(urth) Were Jolenta and Dorcas lovers?

b sharp bsharporflat at hotmail.com
Tue Oct 31 04:53:11 PST 2006

I agree with Dan Rabin's analysis.  The hint about Dorcas and Jolenta's 
relationship is in Jolenta bragging that she turns all women into 
tribadists.  We're led to think this applies only to audience members but 
later the revelation about Dorcas is surprising but not a complete shock.

In a previous post I noted what Dan notes: that Wolfe sometimes pairs his 
shocking revelations, causing us to focus on one and gloss over the other.  
In this case it is the potential for sexual play between Severian and Little 
Severian which is glossed over.

I can't resist a chance to re-iterate my theory that Severian, Dorcas, 
Jolenta and Little Severian are all family members and the subtext of a 
Greek style family curse helps explain why such sexual shenanigans are going 
on among these odd pairs of people.

I  have mixed feelings on the rape aspect of Severian's tryst with Jolenta.  
Severian himself later calls it a rape but always, on reading that passage, 
I get the feeling it is a Wolfean stab at showing sensitivity to feminist 
issues, i.e. date rape.

Some aromatic herbs in the cushions of the boat they ride in make Jolenta 
very passive maybe even unconscious. So I assume Severian's later evaluation 
of it as a rape is based on her lack of open consent.  But the boats were 
designed for lovers and the herbs for the purpose of setting the mood.  
Jolenta, having been around the garden for a few days, is more likely to 
have known the purpose of the boats than Severian. Yet she willingly takes a 
ride.  Her pride is inspiring desire in others so I can imagine her feigning 
unconsciousness to avoid showing any hint of her own desires (inspired by 
boredom though they be).  I can imagine this being a semi-autobiographical 
account of an alcohol fueled event from Wofe's past.  The pleasure and shame 
are both apparent.  Women have been known to drink, to have an excuse 
later... but sex with an unconscious person is certainly rape by modern 
definition.  I'm left with ambivalent feelings about whether it was rape, as 
perhaps I was meant to.


p.s. I think it has been decided that Hieros are the human race cognate to 
our own (well cognate to Severian's human race anyway, maybe they are us) 
which created more perfect beings which became the Hierogrammates, their 
larvae, the Hierarchs and their servants, the Hierodules.

Dan Rabin:

>[I may have the terminology of Hieros vs. Hierogrammates mixed up here, and 
>would welcome correction.]

>My own theory about the passage that Brent Dyer cites is that the 
>juxtaposition between Severian's casual treatment of the possibility of sex 
>between him and the boy, and the possibility of sex between Dorcas and 
>Jolenta, is intended to be strange to us who read it: the former is 
>shocking in our culture, the latter somewhat tittilating. Severian seems to 
>find both possile relationships not only matter-of-fact but also 
>comparable: they are "play".

>I also note that Jolenta speaks in the boating scene of her enhanced looks 
>leading women to want to protect her (out of lust, presumably), whereas 
>Severian's adoption of his young namesake seems to arise out of a sense of 
>responsibility rather than desire for sexual companionship.

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