He's Mocking Me

Paisid Map Aramphongphan '07 English 65, Fantasy, Brown University, 2003

In Lord Foul's Bane, Stephen R. Donaldson creates a protagonist whose "conflicting needs" (260) trouble him all through his journey in a fantasy land. Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever differs from other protagonists in other books because he suffers from leprosy, a disease which dictates how he views himself and the world around him. He comes from the world which "doesn't allow anyone to live except on its own terms." The terms demand that he see the world he now experiences as a dream. In the following passage, Donaldson illustrates Covenant's inner-struggle. During the Council, the Lords inquire about Covenant and his message. When Prothall, the High Lord, wonders if gods send Covenant to mock the Lords, Convenant "could not find the words to respond."

He chopped dumbly at the thought with his halfhand. "It's the other way around. He's mocking me." When all the Lords looked at him in incomprehension, he cried abruptly, "I can feel the pulse in my fingertips! But that's impossible. I've got a disease. An incurable disease. I've -- I've got to figure out a way to keep from going crazy. Hell and blood! I don't want to lose my mind just because some perfectly decent character in a dream needs something from me that I can't produce." [260-261]

After the Council of the Lords, the Bloodguard took him to a new room. The Lords have named him "ur-Lord" (262) In his room Covenant wonders "what he had done to himself." He knows he cannot remain in Revelstone because he is "too vulnerable" there.

Discussion Questions

1. What's the significance of the fact that Covenant is a leper? How does Covenant's disease affect his experience and journey?

2. Why does the world where Covenant comes from demand that Covenant sees the world he is now in as a dream?

3. What does Covenant mean when he says he has to "figure out a way to keep from going crazy"? What is the equivalent of "going crazy" in Covenant's mind?

4. Covenant says, "Some perfectly decent character needs something from me that I can't produce." What is it that he cannot produce?

5. Could you imagine Lord Foul's Bane without a protagonist with leprosy? How might the book turn out to be?

References

Donaldson, Stephen R. Lord Foul's Bane. Part I of The Chronicles of Thomas Coveant the Unbeliever. New York: Ballantine Books, 1977.


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Last modified 19 April 2004