TPAOL Question #30 - The Last Paragraph

by James Meek

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TPAOL Question #30 - The Last Paragraph

Unread postby Liz » Fri Mar 02, 2007 10:59 am

What is the meaning of the last paragraph?
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Unread postby Depputante » Fri Mar 02, 2007 11:50 am

I don't have the book. I already returned it to the library.
“The scariest enemy is from within. Allowing yourself to be limited and conform to what you're expected to conform to.”~JD

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Unread postby gemini » Fri Mar 02, 2007 11:57 am

Depputante wrote:I don't have the book. I already returned it to the library.

Me too. Can someone post the last paragraph?
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Unread postby Bix » Fri Mar 02, 2007 12:57 pm

Here it is (with apologies for typos):

They passed Develchen, the albino, moving north, away from the tracks, leading Omar through fetlock-deep snow. The shaman's body was lashed to the horse. Of all Mutz's persuasions, getting the Reds to part with the stallion for the albino had been the hardest. The horse wouldn't survive long. It didn't matter. Mutz was unsure exactly what the albino intended, but the shaman's burial would consist of the shaman being suspended from a tall larch in a cocoon of birch bark, and being left to swing. Was it that Omar, too, would be wrapped in bark and hung alongside the shaman? And that this would be the shaman's mount, the steed he'd craved, on which he would fly to the Upper World, outpacing reindeer and his own drunkenness? With his talismans singing in the astral wind, his three eyes aglow like forges, a drum in one hand, a bottle of moonshine in the other and the smoky froth of chewed mushroom on his gums, the spirit of Balashov's horse would carry the shaman where he wanted to go, by his will and against theirs, to laugh in the face of the gods.
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Unread postby Endora » Fri Mar 02, 2007 1:07 pm

It's something about the importance of keeping faith with what you believe, I think. That's what the albino was doing. It was important to him to do as he'd been taught.

Someone else will have to take it from there.
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Unread postby Liz » Fri Mar 02, 2007 2:03 pm

:thanks!: Bix for typing up the last paragraph. :twohearts: I should have been here to do that, but I was out running.
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Unread postby Depputante » Fri Mar 02, 2007 2:04 pm

It's great that the albino and Mutz for following through with the shaman's wishes.

The shaman got his horse. The last sentence is a kind of assumption. They assume that the shaman got his horse, and was laughing up there in :cloud9: along side the other gods, being right about 'every man having his horse in the end.' At least that's what I think what that chapter is about.
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Unread postby gemini » Fri Mar 02, 2007 2:20 pm

Thanks Bix for posting the paragraph.

I believe this was Mutz way of thanking the albino because without the horse he would not be able to take the body back to their camp for his burial. Also I think Mutz felt the way they chained the Shaman outside and left him to his fate was not right and he wanted to make amends for that.


Just to add my personal opinion I would not have given the albino Omar. He would have had a better life with the Reds especially if the Tungus were going to sacrifice him in the burial ceremony. I think the horse did matter even if Mutz said, " The horse wouldn't survive long. It didn't matter!" It sounds like Mutz was defeated by all the recent events.


I agree with Endora that the albino was being true to his faith and practicing what he belevied. I think Meek might have been pointing out that the war and all the events affecting the soldiers and Samarin didn't mean a thing to the Tungus, they continued life as always.
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." Will Rogers



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Unread postby Liz » Fri Mar 02, 2007 2:47 pm

These are all reasonable possibilities so far. I appreciate you all taking a stab at this because I really don’t have a clue. That’s why I asked the question. :dunce:

I feel that the last sentence is important somehow. I wonder if Meek is trying to say that we are all equal…the Evenki, the Czechs, the Jews, the Whites, the Reds, Christians, etc. We all have our beliefs that should be respected. Maybe it’s about tolerance. I don’t know.
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Fri Mar 02, 2007 3:39 pm

With his talismans singing in the astral wind, his three eyes aglow like forges, a drum in one hand, a bottle of moonshine in the other and the smoky froth of chewed mushroom on his gums, the spirit of Balashov's horse would carry the shaman where he wanted to go, by his will and against theirs, to laugh in the face of the gods.


Well, I don't know either but you all have come up with some good ideas. Does the word "theirs" refer to the will of the people who had tried to break him or does it mean the will of the gods? Is he saying that personal freedom and choice will win out in the end over imposed will?
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Unread postby Liz » Fri Mar 02, 2007 3:42 pm

DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:
With his talismans singing in the astral wind, his three eyes aglow like forges, a drum in one hand, a bottle of moonshine in the other and the smoky froth of chewed mushroom on his gums, the spirit of Balashov's horse would carry the shaman where he wanted to go, by his will and against theirs, to laugh in the face of the gods.


Well, I don't know either but you all have come up with some good ideas. Does the word "theirs" refer to the will of the people who had tried to break him or does it mean the will of the gods? Is he saying that personal freedom and choice will win out in the end over imposed will?


I was wondering about that too.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Unread postby Linda Lee » Fri Mar 02, 2007 4:24 pm

Dithot and Liz, I think you have it. I think it's saying that free will, tolerance and following your conscience win out. Also, perhaps, that paradise wasn't meant to be here on earth.
Serenity is not freedom from the storm but peace within the storm. ~ Unknown

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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Fri Mar 02, 2007 5:05 pm

Linda Lee wrote: Also, perhaps, that paradise wasn't meant to be here on earth.


Good thought, Linda Lee. And maybe this idea goes back to the quote at the beginning of the book about man being so busy trying to remake the world he forgot to remake himself.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby Parlez » Fri Mar 02, 2007 6:32 pm

:eyebrow: Is there something about the importance of ritual/custom/ceremony in this paragraph too? The talismans, the drum, the bottle of moonshine, etc., (even the horse) seem to be what gives the Shaman his mystical powers and without them the whole thing (the world, the afterworld, whatever) wouldn't be 'right' somehow. (?)
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Unread postby Depputante » Fri Mar 02, 2007 6:47 pm

Parlez wrote::eyebrow: Is there something about the importance of ritual/custom/ceremony in this paragraph too? The talismans, the drum, the bottle of moonshine, etc., (even the horse) seem to be what gives the Shaman his mystical powers and without them the whole thing (the world, the afterworld, whatever) wouldn't be 'right' somehow. (?)



I agree with a mutual :eyebrow: .
Why put that part of the talismans, drum, and moonshine into the paragraph, if it wasn't important in some way.

Off the top of my head, perhaps it's the idea that each person's religion, even shamanism, needs respecting. Mutz is after all Jewish, which becomes another :eyebrow: . It could have been anyone from the village. Then it had to be Bal's horse. :eyebrow: And the albino to lead the way. Very intriguing combination if you ask me. It's not just by chance that these charachters were picked. I can't really put my finger on it yet, but I 'feel' something about it.

Of course It could be just as simple as the idea that everyone goes on to an after world. But I doubt it. The paragraph, seems to jump around a bit, me thinks. Therefore, there must be a purpose to squeezing that information into that chapter.
“The scariest enemy is from within. Allowing yourself to be limited and conform to what you're expected to conform to.”~JD


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