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The Redemption of Roger Covenant

 
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2018 2:21 pm    Post subject: The Redemption of Roger Covenant Reply with quote

(This one took long and long to write. There was a lot of excavation and pondering involved. I hope the small bits I've unearthed are valuable, even if the picture I have built with them is not.)

There's a darkness
Living deep in my soul
I still got a purpose to serve

So let your light shine
Deep into my home
God, don't let me lose my nerve!

-- Erik Francis Schrody (Everlast)

Roger Covenant is presented almost entirely as a one-dimensional adversary in the Final Chronicles. However, we would be remiss if we didn't pay some attention to those small parts of the story that suggest that Roger might be more than an inimical agent. Indeed, if you are inclined to believe that the integrity of the series demands that Roger has a significant story arc, then a careful analysis of these details is obligatory.

Consider that Roger Covenant confronts his father in the last chapter of the last book in the last series of Chronicles. This is the chapter where Covenant and Lord Foul discover the final answer to evil. This is "it". And here is where Donaldson chose to have Thomas Covenant confront his son. This can't be an accident or an afterthought; Donaldson had been staging this final scene for decades, and he's been steering events through four large books to reach this point. This is the culmination, the plan come together, the apotheosis. So there must be a significance to Roger's presence in this scene. He simply would not be here otherwise.

It's quite possible to see Roger's inclusion as merely a mechanical element to facilitate the final showdown. To see Roger ending his part in the story as nothing more than a body shield for Lord Foul. A new twist on the showdown de rigueur.

I have come to believe that Roger has to be more significant than that. Perhaps the clues are tenuous; perhaps you may think I am grasping at straws. Nevertheless, I believe I am nearer to a better theory from my efforts at literary archeology. And I believe that there's value in discussing the topic whether or not I am right.

But fair warning. This analysis touches on The Ending. I am hoping that anyone needing to vent frustration at The Ending has done so, and if they haven't, they would be so kind as to vent in the many, many other threads dedicated to this venting. Because I would like to consider what Donaldson wrote in The Ending, what he might have been trying to say - irrespective of whether or not he said it well, and separately from whether or not it was enjoyable. I feel I owe Donaldson that much.

So:

If Donaldson saved Roger for The Ending, then we should conclude that, in some way, Roger plays a key role in Thomas Covenant's final advancements towards personal integration. Covenant's ultimate answer to Lord Foul is tied in some way to his answer to Roger Covenant.

Roger matters.

We know that Joan's parenting has left Roger to grow up into a loathesome man. Rather than recount various selections from the text, it is expeditious to consider the author's own summary of Roger's development.

In the Gradual Interview, Stephen R Donaldson wrote:
But you might try thinking of Roger as his father's doppleganger. Roger has inherited his mother's legacy of fear (and self-abhorrence) rather than his father's (learned) legacy of courage. In that, Roger is rather like Linden--without the benefit of Covenant's intervention; without spending crucial time in the company of characters who are motivated by love rather than by fear. You could say that he just doesn't know any better. Fear, I think, is a natural and inevitable part of the human condition. But being ruled by fear is a choice. And it's unfortunately true that choices can be very hard to see or understand if people haven't been taught that those choices exist; if people lack role models for making those choices. I knew as soon as Joan decided to abandon Covenant that Roger would follow his mother's example. It's the only one he's had.

I don't want to say much more on the subject. But I'm confident that Roger has NO IDEA he's being ruled by fear. He isn't aware of the choice.

(03/05/2008)

We can accept as given, then, that Roger is "ruled by fear". Does this explain why Roger would ally with Lord Foul and seek to cause his father's ruin? According to Donaldson: yes. He provides this explanation:

In the Gradual Interview, Stephen R Donaldson wrote:
For myself, I find it more useful to think of persons as being very crudely divided into two groups: those that choose to care about people other than themselves, situations other than their own, issues larger than their own well-being; and those that do not. The former group tends to evolve ethical structures (however peculiarly defined)--and then live by them. The latter group tends to be ruled by personal *want* and *need* (in other words, by fear).

(09/17/2004)

Roger's wants and needs are hinted at obliquely (by way of his mother) in the early chapters of The Runes of the Earth. It's a powerful place. He matters there. He makes a difference. Everyone makes a difference. I have to go there. I have to find that place. A desire to matter, a need to make a difference, is a fight against futility. Roger's motivations, then, can be viewed from the perspective of the Ironic Mode.

When we finally hear Roger speak, he confirms this. A portal to eternity. To become gods. Roger seeks power and significance and eternal life.

It is clear that Foul has seduced Roger with promises of power. The power of an Elohim; an opportunity to change the course of events in the Land; and ultimately the immortality of the cosmos. Roger wants and needs these things; they are seemingly the answers to his fears.

For Roger is ruled by fear, and Foul rules Roger by capitalizing on those fears. If you consider fear from the perspective of the Ironic mode, then you can imagine the fears of a man who feels caught in futility: the fear of impotence (being unable to change anything), the fear of insignificance (being too unimportant to matter to anyone), and the fear of death (being unable to survive). What such a man wants and needs, then, is the means to escape these fears: power, importance, and security against the threat of death.

The fear of impotence leads Roger to lead Foul's armies weilding a fist of magma and might. The fear of insignificance leads him to persue the great Thomas Covenant's destruction. And the fear of death leads him to wish for all things to end. All of these desires are attempts to escape his fears rather than surpass them. Roger has not, like his father, transcended the Ironic Mode. He is a man running from the shadow of his Ironic mode existence, and as such he is fodder for Foul's machinations.

Lord Foul once offered similar enticements to Thomas Covenant: might, significance, and power over death:

In The Power That Preserves was wrote:
"And I am not powerless to reward you. If you wish to share my rule over the Land, I will permit you. You will find I am not an uncongenial master. If you wish to preserve the life of your friend Foamfollower, I will not demur - though he has offended me." Foamfollower thrashed in his chains, struggled to protest, but he could not speak. "If you wish health, that also I can and will provide. Behold!"

But Covenant was not tempted by these promises. He had already learned lessons about epic vision. These gifts did not seduce him because he did not need them. But his son was seduced by these same promises: fear makes bad choices.

And so it is clear how Roger and his father are a contrast of strength. Roger foils his father; lacking the "(learned) legacy of courage", his response to the promises of Despite is very different from Covenant's. He is indeed a doppleganger - he is the image of his father, had his father taken different paths. The events of Fatal Reventant, in which Roger wears the image of his father in a more concrete way, resonates with this idea.

Thus far, I am confident in my assessment of Roger. But from here on, I abandon confidence for the sake of pursuing ideas into wild places.

We have seen in each of the earlier Chronicles that Thomas Covenant must learn something critical prior to his meeting with Lord Foul, something which shows him how to defeat the Despiser. He needs a "key", if you will. In the first Chronicles, the key he needed was found when Staff of Law was destroyed by wild magic; he learned that he may not be able to pull wild magic from his ring with his will, but he could summon it with the right kind of trigger. In the Second Chronicles, the key he needed was Hamako; the stonedowner showed Covenant that sometimes the ultimate sacrifice is required to be true to yourself and to what you serve. Perhaps it is not always obvious before the end, but afterwards one can look back and trace the sources of Covenants inspirations to critical points on his journey. There was always a key that Covenant needed to find before he was ready for the final confrontation.

But what answers does Covenant find, what journey does he undergo, that shows him how to win this third time? This time, I don't find it so clear. Nevertheless, I believe that there is an answer, even though it's not as directly and as plainly articulated by the author. After all, victory requires some sort of journey for it to be meaningful. Covenant wasn't resurrected with the answers - the story demands that he had to earn them. So I believe that Covenant's decision to accept Lord Foul the Despiser into himself was prompted by something or someone he had witnessed.

I'd like to test the idea that Roger provided the final clue Covenant needed.

Because when Covenant enters Kiril Threndor, and finds Roger there, in Foul's possession, Branl summarizes the situation in this way.

In The Last Dark was wrote:
"Corruption has taken your son, or your son has given himself. We must oppose both or neither. We cannot harm the spirit while the flesh shields it."

[...] Branl was right. Of course he was. Covenant could not strike at Lord Foul without hitting Roger first. He would have to kill his son in order to hurt the Despiser.

Roger is the perfect human shield for Foul. Because Covenant cares what happens to his son. And because Roger wants his father to fail.

Consider the alternatives. The people of the Land would willingly die for the sake of Foul's defeat. Even Linden or Jeremiah might, if Foul would dare it. But Roger wants to live with all the ferocity of a coward. Covenant can't honestly believe that Roger would sacrifice himself for the sake of the Land, voluntarily or otherwise. On the other hand, Foul has no other minions for whom Covenant has affection. Covenant would try to spare any of them if he could, and perhaps even try to rescue them. But there's only one choice that would really hurt. Only one person that might shake Covenant to the core, cause him to doubt his course. Dare him to destroy that which he loves, and be damned thereby.

So: in the final confrontation, Roger represents a problem for which he must find an solution. And he cannot deal with the problem of Lord Foul until he solves the Roger problem. My hypothesis is that Covenant's final confrontation with his son should provide the key that he needs to defeat Foul. The story tells us this in so many words: The physical situation and the metaphorical one are the same - Roger stands between Covenant and Foul. As it is an over-arching premise of this story that what happens to Covenant is what he needs, I believe that this is a sound premise.

But, we must now ask, how does solving the Roger problem provide Covenant with insignt as to how to solve the Foul problem?

The answer, I suspect, is that these two problems are so similar that the answer to one can be applied equally to the other.

First, we can consider the matter of responsibility.

In White Gold Wielder was wrote:
"It's not my fault,' he went on harshly. "I didn't do any of this. None of it. But I'm the cause. Even when I don't do anything. It's all being done because of me. So I won't have any choice. Just by being alive, I break everything I love." He scraped his fingers through the stubble of his beard; but his eyes continued staring at the waste of Andelain, haunted by it. "You'd think I wanted this to happen."

As Covenant sees it, he is responsible for the plight of the Land. I'm the cause. Not because he intended it. But because he was placed by choice or destiny into the role of white gold wielder. Everything else happens because Foul wants his white gold, wants to increase Covenant's desparation. In a way, Foul has become what he is and has done what he has done because Covenant holds what he needs. Covenant caused, if not the Despiser, then his depradations. And so Covenant is responsible for defeating him. This is a conviction which he carries into the last dark.

He carries similar convictions for others. Like Joan.

In Against All Things Ending was wrote:
Indeed, he had not merely made her what she was. By permitting himself to be withdrawn from the Arch, when he could have refused the summons to Andelain, he had removed a vital barrier against her madness and wild magic. To that extent, he had enabled the barren future within which he was trapped.

He thought that he knew where to find Joan; but he had no notion what he would do when he reached her. He was only sure that she was his responsibility.

And Roger.

In The Last Dark was wrote:
And he was Roger's father. He was responsible for that lost soul as well.

Covenant is responsible for Joan and Roger, in the same way that he's responsible for Foul. Their lives were shaped by his leprosy. He was the cause of who they were now, and what they were doing.

Second, we can consider the matter of spirit.

Lord Foul is the Despiser, but Roger is a despiser. He is a vessel of hate and selfishness, and he would destroy everything to escape his prison of mortality. Foul seduces him, but he is readily seduced, because they are kindred spirits. Does Foul wish to vanquish Covenant? So does Roger. Does Foul wish to escape Time itself and flee into Immortality? So does Roger. Would Foul destroy the Earth and the Arch to gain victory? So would Roger.

And yet, Roger is not an immortal being, and he's not from the Land. He's as mundane and real as you or I. The things that shaped his life are just as mundane and real. Therefore, we can say this: Roger is a "real" despiser. He is a Lord Foul that you or I might actually meet on the street. This is important: As I have often proclaimed, Donaldson's fantasy is connected to us, because what the characters undertake and learn is real. We can be pragmatically inspired by witnessing their challenges. Therefore, Covenant facing down a "real" despiser matters to us.

Lastly, we can consider the matter brotherhood, which lies at the intersection of spirit and responsibility.

That Covenant and Lord Foul are spiritually united is plain for all to see. In the first Chronicles, Covenant recognizes that he came close to being just like Lord Foul. In the second, he recognizes that he and Foul are spiritually united, two sides of the same battle, each shaping the other. If I am yours, you are mine. And, of course, they become literally united in the Last Chronicles.

But we also have seen that Roger and Covenant are also united, in very much the same way. The author calls them "dopplegangers". Roger is Covenant as he might have been; Covenant is Roger as he might have been. Roger even pretends to be his father for half of Fatal Revenant! Once again, the physical situation and the metaphorical one are extant simultaneously.

If we consider all these matters, we can see that the problem of Roger and the problem of Foul are very much the same. It is the problem of confronting one's shadow brother - of finding a way to deal with someone who is evil but is your responsibility. A problem which needs to be resolved in a better way than simple destruction. And so I believe that there's a good case that can be made that resolving the Roger problem would necessarilly provide insight useful in resolving the Foul problem.

And Covenant already has one other insight, about what the wrong answer would be. Eradication.

In The Last Dark was wrote:
He had already killed his son's mother. He needed a better answer.

These are the words Covenant utters to himself when he enters Kiril Threndor in that final chapter. We can see now why a "better answer" for Covenant's son is so important. You can't kill Despite. The answer he finds for his son will be the answer he finds for Foul.

In The Last Dark was wrote:
The Despiser had claimed Covenant's lost boy at last. Lord Foul had taken possession -

The sight set a spark to the driest tinder in Covenant's soul.

His plight demanded pity. For Covenant, pity was rage.

Whatever else we may have thought about Covenant's relationship with his son, it is clear that, at this time, Covenant wants to save him. Between one breath and the next, he became conflagration; incandescent wrath. Such white gold conflagration does not appear without real passion, pure desire.

Covenant sees that Roger needs to be saved from what he had done to himself. Roger's sarcasm and arrogance masked the truth. The young man was appalled by what he had done to himself. He sets about saving him in two ways. The first way is reasoning.

In The Last Dark was wrote:
"No," Covenant snapped, wrestling for composure. "He won't take you with him. Whatever he offered you won't be what you think it is."

And the second way involves rendering Roger impotent.

In The Last Dark was wrote:
Covenant recognized his chance.

In a stumbling rush, he ran at Roger, gained the dais. Faster than he could think, he slashed with the krill.

One swift stroke severed Kastenessen's hand.

Kastenessen's hand was the source of Roger's power. Covenant wanted to part him from this source. He had tried this before, in the Lost Deep.

In Against All Things Ending was wrote:
Braced in the act of trying to slash downward with Loric's krill, Covenant confronted his son. He gripped the dagger in both fists, apparently striving to cripple or sever Kastenessen's hand.

And he had seen this before, as well. Kastenessen.

In Against All Things Ending was wrote:
While Kastenessen readied his blast, a Giant surged out of a crater behind him. Jeremiah would not have known who the newcomer was if Frostheart Grueburn had not shouted, "Longwrath!"

Swift as a bolt of lightning, the man reared high behind the deranged Elohim. In both fists, he gripped a long flamberge with a wicked blade. It edges gleamed against Kastenessen's lurid radiance as if starlight had been forged into its iron.

One stroke severed Roger's hand from Kastenessen's wrist.

Without Roger's hand, Kastenessen was greatly weakened, in heart as well as in puissance. When Covenant arrived out of a flare of wild magic, riding a horse and weilding Loric's blade like a hero, Kastenessen was deflated: literally deflated. With every step, he dwindled. Retreating, he became smaller. And so he was defeated.

But Kastenessen was not eradicated when he was defeated. The Elohim had a better answer. He was accepted into them.

In Against All Things Ending was wrote:
[Kastenessen said] "You have earned my abhorrence."

Infelice's calm had become irrefusable. Placid as Glimmermere, she answered, "We have. We will not ask you to set it aside. We ask only that you allow us to soothe your pain."

Her response appeared to horrify him. "It is what I am."

"It is not," she countered, undismayed. "When it is gone, you will remember that you and you alone among the Elohim have both loved and been loved."

To that assertion, he had no reply.

The Elohim recognize that their brother Kastenessen had unique and invaluable experiences. Ones which could improve the resulting union of the Elohim. And so Kastenessen was not discarded or destroyed. He was brought into their fane, the last refuge of the Elohim. However, this could only be done once the means for Kastenessen to resist was taken away, otherwise the task was not possible.

I have no doubt that this was also Covenant's intent for his son. To accept him. And to value what he was. He only had to remove his power, and then the rest would follow: Roger would be deflated, and then he could be reasoned with. Then, and only then, could he be succored. Accepted into his embrace, into his family, and into his heart.

Yes, I know. This never happens! Foul intervenes before this can be done.

But then, most surprisingly, this: Lord Foul is defeated in exactly this same way!

In The Last Dark was wrote:
Without warning, an overwhelming thunder swept through Kiril Threndor. It staggered the whole mountain. For an instant, Covenant thought that the Worm had drunk its fill; that the World's End had come. Then he saw more clearly.

A hand like the fist of a god struck down the Despiser. Strength that threatened to crack Covenant's mind left Lord Foul crumpled on the dais, almost corporeal, almost whimpering. A transcendent touch secured Jeremiah's forbidding. As if as an afterthought, something supernal deposited Linden at Jeremiah's side.

A heartbeat later, the thunder passed on, leaving the Earth to its own ruin. In the power's absence, the rising convulsions of the Worm's feeding felt like a reprieve.

It's enough, Covenant thought. Thank you. It's enough. [...] The emblem and summation of all betrayed women had given Covenant that gift.

The Despiser was smaller now, beaten down or reduced by the bane's retribution. He was almost Covenant's size. He hunched into himself as though he sought to hide. As though he wanted to be smaller still.

With wild magic and leprosy, Covenant reached out to him. With pity and terror, Covenant lifted Lord Foul upright.

"Do you understand?" he asked like a man bidding farewell. "If I'm yours, you're mine. We're part of each other. We're too much alike. We want each other dead. But you're finished. You can't escape now. And I'm too weak to save myself. If we want to live, we have to do it together."

The Despiser met Covenant's gaze. "You will not." The voice of the world's iniquity sounded hollow as a forsaken tomb. His eyes were not fangs. They were wounds, gnashed and raw. "You fear me. You will not suffer me to live."

"Yes," Covenant answered, "I will."

He was blinded now, not by fires and fury, but by tears as he closed his arms around his foe. Opening his heart, he he accepted Lord Foul the Despiser into himself.

As with Kastenessen, and as with Roger if only in Covenant's intentions, the Despiser was struck a blow which removes his power. He was deflated: literally deflated. Smaller now, beaten down or reduced by the bane's retribution. The means for Foul to resist acceptance was taken away. But then Covenant does not eradicate the Despiser. Instead, he reasons with him, and acknowledges that Foul is unique and valuable. And then accepts him. Into his sacred self.

This is the better answer. Acceptance and Union. It's better because you can find a purpose for what is good, while rendering impotent that which is bad. (Even impotence has a proper use.)

The resolution of these three characters - Roger, Kastenessen, and Foul - are all so perfectly the same that no one can doubt that there is a connection. Disarmament; diminishment; appreciation; incorporation. As a result, I am left perplexed as to why Roger's journey on this path was aborted.

Nevertheless, the connections remain, and are difficult to refute.

I am convinced, in a personal way, that Covenant succeeded in some obtuse way with Roger right before the end.

In The Last Dark was wrote:
Then, however, Covenant saw the frenzy in Roger's eyes - saw the Despiser's bitterness dulled by a more human anguish - saw Roger hurl coerced scoria, not at Stave, who shielded Covenant, but at Branl, who could not.

Roger's blast did not destroy him. Instead it made a smoking ruin of his wrecked arm, stripped the flesh from his ribs. Even that lesser damage might have killed him; but Roger's attack cauterized as it burned. Branl was stricken unconscious: he did not bleed. His chest still heaved for air.

Roger had done that: Roger. It was as close to an act of mercy as he could manage. In spite of Lord Foul's mastery, Roger had left Stave alive to protect Covenant.

Does the fact of Roger's incomplete redemption shred my theories about applicability from Roger to Foul? I think it very well might have, if it were not for Roger's last act of mercy, and the inclusion of Kastenessen. We have just enough information from these things to believe that Covenant may have indeed found the key he needed before he finally confronted his Despiser. After all, it isn't necessary that Roger actually be saved; only that Covenant sees the way for him to be saved, and believes in it. These things are not hard to accept.

And so I redeem Roger. He is more important to the story than one might initially think. Without Roger, Covenant could not have found the final answer to evil.

What remains to be answered? Well, for one thing: why wasn't Roger allowed to live? And another: what could Covenant cherish and value in his son? These things I do not yet see. But I will always keep thinking about it. Persuing ideas into wild places.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2018 9:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great analysis wayfriend.

Al the reasoning seems pretty well thought out.

Just a couple thoughts that came to my mind when I was reading this and see if it helps you any on your ideas to investigate.

1. One major difference between Foul and Roger is that Roger is independent person. I will not be able to adequately write up what I am hoping to say but hopefully you will get the drift. Covenant recognizes that he and the Despiser are the same so the main solution is take the Despiser into himself to meld the amalgamation of good and impotence of bad into his final incarnation of Covenant into himself being a white gold type person <<< ok that is me maybe stretching that concept into a little wild idea territory but I think it has some merits. However, Roger cannot be joined in this way or redeemed in this manner because he is his own independent person. His journey did not take him down the same paths as Covenant he could not "earn" redemption just through the love of his father. He needed to make his own journey of accepting his inner despiser and conquering it through his own efforts and passions.

2. My personal belief is that Covenant cherished and valued in his son what most fathers cherish and value in their children - potential. If you strip away all the feel good we love our children because they are our children and think about the undercurrent why - the why is we hope for a better outcome for our children to reach the highest potential that they can. You think about the parents that say they love their children even when they have done horrendous things. They don't love the acts, they are still hoping that the child can reach some future height, conquer the evil things and become something more. Covenant valued and cherished the thought that Roger had potential to become something different, do something different, overcome his own despisers inside.

Well, just my two cents but maybe something interesting in there - will have to give your questions more thought because I think that you are unto something.
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2018 5:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That was a brilliant read Wayfriend Big Grin really well considered thesis. It was interesting to go on that journey of discovery with you.

I agree with sam that Roger had to earn his redemption via his own journey. He as you argue, did begin that journey to redemption .. but despite his act of mercy .. which may indeed have earned him his redemption, at least in Covenants eyes .. it wasnt the definition of a journey per se.

Maybe for some though their realisation is so powerful, their despite so acute, their guilt complete that even one act is sufficient to earn them that reward. I dont know .. but I can see the value of a journey.

Yes I agree also that Covenant cherished in his son a desired potential .. I guess rewarded in time to enable that his sons personal journey.

Though I do wonder about your assertion that without Roger, Covenant may not have found the final answer to evil. Covenant has been on this merry go round before .. I think he knew on a visceral level, what would be required to defeat Foul. He just did not anticipate having to go through his own child to do it.

I agree absolutely that Fouls choice of Roger was definitely tactical.. he was sure Covenant would not sacrifice his son to confront him.

I love the .. choice.. factor that SRD elucidates .. and it is a sound principle .. we are who we choose to be. I wonder though if there are more shades of grey between a person who is selfless, cares about others and lives their lives accordingly .... and those that do not. But maybe it is in fact correct. Maybe there are only two kinds of people .. and we demonstrate what kind of human we are by the choices we make .. whether they be self interest or whether they be to the ultimate service of others.

This whole proposition kinda resonates with me in quite a significant way .. I think we each betray the kinds of individuals we indeed are by where we position ourselves on this spectrum.

Great read Wayfriend .. I thoroughly enjoyed it .. please do more thinking Very Happy Big Grin

And great value adds sammy Smile
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2018 1:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks!

Skyweir wrote:
I agree with sam that Roger had to earn his redemption via his own journey.

I don't think that Roger as a person earned any sort of redemption. I think that Roger as a character can be saved from the opinion that he is a pointless part of the story. That is the Redemption of which I speak.

Admittedly, I am playing with words. In "The Redemption of" series, it means something a little different each time. Which is an important point, because in this piece I also mean something a little different each time I speak of someone being "accepted".

Skyweir wrote:
Though I do wonder about your assertion that without Roger, Covenant may not have found the final answer to evil. Covenant has been on this merry go round before .. I think he knew on a visceral level, what would be required to defeat Foul. He just did not anticipate having to go through his own child to do it.

The impetus for this whole effort is this: where did Covenant get the idea to accept Foul into himself? In every other Chronicles, the seeds of his conclusions are visible in hindsight. The pattern demands that we can see it this last time as well.

samrw3 wrote:
However, Roger cannot be joined in this way or redeemed in this manner because he is his own independent person. His journey did not take him down the same paths as Covenant he could not "earn" redemption just through the love of his father. He needed to make his own journey of accepting his inner despiser and conquering it through his own efforts and passions.

Absolutely I agree.

But as I said, I think the idea of "acceptance" is something that can morph from situation to situation. With Thomas and Roger, I think "accept" refers to the way any father who accepts a son who has grown estranged. But what does that really mean? It means you invite him into your life, and you are a part of what he does and he is a part of what you do. You are both stronger for being able to help each other.

So, while in physical terms Covenant's acceptance of Foul is completely different, it is pretty much the same thing in metaphorical terms. There is a union which strengthens.

Foul is the magical Despiser while Roger is the real one. And so Foul is treated to a magical form of acceptance while Roger is treated to a real form. But both forms are the same in essence. Which proves the most important thing in the whole story: that the lessons Covenant learns and applies also apply to us.

This, anyway, was my thought.

So, given that, Roger doesn't have to "earn" his father's acceptance. He is his son! He has a claim on it any time he wishes to take it. He doesn't need to make up for his past actions before his father will accept him. It's just the Prodigal Son in a different story.

But then Foul didn't "earn" it either. What does that teach us?

samrw3 wrote:
My personal belief is that Covenant cherished and valued in his son what most fathers cherish and value in their children - potential.

I would take it one step further. He is his son! No further justification is required.

Still, in order to complete the three-way simile in the story, there should be some sort of way that a re-unification between Thomas and Roger would allow Roger to provide some specific form of help or value which Thomas needs. Foul's value was his knowledge of Creation. Kastenessen's was his knowledge of Love. The whole point of the story is that you don't "end it" but you "tame it" because even the most evil being has a value. What was Roger's value?
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2018 1:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have been thinking about this because I think it is intriguing questions and I can't seem to resolve it to a end point.

However, here are two possibilities and see what you all think:

1. Roger is needed to show Covenant that mastery of evil and expression of good, even though consumed by evil, is possible. What I am thinking along this road is even if I know that the ultimate answer is to merge an evil entity inside of me one of my larger looming questions would be - would I be able to master it, control it? Now Covenant sees his son Roger possessed by Lord Foul and still have enough control to perform an act of mercy. This maye the final straw,so to speak,for Covenant to realize that he has found the ultimate answer and the that he Covenant can control the Despiser inside of his merged self.

2. Now this next theory could be washed away in two seconds - because I realized that somehow I don't have my Last Dark book. So I don't remember the exact sequence of events in the final chapters. However the other possibility is perhaps Roger was not needed as much for Covenant as for Jeremiah. One of SRD's approaches in the Covenant series is that Covenant needs people to help him find answer for/help him defeat/aid him in his battle against Despiser. First series Foamfollower, second Linden, third Jeremiah [way oversimplifying the people that help him - but I hope you get my drift.] If I remember correctly Jeremiah is possessed by a raver. Perhaps when Jeremiah sees Roger break free of the Despisers control is when Jeremiah realizes that he Jeremiah can break free of the ravers hold and come in to help save the day so Lord Foul cannot escape. I just can't for the life of me remember if Jeremiah saw Roger perform that act of mercy - so that is why I say that theory could be nonsense. (it may be nonsense anyways - lol but if he did see the act it at least has a chance of being ok theory]

Anyways...thoughts?
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2018 1:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

+JMJ+

samrw3 wrote:
[...]

However the other possibility is perhaps Roger was not needed as much for Covenant as for Jeremiah. One of SRD's approaches in the Covenant series is that Covenant needs people to help him find answer for/help him defeat/aid him in his battle against Despiser. First series Foamfollower, second Linden, third Jeremiah. If I remember correctly


This was my first thought, as well. But I didn't want to be seen as gainsaying or even questioning WF's thesis until he and his interlocutors had a chance to develop it and I had a chance to fully digest it. Though digestion is still ongoing, your broaching of this point inclines me to discreetly chime-in.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2018 1:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

samrw3 wrote:
I have been thinking about this because I think it is intriguing questions and I can't seem to resolve it to a end point.

Right? This is good.

I have some comments on your ideas because I have studied this up, down, and sideways, and so I have some data. But know I am not "bashing", just trying to steer your thinking down more fruitful roads.

samrw3 wrote:
Roger is needed to show Covenant that mastery of evil and expression of good, even though consumed by evil, is possible. What I am thinking along this road is even if I know that the ultimate answer is to merge an evil entity inside of me one of my larger looming questions would be - would I be able to master it, control it? Now Covenant sees his son Roger possessed by Lord Foul and still have enough control to perform an act of mercy. This maye the final straw,so to speak,for Covenant to realize that he has found the ultimate answer and the that he Covenant can control the Despiser inside of his merged self.

I very much like that idea. I was going to say you were wrong, Foul stopped possessing Roger before this happened. But my recollections were wrong. Checking, I see that Roger subverted Foul's attacks, moved them from Covenant to Branl. This created the opening for Covenant to use the krill and sever the Kastenessen-hand from Roger. Only then did Foul stop his possession.

That is something interesting to think about.

For one thing, this is when Roger cauterized Branl's wounds. I have always found it significant that Roger found a way to use a power which was designed only for destruction in such a constructive way. He found a way to use it positively. So I think he is very much demonstrating that there is something good about him.

samrw3 wrote:
2. Now this next theory could be washed away in two seconds - because I realized that somehow I don't have my Last Dark book. So I don't remember the exact sequence of events in the final chapters. However the other possibility is perhaps Roger was not needed as much for Covenant as for Jeremiah. One of SRD's approaches in the Covenant series is that Covenant needs people to help him find answer for/help him defeat/aid him in his battle against Despiser. First series Foamfollower, second Linden, third Jeremiah [way oversimplifying the people that help him - but I hope you get my drift.] If I remember correctly Jeremiah is possessed by a raver. Perhaps when Jeremiah sees Roger break free of the Despisers control is when Jeremiah realizes that he Jeremiah can break free of the ravers hold and come in to help save the day so Lord Foul cannot escape. I just can't for the life of me remember if Jeremiah saw Roger perform that act of mercy - so that is why I say that theory could be nonsense. (it may be nonsense anyways - lol but if he did see the act it at least has a chance of being ok theory]

Jeremiah comes into his own and defeats the Raver before he comes to Kiril Threndor. He arrives in time to erect his forbidding just AFTER Roger attacks Foul and is smooshed for his efforts. When Jeremiah arrives, Roger is already a smear on the floor.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2018 6:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

+JMJ+

wayfriend wrote:
[...]

samrw3 wrote:
2. Now this next theory could be washed away in two seconds - because I realized that somehow I don't have my Last Dark book. So I don't remember the exact sequence of events in the final chapters. However the other possibility is perhaps Roger was not needed as much for Covenant as for Jeremiah. One of SRD's approaches in the Covenant series is that Covenant needs people to help him find answer for/help him defeat/aid him in his battle against Despiser. First series Foamfollower, second Linden, third Jeremiah [way oversimplifying the people that help him - but I hope you get my drift.] If I remember correctly Jeremiah is possessed by a raver. Perhaps when Jeremiah sees Roger break free of the Despisers control is when Jeremiah realizes that he Jeremiah can break free of the ravers hold and come in to help save the day so Lord Foul cannot escape. I just can't for the life of me remember if Jeremiah saw Roger perform that act of mercy - so that is why I say that theory could be nonsense. (it may be nonsense anyways - lol but if he did see the act it at least has a chance of being ok theory]

Jeremiah comes into his own and defeats the Raver before he comes to Kiril Threndor. He arrives in time to erect his forbidding just AFTER Roger attacks Foul and is smooshed for his efforts. When Jeremiah arrives, Roger is already a smear on the floor.


To be clear, my thought was not so much that Jeremiah needed Roger for his answer to Foul (seeing as Linden didn't need Joan) but, rather, that perhaps Covenant needed Jeremiah for his redemption of Roger. Had TC already gotten something from Jeremiah that allowed him to elicit a positive response from Roger?

You may well have already either incorporated or excluded this idea, I dunno. Your exegesis is so much deeper and more developed than mine, and I'm late to the game in watching it unfold. I've only read through the LCs once and have put relatively little time into reflecting on them. I'm just sooo behind-the-curve, not only with regard to digesting your thoughts, but also with regard to developing mine.

To a certain degree at least, I'm a fish outta water on these type of threads methinks. 🌊🌊🐠🌊🌊
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2018 6:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Wos, my previous post "crossed" yours and I did not see it until I had already posted.

Wosbald wrote:
But I didn't want to be seen as gainsaying or even questioning WF's thesis

Gainsay like there's no tomorrow, baby! I ain't made of paper.

Wosbald wrote:
perhaps Covenant needed Jeremiah for his redemption of Roger

That's a possibility, but I'd like to hear why you think that. (Also, which "redeem" are you speaking of?)

Do you think Roger was redeemed in some way? As I have already said in the OP, it seems to me the process was attempted, but it was aborted by Roger's demise before it could be accomplished. Both in the sense of rescuing him, and in the sense of turning his life around.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2018 8:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

+JMJ+

wayfriend wrote:
Hey Wos, my previous post "crossed" yours and I did not see it until I had already posted.

Wosbald wrote:
But I didn't want to be seen as gainsaying or even questioning WF's thesis

Gainsay like there's no tomorrow, baby! I ain't made of paper.

Wosbald wrote:
perhaps Covenant needed Jeremiah for his redemption of Roger

That's a possibility, but I'd like to hear why you think that. (Also, which "redeem" are you speaking of?)

Do you think Roger was redeemed in some way? As I have already said in the OP, it seems to me the process was attempted, but it was aborted by Roger's demise before it could be accomplished. Both in the sense of rescuing him, and in the sense of turning his life around.


I guess that if one sees redemption as being signified by "not getting killed in the Land", then Roger would not be redeemed by that metric. I guess I was looking at redemption as "not going out in a blaze of despite". The difference twixt Vader and Sidious, I s'pose. But I admit that certain semiotical metrics of SRD's and Lucas's worlds could well be worlds-apart and should be intentionally read so as to minimize undue cross-contamination.

And why do I think that (i.e. the point about TC, Jeremiah & Roger)? I dunno. It just seemed to subliminally click, prolly in light of your oft-reiterated observation about the characters leaning on each other in their struggles rather than acting as rugged islets of autonomy. However, to give the point any gravitas, I'd have do a lot more exegetical heavy-lifting than I've done up to now. Rereading the LCs would prolly be a good start Laughing. But that's prolly, at the very least, another couple of years down the road.

And as regard to "which redemption I'm talking about", I'm admittedly flummoxed. How many redemptions are on the table in this thread, again? Embarassed
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2018 6:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wosbald wrote:
+JMJ+

And as regard to "which redemption I'm talking about", I'm admittedly flummoxed. How many redemptions are on the table in this thread, again? Embarassed

Smile I look forward to Wayfriend's, "Redemption of Thomas Covenant". In terms of the entire Chronicles' series, clearing TC of rape is clearly one of the greatest challenges.

An obvious approach is to look closely at the "smoking gun murder scene". How often have we watched this cop show/court room drama dyed-in-the-wool ploy!
The fact that SRD ties it up in a knot with the "belief in the wild magic", really is very clever, and a testimony to the art of the lead pencil.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2018 1:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

+JMJ+

Lazy Luke wrote:
Wosbald wrote:
And as regard to "which redemption I'm talking about", I'm admittedly flummoxed. How many redemptions are on the table in this thread, again? Embarassed

Smile I look forward to Wayfriend's, "Redemption of Thomas Covenant". In terms of the entire Chronicles' series, clearing TC of rape is clearly one of the greatest challenges.

An obvious approach is to look closely at the "smoking gun murder scene". How often have we watched this cop show/court room drama dyed-in-the-wool ploy!
The fact that SRD ties it up in a knot with the "belief in the wild magic", really is very clever, and a testimony to the art of the lead pencil.



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PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2018 1:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2018 5:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, is my written english really that bad! And here I was thinking I'd made progress.

Of course Wosbald, you have always been rude to me. But that's no biggie. It isn't my concern whether or not you bellieve me. But if blathering is what you want, then understand, I'm the guy on the Oprah Winfrey show at the end of Scary Movie 4 ... yeeeeehaaaa! Big Grin
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2018 8:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wayfriend wrote:
What was Roger's value?


Damn-it Wayfriend, if you were a teacher I'd take any class you taught. I might even pay money too.....maybe. Very Happy

I think Roger's "value" in the sense you set up is that he wasn't absolutely evil in the end. There was no reason that he shouldn't have been absolutely evil other than that he chose at the last moment not to be.

I think that was enough for TC.

I also think that anything more of a reversal or even a hint of some kind of heroic ending for Roger would have read false with the character that we knew.
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2018 7:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Indeed .. nicely said HLT Big Grin

and Id be in for those classes. Every thought of pod casting Wayfriend?
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2018 1:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Those are some nice compliments, thanks.

But no, no podcast. It's too hard scraping together free time as it is. Drafts of The Redemption of Roger Covenant go back to 2015 - that's a long time! Because it's five minutes here, five minutes there.

-----

High Lord Tolkien wrote:
I think Roger's "value" in the sense you set up is that he wasn't absolutely evil in the end.

I agree with you. But what I'm looking for is a way that accepting Roger (after he is "defanged") makes Covenant more complete. After all, that's the entire premise of the conclusion. Yes, it's a nice thing to do, and everyone is worth saving. But that doesn't seem to fit with what is needed here.

Sorry. But this is very important to me.

I am starting to wonder if this is, in the end, the reason why Roger wasn't saved: Donaldson just couldn't work out an answer to this. Too many other balls in the air, as it were. In some ways, aborting Roger's salvation avoids resolving these difficult issues.

But that's really cynical.

Contemplation brings it's own rewards. I see far more now than I saw on that day in 2014 when I finished FR the first time. In the future, I shall see even more. Maybe the answer will come. Or maybe someone will post it here!
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2018 2:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wayfriend wrote:

I agree with you. But what I'm looking for is a way that accepting Roger (after he is "defanged") makes Covenant more complete. After all, that's the entire premise of the conclusion. Yes, it's a nice thing to do, and everyone is worth saving. But that doesn't seem to fit with what is needed here.

Sorry. But this is very important to me.



Here is my take.

Roger is free at the end, he died free from the Despiser. TC was also freed from his responsibility of Roger at that point and could move on.
If Roger had died unredeemed or still a pawn then TC would not have been whole at the end.

Roger was a leper too, in a way. So here is my "deep" reasoning for you. Lets go back to the begining where it all began. If you replace TC with Roger in the passage quoted below and the Begger with TC then it plays out the same way as Roger died in the LD.

As in the last line below, Roger fighting against Foul even as little as he did was all that he had left and was the "password" that allowed TC to relax and be at peace:

Quote:
The vacant stare seemed to miss him completely, as if he did not exist or the eyes were blind; but the old man's voice was clear and sure.
"You are in perdition, my son."
Moistening his lips with his tongue, Covenant responded, "No, old man. This is normal-human beings are like this. Futile." As if he were quoting a law of leprosy, he said to himself, Futility is the defining characteristic of life. "That's what life is like. I just have less bric-a-brac cluttering up the facts than most people."
"So young-and already so bitter."
Covenant had not heard sympathy for a long time, and the sound of it affected him acutely. His anger retreated, leaving his throat tight and awkward. "Come on, old man," he said. "We didn't make the world. All we have to do is live in it. We're all in the same boat-one way or another."
"Did we not?"
But without waiting for an answer the beggar went back to humming his weird tune. He held Covenant there until he had reached a break in his song. Then a new quality came into his voice, an aggressive tone that took advantage of Covenant's unexpected vulnerability.
"Why not destroy yourself?"
A sense of pressure expanded in Covenant's chest, cramping his heart. The pale blue eyes were exerting some kind of peril over him. Anxiety tugged at him. He wanted to jerk away from the old
face, go through his VSE, make sure that he was safe. But he could not; the blank gaze held him.
Finally, he said, "That's too easy."
His reply met no opposition, but still his trepidation grew. Under the duress of the old man's will, he stood on the precipice of his future and looked down at jagged, eager dangers-rough
damnations multiplied below him. He recognized the various possible deaths of lepers. But the panorama steadied him. It was like a touchstone of familiarity in a fantastic situation; it put him back on known ground. He found that he could turn away from his fear to say, "Look, is there
anything I can do for you? Food? A place to stay? You can have what I've got."
As if Covenant had said some crucial password, the old man's eyes lost their perilous cast.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2018 3:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

+JMJ+

wayfriend wrote:
High Lord Tolkien wrote:
I think Roger's "value" in the sense you set up is that he wasn't absolutely evil in the end.


I agree with you. But what I'm looking for is a way that accepting Roger (after he is "defanged") makes Covenant more complete. After all, that's the entire premise of the conclusion. Yes, it's a nice thing to do, and everyone is worth saving. But that doesn't seem to fit with what is needed here.

[...]


Is is appropriate (assuming, that is, that this is what yer trying to do) for Real-World personages to "complete" TC (or Jeremiah or Linden) in the same manner/mode that Land-dwelling personages would or could (i.e. by absorption/assimilation)?

Jeremiah/Linden certainly complete TC in a way. In a familial, interpersonal way.

Foul completes him in another way.

But Roger seems to straddle the two "ways" or "categories". Not absorbable because Real. Yet not an interpersonal/relational partner (not one of the "brethren") because he had nothing to give.

Maybe Roger doesn't complete TC. Maybe TC completes Roger? Gives Roger something before he shuffles off this mortal coil?

If so, then would something also be given to Joan ("mercy" or something else?) before her big exit?
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2018 6:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

oooh interesting thoughts Wos ..

But am a tad confused about what you are going for with your redemptive proposal. So not redemption in the traditional sense but redemption in the not pointless sense Wink or redemption in has purpose in the narrative plot line sense?

So how does Roger make Covenant more complete? In the peace he finds immediately prior to his passing? Following his "defanging"?

I like Wos's proposition that maybe TC does completes or in "redeems" Roger .. that would have its own level of satisfaction. I think TC does give Roger "something" .. and that something is his redemption, he performed a purpose with his defanging, with his final choice .. his final action?

I dont see why Joan could not be given some value .. mercy or whatever too. But I am skating around on the periphery of your meaning, as I do not fully understand your endgame .. with the redemption series. I appreciate the expositions and find them highly illuminating .. but perhaps more so in this one .. unsure of the purpose of the journey. This is most assuredly my lack of understanding .. not suggesting any lack on your part.
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