Wednesday, June 30, 2010
It’s been a while, but I have posted a new theory, The Ogier Stumped, on the subversion of the Great Stump, to Theory Corner.
When I was working on a title for my theory, I started thinking about the many meanings of the word ‘stump’ and how they are all relevant to the Ogier.
The mundane reference is to the stump of a dead and beloved Great Tree where the Ogier meet. But ‘stump’ means other things too.
It can be the remainder of a body part after the rest has been cut off. And other remnants too. The result of the Great Stump may be that some, perhaps sadly many, Ogier depart using the Book of Translation, leaving a remnant to fight alongside humans at the Last Battle.
It is also a heavy step – stumping along – and reminds us that the Ogier are very large and slow unless pressed. Stump can directly mean ‘leg’ as in ‘stir your stumps and get out of here’. Will the Ogier stir their stumps? And to leave, or to war?
Considering the debates that occur at the Ogier meeting place, it is apt that ‘stump’ is a figurative place of political speech-making, and as a verb, means to make political speeches.
To stump is also to challenge or dare someone to do something and, more suggestively, to nonplus someone. The hot debate at the Stump between Loial and his mother may well result in each side being nonplussed at the others’ arguments. Loial's mother is a great orator and has already heard Loial's arguments (she thinks) and will have planned what to say against them. Loial will bring the challenging news that there are Seanchan Ogier and some are on the mainland, but they have been left out of this debate. Will Covril’s faction dare to take the Book of Translation, open it and leave?
My dictionary tells me that in the US South one can also ‘stump’ one’s toe.
Stumps play a large part in the game of cricket, since it is important for them to be intact. A batsman can be put out if the stumps he is protecting are hit and disarranged by the ball the bowler hurls, or, if the batsman is out of his position, a fieldsman throws. The batsman is also given out if he is ‘stumped’ by the wicketkeeper disarranging the stumps with the ball when the batsman is out of position. And of course, the stumps are removed at the end of each day’s play, hence the phrase ‘to up stumps’ meaning 'to leave’.
The ‘Great Stump’ is a wonderful name choice with many potent layers of meaning.
If the Ogier are out of position when the Last Battle comes, they and the world would be stumped. Shades of the Borderlander armies.