Saturday, May 11, 2013

Sometimes, said and done are the same thing

I recently read the last book in the Wheel of Time series. I won't spoil, comment or say anything about anything in it. Just quote one particular line, by virtue of its particular quotiness.

"Knotai?" Knotai said.

This line, in and of itself, does not tell us anything. In context, however, it does literary magic. In several ways.

The context is that one of the characters all of a sudden is given a new name. Very literally, brutally and suddenly. Up to that point, the character had all through the series been referred to as something else. As readers, we could reasonably expect that this name would stick around to the end. And then, suddenly -

Your name is now Knotai.

Two things happens in our quoted line. The first (and most obvious) thing is that the question "what in the name of Hunter S Thompson kind of name is Knotai?" gets asked. Which is a valid question - absolutely nothing up to this point in any of the preceding thirteen books gives any hints whatsoever that this will happen, and no explanation is given. At all. We are left in bafflement, confusion and general flabbergastedness at what just happened. Much like Knotai.

The second thing that happens is that the new name is established as a fait accompli by virtue of that one quoted line. Notice who it is that's wondering about the new name - it is, indeed, Knotai, the bearer of the new name. The name change happened, and it happened. All through the rest of the segment, Knotai is Knotai - and no two ways about it.

All of this happens in just three words. Said and done.

As if by magic.

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