(urth) TWK: Not being Able

James Wynn thewynns at earthlink.net
Mon Dec 19 06:44:19 PST 2005

>Roy asks:
>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.
>...Valfather ...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?
>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?

I'll take a shot at these, and we'll see. 
He meant he was not Able, he was Arthur. Having
completely succeeded at being Able, a heroic figure of his desire, he now
only wanted to be Arthur Ormsby again. He had no need for honors from
Skai, let alone for ship captains or townspeople to *treat* him as a knight.
He knew he *was* one.

Parka insisted that he play at being Able until he was....able. I don't think
she would punish him for denying it now.

And even though you didn't ask it, I'll note that Valfather's calling him 
"Sir Able" (a title only a knight may bear) means that in causing Disiri
and her people to come at his command, and in sacrificing himself for his
(at last) worshipper in selfless love, he had become, not just a brave man,
but the knight he pretended to be throughout the book.


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