FIRE AND HEMLOCK

Mary Ann Dimand amaebi at iwon.com
Fri May 19 10:39:57 EDT 2000


Sharyn:

I think there's disagreement on this list as well. Is agreement Necessary,
or can you enjoy a cascade of readings? :D

I mostly agree with Hallie, and particularly in her general perspective
about the ending being a collection of logic puzzles.

Leroy made himself vulnerable by violating Laurel's rules about Tom's
status-- thus he was no longer absolutely a holy sacrificial goat. Here, I
agree with Hallie.

Laurel's a nasty twister, so she sets up a contest whose result will not,
she trusts, be agreeable for Tom and Polly, regardless of its outcome. (I
think she's also exhibiting jealousy, actually.) Leroy and Tom will have a
contest of which Tom and Polly, at any rate, won't quite understand the
rules. Leroy protests his lack of strength, and Laurel states not only that
each may use anything truly theirs, but that each may use the exact
equivalent of what the other has. (Pardon-- my copy is not available, so I
can't quote.)

Leroy's strength and power have always come through Laurel, who feeds him a
strong young man periodically. So what is truly his is really Laurel. With
her on his side, he cannot lose. Tom's merely human strengths are by
comparion nothing.

Polly eventually realizes the meaning of the equivalency clause. If she
deprives Tom of herself (and he was always so sure of her), then Leroy is
deprived of Laurel. This is a sacrifice that means a great deal to her--
Laurel, on the other hand, will now simply coopt Sebastian. She does not
love, but she's a great fancier of property rights. Particularly hers.

Because Polly *does* love Tom, she gives him up entirely so that he won't be
defeated and killed. When she does so, Leroy instantly loses Laurel's
support. Then Tom's wild strength overwhelms him, and Tom is saved.

Now I'll start agreeing entirely with Hallie again. :D  After the storm, Tom
and Polly of course want to try being together. But can they do so without
violating Laurel's rules, and thus falling into her power once more? The
answer is yes and no. Because of Laurel's gift to Tom and his involving
Polly in it, they have two worlds-- the normalish empirical world and their
own world, Nowhere. Can they be together nowhere? Then they can be together
in their own world. And if they can't be together nowhere, then they can be
together somewhere.

I don't know whether their partnership will work, but I think Polly's
reasonable in thinking it's worth a try. Tom certainly took advantage of her
to use her as an anchor to save himself. But he *acknowledges* it. Your true
leech always accuses one of lack of love/generosity/whatever when its
leechly extractions are addressed, and thus passive-aggressively whines for
more. Tom didn't do that, and he also made considerable efforts to *keep*
Polly from attaching herself to him so firmly she'd have a hard time
withdrawing. He used her as little as he could, and he really liked her.

That's my take, anyway.

What I don't understand to my satisfaction is why gaining possession of
Polly will save Sebastian. It seems to me to go beyond simply keeping close
tabs on her. My speculations involve Polly's equivalence to Laurel. Or
perhaps just her having acquired some Laurel-powers collaterally through the
curse on Tom and her theft of the pictures? Surely it's not simply that
Sebastian is sure that in possessing her he'll keep her from Tom?

Ideas, anyone?

Mary Ann


------Original Message------
From: SharynN at aol.com
To: dwj at suberic.net
Sent: May 18, 2000 8:53:32 PM GMT
Subject: FIRE AND HEMLOCK


I have recently re-read F&H and discussed it with friends and NONE of us can
agree on what happens at the very end.  What do you all think?  sdn

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