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Lord Foul's Bane Chapters 7 & 8
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2002 12:20 pm    Post subject: Lord Foul's Bane Chapters 7 & 8 Reply with quote

These are the chapters that make folks throw the book across the room.

The central theme to my questions is why?:

    Why does Covenant rape Lena?

    Why does Covenant have to rape Lena? In terms of the narrative, in terms of moving the book forward, why did SRD choose this particular abomination to visit unto poor Tom? We were just starting to like him, kind of, and then he goes and violates a virgin.

    Why does this frustrate so many people, to the point where they throw the book across the room and never come back? (And the corollary: Why did we all stick it out?)

    And why, oh, why, once Atiaran finds out what Covenant has done to his daughter, why does she not just let Triock kill him?


Here are my answers to these questions:

Why TC rapes Lena: This time through, I realized or remembered what was going on here. In the scene just before the rape, Lena has described her parents' wedding gift to the Stonedown -- a piece of orcrest and the means by which to end the community's drought. Covenant realizes how poor his own wedding gift to Joan seems in comparison; his anger and frustration build. Then Lena cannot understand how Joan could leave someone in need: "Why would such a thing happen when there is life?" TC's response:
Quote:
"I'm not alive." She heard fury climbing to the top of his voice. "I'm a leper. Outcast unclean. Lepers are ugly and filthy. And abominable."

His words filled her with horror and protest. "How can it be?" she moaned. "You are not -- abominable. What world is it that dares treat you so?"

His muscles jumped still higher in his shoulders, as if his hands were locked on the throat of some tormenting demon. "It's real. This is reality. Fact. The kind of thing that kills you if you don't believe it." With a gesture of rejection toward the river, he gasped, "This is a nightmare."

Lena flared with sudden courage. "I do not believe it. It may be that your world -- but the Land -- ah, the Land is real."


So -- she tells him that his reality is unreal, and that his dream is reality. Without realizing it, she challenges his sanity just as surely as Lord Foul did. And so he attacks her.

I think that's at least part of an answer for my second question, too. In this scene, SRD has set up the central dichotomy of the series, in an extremely visceral way: Is the Land real or not? And will Covenant save or damn it?

Why do people throw the book across the room when they get to this part? I think it's because they're not reading past the surface actions of the characters. We all know that there is way more to the Chronicles than a pleasant romp through a fantasy realm, but many people who first come to the books may be looking for nothing more than a pleasant romp. They're not looking for deeper meanings -- they're looking for dwarves and dragons. And the rape stops them cold. I think it was in reading SRD that I first realized that fantasy could be used as a means of exploring serious topics -- mental illness, discrimination, environmental destruction -- and, y'know, still have a bit of fun.

As for Atiaran -- ah, that's another key scene. Again, SRD hammers home the central dichotomy of the series. On one hand, we have Triock telling Atiaran that Covenant has raped her daughter. At the same time, Covenant is marveling at -- and fiercely rejecting as fantasy -- the pain in his leprous fingers. He has not yet begun to realize the depth of Lena's sacrifice on his behalf, and on the behalf of the Land. But now Atiaran has a dual purpose: Not only to guide Covenant to the Lords so he can deliver his message, but also to haul him in front of them as a tribunal.

A lot happens in these two chapters -- we're truly on our way, now!
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2002 2:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sometimes I think 'if I hear the word "Hellfire" again in LFB, I might toss the book across the room'. Truly understanding Covenant is a major chore. It may take massive personal effort from the reader and a different way of looking at the world. The regular fantasy reader is not used to an anti-hero, someone who's flesh is rotting away, someone who can't feel anything in his extremities, someone who has everything in his life stripped away from him and is alone. Especially alone, it can be hard for some to understand true loneliness, and it's easy to forget how alone Covenant really is once we start getting used to the Land. "Abomination" This guy is truly scared out of his mind! He is slidding 2 a weird, painful, fate, and possibly death, on our world and forced 2 survive in some alien dream. The depths of TC's despair are amazing, YES HE IS TOTALLY CRAZY!--but he has 2 work so dam hard to function despite (haha..love that word) that. FEEL the emotion! That being the case, an ocassional "Hellfire" or "don't touch me..." is acceptable. TC

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2002 6:56 pm    Post subject: rape, in a medical point of view Reply with quote

In the hospital where I work, we are taught to think of rape as an act of rage which uses sex as a weapon. I don't think that's it's any small coincidence that Thomas Covenant is thinking of the desertion of his wife when he commits this act. When Joan left she was ...gone... he was never able/willing to tell her of how hurt or angry he was over what she did. He stored up all of that sheer animal pain and anger. This is where it comes out, in a particularly hideous way. These chapters are very painful for me to read. What he did to Lena is just wrong. Whether it's reality or a dream it's wrong.Spoiler:
He knows it's wrong, too. He blocks it out from his mind for as long as he can, until it starts leaking out on the Plains of Ra.
And I can't even imagine how difficult it must have been for Ataiaran to travel alone with him, knowing what he did to Lena. her duty makes her take him on towards Revelstone, all the while knowing how hurt her only child must be. Her heart would have wept every step of the way to help her daughter. And fear! If you were a woman traveling alone with a man who raped a young virgin, wouldn't you be afraid, at least a little bit? What's going to keep him from doing the same to you? I bet she slept with a knife very close by... Sad
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2002 11:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The thing that surprises me most about the rape is the speed at which it happens.

One minute TC is grieving and the next he is snarling and behaving like a mad-man. It leads me to think that mayhaps he was possessed - possibly - by a raver or some other dark force?

Before crossing the Mithil, the following:

Quote:
He saw the span as a kind of threshold; crises lurked in the dark hills beyond the far riverbank......he was afraid that if he crossed that bridge he would not be able to recognise himself when he returned....
"To the far side," Lena said. "There you may be alone. Our people do not often cross the Mithil - it is said that the Western mountains are not friendly, that the ill of Doom's Retreat which lies behind them has bent their spirit"


It just makes me think that perhaps Lord Foul was experimenting - seeing what he could do with TC.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 20, 2002 12:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have also wondered if Lord Foul had perhaps done something to TC. He might be a social misfit at times but he is NOT usually a violent person during the remainder of all the books. Spoiler:
In fact, when he HAS to be violent to protect himself or others, it makes him sick. Remember how he is nearly suicidal after killing the cavewights later in the book? And he does that only to protect other people. And he is afraid to use his power at the end of the Quest of the Staff of Law because he can't bear the thought of killing again.
So what he does to Lena, this innocent teenager, just doesn't make a lot of sense when you judge his actions throughout the series. He nearly hurts Lena before -- right after she heals him with the hurtloam and tells him to stop eating the aliantha his arm pulls back, seemingly all on its own, to knock her silly. And he can't even figure out why! He's wondering what the heck just happened to him as he falls to the ground asleep. Is this perhaps evidence that Foul tampered with him in some way? Spoiler:
Also, to me he spends the rest of his life deeply regretting and feeling guilty over what he did to Lena. It haunts him, deeply. If he were an uncaring person who often hurt other people, why would he be so hagridden about what he did?
Yes, the rage is there, and he and Lena were discussing his failed marriage right before he attacks her, and that no doubt made him even angrier. But the rage is ALWAYS there, and was there in our world, long before he was summoned to the Land. Why did he freak out then and there and in such a bad way???
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 20, 2002 1:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Aliantha,
What an opening to these two chapters!

There is not much to add ...
Just my two cents -
I felt SRD's description of the rape is quite succinct. He barely describes what happened, only Lena's sobs, and the blood on her loins.

The line that most strikes me is:
Quote:
And the Mithil erased his vomit as cleanly as if nothing had happened.

I feel that this sentence embodies Covenants regard to the rape at the beginning of the story, until it dawns upon him later at the Plains of Ra. It is as if Covenant knows what he has done, understands the consequences, but he does not internalize it. He dissociates himself. It is like knowing the meaning of an emotion without ever feeling it yourself.

Duchess of Malfi, You are right, Covenant is not a violent person. The rape does not stick well with his character in the rest of the story. That only amplifies Alianth's question:
Quote:
Why does Covenant have to rape Lena? In terms of the narrative, in terms of moving the book forward, why did SRD choose this particular abomination ?

Is SRD implying that guilt and the need to atone for his crime is what eventully drives Covenant to aid the Land?

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 20, 2002 5:25 am    Post subject: Re: Lord Foul's Bane Chapters 7 & 8 Reply with quote

I have to say, I came very, very close to throwing the book across the room when I reached this point. As it was, I had to put the book down and go do something else for a while before I could keep reading.

aliantha, you asked some very good questions, and I'll try to answer them...

aliantha wrote:
Why does Covenant rape Lena?


I always attributed it to the shock of his inexplicable health. He had been frustrated with his numbness and his impotence, and when he was suddenly and impossibly cured, being able to feel again just overwhelmed him. It may also be partly what you said - that Lena challenged his sanity by insisting that the Land was real. I never thought of that before, but it may very well have been a combination of the two reasons.

aliantha wrote:
Why does Covenant have to rape Lena? In terms of the narrative, in terms of moving the book forward, why did SRD choose this particular abomination to visit unto poor Tom? We were just starting to like him, kind of, and then he goes and violates a virgin.


This is a tough question, one I'm not sure I can answer. I'll have to think about it and get back to you.

aliantha wrote:
Why does this frustrate so many people, to the point where they throw the book across the room and never come back? (And the corollary: Why did we all stick it out?)


Because they're not expecting the hero of a story to do something so egregious. Covenant may be slightly irritating before the rape, but he's relatively harmless. But his rape of Lena is so unexpectedly awful that it makes many people absolutely furious at him. They can't empathize with a rapist. I understand the sentiment; I'm still marveling at the fact that I could. Shocked

As for why we stick it out - I honestly have no clue. All I know is that despite my outrage at what Covenant had done, I had to keep reading. I had to know what was going to happen.

[quote=aliantha]And why, oh, why, once Atiaran finds out what Covenant has done to his daughter, why does she not just let Triock kill him?[/quote]

This is what makes Atiaran such a noble and tragic figure. She puts the interests of the Land ahead of her own personal interests. She knows that Covenant had a very important message for the Council, one that will affect all the people of the Land. So even though it destroys her, she sets aside her own outrage and anguish in the interest of the rest of the Land.

Spoiler:
I agree with those who mentioned that Covenant regrets his actions very deeply. He spends the rest of his life feeling guilty for what he did to Lena. This doesn't justify what he did, but it shows that he is not a cruel person at heart, that he made a terrible mistake and feels awful about it. Maybe that's what makes it possible to love him despite his being a rapist.


~Foamy~
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 20, 2002 10:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I figured I'll just potter around the impotence references - not too sure if it will lead anywhere :

Quote:
I can't - he panted. All his hopes that this Land might conjure away his impotence, heal his sore heart somehow, fell to ashes.


Quote:
'Igave Joan a pair of riding boots for a wedding present.' Then, shaking his fists wildly, he shouted, 'Riding boots ! Does my impotence surprise you?'


TC did seem to be going slightly mad before the rape - obsessed with Joan and impotence - hope and failure. SRD only allows the rape scene to last aparagraph or two - but it certainly does har far-reaching implications. As for TC, I think that as far as he was concerend (initially) , this was a all a dream and therefore not real. His self-preservation and self-awareness was more important than anything else - hence the focus on his feeling pain when cut by Triock instead of paying attention to Triock's purpose and intent.

The history of the Land is also briefly told - and mention is made of the Land laying under the bane for many generations - the same bane?
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 20, 2002 5:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The rape scene, thankfully, is very brief and sparingly descibed. It's painful enough for the reader as it is. Maybe even Donaldson had trouble dealing with this?
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 20, 2002 6:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Found this discussion thread in rec.arts.sf.written: Covenant, rapist
Thought y'might be interested:

http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en&lr=lang_en|lang_iw&ie=UTF-8&threadm=1993Jul26.223848.22268%40colorado.edu&rnum=3&prev=/groups%3Fq%3Dcovenant%2Bdonaldson%2Brape%26hl%3Den%26lr%3Dlang_en%257Clang_iw%26ie%3DUTF-8%26selm%3D1993Jul26.223848.22268%2540colorado.edu%26rnum%3D3

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 20, 2002 7:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can't get very far with that foreshortened url Pitch! I really need to cast football and A Clash of Kings aside and read these dang chapters!!! **10 mins later** I just hit on an odd point: Perhaps there is another reason y Covenant says "Don't Touch Me!" all the time--the more he is touched in the Land the more his "this is a dream" credibility wears away...
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 20, 2002 10:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've always thought that the impotence thing is the excuse he gives to himself and others about what he did. Come on! Lots of men have this problem or the drug companies wouldn't sell so much viagra! And when the men take their little blue pill and their problem is temporarily over, I seriously doubt that they go out and rape teenagers half their age. It's a cop out! Mad
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 20, 2002 10:38 pm    Post subject: hi pitchwife! Reply with quote

i can't get your link to work...keeps going to some google search site...
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 21, 2002 12:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Me too....
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 21, 2002 1:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I guess the link is long... sorry about that. Rolling Eyes
Here's how to find that thread:
Go to Google homepage www.google.com and click groups. In the search bar enter "Covenant rapist Donaldson". That will get you to somewhere in the middle of the discussion thread.

-pitch
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 21, 2002 1:46 am    Post subject: HI PITCHWIFE! Reply with quote

will try again. thanks! Very Happy
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 21, 2002 1:49 am    Post subject: to pitchwife. Reply with quote

it worked this time. very interesting, and right on the money for this discussion. Thanks! Very Happy
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 21, 2002 3:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I found Tony Lavender's assesment of the books astounding, truly remarkable!
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 21, 2002 12:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Two cents:

the rape scene is necessary from several reasons:

- it is an allegory of what LF does to the Land throughout the Chronicles: brutalizes the innocence and beauty
- SRD needs to get Elena, daughter of Covenant born somehow
- it aggravates TC's misery as what he suffers from most is his failure in his marriage (and we all know SRD is not particularly kind to any of his characters:-)

as to the internal explanation: it was a "logical" reaction from TC; he felt the return of his potency as a stab in the back: a mockery of his hard-learned facts of life, that leprosy could not be cured, nerves did not regenerate and pigs didn't fly;
I wonder if the scene was of a murder rather than rape, would people still hurl their books across the room? or is murder more PC than rape?
just being provocative, ya'know...
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 21, 2002 5:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think that the murder of that sweet pretty girl would have been equally disturbing (or probably even more so) as the rape. Sad
As she is being raped, the book says
Quote:
But even a she cried out she knew that it was too late for her.Something that her people thought of as a gift had been torn from her.
and also when Triock confronts Atiaran
Quote:
"You have done a black deed, Unbeliever-violent and cruel, without commitment or sharing.
Since Donaldson never really goes into the societal rules of the Land in reguards to sexual matters, can we take these two statements as meaning that sex doesn't usually occur except inside of marriage or other committed relationship (perhaps the "waiting period" leading up to marriage)? And if so, Spoiler:
this really makes me wonder about Elena trying to seduce Tom even more.
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