Friday, January 4, 2013

Read-along: Chapter 33

I'm loving all the comments you readers have been leaving these last few days! These chapters near the end of Heartless are full of meaty bits, and it's great to see how many of you are reading so deeply and able to analyze the text. Makes for a more rewarding reading experience ultimately!

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?


Beka said...

I hope you get over your cold! Enjoy lots of chicken noodle soup! :)

1) I loved this scene between Una and the sea spirit--I read it at night, and picturing Una at the sea under the stars.... it really did have this relaxing, refreshing, melancholy beauty to it! And I think that sort of washes over Una, making her realize what she's kept back all along--I think she did feel something for Aethelbald all along, and that was why she reacted so strongly to him. If she didn't care about him one way or another, she would never have been so indignant about how he handled her at the beginning with that fortune teller, etc. She may not love him per se, but strong feelings are definitely there! :)

Meredith said...

The scene with the sea spirit is so lovely. I didn't quite know what was going on when I first read the scene, and I thought that the spirit might have been Aethelbald in another form. However, after subsequent readings, I realize now it must have ben another of his servants. It's so wonderful how Aethelbald's servants are always in the right place at the right time. Absolutely love the spirit's empathy toward Una and when he sings to her. Very comforting.

1. I think Una had feelings for Aethelbald which she couldn't really define. She ultimately knew he loved her, yet her stubborn resistance was a huge stumbling block. She could not get past her ideas of what a wooer should be like, and, thus, any feelings she had for Aethelbald she attempted to suppress. Not successfully, thank goodness. So thankful Aethelbald was so steadfast! What a beautiful representation of the true Savior.

2. The lines you mentioned about the spirit's name.
"The dragon must die". When I first read this line, I wasn't sure if it meant the Dragon King, but I didn't think so since "dragon" was not capitalized. However, I wasn't entirely sure what clue the spirit was giving. Deep down, I think I suspected the truth, yet I wasn't sure.

Hope you feel better soon. Colds are such nuisances, aren't they? Will be praying for you.

Christa said...

2. "May my heart beat with courage
Before this torrent of shame,
May I find the warm sweetness of forgiveness
Between the ice and the flame." (pg. 321)

Dame Imraldera sat in the white room before the window, the silver sword held across her knees. She waited, watching the moon rise over the vast stretches of the Wood. She sat without blinking, still as a statue.
"He's here! He's come!"
Little voices whirled about her head and tiny hands touched her face and motioned behind her. Imraldera rose and turned. "My Prince?"
"I am here." Aethelbald stepped into the room. His clothing was worn and burned, his face lined with care. "I have come for my sword." (pg. 324)

Anonymous said...

1. At least Una recognizes that Aethelbald loves her if she doesn't love him at the moment. "It was for Aethelbald I waited. If I could have seen it just a little sooner, perhaps things could have been different, but now..."

2. "Meaaa?" Felix startled and bit his tongue hard. "Ow!" he growled and glared at the little form crouched beside him. "Monster, you dragon-eaten beast, bother you and all your next of kin!"


Maiden G said...

Ugh, another cold. So sorry; I hope you get better.
1)I don't think she loved him, not until after he left, at least. She does love now, though.

I'm not sure if I'm allowed to do this, but I want to ask the other readers a question.
I'm curious, what animal do you think Diarmid used to be?
Like Eanrin's a cat.
Personally, I think he's a cat too.
But it would be really runny if he was a dog!

Rebekah said...

Anne Elisabeth Stengl, I just got my book! Thank you so much!!
And I don't mean to brag, if it looks like that.

@Maiden G. :
I used to think he was a snake (don't know why), but I guess I can't, what with... um, Chu Mana.

Jennette said...

ah man! Blogger ate my comment. here we go again.

1. I think Meredith put it pretty much the way I see it.


The voice sang a quick succession of notes, soft and fast as a thrush's song, but more wild and wet and deep.

Hope is such a beautiful dream that dies such a hideous death.

"I am here."...."I have come for my sword."

sigh, so good!

Hope you feel better soon!

Hannah said...

I loved that scene with Una and the sea spirit. Until today, I was never quite sure what the sea spirit was. I mean, Una asked if she was a faerie and she said "Some people may call me that." The scene is so heartbreakingly beautiful as Una finally realizes that the dreams she always wanted were within her reach but are now impossible. Or are they...?

3. "I have come for my sword."

I think this sentence gave me chills. It is so ominous and frightening...but so full of hope and redemption.

Christa said...

Hey Anne Elisabeth, I have a question for you. Awhile back, I watched an old tv miniseries of Jane Eyre, starring Timothy Dalton as Mr. Rochester. He said something from the book that made me think back to the wood thrush: “As I exclaimed 'Jane! Jane! Jane!' a voice- I cannot tell whence the voice came, but I know whose voice it was- replied, 'I am coming: wait for me;' and a moment after, went whispering on the wind the words- 'Where are you?'" Do I detect a literary nod here? ;)

Molly said...

1. I think Una loved Aethelbald all along, but just refused to admit it to herself or/and refused to feel her love for Aethelbald.

I hope you feel better! It seems like EVERYONE is getting sick! I feel so sorry for everyone. Get well soon!

Courtney said...

1. Well later she says that she can't love him so I am going with that. =) Heh... I think she is realizing that he loves her.

Courtney said...

1. Well later she says that she can't love him so I am going with that. =) Heh... I think she is realizing that he loves her.