Still please give me time on all your fabulous questions. I'm battling ANOTHER cold today (blah!), so I don't have the brain-power to do them justice. But I'll hopefully catch up on them all tomorrow. In the meanwhile . . .
A moment of reprieve. This opening section of Chapter 33 gives us another moment of reprieve and reflection after the intensity of the last few scene. It's a bit of a strange scene, I think, reading it now several years later. Strange, but I like it.
I remember typing out the idea for this scene in my original outline for the first draft of this novel. And I remember writing the original scene by hand in my notebook. I can't remember exactly why I decided this moment between Una and the sea spirit should be included. Part of it might have been because the sea spirit is one of the few truly otherworldly characters we encounter in Heartless, giving us an idea of the possibilities of otherworldliness to come.
The Song. I really like that little moment when the invisible sea spirit sings the song to Una. When Una (still not going by her name, but simply "the girl") wakes, she says, "You sang my song." And the sea spirit tells her that she read it on her face and in her hand. I think that is so lovely, reading it now! This intuitive creature can see the longing which Una herself is only just beginning to recognize.
Another name. Another little moment including the importance of names. Una asks for the sea spirit's name, and the sea spirit actually gives it to her . . . but it's not a name Una could ever pronounce! Still, I think it was kind of the spirit to bestow its (her?) name on a dragon. I think this must be a very loving creature, whatever else it might be.
And Una, in exchange, gives the sea spirit her former name.
Even the one who loves me. Una makes the sad declaration that it's "just as well" she has become a dragon, since a dragon is what has lurked inside all along. But she also makes an interesting confession. She shows us, for the first time, how much she truly values Aethelbald's opinion of her, his love for her. And she is devastated now that he has seen her as a dragon. She does not believe he can love her now.
This is a very different reaction to what she went through with Lionheart. With Lionheart, he ceased to love her, and that destroyed a piece of Una's heart so that she gave in to this fire inside. She fights with the dichotomy of feeling she didn't deserve this to feeling that she must be worthless for him to have forgotten her so. Either way, her reaction is anger and hatred and flame.
With Aethelbald, however, she knows she does not deserve his love. And there is a much more quiet, mournful acceptance in this knowledge. She fights no dichotomy. She does not pretend that she ever did or ever could deserve the love Aethelbald offered. Her reaction to this knowledge is not fury and fire, but heavy realization.
It was for Aethelbald I waited. Una recognizes, very late, that it was Aethelbald's voice she heard all along, ministering to her through the poison and smoke of the Dragon's torments. She also recognizes that it was for Aethelbald she waited, not Leonard. She thought it was Leonard, but her spirit new and longed for the truth.
The dragon must die. So Una learns how she can be free. The dragon must die if she is to be Una again.
But Una believes the sea spirit means the Dragon King . . . .
Don't cross the Old Bridge. One last time in this novel, we have it repeated that crossing the Old Bridge is dangerous. Sadly, we never learn why. But Felix is very careful to follow Dame Imraldera's instructions when he returns through the familiar Wood, out of the Between and into the Near World of his own home.
Monster's back! After many chapters not seeing our favorite blind cat, we finally get Monster back in this scene. Felix is just wondering how he's going to break into his own home when Monster turns up, all meowy and purry and happy to see his prince.
Felix, of course, curses at the sight of the cat--which, I suspect, means he was very happy to see him alive and whole! He simply would never admit it. (Such a boy!)
Monster shows Felix a way inside, through a kitchen window. Very soon, Felix is crouching in the shadows of his own home, which is now overrun with his enemy.
The Dragon. Sadly, as slinky and sneaky as Monster is, the Dragon saw them enter. And the Dragon was very pleased at the sight . . .
He's here! He's come! But for all the Dragon smiles, he does not know that Aethelbald has come to the Haven at last. Come to retrieve his sword.
My Personal Favorite Lines
1. "Have you a name?"
"May I know it?"
"You'll not be able to pronounce it with your tongue."
"May I hear it anyway?"
The voice sang a quick succession of notes, soft and fast as a thrush's song, but more wild and wet and deep. Unlike a human voice, this voice sang in multiple notes at once, sweet chords and harmonies as well as melodies.
The pale girl closed her eyes and sighed. "That is a beautiful name." (p. 318-319)
Questions on the Text
1. What do you think of Una's confessions to the sea spirit? Do you think she loved Aethelbald all along, or that she's only just now come to love him, realizing what his love means to her? Or does she even love him at this point . . . after all, he is referred to in this scene as "the man who loves her," not, "the man she loves."
2. Favorite lines?