(urth) Honor

Chris rasputin_ at hotmail.com
Thu Nov 24 16:33:56 PST 2005

Might as well refer back to the chapter in question. On p. 127 of the trade, 
Able asks after his possessions after he's regained consciousness:

Pouk coughed. "Speakin' of Cap'n... As we was, sir, 'cause he's prob'ly got 
'em. Speakin' o' him, I've learnt what he's plannin', sir. He told Mate, an' 
Mate told Second, and Njors heard him an' told me. When we get to port, sir, 
he'll pay off the crew and let 'em go ashore. He thinks everybody'll go, 
only I won't, sir. Him an' Mate'll come down here to do for you then, only 
I'll be with you."

[Note that the reason he's talking about the captain getting the crew out of 
the way is that the captain wanted to kill him while he was unconscious, and 
the crew wouldn't let him.]

On p. 128-9 of the trade the actual confrontation plays out. Able is 
sitting, on account of his wound.

"I want my bow and I want my money. Somebody told me you had them, but he 
was too scared of you to come in here and get them for me. So I'm here to 
get them myself. You've got the sword, which is yours, and you'll have some 
money of your own. Go get it, and give me mine. All I want is what belongs 
to me. Give it to me, with my bow, the case, and my quiver, and you can go 
away without fighting."

He shook his head.

"I didn't think you would. All right, here's my last offer. Gylf and I will 
go out on deck. Before the next watch, you clear out of this cabin, leaving 
all my stuff - money, bowcase, armor, and so forth - where I can find it. 
Twenty-two gold ceptres, most of them new and all real gold, plus my other 
stuff. Will you do that?"

He stood up and Gylf growled. I was afraid he was going to grow into the 
black thing that had killed the outlaws, and I told him not to.

"You'll return my ship and its cargo to me when we reach port?"

"Sure," I said. "But I don't want them in the first place. I don't--"

He was grabbing his sword...


Mind you, the situation with the ship and his way of dealing with the 
captain was bad from the very beginning. And you can certainly say that it 
was this handling of things from the outset that created this mess. But the 
way Roy portrayed the killing of the captain is clearly off the mark, and 
his interpretation colored by his dislike for Able. The captain, at this 
point, had determined to murder Able regardless; in this confrontation he 
decided to take a chance that Able's wound, the fact that he was seated, and 
the element of surprise would give him just enough advantage to kill Able, 
and he almost succeeded.

The key points at which to criticize and/or examine Able are:
* His treatment of the captain (and others) from the very moment he set foot 
on the ship.
* His decision to dispose of the body, which was self-serving and untruthful 
in a way that is difficult to explain. To wit, why does he feel the need to 
get rid of the body when everyone on the ship will surely know what has 
happened in general, if not in exact detail?

What does not help is to portray the captain as the innocent victim of a 
cold-blooded assassination.

>On 11/24/05, Roy C. Lackey <rclackey at stic.net> wrote:
> > Would
> > anyone care to defend Able's treatment of the captain?
>In the first part of the first book, there is a lot of stuff Able does
>that I think is morally wrong and do not defend.  But I think much of
>it makes sense for the character, and I so I don't see these episodes
>as a failing of the book.
>1.  The way Able treats Touk and his family right after he gets
>embiggened.  He acts here in ways that our society would consider
>bullying.  From Able's point of view this is at most a day or two
>after he was there with Ravd, who was pretty harsh in interrogating
>the villagers.  So it's quite possible he's trying to act like he
>thought Ravd was acting.  Also, he's what, 14 years old?  I have no
>trouble believing a 14-yr-old who was suddenly as strong as Able would
>behave like a jerk and a bully, especially at first.
>2.  Able's treatment of the captain.  Able is a 14(?) yr old boy and a
>modern American.   Living with the poor in the countryside would be
>pretty rough for a kid like that - dirty, uncomfortable, etc.  But the
>conditions on a sailing ship would be far worse.  The captain's cabin
>was probably the only place on the ship that seemed at all habitable
>to Able.
>That doesn't excuse the way he started making unreasonable demands.
>But again, I think at this point he's trying to get people to accept
>him as a knight by acting like one -- except at this point his main
>idea of a knight is a big strong guy who lords it over peasants.   And
>I think things escalated out of Able's control, to the point where he
>thought he had to kill the Captain or be killed.    I think he was
>wrong, that he should have found a different way to resolve the
>situation.  But I thought the characterization made sense and made for
>interesting reading.
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