As has been the case the with the last several sections, “Passing through revelry” is almost as much about the setting and character development as it is the plot. In fact, I wish I could allow Jeremy and his friends to spend a week in Shelter. The place fascinates me, and there is much left to explore within it’s vast confines. I’d be particularly interested to see how Shelter is run, as they obviously have a huge operation.
Despite the relative short nature of this section, there was a surprising amount of content in it to unpack. Let’s get moving.
Anyone from the Philadelphia area would have recognized the sights Jeremy glimpses has he strolls down The Boulevard in Shelter. It’s modeled after the boardwalks which line the Jersey Shore1. I grew up heading “down the shore” and we’d spend an evening on the Boardwalks in Ocean City and Wildwood each summer. Fantastic food, decent rides, arcades, and “wa-wa-wa-watch the tram car.” If I could have found the time to have Jeremy play skee-ball, I would have. Shelter, much like the Jersey Shore, is a tourist trap. But it’s our tourist trap others insult it to their peril. Ama, by the way, grew up heading to Shelter with her family. Healers may drop much of their old identities when they take up their calling, but Shelter is a connection to her past which she embraces. She’s not lying about heading there on retreat, however. The nooks in the cliffs are fantastic places to read and ponder. She is really struggling being so close to her favorite spot and not being able to enjoy it.
Jeremy is beginning to react less and respond more. His insight into Walter is spot-on. The Old Fox wears his heart on his sleeve, and the grumbling his does is often a means of deflecting deep-seated fears of disillusionment. This is yet another character trait of mine which has made it into these characters. Of course, being from Philly, I’m not unique – we complain about our sports teams because they mean so much to the city psyche, and we are so often heart-broken by them.
Elyse knows Walter as well as she knows Ama, and sees right through his grumpy exterior. Of course, astute readers should have noted that he was as excited to see “the show” as Ama – this despite the fact that he had no intention of stopping in Shelter in the first place. Another clue about the correlation between Walter’s grumpiness and what he values is his nickname for Ama, “Meddle.”
The meal ended awkwardly, but I didn’t want to spend much time describing awkward pauses. The fact is, Walter and Ama are unnerved by Jeremy’s statement, but not with Jeremy. Ama taking Jeremy’s arm was not simply the gesture of an Am healer reaching out to someone in need. In fact, Jeremy had no indication Ama was using her abilities on him. It hasn’t come out in the story yet, but Jeremy is actually far more aware than most when it comes to sensing a healers abilities. Most people in The Values know in their heads what the healers are capable of doing, but can’t feel the moment those abilities are being applied. Jeremy, on the other hand, knows the instant they are used. This might explain his deep attraction to Shelter. After all, the abilities of the Um healers are lavishly on display all throughout the town.
Ama’s hope that “someday” Jeremy would be able to experience the wonder of the high nooks is real, and it is painful. She senses her world is changing, and is beginning to fear for it’s survival. This might seem odd, as she is being so pleasant and friendly towards the people she knows in Shelter, but Ama is no fake. She believes, when things become uncertain, the relationships people form and maintain are the best path forward.
By the way, Elyse mentions Walter having “keys,” but they arrive on the rooftop without passing through a door, and the glass portals are clearly left open. So why do they need keys? They are for the sleeping chambers off the main living area. In Shelter, putting a locked door on a vista overlooking its reaches is considered bad form. Valuables, then, are typically not left in the living areas, but locked in the bed chambers.
- No, the show is not what the shore is like. ↩