Menolly's Rescue

Menolly's Rescue

Sarah McIntire '07 English 65, Fantasy, Brown University, 2004

Menolly, while out looking for spiderclaws and edible greenery with her fire lizards, was caught unawares by a deadly Threadfall coming in over the ocean. Quickly discarding all of her food and swallowing what was in her mouth, she began sprinting back to her cave along the bluff edges above the shore. Yet no matter how hard she ran, the Threadfall kept gaining on her. All of a sudden, with her lungs fit to burst and a stitch in her side, she saw the great shadow of a dragon and felt a huge gust of air as he landed next to her. The brown dragon's rider urged her to get on quickly, and she gratefully and almost unbelievingly accepted his hand up to sit behind him as the dragon flew her to safety.

The relief of being rescued when she was fearing injury or death was too overwhelming for speech. The brown dragon half-ran to the bluff edge, dropped down briefly to get wing room, and then surged up. Menolly felt herself pressed against the soft warm flesh and burrowed into the hide-clad back of her rescuer, struggling for a lungful of air to ease her tight chest. She had one brief glimpse of her little fire lizards trying vainly to follow when the dragon winked into between.

Sweat froze on her forehead and cheeks, down her back, on her calves, her wet and ragged boots, and sore feet. There was no air to breath and she felt that she would suffocate. She tightened her hands convulsively on the dragonrider, but she couldn't feel him or the dragon she knew she was riding.

Now, she thought with that part of her mind that wasn't frozen in panic, she fully understood that Teaching Song. In terror, she fully understood it.

Abruptly, sight, sound, feeling and breath returned. They were spiraling down at a dizzying height above Benden Weyr. As big as Half-Circle was, this place of dragons and dragonmen was bigger by half as much. Why, the immense harbor of Half-Circle would have fitted with dragon lengths to spare in the Bowl of the Weyr. [120]


1. What possible symbolic meaning could between have for Menolly that it would affect her this much? Why is it such a terrifying experience for her?

2. Although travel between takes a mere second, McCaffrey stretches the moment into a little over two paragraphs. Why? How does this effect our perception of Menolly's rapidly changing emotions?

3. In these four paragraphs, McCaffrey conveys a multitude of very strong emotions, from extreme relief to absolute terror to utter amazement. Yet throughout the passage, there are no exclamations or other obvious expressions of wrenching emotion. How is it, then, that this passage can carry such an emotional charge?

4. In the third paragraph, Menolly "fully [understands] that Teaching Song." If, and how, does this sudden understanding of her much-beloved music help her transition from Half-Circle Hold to Benden Weyr?

5. Menolly estimates the size of the Bowl of the Weyr based on the harbor at Half-Circle and dragon lengths, dimensions that McCaffrey never specifically defines for the reader. Why use these measurements instead of feet, meters, or another more precise or at least familiar method?

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Last modified 2 February 2004