(urth) TWK: Not being Able

Roy C. Lackey rclackey at stic.net
Sun Dec 18 23:37:09 PST 2005

There are several things about the last few pages of TWK that puzzle me,
things that may or may not be related, but which are too convoluted to
tackle at one time, so I'll stick with this for now.

When the Valfather made his first appearance in the story (with Idnn), he
refused to call Able by that name. "I will not name him, because the name he
bears here is not the name he bears among us, where he is Drakoritter
[sic]." (W, 235) I thought that was a bit odd, by itself, because he was
asking her to help Able and Able was still operating largely incognito.

At the end of the story, the Valfather showed up before Able had finished
performing his miracles of healing, but waited until Able had exhausted
himself before coming forward. He said, "You have done, Dragonritter."
Moments later he asked, "Are you coming back?" When Able didn't answer, he
prompted, "Few have been asked -- Sir Able. Even once."

The punctuation, the dash, indicates a belated emphasis on the title and
name. Why did he choose to call him Sir Able at that point? Able answered
him with, "I am not Able."

That is the most puzzling part of the ending for me. Why did Able answer
that way? What did he mean? The Valfather's next words leave open the
possibility that he *heard* Able's words as, "I am not able", meaning that
he thought Able had reason to believe that he would not be able to return to
Skai, perhaps not *permitted* to return, for whatever reason. But since Able
both spoke and *wrote* the line, I have to assume that he wrote it as he
intended it be understood. In what sense is he not Able, the man Parka named
and punished for contradicting her in the matter, the man he spent so much
of the book trying to become?


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