Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Marion on THE SHATTERED CHAIN ending

Recently, someone asked me why Northlight ended as it does with regard to the relationship between Terris and Kardith. The reader felt confused about the reciprocality of feeling and whether they were ever going to get together. I answered that it's a measure of the respect and care they have for one another that they don't jump into a stereotyped "happy ending." Each still has growing and healing to do. The story gets these characters to the place where they can make those choices, where their futures are not longer enslaved to the past. To me, this is what makes Northlight a love story: love heals us. Love helps us grow.

The reader reaction reminded me of something Marion told me about how some readers were upset at the ending of The Shattered Chain (Jaelle choosing Peter Haldane). They felt angry, their expectations betrayed. I think that no matter how a writer puts together the pieces of a non-stereotyped ending, people will read through the lens of their own experiences and agendas. Marion wrote in a letter in 1980:

My own feeling about the "unsatisfactory" ending of SHATTERED CHAIN was that Jaelle, being brought up to age 11 or 12 in the Dry Towns (and sexuality is perfectly ell established by five or six, most psychologists now feel) would be pushover for any man who resembled her loved/hated cousin but was not overtly exploitive.
But there was another though too; that even those people who have the most choices and options open to them, can be a pushover or succumb to emotionally induced decisions even if they are disastrous. Look at all the women from a liberated climate who are going back to the curled hair, the lipstick, the skinny narrow high-heel shoes to make the legs look sexy at the expense of their backs and posture, the skirts and low-cut blouses? Just when we thought we had gotten rid of all that crap and women could wear their hair straight (or kinky if God created it that way) and women could wash their faces and wear them, or wear pants 99% of the time--back the girls go to the junk on their faces and sexy garbagey clothes which make them look like God's gift to John Norman or BIZARRE magazine! (I wash and wear my face, clothes and hair--period.)

So the idea was--not even Jaelle is the "perfectly liberated woman" but can be at the mercy of her emotions. Magda, for all her indecision, is more genuinely free.

Anyhow, I don't think Jaelle will stay with that turkey peter for more than a few months. A year at worst.


  1. I always felt that it was more that she was exploring something she'd never been allowed to have. Peter "appeared" to be the best of both world. Protective towards her, but sexually liberated. I think she was bright enough to figure out fairly quickly that he wasn't much different than the men she was raised with. She might have been conflicted (like Margali) but finally figured out who she was.

  2. Right. Jaelle certainly didn't have many choices among Darkovan men, and between her early experiences, her mother's enslavement and death, and her cousin, I can see her dilemma -- being "wired" to a certain model of male sexuality and being psychologically and psychically incapable of placing herself in a subordinate relationship. Peter, being outside the Darkovan norm, would have seemed like the ideal solution. Of course, that wasn't counting on Peter being Peter!