(urth) Ouen's Catherine

b sharp bsharporflat at hotmail.com
Sun Oct 15 20:25:12 PDT 2006

I concur with others who always felt Severian asks about a dark haired woman 
because his own hair is dark and Ouen is fair.

Roy writes:

>But I doubt that the maid who played Katharine was actually his mother.  
>Others have speculated >that the maid was a khaibit, which may be so. If 
>true, then the woman for whom she was a >khaibit was likely Ouen's 

The maid playing St. Katharine doesn't change appearance year to year in 
Severian's memory, which I think suggests she is making use of a kaibit 
rather than her being one.  Can her unchanging appearance be ignored?  This 
maid is described as being of armiger height.  If she was the kaibit of an 
exultant wouldn't she be exultant height?  I know some argue the blood 
transfer is what increases height but that is non-text speculation.  I do 
see some evidence that a kaibit is the twin of her mistress but the blood 
donation causes a hollow cheeked look.

I agree with Thalassocrat that we are supposed to see an echo of Severian's 
mother in Cyriaca.  There is a good chance they were both ex-Pelerines.  
Cyriaca was sentenced to die for the crime of cuckolding a high official; 
perhaps Severian's mother also?  Who was the dark haired woman with a livd 
face in the coffin in the first chapter?  I think the only two "pale gowns" 
in the story belong to the woman in the coffin and the woman Severian sees 
on the Path of Air.

I had considered that whoever was in the coffin had played St. Katherine for 
years and then was replaced after her death.  But when Severian participates 
in the mock execution, he freezes, and the maid cooly prompts him to 
continue as though she was very familiar with the ritual.  For these reasons 
I've felt that the maid is the real Catherine and it is a kaibit in the 

Thea's heart shaped face has a sharp chin that matches Severian's, but so 
would Thecla's triangular face.  Are hollow cheeks an issue here?


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