Merlin (with spoilers was RE: Ready for Merlin?

Ven vendersleighc at
Mon May 26 19:41:00 EDT 2003

Hallie wrote

> Yes, I agree with you both here.  And even more
than Howl's
> 'slithering-out', I think Nick's selfishness
served a vital survival
> purpose.

That gave me  a sudden vision  of Nick versus
Aunt Maria........ Who would do better, Nick or

Anna said
	<Yeah, and what else could be expected of him? I
mean look at the
upbringing he's had, poor boy! But I think in
Merlin he begins to learn
that if he's going to continue to survive in
tight corners he's going to
have to stop assuming that everyone feels the
same way about things as he
does, and that he's going to have to stop
focusing solely on what
interests him and learn to seek out perspectives
that aren't immediately
obvious to him...>

Funnily enough though, the one time Nick's
selfishness struck me as distinctly out of order
was over Romanov's illness, I was appalled at how
he left the poor man to suffer but of course it
would have been disasterous if he had tried to

Minnow summed up

<I reckon myself that DWJ has made a very fine
job of portraying somebody
who is not actually selfish, but has been forced
by the circumstances of
his life into being utterly *self-centred* in
order to survive.  His mother
would have dominated him completely (see
Charlie's question about
'mind-control', I think!) if he had not developed
a core of absolute ego
into which he could retreat and remain himself in
spite of all her efforts.
Thinking of himself and his own interests as his
priority has been a
matter of survival for most of his formative
years; it's fairly remarkable
that he chose to ask for Maree back instead of
asking for what he wanted
for himself, and that he doesn't simply slide
away from the whole Babylon
business when he has the opportunity.  He
perceives himself as selfish
because every time he didn't do what somebody
else wanted him to (mostly
his mother) he was told that he was being
selfish.  ("How selfish of you to
refuse to jump into this pool to save my pet
piranhas from starving!")  I
think he's trying to learn how not to be selfish,
when selfish has been
defined for him in a rather skewed way to begin

Love those starving piranas, Minnow and it IS
just the kind of thing Aunt Maria would, not say,
but imply. It also reminds me of Eight Days of
Luke and David's conversation with Mr Wedding
about being grateful -- that David is not obliged
to be grateful to people who only do what they
have to for him and no more. In a family context
accusations of ingratitude and selfishness often
go together. I suppose it's part of one of the
larger Dwj themes -- just what parents/guardains
and children can or should expect to give and
receive form each other. (NB I changed "context"
to "contest" then realised that was a freudian

<Question: Is Grundo another Nick, in many
respects?  Frightful and very
powerful mother who is trying to take over the
entire shebang, reliance on
another, younger female as a sort of
mother-substitute...  and in
self-defence, behaving in a very self-centred
way?  There seem to be rather
a lot of parallels.>

Yes I think this was the idea. I really didn't
take to Grundo he reminds me a bit of Sam in Time
City, another unappealing boy. I find Grundo more
reprehensible than Nick was in DS but then Nick
didn't have to enchant Maree to act like his big


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