Menolly's Spring

Menolly's Spring

Josue Cofresi '07 English 65, Fantasy, Brown University, 2004

The inhabitants of the Half-Circle Sea Hold face the harshest winter storms that they've experienced in many Turns after the slow and cold death of Petiron, the old Harper. Menolly, the youngest daughter of the Sea Holder, stands in for Petiron and holds the Teachings of song for the children until a new Harper arrives. Before the arrival of spring, Menolly has managed to resist overtly producing her own tunes, which her father explicitly prohibits.

Spring was coming and with spring, the quieter seas. Perhaps the new Harper would arrive soon.

And then spring did come, a first glorious day. The sweet scents of seabeachplum and marshberry filled the seaward breezes and came in through the opened shutters of the Little Hall. The children were singing loudly, as if shouting got them through the learning faster. True they were singing one of the longer Sagas, word perfect, but with far more exuberance than was strictly needed. Perhaps it was that exuberance that infected Menolly and reminded her of a tune that she'd tried to set down the day before.

She did not consciously disobey. She certainly was unaware that the fleet had returned from an early catch. She was equally unaware that the chords she was strumming were not--officially--of the Harper's craft. And it was doubly unfortunate that this lapse occurred just as the Sea Holder passed the open windows of the sea. [21]


1. Read aloud the sentence that begins "The sweet scents" Why would McCaffrey juxtapose the auditory quality of that sentence with the content of the next one?

2. In the third paragraph McCaffrey states that Menolly does "not consciously disobey." Considering the previous paragraphs what seems to be the stimulus that leads to her disobedience? What does this source suggest about Menolly's act to produce her own tune?

3. What is the connotation of the use of the word "infected" in the last line of the second paragraph while considering the general outlook of Half-Cirlcle's citizens on matters of song?

4. As Menolly strums her chords, there's an emphasis on her state of unawareness. Is there any significance in this?

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Last modified 2 February 2004