(urth) Close Reading: Torturer Chapter II: Severian

Roy C. Lackey rclackey at stic.net
Sun Sep 10 23:43:34 PDT 2006

Bruce Hayles wrote:
>Severian adopts the fountain, ship volant, and rose as his devices. A
>of pages ago we were told that
>"We believe that we invent symbols. The truth is that they invent us; we
>their creatures, shaped by their hard, defining edges."
>The fountain is the New Sun, the ship the Tzadkiel's ship, and the rose new
>life on Urth (I think someone has suggested that is love also, or instead).

The rose, most directly, symbolizes the Claw. The Claw symbolizes the
"Eternal Principle", all that is sacred and holy. (CITADEL, chapter XXXI)

>Does Severian see the connection between the symbols graven on his
>tomb and what he would later do?

I don't think so. It wasn't until he was pricked by the thorn of the wild
rose on the beach late in CITADEL that he made the connection between the
Claw he had surrendered at the Pelerine camp and the blood-tainted thorn he
pulled from his arm. He carried that thorn for ten years before Apheta
finally made him understand that it was/would become *the* Claw stolen by

>On 9/9/06, JWillard <aldenweer at charter.net> wrote:
>> Paragraph #3: "That first recollection is of piling pebbles in the Old
>> Yard."  Casual comment, or something more?  My mind traveled to Sev
>> being overwhelmed by the Sand Garden (XIX), and his comment, ""I felt I
>> belonged there," I said.  "That I was to meet someone ... and that a
>> certain woman was there, nearby, but concealed from sight.""  Don't
>> know; probably nothing.

I don't see a connection between the pebbles and the Sand Garden, but the
Sand Garden to some extent replicated/foreshadowed what would happen months
later on the beach, right down to the tracks of the two-wheeled cart, which
had no business being on that beach. The person he was to meet was likely
his future self, and the concealed woman almost certainly the part of Thecla
that would soon be forever part of him, and *was* in him that day on the


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