Menolly's Journeys, Brekke, and Old Uncle

Menolly's Journeys, Brekke, and Old Uncle

Naomi Miller '07 English 65, Fantasy, Brown University, 2004

Anne McCaffrey's Dragonsong tells the story of Menolly, a girl who dares to do what she has been told is impossible. She is discouraged from utilizing her gif""t with music, and her talent at running goes uncommented on by almost everyone in Half-Circle, her homeland. Rather than remain in such a hostile and stifling environment, Menolly runs away and discovers companionship, first with a group of fire-lizards, then later with people who encourage her gif""t with music.

Questions

1. After her injury gutting packtails, Menolly believes she has lost the use of her hand, and thus the ability to make music, forever. At this point, she believes "she [knows] what a dragonless rider must feel" (45). How do Menolly's despair and eventual recovery parallel those of an actual dragonless rider, Brekke? How do they reinforce each other?

2. How does the continuous use of Menolly's parents' first names undermine their authority as parents in the reader's mind? Why is the effect of using Lessa's first name different? Does authority seem more deserved in this book when it is not demanded as fiercely?

3.

Grimly Menolly vowed that she'd never, never return to Half-Circle. Her reflections made her doubt Manora's assurance that she could stay at Benden Weyr. No matter, she could run away again. Run she could, and live holdless. And that's what she'd do. Why, she'd run across Pern . . . And why not? Menolly became pleased with the notion. Indeed, there was nothing to stop her running right to the Masterharperhall in Fort Hold. Maybe Petiron had sent her songs to Masterharper Robinton. Maybe they were more than just twiddles. Maybe . . . but there was no maybe about returning to Half-Circle Hold! That she would not do. [138]

Menolly's journeys always bring great changes to her life. How do Menolly's two journeys -- one to the Dragon Stones, and the other to Benden Weyr -- differ? How do the method of the journeys mirror their effects? That is, how is it significant that the first journey she took willingly and alone, and the second without a choice, and with the help of others? That the first journey took her away from the company of other people, and the second into their company? How does this parallel her two gif""ts -- running, by nature solitary, and music, a gif""t meant to be shared with others? How is it significant that, while recovering at Benden Weyr, she feels completely confident that if she does not wish to return to Half-Circle, she will not have to? That her solution to this is running away again, and this time with a destination in mind?

4.

Old Uncle's notion of time was distorted, that's what Petiron had told [Menolly]. Brightest in Uncle's memory were his earlier days, when he'd been Sea Holder of Half-Circle, before a tangled trawler line had sliced off his legs below the knee. The great Hall was almost ready for the guests when Menolly entered with him. [35]

How do the way Old Uncle's injury is added as an afterthought, and its juxtoposition with the completely innocuous sentence which follows, shock the reader more than if the injury had been made a bigger deal of? Is it because the very numbness the characters seem to feel shocks us as much as the injury itself? How does this effect how we feel about people in Half-Circle in general? About Old Uncle's son Yanus, in particular?


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Last modified 2 February 2004