(urth) Father Inire

b sharp bsharporflat at hotmail.com
Wed May 24 21:44:02 PDT 2006

On first reading of the BotNS I thought Father Inire (suggesting INRI King 
of the Jews?) made only one cameo apperance as the cowled servitor who 
guides Severian to the Green Room.

Robert Borski convinced me that he also appears as the old, twisted, masked 
jungle guide (who looks like Isangoma).  This guy was rumored to be a shaman 
(therian) who could assume the form of a tiger (oops wrong animal). He 
carried a bent stick with a monkey head on it (hm. okay then).  Inire's 
apperance there makes a lot of plot sense. He can ensure that the old 
autarch and Severian both survive and perform the memory transfer. He can 
extract information from Agia, etc.  Okay, so he is Father Inire too.

Well, I can be content with the one standard cameo appearance by the 
director, but if there are two then it is time to start looking for more.  
Borkski does this by seeking out father figures and characters with hidden 
eyes and using cryptonyms and trying to make them fit.  He comes up with 
Ossipago, Palaemon, Paeon and Ceryx as versions of Inire. I think these are 
all very challengable and perhaps that can happen at a later time.

My own preference is to look first for physical clues.  Perhaps in hope that 
Wolfe is using the engineering side of his brain first, before the literary 
side.  The multiple physical descriptions of Inire mark him as old, short, 
bent, twisted, looking like a monkey, with no more nose than an alouatte 
(black howler monkey http://www.painetworks.com/photos/dv/dv0881.JPG).  With 
that as a starting guide, here is my list of Inire cameo appearances:

1. Uakari-  Back in a June 1999  post, Mitchell A. Bailey felt the uakari 
watching Severian from a tree as he was escaping the House Absolute grounds 
after the play performance was really Inire. An alouatte was mentioned 
earlier so why an uakari here? With its bald head the uakari really looks 
like an old man(http://www.brazilianfauna.com/images/reduakari.jpg) and I 
can't blame Mitchell at all for thinking that an old man who looks like a 
monkey might disguise himself as a monkey who looks like an old man.

2. Baboon- when Severian wakes in a lazaret after his avern battle, "An ape 
with the head of a dog ran down the aisle, paused at my bed to look at me, 
then ran on."  Baboons are large, ape-like monkeys often referred to as 
"dog-faced" (http://www.cwaf.org/images/main-image-baboon.jpg).

3. Isangoma- He is old though being short, bent or twisted is not mentioned. 
But Wolfe explicitly notes his resemblance to the shape-shifting jungle 
guide with the monkey head pole.  He is found in one of Father Inire's main 
haunts, The Botanic Gardens.  He isn't said to look like a monkey but he 
mentions monkeys in a story and invokes baby uakaris in his cant.  When we 
meet him, Marie is reading a Bibilcal passage to him- God's curse on Moses, 
the shepherd of the Chosen People, to never see the Promised Land himself. 
This could suggest Inire's role in BotNS.

4. Rudesind-  He is old and bent. We don't know how tall he is because he is 
usually on a ladder. He inhabits Father Inire's portion of the House 
Absolute and is familiar enough with the Secret House
to trick Severian into falling into it and to move easily from The Citadel 
to the House Absolute.  He carries the letter of Father Inire to Severian. 
We are told he is Inire's servant which should explain all the above.

But, we have also been told that the old Autarch, Appian, is himself several 
of the minor officials of his court.  I think Father Inire uses the same 
ploy.  The most telling clue is when Rudesind first comes down from the 
ladder "like an aged monkey, seeming all arms and legs and wrinkled neck; 
his hands were as long as my feet, the crooked fingers lined with blue 
veins".  Why would Wolfe use almost all the physical descriptions of Father 
Inire for Rudesind unless he really was him?  He also notes that Rudesind's 
nose and chin almost touch (proboscis monkey? 

Rudesind tells Severian, at different times, two interesting things: that 
his wife died and that he is the advocate for the dead, giving a speech 
about doing right by them.  These two facts tie Rudesind to our next Inire 

5. Dorcas' husband-  this guy is never named, though he and Dorcas are given 
ample opportunity to do it.  He also spends lots of time in the Botanic 
Gardens poling his skiff, has a dead wife and seems like an advocate for the 
dead.  Severian describes him as "bowed and shrunken by age (he appeared 
older even than Master Palaemon) until he could hardly have weighed more 
than a boy of ten".

This man tells Severian, "Father Inire had the gardeners plant the averns.  
I was here and saw it.  Just a little man he is, with a wry neck and bow 
legs".  If the man IS Father Inire, no false statements there.  And no 
thought or comment from Severian on how this man himself fits Inire's 
description.  And Severian is ALWAYS making comparisons.

How could Dorcas be married to Father Inire?, you might ask.  Two bits of 
circumstantial evidence:  Dorcas seems to have been a young teen when she 
wed.  Through Lewis Carroll allusions and the Domnina scene we are informed 
that Father Inire has an attraction to girls of this age.  Moreover, if his 
beloved wife Dorcas had died years ago, wouldn't Father Inire manipulate the 
ONE person in the universe who could reanimate her, into doing so?  Severian 
accidentally finds his own dead grandmother in a lake with ten thousand 
other dead bodies?  Please.

Now, it might be noted that Rudesind also mentions his wife dying soon after 
having two daughters.  If his wife is really Dorcas, how could this be?  I 
think it suggests that Severian's accepted family tree needs some serious 
restructuring.  The Dorcas -> Ouen-> Severian scheme always seemed too easy 
and spoon-fed to me, given the difficulty of the other puzzles in this book.

An even more serious objection might be noting that, leaving the Samru, 
Severian sees Dorcas with her dead husband and then later sees Rudesind in 
the Citadel.  Well, there are some very strange things about that Dorcas 
scene.  Severian goes to shore because he sees a flower in a  little boat, 
newly built, at an ancient pier.  He finds her kneeling "the body of the old 
man who had poled the skiff there lay on a bier before her, his back so 
straight, his face, in death, so  youthful, that I hardly knew him".

Can we be sure it IS the old man from the skiff? Why would he look so much 
younger in death?  Could Severian be once again mistaken about who a family 
member really is?  Again, I think Severian's family tree may need major 

Final note, the flower on the boat from this scene is a wilted white poppy 
and Severian sees Dorcas has replaced it in her hair with a fresh arum.  
There was a great post in here  a while back on the meanings of flowers.  
White poppy means "dormant affection".  Arum means "ardor".   There are many 
previous hints in the text that Dorcas has some deeper issues.  But these 
are all part of a new puzzle.


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