Wednesday, 5 October 2016

The Presence Of Innocence II

Manse Everard thinks about Wanda Tamberly:

"Good kid, comes back to her folks whenever she gets a chance, happy family, not too damn many like that these days." (The Shield Of Time, p. 178)

Thus, Wanda still represents to Everard a more innocent age. Everard's next reflection is one that I have already quoted several times:

"The Midwest of his boyhood, before he went off to war in 1944, was like a dream, a world forever lost, already one with Troy and Carthage and the innocence of the Inuit. He had learned better than to return." (ibid.)

Haunting. Is that world forever lost? He can revisit it but has learned not to. So innocence is still out there, just not with Everard - and, meanwhile, Wanda is maturing:

"When she smiled she seemed all at once easier, more herself. Not that anybody ever is, ever again. We can dance around in time all we want, but we don't escape duration." (p. 179)

Longevity treatment prevents physical aging but not the accumulation of experience. In 1990, Everard intuits that Wanda is thinking:

"Patrol medicine heads off or heals anything that doesn't kill us outright. You were born in 1924, Manse. You look about forty. But how much duration have you endured? What is your real age?
"He didn't wish to tell her. Not today." (p. 181)

This question about Everard's real age is asked more than once but we are never told. Meanwhile, Wanda has matured physically. This will not be their last meeting.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I think you meant to say Everard joined the US Army in WW II in 1944, not 1924. I'm reminded of reading how Poul Anderson turned 18 that year and presented himself to military recruiters, who rejected his application to serve. Because of bad hearing and being near-sighted.

I would not be surprised to find out Everard was centuries old in actual, personal time due to theDanellian longevity treatment and his frequent and often lengthy stays in different eras.