(urth) The Katharine maid

Roy C. Lackey rclackey at stic.net
Fri Oct 27 21:57:15 PDT 2006

Daniel D Jones quoted and wrote:

>> >"Perhaps I was too distant from myself, from the Severian of bone and
>> >flesh borne by Catherine in a cell of the oubliette under the Matachin
>> >Tower."
>> >
>> >This also seems to contradict Roy Lackey's supposition that Severian was
>> >borne outside the Matachin.
>> Ah, yes, so it does. It also contradicts the passage I quoted earlier:
>> "[ . . .] a breast running with warm milk. It was my mother's breast
>> and I could hardly contain my elation (which might have wiped the memory
>> away) at having reached back at last to her, after so many fruitless
>> attempts. My arms sought to clasp her, and I would, if only I could, have
>> lifted my eyes to look into her face. My mother certainly, for the
>> the torturers take know no breasts. The grayness at the edge of my field
>> vision, then, was the metal of her cell wall. Soon she would be led away
>> scream in the Apparatus or gasp in Allowin's Necklace." (CLAW, chapter
>> Both quotes cannot be true. The sentence, "My mother certainly, for the
>> children the torturers take know no breasts." is either a pointless lie
>> another example of Wolfe being forced to change his mind about some
>> when he came to write the sequel. I can't think of any way to reconcile
>> two passages.
>I think you're misinterpreting the sentence you quote.  You've addressed
>second half of the sentence but you haven't explained what the first half
>means.  Why does the fact that "...the children the torturers take know no
>breasts..." prove that the memory of his suckling is his mother?  What does
>the entire sentence mean?  I think Severian is saying that it must be his
>mother because if he's suckling at a breast, he hasn't yet been taken by
>torturers.  Once he IS taken, he'll be fed by bottle or equivalent.  Thus
>memory must be of a time before he is taken and the woman suckling him must
>be his mother.  That means there's no contradiction in the two passages.
>Catherine bore him (and suckled him) while imprisoned in a cell in the
>At some point after his birth (exactly how long after is unclear, but
>certainly while he was still an infant) she was tortured and killed, and
>Severian was taken by the torturers to be raised as a member of the Guild.

I guess that what I get for being economical and not repeating myself. <g>
My "Baby Severian" post of the 18th dealt with much of your argument. Most
of the criteria for acceptance into the guild are also addressed on the
second page of the second chapter of SHADOW. Among them is, "None of us were
born among the torturers, for none are."


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