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Re: [delany-list] Re: Questions about Dhalgren. 16 (King Size)

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  • Steve Maxey
    ... I think you re oversimplifying the lions. I don t think they have a fixed meaning. And I would have trouble calling anything kid(d) does courageous in the
    Message 1 of 11 , Jan 27, 2003
      At 1:08 AM +0000 1/28/03, Paul Brazier wrote:
      >On Tuesday, Jan 7, 2003, at 16:17 Europe/London, Steve Maxey wrote:
      >> I think these are the sort of questions Delany wants the reader to
      >> ask. A grin can be much more ambiguous than a smile--it can convey
      >> many more and more varied kinds of meanings. How appropriate for a
      >> novel where meaning slips, where symbols have shifting meanings and
      >> are sometimes emptied entirely of meaning (what do all the sculptures
      >> of lions *mean*?).
      >The lions are one of the few symbols in Dhalgren that I have come up
      >with an explanation for. If we remember that Delany is fascinated by
      >urban heroes (all that stuff about Billy the Kid in one of his early
      >books); that Kid becomes an urban hero as the book proceeds by dint of
      >his courageous actions; and that the lion is a symbol of great courage;
      >and then add to this that each of Kid's heroic/courageous acts is
      >bracketed by a pair of artificial lions (his legendary jump from the
      >balcony mentions explicity the statues of lions at either end of the
      >balcony, and when he climbs down the liftshaft to save bring the boy's
      >body back up, the mother has a porcelain lion figurine beforehand that
      >is shattered when he comes back into the apartment). Thus the
      >sculptures of lions flag heroic actions.

      I think you're oversimplifying the lions. I don't think they have a
      fixed meaning. And I would have trouble calling anything kid(d) does
      courageous in the heroic sense of the word.

      The secondhand appearance of lions at the start of the book confirms
      it. When Kid, going into the city, meets three women coming out, part
      of the story they tell is:

      "Yeah. Some men came by, shot up the house we were living in, tore up
      the place, then burned us out."

      "She was making this sculpture," the whiny voice explained, "this
      big sculpture. Of a lion. Out of junk metal and stuff. It was
      beautiful....! But she had to leave it.

      That's it. No heroism on kid(d)'s part--or anyone else's.
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