Fire and Hemlock again (LONG, and With Spoilers!)

Dorian E. Gray israfel at
Tue May 25 15:06:14 EDT 2004

And around we go some more...

Hallie replied to me...

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> BTW, do you remember where it says that Laurel agreed to 'leave Polly
> alone'?  I only came across the bargain 'not to harm you'.  (But this
> wasn't a full reread by any means!)

It's what Polly says at that family gathering:  "All right, I'll forget him,
just leave me alone."  Laurel has achieved her aim by forcing Polly to say
she'll forget Tom - but Polly's phrasing puts a condition on the forgetting,
to my mind.  Effectively, Polly has also forced Laurel to do something, and
made it a bargain rather than something more one-sided.

> This part confuses me - if his soul were in the picture, and if Laurel
> had got him by being given the picture, then why would she still own him
> after Tom gave the picture to Polly, as it was his to give?

You know what?  That idea - that Laurel got him by being given the picture -
had not actually occurred to me!  Now that you point it out, of course the
giving of the picture must have had *something* to do with the bargain she
made with Charles!  And now I wonder, when did the bit of Tom's hair get
into the picture?  Did Charles put it there before he gave the picture to
Laurel?  Or did Laurel put it there later?  And come to think of it, *did*
Charles give Laurel the picture, or did he give it to Tom and then Tom give
it to Laurel?

But I'm inclined to think that it can't have been just Laurel's getting the
picture that made Tom hers.  Otherwise, how could Tom himself ever have
given it away?  Maybe it was a way of signing the contract, so to speak?  Or
maybe, given that Tom was probably a minor at that point, it was Charles
giving Tom away, but Tom himself had to later agree to it too, and it was
Tom's acquiesence (probably when he married Laurel) that *truly* sealed him
to her.  Laurel *does* seem to work by consent, so it stands to reason that
she must at some point have got Tom to agree to be hers.

(None of this seems to really answer your question, but you've just given me
a whole new bit to think about - I'm more thinking aloud here!  I may have
to start rethinking some of my theories...)

> It's probably just the terminology that makes me squidgy about this -
> saying someone can't even call his/her soul his/her own is so horrible,
> and it's right for Laurel owning him, but freaks me out if it's been
> passed on to Polly!  I'll have to try to keep this in the front of my
> head for the next reread.

Well, yes, not being able to call your soul your own *is* horrible.  But
then, no-one ever said Laurel was in any way "nice". :-)  And I can see how
Tom might be used to having his soul owned by someone else, so he would give
it to someone he thought would...take better care of it?  Be a better person
to have it.  (Subconsciously, I think; I doubt he really knew what he was
doing.)  But then again, at the end Polly gives it back to him, so...

> > Ye-es.  But getting free from Laurel the first time was not as big a
> > thing
> > as this.  It *didn't* count as much, first because at that time I don't
> > think he knew what he would be ultimately in for, and second because I
> > don't
> > think he knew that Laurel's men never get entirely free (look at Thomas
> > the
> > Rhymer).  It would have felt to him less important than this situation,
> > because his soul wasn't (as far as he knew) then on the line, and it
> > would
> > have been easier for him to do, because Laurel knew then that she could
> > reel
> > him back in later.  I think.
> I think this is all the reasons I'd have said the first time was much
> harder!  :)  First just because it was the first time he was doing
> anything like that,

Well, yes, you could argue that second time around, he could think "I've
done this before; I can do it again", whereas first time he had no idea that
he *could* do it.

> second because he knew Laurel less well (and there
> must have been, at first, a lot of guilt about her taking care of him),

Mm.  I hadn't thought about the guilt aspect.  You probably have a point

> and third because the situation didn't seem quite as drastic.  Look at
> poor Polly's first attempt at the hero business - 'crouching on the
> pavement screaming "Mr Lynn! Mr Lynn!  Help!''


But no, I still think the second time has *got* to have been harder, because
he knew so much better just what he was up against and what was at stake.
And how much less likely this time Laurel was to let him go.
> > And as I said further on, I suspect it was his
> > music that gave him the impetus first time around to tear away from
> > Laurel.
> Yes, but she'd have welcomed his musical talent, as long as he hadn't
> gone professional, surely, so he still had to be determined to break
> free of her.  I think that doesn't detract from his heroic achievement
> and its being really his.

I'm feeling on shaky ground on this point, now.  I do think he probably felt
that he needed to be the best musician he could, and that that entailed
going pro, and that that desire to be the best was what gave him the impetus
to tear away.  But maybe I am doing him an injustice by insisting that he
didn't do it on his own.  (Though I still doubt, if he hadn't been such a
talented musician, that he would have torn free.)
> >> But
> >> ringing all kinds of Maree bells now - with her being the tough little
> >> fighter who is SO selfless when push comes to shove, that she ends up
> >> costing someone else a huge desire.  Not that it doesn't make for a
> >> better story. :)
> >
> > I'll save that one for a different discussion. :-)
> Ok, any time you want!  ;)

"Deep Secret" is on the reread list now, but I'm having myself a wee rest
from books that cause Thought and rereading large chunks of Mercedes Lackey
at the moment.  I shall have a go at DS when I get back from this weekend's
LARP event.
> >
> > No, no, I wasn't saying that it was only now that Tom decided he wanted
> > to
> > be with Polly - though I do hope he wasn't thinking in terms of romantic
> > relationships when she was younger!  But one way or another, he *has*
> > always
> > loved her and I wasn't saying otherwise.  Just that now, he can finally
> > make
> > a truly free choice, and he makes the choice he's always wanted to make.
> What about his previous renunciation of her - after Granny tells him
> off?

He hadn't - and I think knew it - free choice at that point.  He tried to
stop clinging to her, is how I read that part, because he realised that he
was treating her badly and possibly endangering her.

> just that his choice being free
> still seems insufficient to be the different factor which resolves
> things.

Um.  Which "things" have you in mind here?  What resolves the issue of who
gets to "own" Tom, Polly or Laurel, is Polly's renunciation of Tom.  But I
do think that what resolves the issue of whether Polly and Tom can be
together is Tom's choice.

> And also, now that I think of it, it's not until *after* the
> contest that he says he's finally free to ask her if they can be
> together.

Well, of course!  He *can't* ask her freely until the ties to Laurel are
finally and utterly cut, which is the last Polly does for him.  But what I
was trying to get at in the question of "how can they be together" is that
Polly's renunciation is a contract, or at least both she and Tom see it that
way:  she says "I never want to see you again" and means it - and, as she
thinks herself, has to go on meaning it, otherwise it would be all to do
again.  So them getting together and staying together *has* to be Tom's
choice, because Polly has cut herself off from making that particular
> > Just as Polly loves Tom, and always has.  But she has already repudiated
> > him - or apparently so; as I said, there's more than one meaning
> > behind "I
> > never want to see you again".  So whether or not they now get to be
> > together
> > is down to his choice.  Polly may well live in fear for the rest of her
> > life, that Laurel will somehow get Tom back, in fact.
> Noooo!  What a horrible thought!  But she doesn't make more than one
> bargain, right?

That's what she says.  I begin to wonder if Tom and Polly were paying
attention when she said it.  It may well be that they are now truly free of
her, but don't quite realise it.

> Just to second what you said earlier - there aren't that many books
> which warrant quite *this* number of discussions and reconsiderings,
> often by some of the same people!

Isn't it great?!

Until the sky falls on our heads...

Dorian E. Gray
israfel at

"It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."
-Wm. Shakespeare, "Macbeth".

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