(urth) The Katharine maid

Daniel D Jones ddjones at riddlemaster.org
Sat Oct 28 14:22:30 PDT 2006

On Saturday 28 October 2006 16:47, Nathan Spears wrote:
> > I don't see any resolution for the apparently contradictory sentences
> > about wet nurses and knowing no breasts.  I suspect this was an error on
> > Wolf's part.
> What statement about wet nurses?  Looking at the Baby Sev post I found this 
> > The key part of this quote is "the children the torturers take know no
> breasts", which seems to contradict his earlier statement about wet-nurses.
> but I'm not clear on what the earlier statement is.

Chapter 2 of Shadow:

"...when a woman big with child is sent to us we open her and if the babe 
draws breath engage a wet-nurse if it be a boy.  The females are rendered to 
the witches..."

It seems to me the line saying that the children the torturers take know no 
breast is a direct contradiction to the above which says they engage a wet 
nurse.  At least, the only definition I'm familiar with for "wet nurse" is a 
woman who suckles another woman's child.  If it is a contradiction, then the 
question is whether it's an error of Severian's or Wolfe's.  I suspect it's 
Wolfe's.  I can see any point or significance to Severian misleading the 
reader in so subtle and trivial a manner.  Outside of that apparent error, I 
don't see any contradictions or issues with Severian being born in the tower.

As I see it, the torturers, if they have children, do not bring them into the 
guild.  The guild is replenished by the children of their clients.  A woman 
who is remanded into their care for torture is given a Caesarian.  Male 
children who survive are raised as torturers.  We know, however, that some 
clients are merely imprisoned for extended periods until their sentence is 
handed down.  The text doesn't specifically say but it seems unlikely that a 
pregnant woman would be given a Caesarian while her ultimate disposition has 
yet to be decided.  After all, it's possible she'll be released.  Thus it 
seems not only possible but likely that some women do give birth while 
imprisoned in the tower, if only those who are awaiting final judgement and 
disposition.  I don't see any issue or contradiction with Severian being born 
to Catherine while she was a prisoner but before her sentence had been handed 
down.  Once her sentence was given, it was executed and Severian was "taken" 
into the guild.

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