(urth) The Piteous Gate

Chris rasputin_ at hotmail.com
Fri Feb 24 04:05:46 PST 2006

Well, this may be irrelevant, but we are given to understand that destriers 
are quite fast. They are genetically engineered mounts that can run at least 
as fast as a speeding motor vehicle.Actually come to think of it, 5 of those 
coming down the road at full speed (if they were in fact doing that) would 
be a good reason for anyone in their way to panic.

Also FWIW the Wright book also mentions Aquastor's point about the thematic 
importance of the gate-to-gate thing. However I don't think this necessarily 
imparts the "mystery" of the gate with any extra importance unless there is 
some other reason to suspect that it is so, and as far as I can tell it 
isn't tied in to the story at ANY other point.

Attempts to analyze the incident further also run into the possibility that 
Severian may be deliberately hiding something.

>I agree with what Aquastor said, and Crush had earlier implied much the
>same. Book one ended with a cliff-hanger. Readers expected to find out what
>happened in the next installment -- but it didn't happen. I know that 
>Borski, for one, was particularly put out with the lack of an explanation 
>the other books.
>Crush also noted, "But Dorcas *says* that they are turning around because
>they are frightened." That serves to make a point about the timing of the
>events at the Gate. When Sev and his group first caught sight of the Gate
>and the travelers, they were still half a league away from it. Traffic was
>moving in a steady stream into the tunnel formed by the Gate. By the time
>Sev's group reached the Gate, the stream had been flowing for some time
>without any problems. Clearly, had the five uhlans been positioned on the
>road outside the Gate all morning, they hadn't been causing any 
>for the travelers, who took whatever paths they normally took.
>If we assume that the uhlans made a *sudden* appearance and started killing
>people on the road, causing the panic in question, then we have to account
>for a sudden appearance. So far as I can tell, that portion of road nearest
>the gate was straight. I don't think it reasonable that five mounted men
>could have come down that road so rapidly that any travelers who might have
>been on the road couldn't see and hear them coming in time to get off the
>road, particularly given the fact the travelers had every reason to be on
>the lookout for the troopers. It might be argued that the uhlans were 
>in the woods, just waiting to ambush the foolhardy. If that were the case,
>why didn't they act sooner, before Sev's group ever got to the Gate?
>No, something happened inside the long tunnel through the wall that was so
>frightening and immediate a threat as to cause the travelers to panic 
>to get away from it. They fled to the closest exit, some, like the man on
>the wagon who struck Dorcas, back to the city-side of the tunnel, those
>nearer the outside of the gate fled in a panic from whatever danger there
>was behind them. Some of them leapt from the frying pan into the fire, so 
>speak, and ran onto the road and were killed by the soldiers.
>In Severian's dream at the opening of CLAW, the travelers are screaming and
>shouting, then he gains the farther side of the gate and sees the green 
>with five mounted soldiers on it. "On these riders, the tide of travelers
>broke as a wave on a rock, some turning left, some right. Dorcas was torn
>from my arms ..." This was *after* the panic inside the tunnel, when people
>were still running in a chaotic stream, that he got separated from Dorcas
>and the others. The panic was not caused by the uhlans, who were outside 
>gate, blocking access to the road. Sev and his group went forward in the
>tunnel *towards* the uhlans, not away from them and back to the city.
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