Menolly's Fortunate Discovery

Menolly's Fortunate Discovery

Jessica Harnsberger '07 English 65, Fantasy, Brown University, 2004

In Dragonsong, Anne McCaffrey tells the story of a rebellious young girl, distinguished by her independent spirit and her musical gif""t. Born into a community grounded in tradition, Menolly refuses to accept the injustice that surrounds her. After being punished for playing a nontraditional tune by her father Yanus, she seeks to escape to a place of solitude, where she can freely explore her passion for music. Once outside the confines of her rigid community Half Circle Hold, Menolly stumbles upon a swarm of fire lizards and witnesses the unique beauty of the marvelous creatures:

She felt as rarely privileged as if she'd been asked to Benden Weyr. She kicked up her heels in an excess of joy and then, spotting some thick marsh grass canes in the bog, snicked one off at the waterline. Her father may have taken her gitar away, but there were more materials than strings over a sounding box to make music.

She measured the proper length barrel and cut off the rest. She deftly made six holes top and two bottom, as Petiron has taught her, and in moments, she was playing her reed pipe. A saucy tune, bright and gay because she was happy inside. A tune about a little fire lizard queen, sitting on a rock in the lapping sea, preening herself for her adoring bronze.

She'd a bit of trouble with the obligatory runs and found herself changing keys, but when she'd rehearsed the tune several times, she decided she liked it. It sounded so different from the sort of melody Petiron had taught her, different from the traditional form. Furthermore, it sounded like a fire lizard song: sprightly, cunning, secretive. [30]

1. Here Menolly proves that she can make an instrument and play music on her own, without the consent of her father Yanus. Is this discovery about achieving happiness for herself important to her decision to eventually leave the Hold?

2. Menolly describes herself as "happy inside" and seems to ignore any discomfort, both physical and emotional, in her life when watching the fire lizards. How does this compare to how she feels back home?

3. How are the fire lizards and Menolly similar? Menolly uses the words "sprightly, cunning, secretive" to describe the tune about the queen. Do these adjectives apply to Menolly's character in any way?

4. Menolly points out that the melody of her fire lizard song sounds different from the "traditional form." Is McCaffrey drawing a parallel between the song and Menolly's unconventional ways?


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Last modified 5 February 2004