Fear of Thread on Pern

Fear of Thread on Pern

Michael Kern '07 English 65, Fantasy, Brown University, 2004

In Dragonsong, McCaffrey has created the world of Pern, a harsh land plagued by deadly rains aptly named Thread. There is an intense fear of Thread in the land of Pern with due reason considering its horrible effects. Menolly is caught outside in the minutes before a Threadfall, and her fear is epitomized is these few passages.

It was this quiet, as if every living thing was holding in breath, that was disturbing Menolly. Unconsciously she began to walk faster and she had a strong urge to glance over her right shoulder, toward the northeast -- where a smudge of gray clouded the horizon . . . . A smudge of grey? Or silver?

Menolly began to tremble with rising fear, with the dawning knowledge that she was too far from the safety of the Hold to reach it before Thread reached her. The heavy metal doors, which she had so negligently left ajar, would soon be closed and barred against her, and Thread. And, even if she were missed, no one would come for her. [73]


1. How does the McCaffrey's creation of Thread as a mindless and continual enemy rather than a conscious, thinking foe change the way the story unfolds?

2. Does Menolly's escape from the Hold as it is barred shut parallel the freedom from the barring of her musical abilites?

3. In this way, does the Hold serve as both a safe have and a prison? Or is the idea of the Hold unrelated to the stifling of Menolly's talents?

4. Is the desperation experienced by Menolly irrational, or does it help her to survive?

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Last modified 2 February 2004