[DWJ] Cart and Cwidder (was dalemark)

Minnow minnow at belfry.org.uk
Sun Jun 17 07:15:20 EDT 2007

Putting back the spoiler space, 'cos this is a fairly central thing about
Cart and Cwidder

Otter wrote:
> > I reread Cart and Cwidder the least, I think,
> although I'm not sure why.

Then Elizabeth:
> Strange - I feel rather like that. I think it's
> because I find so much of it
> really sad, and when I'm looking for something to
> read I remember that and
> go elsewhere.

and Esther
>> you find out the mother NEVER LOVED
>> HIM

Farah responded
>I don't think that's true. I think she makes it very clear that she *did*
>love him, but that the love was burned out under the pressure of a lifestyle
>she wasn't prepared for, and a personality that was always performing. It's
>still sad, but it isn't cruel. Quite the opposite in fact.

I disagree really thoroughly!  This is the raggle-taggle-gypsies-o with
magical coercion of the feather-bed lady instead of her own free choice.
Ganner wasn't quite Lenina's 'new-wedded lord', and she hadn't had his
baby, but he was the man who loved her, and she was about to marry him,
when Clennan decided that he wanted her and used magic to get what he

She was forced into 'love' by the magic of the cwidder; she ran away with
Clennan and dishonoured herself, and her family (her uncle, the older
Tholian) cast her off for it.  The only thing left for her at that point
was to stay in the situation she'd been coerced into.  The man who had in
this way magically raped her and caused her to bear his children and bring
them up for him in squalid conditions (by her standards: don't forget that
her eldest son is the heir to the Earldom of the South Dales, through her)
boasted about this all the time, rubbing her nose in her powerlessness
every time he told the story -- which he did often.  ("She always looked
very non-committal whenever Clennan told this story."!  And Brid and Moril
"had both heard the story more times than they could remember.")  No wonder
she wasn't shattered by his death, just set out as immediately as possible
to pick up her life where it had been stolen from her.

What Lenina says, and what she makes very clear, as soon as Clennan has
died and whilst she is driving the cart straight to Ganner's castle, is
that she was doing her *duty* in staying with Clennan, and now he's dead
she is going back immediately to the man she was going to marry before she
was abducted.  Ganner still loves her and has asked her to come back, and
she goes like a homing pigeon once it is not her duty to stay away from
him, and marries him within three days.  Hardly the behaviour of a woman
whose True Love has just been murdered, possibly with the connivance of the
man she then marries.

Dagner says from the first, after Clennan is dead, how unhappy Lenina has
been with their cart-life and with their father, and has known this all
along; Moril comes to understand it later.

A while back people were agitating on this list about rape in *Dark Lord of
Derkholm*, but I think that this is far worse than a single occasion of
forced sex; it's a forced *life*.  Seventeen years of rape, in effect, and
feeling bound by having children and a duty.  No wonder her children, when
they realise this, aren't entirely happy about it.  As a reader, I wasn't

Doesn't make me dislike the book, but one needs to be clearsighted about
the nastiness in it as well as the goodness, I think.


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