(urth) The littlest apprentices

Chris Mulder chris_mulder at sbcglobal.net
Thu Nov 2 19:35:51 PST 2006

I think everyone needs to remember that the statement was: "the children the torturers take know no breast" not "have never known a breast". And don't ever let it go, Roy.

"Roy C. Lackey" <rclackey at stic.net> wrote:
  I should probably just let this go, but . . .

As I have said, there are no contradictory statements in the text about
breast feeding. I will try it one more time. I notice that no one disputed
my claim that the height test indicated that there was a third category of
children who fell into the hands of the torturers; those small children who
were seized along with their mother. These are the children the torturers
take who know no breasts. They know no breasts because they have been
weaned. The other two groups are the children born naturally to women who
were pregnant when placed in a cell, and those who were delivered by
C-section because their mother faced imminent excruciation. These latter two
groups were both breast fed, the former group by their mother and the latter
group by a wet-nurse. All the bases are covered and there is no
contradiction. As others have noted, no one who had been a member of the
torturers' guild would write in the same paragraph of remembering nursing at
a breast and also that the children the torturers take know no breasts
unless the conditions imposed by the memory excluded him from the group that
knows no breast.

The recovered memory was not a sequence of events; it was a still-life image
that contained only a few simple components; warm milk from the breast of a
woman whose face he could not see, and grayness at the edge of his field of
vision. That's all. The rest is emotional reaction to the memory,
speculation about the woman's ultimate fate, and the application of prior
knowledge about how the guild renews its numbers to those few dream
components to deduce that the woman must be his mother.

When I wrote, "As I said before, he knew the woman *must* be his mother
*because* she was in a cell, *and* he knew "the children the torturers take
know no breasts".", I might have added: *and* he knew that C-section babies
got wet-nurses, *and* he knew that wet-nurses didn't work in cells, *and* he
knew that the mother of a C-section baby would almost certainly be dead.
Severian put it all together and concluded that the woman was his mother.
Had the color at the edge of his vision been something other than gray, he
could not have eliminated the possibility that the woman was a wet-nurse.


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