Homeward Bounders (spoilers)

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at Proffitt.com
Wed Jun 26 18:25:44 EDT 2002

On Thu, 27 Jun 2002 08:05:40 +1000, Kathryn Andersen wrote:

>On Wed, Jun 26, 2002 at 11:33:33AM -0500, Nat Case wrote:
>> >On Wed, Jun 26, 2002 at 01:18:35PM +1000, Kathleen Jennings wrote:
>> >> Correction - Homeward Bounders, not Dogsbody. I'm not thinking straight.
>> >
>> >That one is, indeed, darker than it might first appear.  Fascinatingly
>> >paradoxical and angsty -- but can someone *please* explain the ending to
>> >me?  I don't understand the rationale for what Jamie decided to do...
>> >(and reading it multiple times hasn't helped...)  8-(

>No, what I can't figure out is, really, why there had to *be* somebody
>who considered the "bounds" to be home, to walk the bounds at all, and
>why would doing this keep the worlds safe from the Game-playing demons?
>It isn't that Jamie doesn't think he could find a new home, it's that he
>feels it's his duty to *never* stay somewhere long enough to think of it
>as his home.  Otherwise he could have made a new home with any of his
>friends who offered; he *was* tempted to, but felt that he shouldn't.

This was the second most confusing ending for me, after _Fire and Hemlock_.
Here's how I understand the thing to work:

Jamie has a conversation with Prometheus at the end, and Prometheus explains
a lot of things to him about THEM and how the worlds work.  What Prometheus
tells Jamie is that in the beginning, all the different worlds were their
own Real Places.  Prometheus learned that a place is less real if seen from
outside, or if remembered, and that it becomes *more* real if a person
settles in it and calls it Home.  He realized that reality could be removed
if there were someone to whom all worlds were Home, if that person never
went to any of them.  That's why THEY chained him up.  Then they had to
create the Homeward Bounders because the worlds kept splitting, there were
new worlds Prometheus had never known, and those new worlds were becoming
dangerously real (which threatened the reality of THEIR own Home, leeching
as it was off the reality of the others).

One of the rules said that there could be no more Homeward Bounders than
there were of THEM.  Jamie was the one kicked out when that number was
threatened, but he chose to go back and walk the Bounds anyway.  This made
him Real, and a threat to their game--because his reality would drain the
reality out of THEIR Real Place.  So he ended up being the only one who
could keep THEM out.

This is the complicated part.  As long as THEY existed, they had a Real
Place and all the other worlds were unreal.  But when they were kicked out,
the Real Place started to disappear and the reality it had borrowed from
everywhere else could return.  So at the end of the book, THEY had lost
power and all the worlds were Real again (and could be Home to all the
Homeward Bounders who had been trying to get back to them).  In order to
keep THEM from returning, there had to be a new anchor--someone who kept
moving and didn't think of any place as Home.  The opposite of Prometheus,
the first anchor.  Jamie.

I think the reason it's confusing--the reason I was confused anyway--is that
Prometheus's explanation doesn't seem to have anything to do with the plot,
just with tying up loose ends.  But you have to look at both to see that if
Prometheus acts as one kind of anchor, Jamie, who does exactly the opposite
things, acts as the opposite kind of anchor.  It's complicated and terribly
sad.  I have to say that that last line still brings tears to my eyes, every
time I read it.

Melissa Proffitt
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