Attica Question #10 ~ Katerfelto

by Garry Kilworth

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Attica Question #10 ~ Katerfelto

Unread postby Liz » Thu Sep 17, 2009 10:49 am

Pg. 71:

‘He is terrible. Katerfelto is the King of Gloom, the Prince of Terror. If you fail to meet his eye you will choke on your own fright. You will run until you fall gasping on to the boards and there you will shake yourself to death. But since he is made of nothing but darkness and fear, he is therefore hollow. Those who stand in his path and refuse to be intimidated will not be daunted. However, it’s not an easy thing to do, to look terror in the face, so don’t think it is. No matter how empty his form really is, he appears grotesque and formidable, ready to swallow all those who oppose him. Such a cold and evil presence you have never experienced before in your life. Not at all easy to ignore or face up to with courage.’

‘How did he come to be?’

‘He was formed from the basest materials of the human emotions known as hate and arrogance, mixed with love – a love of power, those dregs of feelings from which wars spring. This ugly concoction, drawn from the weapons soaked in such emotions, emerged and became Katerfelto.'



Below is a mini-tidbit on Katterfelto (or Katerfelto). After learning more about the real Katerfeltos, do you think that there is any significance to the name Garry Kilworth uses for supposedly the most terrifying of the Atticans? And what do you think is the importance of the Attican Katerfelto to the story?


Katerfelto was the name of a famous (possibly mythical) stallion that lived on Exmoor (South West England) in the early nineteenth century. Its name was possibly derived from the Prussian-born quack doctor Gustavus Katterfelto, and it, in turn, lent its name to other horses bred on Exmoor in later years.


Gustavus Katterfelto (or Katerfelto) (died 1799) was a quack doctor and conjurer, born in Prussia.

About 1782 he came to London, where his advertisements in the newspapers, headed "Wonders! Wonders! Wonders!", enabled him to trade most profitably upon the credulity of the public during the widespread influenza epidemic of that year. A tall man who dressed in a long black gown and square cap, his public entertainment included conjuring, electrical and chemical experiments and demonstrations with his solar microscope. He created immense excitement by showing the infusoria of [muddy] water. Infusoria are tiny organisms (protozoa) and algae that are cultured (grown) and fed to free-swimming baby fish. He extracted a flattering testimonial from the royal family, who witnessed it in 1784. He claimed that he was the greatest philosopher since the time of Sir Isaac Newton.

Katterfelto (spelled as Katerfelto) was also referred to in the poem The Task: The Winter Evening (1782) by William Cowper. The specific stanza from the poem:

“And Katerfelto with his hair on end,
At his own wonders wondering for his bread.”
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The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Re: Attica Question #10 ~ Katerfelto

Unread postby trygirl » Thu Sep 17, 2009 11:34 am

Writers never do things accidentally so Mr. Kilworth surely used this name for a reason. The real Katterfelto made a living profiting from the fears of others so he's a great model for the monster in the story. I'm sure a man of this nature had a love of power mixed in with a bit of arrogance. He was merely a snake oil salesman. And the Exmoor horses derived the name because they represent a powerful force on Earth. You can't get more powerful than obtaining a flattering testimonial from the royal family using "wonder" tonics. The Katerfelto in the story is an example of how fear can take on a life of its own. If we let ours emotions best us, they can literally stand in your way or at least in the book. The creature Katerfelto manifests the children's fears, giving them some tangible to do battle with in the story. You won't move on until you face your fears and stop giving it power over you. Just fight back.
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Re: Attica Question #10 ~ Katerfelto

Unread postby deppaura » Thu Sep 17, 2009 1:05 pm

I found it interesting that Katerfelto hung around the mountain of shadows which represented the vilest form of man's inhumanity. The ugliest human characteristic. "you have nothing to fear but fear itself" simple, but, not so simple. Katerfelto for me was the devil like representation of psychological demons. The total antithesis of good. I loved the simple application of fire...light as a deterrent to this evil!! So, this aspect of the story seems to represent some sort of mythology. Age old challenges. The other battles were more tangible, I think. Katerfelto was a weird mind trip, a twisted representation of dark.

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Re: Attica Question #10 ~ Katerfelto

Unread postby nebraska » Thu Sep 17, 2009 2:26 pm

I kept thinking of Harry Potter's Death Eaters. :fear:

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Re: Attica Question #10 ~ Katerfelto

Unread postby fansmom » Thu Sep 17, 2009 3:25 pm

nebraska wrote:I kept thinking of Harry Potter's Death Eaters. :fear:

So did I, nebraska. Not in a plagarism sense, just a similarity of both being formless dark despair.
(I saw an ad today for a t-shirt--"We have nothing to fear except fear itself. And spiders.")

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Re: Attica Question #10 ~ Katerfelto

Unread postby Bix » Thu Sep 17, 2009 6:00 pm

Me, too, nebraska and fansmom. And don't forget the truly horrific Nazguls in Lord of the Rings. Interestingly, they combine the dark terror/fear and horses (flying ones, but horses nonetheless).
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Re: Attica Question #10 ~ Katerfelto

Unread postby ladylinn » Thu Sep 17, 2009 6:06 pm

I believe Katerfelto was one of the most important pieces of the story. He came from the darkest most threatening corners of the attic. The other challenges the children faced were overcome by force and imagination. Katerfelto had to be faced and light shone on him to conquer him.
I believe that Katerfelto represented the fear that was in the inner thoughts of the children. We all have fears that hide away. If ignored they can harm and consume us. If we run they will conquer us. If faced and brought out to light - we conquer them.
I think in writing about Katerfelto and making him the most dreaded monster in the attic, Garry was teaching the children in the story and we the readers a very important life lesson.

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Re: Attica Question #10 ~ Katerfelto

Unread postby nebraska » Thu Sep 17, 2009 6:22 pm

nebraska wrote:
fansmom wrote:
nebraska wrote:I kept thinking of Harry Potter's Death Eaters. :fear:

So did I, nebraska. Not in a plagarism sense, just a similarity of both being formless dark despair.
(I saw an ad today for a t-shirt--"We have nothing to fear except fear itself. And spiders.")


Oh, I hope no one thought I was implying Plagiarism! :-/ I thought it was interesting that Katerfelto and the Death Eaters gave me a similar feeling of chilly dread. Fear/impending doom/darkness/etc is a universal thing, I think.

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Re: Attica Question #10 ~ Katerfelto

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Thu Sep 17, 2009 6:25 pm

You all have already expressed very well what I was thinking. The fire was the perfect way to get rid of him. Evil cannot stand the light. I loved the passage describing how disappeared, "Down the barrels of rifles, through the tracks of the tanks, under the tubes of mortars, it seeped into the side of the mountain...This creature was fashioned of nothing; nothing at all except fear."
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Re: Attica Question #10 ~ Katerfelto

Unread postby gemini » Thu Sep 17, 2009 7:19 pm

I didn't get as afraid of him as some of the others atticans. Somehow defeating him with light or fire made him all imagination. He was nothing but a shadow and we know how children fear shadows and dark rooms. Even his home was named the Mountain of Shadows.

The real Katerfelto " traded most profitably upon the credulity of the public..."

I think that Chloe realized this when it recoiled when Alex lit a match. It explains the power Katefelto held over the other atticans who were so afraid of fire because the Removal Firm would take them from the attic. He used darkness for fear because it was aplenty in the attic and fire was not permitted.
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Re: Attica Question #10 ~ Katerfelto

Unread postby Liz » Thu Sep 17, 2009 9:21 pm

I love that Garry brought out the concept that the only thing you have to fear is fear itself. Don’t let it conquer you. We can miss out on so many of life’s pleasures and achievements if we let fear get in our way.

I was initially afraid of and anxious about Katerfelto. But then he seemed to fade into the background, and the Removal Firm took his place as the most feared in the attic. Do you think he slipped away because the children were so brave?
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Re: Attica Question #10 ~ Katerfelto

Unread postby fansmom » Thu Sep 17, 2009 9:47 pm

Liz wrote:Do you think he slipped away because the children were so brave?
Yes, I do. Any foe they faced, when faced with knowledge and courage, was overcome.

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Re: Attica Question #10 ~ Katerfelto

Unread postby Theresa » Thu Sep 17, 2009 10:01 pm

Gustavus Katterfelto (or Katerfelto) (died 1799) was a quack doctor and conjurer, born in Prussia.

About 1782 he came to London, where his advertisements in the newspapers, headed "Wonders! Wonders! Wonders!", enabled him to trade most profitably upon the credulity of the public during the widespread influenza epidemic of that year. A tall man who dressed in a long black gown and square cap,


Well, this has to be where Garry got the name for the creature. On page 101 -- Katerfelto whirled around them. Now it was in its favourite form, that of a charlatan dressed in a long black gown with a black square cap.

I looked up a definition for charlatan...just to be sure I had it right. One of the definitions was "A flamboyant deceiver." Sounds exactly like the original Katterfelto as well as the Attican Katerfelto.

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Re: Attica Question #10 ~ Katerfelto

Unread postby Theresa » Thu Sep 17, 2009 10:01 pm

fansmom wrote:
Liz wrote:Do you think he slipped away because the children were so brave?
Yes, I do. Any foe they faced, when faced with knowledge and courage, was overcome.

Good observation, fansmom. :ok:

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Re: Attica Question #10 ~ Katerfelto

Unread postby Liz » Thu Sep 17, 2009 11:29 pm

Theresa wrote:
Gustavus Katterfelto (or Katerfelto) (died 1799) was a quack doctor and conjurer, born in Prussia.

About 1782 he came to London, where his advertisements in the newspapers, headed "Wonders! Wonders! Wonders!", enabled him to trade most profitably upon the credulity of the public during the widespread influenza epidemic of that year. A tall man who dressed in a long black gown and square cap,


Well, this has to be where Garry got the name for the creature. On page 101 -- Katerfelto whirled around them. Now it was in its favourite form, that of a charlatan dressed in a long black gown with a black square cap.

I looked up a definition for charlatan...just to be sure I had it right. One of the definitions was "A flamboyant deceiver." Sounds exactly like the original Katterfelto as well as the Attican Katerfelto.

Well, thanks for finding that quote, T. That went right over my head as I did not look up Katerfelto until I was beyond that point in the book. And based on that quote, methinks there is a correlation between the real Katerfelto and the character Katerfelto. This is a prime example of how this book is more than just a young adult book. How many middle-schoolers (or even high-schoolers) are going to know about Katerfelto, let alone look him up?…..not my kids.
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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