
look at it.  Pretty cool, considering that whole corn aspect of salvation in 
the text, huh?)

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