OST Question #13 - Beth seems upset

by Tim Powers

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OST Question #13 - Beth seems upset

Unread postby Liz » Tue Apr 05, 2011 10:56 am

From pg. 75:

"Why do you call him that?" Beth Hurwood asked irritably. "What, hunsi kanzo?" said Shandy. "It's his title. I don't know, it seems too familiar to call him Thatch, and too theatrical to call him Blackbeard."

"His title? What does it mean?"

"It means he's a … an initiate. That he's been through the ordeal by fire."

"Initiated into what?" She seemed upset that Shandy should know all this.

Shandy started to speak, then shrugged. "All this magic stuff. Even living up there in the old fort, you must have noticed that magic is as much in use here as … as fire is back in England."

"I've observed that these people are superstitious, of course. I suppose all uneducated communities—"She froze, then stared at him. "Good Lord, John— you don't believe any of it, do you?"


Why do you think that upset her?
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Re: OST Question #13 - Beth seems upset

Unread postby nebraska » Tue Apr 05, 2011 6:45 pm

I think she felt vulnerable. Certainly her father and Leo Friend seemed to be pushing her around against her will and she thought she had found a friend in Jack; it made her uncomfortable that he had knowledge she didn't when she felt in such a precarious situation.

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Re: OST Question #13 - Beth seems upset

Unread postby gemini » Tue Apr 05, 2011 8:39 pm

It was remarks like this that lead me to believe either Beth was not very perceptive or just wanted to bury her head in the sand. First, her father was acting very strange and carrying a box around with a human head in it. (The smell should have been a clue.) Then her father and his crazy friend were nearly starving her under the guise of medical treatment. She was around some very strange happenings, even before Jack mentioned it to her and she choose not to see. I think she was hoping for someone to show her that her suspicions were not really true.
Last edited by gemini on Tue Apr 05, 2011 9:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: OST Question #13 - Beth seems upset

Unread postby Liz » Tue Apr 05, 2011 9:20 pm

At first I thought she was just annoyed with him.....until I got to know her better.

I think you both are right. She did not want to believe that her father would harm her. But she felt vulnerable. Who wants to believe such things about one's dad? And the culture was such that women were to be subservient to their fathers and husbands.
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Re: OST Question #13 - Beth seems upset

Unread postby fireflydances » Tue Apr 05, 2011 9:31 pm

Once again -- written studiously while others are posting! Apologies if I seem just a tad behind the mark. I will go back and read now.

She froze, then stared at him. "Good Lord, John— you don't believe any of it, do you?"
Yeah I remember that remark. It seemed so typically Beth: completely out of it for long periods of time then present but still clueless. When I read that I thought: "Beth, do you ever notice anything odd about your dad?"

I know that sounds insensitive but the vagaries of Beth's mind are probably the most noteworthy thing about her for me. At times she comes off as the epitome of the sheltered woman, operating on a track just left of real time. Then again a number of her comments seem more likely to fall from the lips of a pampered slightly enabled daughter of the 21st century. They are oddly direct, modern almost in phrasing. Bonnett asks if she can navigate by the stars. Her quick answer: "No, why can't you?" Not one for the demurely stated request are we Beth? That's almost Scarlett O'Hara now isn't it?

Turning then to the quote you referenced, I wonder two things. Does Beth in fact feel so startlingly vulnerable that she has taken to wearing large blinders that permit her to avoid probing what occurs around her? Her dad and his buddy wantonly slaughter two perfectly innocent men and stand up as the loyal followers of Blackbeard, and she doesn't go freaking crazy? Instead, she wants a drink. Mega case of denial?? Maybe. But then again there comes this horribly vague but persistent sense that Beth is isn't quite engaged. Where is she? Well, what's that saying -- the apple doesn't fall far from the tree? Her dad is definitely not engaged -- anyone pursuing the resurrection of their wife is definitely on his own planet. Maybe it was OK for dad to be on his own planet (inventors, creative types might like this) as long as the stress didn't push him too far out. How well does Beth handle stress?

And finally, what do well-bred women of this time think about sorcery? Do they even consider it's not real, that you'd be a fool to believe in it? That's a modern perspective I think. This is a world where people were still being hung for practicing witchcraft.

So, a mix of possibilities.

Gemini -- I broke into loud laughter at your remark about dear dad's box.
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Re: OST Question #13 - Beth seems upset

Unread postby RamblinRebel » Wed Apr 06, 2011 12:29 am

This was one of the sections that really helped to define Beth’s character in my mind. Clearly she was a person who chose to see exactly what she wanted to see, and she saw only what she was comfortable with. Kept her blinders on, as Firefly said. Buried her head in the sand, as gemini said. Have you ever known anyone like that? One or two people I’ve known in my life come to mind, and irritation is a common reaction with them when forced to acknowledge something “unpleasant” or “uncomfortable”. Her irritation with Shandy at this point suits her character well.

Why she chooses to go through life with the blinders on, well, I don't know. Perhaps she closed the shutters when her mother died. Perhaps it started earlier, as a child... Perhaps it is an inherited trait... Seems I don't know her well enough to fully understand the whys...

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Re: OST Question #13 - Beth seems upset

Unread postby Buster » Wed Apr 06, 2011 9:37 am

I guess I had a slightly different take on all of this.
I thought that Beth believed that her own situation was personal to her; that is, she thought that what was happening to her had no connection with the wider world. Perhaps she didn't quite believe what was easily apparent to an outsider, but I really doubt that she saw herself as part of a much larger phenomenon. When it became apparent that Shandy and the natives actually knew more about what was happening to her than she did, it must have been quite disorienting.
Think about it - she has no reason to believe that her father wishes her harm, and knows little or nothing about the magic he uses. Along comes Shandy, who not only suspects the worst, but seems to have a lot of information about intensely unnerving rites and practices. Plus, he believes it is real. No wonder she's a little taken aback...

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Re: OST Question #13 - Beth seems upset

Unread postby moviemom » Wed Apr 06, 2011 11:44 am

I am in agreement in either whole or part of everyone's posts so far.

Beth to me, was this sheltered, pampered young lady who sees all this magic "stuff" as beneath her. No way it's real or can affect her if it is! Saying she has blinders on is so right. Also, like Buster said, she feels that how her father and Leo are treating her is of no relation to anything else. Far as she's concerned it's for her health even if she hates it. Silly woman.

Jack points out that she should have felt all the magic around her (up at the fort), and since he's not someone she sees as a pirate, his admittance that there is magic going on freaks her out.
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Re: OST Question #13 - Beth seems upset

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Wed Apr 06, 2011 10:34 pm

"I've observed that these people are superstitious, of course. I suppose all uneducated communities—"She froze, then stared at him. "Good Lord, John— you don't believe any of it, do you?"


I agree with you all that said Beth was naive and didn't want to believe her father could be dabbling in this sort of thing. The quote above tells me that she felt it was probably beneath her and her class to b believe things like this really existed so why in the world would her father even consider such a thing? Then she stops when she thinks she might of insulted Jack. The fact that he might causes a slight chink in her upper class armor.
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