Menolly Rides a Dragon

Menolly Rides a Dragon

David Washington '07 English 65, Fantasy, Brown University, 2004

Throughout the entire novel, Anne McCaffery spends a notable amount of time explaining the special abilities and experience of riding the dragons that defend the world of Pern from the evil Thread. Aside from have special mental capacities, the dragons are said to have the ability to "go between." The descriptions of riding and going between are very vague and frightening for the most part until the reader finally gets a firsthand account of this experience from Menolly herself. Leading up to this passage, Menolly is running for her life from the impending threat of the Thread when her savior arrives on scaled wings:

Incredulous, Menolly looked up, right into the whirling eyes of a brown dragon. He cocked his head and hummed urgently.

"Get up!" said his rider.

Menolly wasted no time after a frantic look at the fire blossoms and the sight of a line of dragons swooping and disappearing. She scrambled to her feet, dove for the brown rider's extended hand and one of the fighting strap ends, and got herself firmly astride the brown's neck behind his rider.

"Hang on the me tightly. And don't be afraid. I'm to take you between to Benden. It'll be cold and dark, but I'll be with you."

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 to 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 her sore feet. There was no air to breathe and she felt 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.


1. How does the atmosphere of story before Menolly goes between compare to that after?

2. How does McCauffery effectively convey the frantic nature of the in situation in terms of grammatical devices?

3. What do you think McCauffery means by "In terror, she fully understood it"?

4. What in this passage suggests the relationship between music and the beasts?

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Last modified 2 February 2004