Old Age

Ven ven at vvcrane.fsnet.co.uk
Sun Dec 9 22:51:32 EST 2001

> Sallyo wrote:
> >BTW, has anyone else noted how odd it is that Sophie who *seems* "about
> >90" can be taken as "Howl's old mother" when he's about 27? Do women in
> >their 60s have babies in Ingary?

and Jennifer replied

But then, Sophie doesn't just look
> older than she is; she specifically looks Old, with white hair and
> wrinkles. Maybe she exaggerates how "old" she is? After all, she only
> looks at herself in a mirror a few times. Maybe she looks 60s or 70s, and
> could be taken for a late mother? I think the only one she talks to who
> thinks she is Howl's mother is the King- she tells Mrs Pentstemmon she's
> 90 (and Mrs Pentstemmon says "So old?"), but I'm sure she realises Sophie
> is under a spell.

I think Dwj is playing games with age again. I agree that 90 is an 
arbitary age Sophie assigns herself but I think she becomes 
younger in the course of the book. A large part of that is getting her 
heart fixed by Calcifer, however there is also a change in Sophie's 
own attitude to life. She is after all having more fun than she has 
had for ages. The witch says the spell woukldn't have worked if 
Sophie hadn't been doing it to herself. I see it as something which 
is unraveled slowly at first then comes loose all at once.   One of 
the paradox's of Sophie's transformation is that it gives her the kind 
of freedom she deserved as a young person -- she can set out to 
seek her fortune, speak her mind and fall in love.

> Anyway. Sallyo's main point was about old or ageless DWJ villains, and
> that their long lives contribute to their feeling above us "ephemera". (I
> liked your comparison with Jadis!). I agree, but then there are ageless
> good guys as well, like Faber John in Time City or the Undying in the
> Dalemarks books.

The undying were reluctantly bound to play a part in human lives. 
Kankredin, who must have been as old, wanted to dominate.  

 I think I see it as their longevity sort of concentrating
> their characters, so that if they start out selfish they become monstrous.
> (I bet even Orm wasn't always *as* evil as he has become.) It's like, the
> more time they spend going down the path they chose, of not caring what
> they do to anybody as long they get their way, the less human they become.

One thing that strikes me is that they are all, basically, fascists 
(well, Laurel is more feudalist I suppose). 

> I also find the non-immortal bad guys as frightening as the supernatural
> ones, in many ways. I'm unlikely to bump into a Morrigan, but I was at
> school  with people who were very like Nan and Charles's tormentors.

It is a most miserable institution. Duffy is a very nasty ordinary 
mortal and julian of course.


The truth will make ye fret

Terry Pratchett, The Truth.
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