(urth) Lame Protagonists

Jack Smith jack.smith.1946 at gmail.com
Wed Jun 15 18:10:22 PDT 2011

Gene Wolfe seems to walk with a cane.  Silk is limping through much of the
Long Sun, and the Rajan has his strange staff in the Short Sun.

On Wed, Jun 15, 2011 at 4:17 PM, James B. Jordan <jbjordan4 at cox.net> wrote:

>  IIRC it's also in The Hero as Werewolf.
> JBJordan
> At 03:07 PM 6/15/2011, you wrote:
> In a message dated 6/15/2011 2:41:10 P.M. Central Daylight Time,
> kierkegaurdian at gmail.com writes:
> > I just finished Peace (which was absolutely wonderful) and
> > am now reading the last half of The Book of the Long Sun.
> > I noticed when reading Peace, one short sentence in which
> > the narrator references his bad leg, which is dragging
> > behind him.  Of course, Severian is famously lame, and
> > for the larger portion of Long Sun, Patera Silk has a
> > wounded leg that is mentioned several times.  I was
> > wondering what people thought the significance is, and
> > if there were other protagonists in Wolfe novels who
> > are lame.
> My guess, without looking at it closely, would be that Wolfe might have
> Genesis 3 in mind.  In God's curse on the serpent, we read that he will
> impose enmity between the serpent and the woman and between the serpent's
> seed (offspring) and the woman's seed (offspring), an enmity which will
> culminate this way: "He will bruise/crush your head and you will
> bruise/crush his heel."
> That verse is often called the protoevangelium, because it is seen by
> Christians as referring to Jesus' death on the cross, whereby he also
> crushed the head of the serpent (Satan).  The cross is the crushing/bruising
> of Jesus' heel, the serpent's strike at Jesus, which results in Jesus' death
> ... but that death isn't final, and in the serpent's striking at Jesus, the
> serpent ends up with his own head crushed.
> Moreover, Paul applies that promise to the whole church in Romans 16 when
> he promises the church in Rome that "the God of peace will crush Satan under
> your feet shortly."  So it is not just that Jesus crushes the serpent's
> head.  It is also that God crushes the serpent (Satan) under the feet of the
> church.  And if that's the case, then it's not surprising that in crushing
> the serpent, the church also sustains a foot wound.
> So perhaps there's some connection between the lameness of these characters
> and the promise in Genesis 3.  But I wonder if there isn't perhaps also a
> connection with the Jacob narrative: When Jacob wrestles the Angel, who
> turns out to be YHWH himself, he learns that all of his wrestling with man
> throughout his life (Isaac, Esau, Laban) has actually been wrestling with
> God ... and that in that wrestling, far from losing, he has actually been
> winning.  Now, wrestling with the Angel, he is winning again.  But the Angel
> simply touches Jacob's hip and the result is that Jacob limps for the rest
> of his life.  That limp, though a weakness, is not a sign of his loss but of
> his victory.  He is now Israel, the one who wrestles with God and prevails.
> And maybe these Wolfean characters are to be viewed as Jacobs, as those who
> are wrestling with God.
> I'll let others carry these thoughts further if they wish.  (By the way,
> this sort of imagery is also present, even more strongly, in the works of
> Tim Powers.  How many of Powers' characters are wounded in their heads,
> hands, and feet in the course of the story?)
> John
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>  James B. Jordan
> Director, Biblical Horizons
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> Niceville, FL 32588
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Best wishes,
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