Birth and Rebirth in Anne McCaffrey's "Dragonsong"

Birth and Rebirth in Anne McCaffrey's Dragonsong

Arielle Glatman Zaretsky '07 English 65, Fantasy, Brown University, 2004

Brekke has long been so deep in despair since the loss of her dragon that she seems like the walking dead. In hopes of helping her to break through her shell and begin to grieve, she is brought to the Hatching of the dragon eggs and given the chance to Impress another dragon.

The crack of the golden egg was a summons for all attention to be centered on it. The egg split right down the center, and its inmate, protesting her abrupt birth, fell to the sand on her back. Three of the girls moved to assist it. They got the little queen to her four legs and then stepped back. Menolly held her breath as they all turned towards Brekke. She was unaware of anything. Whatever strength had sustained her to walk across the sands had now left her. Her shoulders sagged pathetically, her head listed to one side as if too heavy to hold upright. The queen dragonet turned her head towards Brekke, the glistening eyes enormous in the outsize skull. Brekke shook her head as if aware of the scrutiny. The dragonet lurched forward one step.

Menolly saw a bronze blur out of the corner of her right eye and for an unnerving moment thought it must be Diver. But it couldn't be, because the little bronze just hung about the dragonet's head, screaming defiantly. He was so close to her head that she reared back with a startled shriek and bit at the air, instinctively spreading her wings forward as protection for her vulnerable eyes.

Dragons bugled warnings from their perches at the top of the Hatching Ground, and Ramoth spread her wings, rising to her haunches as if to strike at the invader. One of the girls interposed her body between the queen and her small attacker.

"Berd! Don't!" Brekke, too, moved, her arm extended towards the irate bronze.

The dragonet queen creeled and hid her face in the girl's skirt. The two women faced each other for a moment, tense, worried. Then the other stretched her hand out to Brekke, and Menolly could see her smile. The gesture lasted only a moment because the young queen butted imperiously, and the girl knelt, her arms reassuringly encircling the dragonet's shoulders.

At the same instant, Brekke turned, no longer a somnolent figure, immersed in grief. She walked back to the entrance of the Cavern, the little bronze fire lizard whirring around her head, making noises that went from scolding to entreaty, just like Beauty when Menolly was doing something that had upset her. [170-171]

Why does the Impressing and not the physical birth have an effect on Brekke's temperament?

Is Brekke grieving only for her lost dragon or for the loss of the opportunity to re-Impress a dragon as well?

How does McCaffrey create so much sympathy for a character that the reader has had so little time to get to know?
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Last modified 2 February 2004