Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Read-along: Chapter 35

 SO sorry for being out these last few days! I've been laid up with the flu . . . the second flu bug I've caught in the last three months. Wretchedness. Rohan, by contrast, got the flu shot and has been fit as a fiddle. So, lesson learned. Next year, I'm getting the flu shot as well!

I'm still pretty sickly, so this is a fairly short write-up. It's also a fairly short chapter, however, so I don't think we're missing anything. I'm going to answer questions down at the bottom, so check and make certain yours were answered!


Dying. Following her encounter with the Dragon, Una flies away on ragged wings, collapsing in the sand and prepared to die. She is utterly defeated now. Not only has she given in completely to her transformation, but she has also learned that she cannot hope to save herself. Using the Dragon's own fire against him was a brave, but ultimately foolish idea. And now, in agony, she prepares for her end.

Voices. As she lies smoldering in her final ruin, Una hears the voices of her loved ones and her former suitors, clamoring in her head. And she hears her own voice declaring that she will trust Lionheart until she dies! A foolish vow, all the more bitter here at her end. Lionheart is far away, unconcerned by her or her fate, lost in his own, more immediate struggles. It would be a miracle if his mind ever turned to thoughts of Una anymore. And yet here she is, on the verge of death, recalling this promise she made to him.

Why do you love me? Here, Una echoes the question of the readers themselves. We have watched this girl make one foolish, immature decision after another. We have watched her waste her time, efforts, talents, emotions on men who didn't deserve a passing thought. We've seen her succumb to lies, wallow in self-pity, and ultimately become a danger to all those around her.

And she is revealed now as what she truly is: unlovable. Burned, both inside and out, bald, ugly, a monster to behold. Our stubborn little princess is brought very low in this moment, as low as can possibly be. There is nothing left of what once might have been charming in her spoiled demeanor. Nothing left that could be called a grace or a virtue.

Her willfulness has brought her to an awful end. And all she can ask when she looks up into Prince Aethelbald's face is the same question we have been asking all along, "Why do you love me?"

I cannot love you. The moment when Una tells Aethelbald that she cannot love him is one of the saddest in the novel, I think. She has finally come to the place where she can understand, at least in part, and value the love he offers her. But she knows now that she cannot return it. She doesn't have it in her. She is heartless and incapable of such love.

So Aethelbald says he will give her his heart instead.

First kiss. The first kiss in this entire novel is found in this scene. Una, burned beyond recognition and on the verge of death, lies in Aethelbald's arms. And he kisses her gently on the mouth, a symbol of his great love for her . . . before he draws his sword and plunges it into the furnace where her heart should be.

Questions on the Text

1. Why does Aethelbald love Una? What does his declaration mean to you and to me?

2.  Favorite lines?

Reader Questions

1. "So have you read Hinds Feet on High Places? I can't wait for the next chapter, ha! But when I first read that chapter, I was like the scene was so similar to Much Afraid." -- Jennette

I have actually! It's been a very long time since I did, so I can't say whether or not Hinds Feet influenced this chapter or not. It might have, however. I remember the scene of her sacrifice being pretty chilling! Perhaps an unconscious literary nod?

2. "I have a question (a really weird one): How are immortal people born/come into being? I mean, do immortals have mothers and fathers and sisters and uncles?" -- Anna C.

Very good question! And not one to which I have a complete answer. I think it depends on the immortals in question. Goblins obviously have children in very much the same way that humans do (see opening of Moonblood), but they probably don't have children as often, given that they are not mortal like humans.

The people of Rudiobus are so old, they don't remember their parents. There is some slight indication that Bebo and Iubdan might be parents of them all (after the fashion of Adam and Eve), though that doesn't really satisfy since Gleamdren is Bebo's cousin. So, again, I think they form themselves into family groups according to types of animals. So all the cats would consider themselves brothers, cousins, uncles, etc. And all the birds would be another family group, and so forth. But they aren't mortal, so their ways and practices won't be the same as mortals!

Ultimately, Faeries are very other. But when a Faerie falls in love with a mortal, suddenly that changes a lot of things . . . .

3. "When does Veiled Rose take place as in the time? Is it after Starflower and Dragonwitch? Where is Hill House; is it in Parumvir, or on the other side of Goldstone Wood?" -- Caitlyn

Hannah handled this question very nicely in the comments (thank you, Hannah!!!), but I suppose I should take a stab at it as well.

Veiled Rose takes place 1600 years after Starflower. Veiled Rose actually takes place a little before the beginning of Heartless, and the two story lines overlap in significant ways. Hill House is a location in Southlands, so far, far south of Parumvir, but still in the same world, the Near World.

Does that help?

And Dragonwitch takes place about 100 years after Starflower . . . but that's still a secret, so you didn't hear that from me! ;)

4. "When we're all done with the read-along, will you be doing up the "A to Z of Moonblood" again?" -- Christa

Uhh . . . I really should, shouldn't I? I suppose I just sort of lost track of that poor A-Z series. I probably will go ahead and finish it up, though . . . .

There are a number of exciting things coming up on this blog in the near future, though! One of them being the next Fan Art contest this spring. And in February, I will be hosting an Interview-Feature month, so you'll get to hear from other authors, aspiring writers, and some professional editors and agents in the business. I'm really excited about the February Features!

5. "A while 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?" -- Christa

I know that version of Jane Eyre! Despite Timothy Dalton's EXTREME over-acting, I think it might be my favorite movie version of that story. It's just so very close to the book, it's amazing. And I used to be scared to death of Mr. Rochester's wife! Actually, the Mrs. Rochester from that movie was my own personal Boogie Monster growing up. I used to imagine (because it's so fun to scare oneself half silly) that she was standing at the foot of my bed, and if I moved, she'd see me and bite me, like she bites poor Mr. Mason in the movie! *shiver* Thanks for bringing back all those . . . memories . . .

Anyway, as to your question: I'll bet that was a subconscious literary nod. Because of how strongly that movie effected me as a child, I'll bet that moment of Jane calling to him (and him reminiscing about it later) embedded itself pretty deeply in my imagination. Therefore, it would be very natural for it to come up once more when I pour my imagination out on the page. But, alas it would be an unconscious nod! I don't think I consciously made the effort to tip my hat at Charlotte Bronte in that scene. (Though  I wish I had . . . I'm a big fan of the Brontes, particularly Charlotte.)


Molly said...

So, I hope this means you're feeling better? (hopeful face inserted)

1. You know, I'm not really sure why Aethelbald loves Una. Perhaps he feels sorry for her, because of her now-ruined life full of betrayals and losses, so that helped increase his love for her. She also makes lots of mistakes, and needs help, and isn't Aethelbald just the right sort of helper?

Beka said...

1) Aethelbald loves Una because she needs him, AND because he knows who she could be. She has wasted her own potential in selfishness and wallowing--but he KNOWS the bright, brilliant star she can be if she will follow his path. Isn't that part of the reason Christ died for us? To redeem us and thereby start the process of shaping us into the glorious reflection of God we were meant to be from the beginning of Creation? In a sense, Una has lost her self--who she was meant to be, and Aethelbald knows this. His love and knowledge transcend Time--he loves the Una of the past and the present, but he also loves the Una of the possible future, and he wants those Unas to converge.

I think Aethelbald's declaration shows how much of the process lies in replacing our whims with God's will and accepting His heart as our own. It is only when we do that that we can start the journey towards better shaping ourselves in reflection of His glory.

Hannah said...

Wow...Beka, that is a wonderful answer. You said it great.

This scene is so powerful. I was close to crying during it, and my mom did cry when I read it to her. Favorite lines? Possibly the whole chapter, but I love it when Una starts remembering what Diarmid said, and the dragon screams, "Betrayed!" just as it is killed.

Meredith said...

1. Ms. Beeka answers these questions so wonderfully. I'll just add that Aethelbald also loves Una because he and his father have known her from the very beginning. Therefore, despite Una's constant rejections of Aethelbald, he is so wonderfully persistent in his pursuit. Also love that he loves every character and, even if Una is representative of Christ's Bride, (the church), Aethelbald reaches out to every character and attempts to deliver them. He and his father work together in all things.

2. Lines? The entire chapter! My absolute favorite. I love that Aethelbald tells Una that his killing of her will hurt. We're so used to the joyful transformation of conversion, (and this is the usual thing you read about in Christian fiction), yet we often forget that it is in fact a dying of sorts and, therefore, the transformation does hurt. The sinful nature doesn't want to relinquish us, and it's a constant battle we can only win through faith in Christ. We are united with Christ, thus immersing ourselves in His death and rising to be a new creation, (Romans 6:3:4:5, 2 Corinthians 5:17). Like Ms. Hannah, I loved how as the dragon is being killed, she screams "Betrayed!" Sin is so disstructive, yet we are so drawn to its seductiveness. Therefore, deciding to submit to Christ is wonderful yet painful. Loved how you pointed out that the "first kiss" is here in this scene when Aethelbald kisses Una "on her charred and blackened mouth". What a poignant chapter, and thanks so much for writing it. You were truly inspired by God to write this scene.

Hope that you feel better soon. I've heard that the fuu is definitely going around. I'll be praying for you.

Christa said...

Like Hannah said, this scene is so powerful and moving and I think I might have been tempted to cry when I first read it. This is my favorite chapter of the whole book because of how Aethelbald explains why he came to win Una's hand and heart, how he weeps for her, how she is able to cry (which dragons can't do)in his arms, and how she is able to put her trust in the Prince to free her and kill the dragon that she is--forever.

1. Beka pretty much spoke for us all.

2. Gently Aethelbald lowered his face to hers and kissed her on her charred and blackened mouth. She closed her eyes and felt she could not bear such exquisite pain or beauty. (pg. 338)

My favorite quote and also the one that took me by surprise when I first read it. Since this book is allegorical, I really wasn't expecting any Public Displays of Affection. But this scene makes sense because,
1. Una represents the Church, the Bride of Christ.
2. This is a fairy tale, after all, and a fairy tale usually has True Love's Kiss.
Also, this scene is so powerful because Una is so badly burned and disfigured and for Aethelbald to kiss her on the mouth shows how powerful his love is for her. It also shows how even though we are so ugly and distorted by our sin, Christ still loves us.

Eszter said...

1. Aethelbald is willing to see past Una's ugliness to her potential beauty-not physically, but spiritually.

Unlike in most of the fairytales, the prince isn't falling in love with a stunning beauty hidden behind rags, like Snow White. He kisses her when she's hideously ugly. That says something, yes? How God is willing to accept us, sin-stained and ugly, and transforms us to our true beauty within Him. You have this same transformation with Rose Red Moonblood too. I couldn't go to the next chapter until I re-read this one, and it is my favorite.

Hannah said...

Meredith, did you hear that the first four books of Goldstone Wood are coming out in Braille?!! I don't knew when, but hopefully we'll find out more soon!

Anonymous said...

1. I can't say I know why Aethelbald loves Una. But it is a picture of Jesus Christ's love for us. We didn't do anything to earn that love. Yet he saved us like Aethelbald saved Una.

2. "Trust is knowing a man's character, knowing truth, and relying on that character and truth even when the odds seem against you." pg. 335


Meredith said...

To Hannah: Yes, I have heard the Goldstone Wood books are coming out in Braille, and I'm absolutely thrilled! I think they should be done by the end of January, and I definitely can't wait to read all of them. I have Heartless in Braille and my Mom read Veiled Rose to me. I'm looking forward to rereading Veiled Rose again when the Braille version becomes available. Can't wait to read the other two books as well. I think Mrs. Stengl's also working toward getting them published in audio formats. Thanks for getting the word out.

To Esther: Loved your analogy of how this story differs from traditional fairy tales. Aethelbald delivers Una when she is at her lowest, (both in physical and, especially spiritual, disfigurement). So beautiful and very relevant.

Courtney said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Courtney said...

He loves her because he chooses to. I think this is a good example of how love really works. Some days you may feel like loving someone is not easy. But if you choose to love anyway, despite hard times, I believe you will find a deeper love that is more precious than what we initially desire.

Jennette said...

Wow you all have good answers to questions. I'm not sure I can add anything. Such a beautiful chapter!

Thanks for answering my question! Glad you are feeling somewhat better. Sorry you've been sick.