Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Dale

I recently reread Beka Cooper: Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce for the...you know, I don't know how many times I've read it now.

SPOILERS

 It's interesting to look at the interplay between Dale and Beka. He comes in, sweeps her off her feet (literally...see page 308), and she falls head over heels for him (not literally).

Only, there's one problem. Beka's hunting cole mongers, but because she can't say so she has to lie to Dale about her reasons about being in Port Caynn. Not a good way to start off a relationship!

Oh, and it doesn't help that, as a gambler, he is a prime suspect for spreading the coles -- especially since it's a well established fact that they're being spread by gambling. Then despite the fact that, in the end, it is proven that Dale had nothing to do with the coles, his best friend Hanse was at the middle of the cole monger ring.

Goodwin and Beka are delighted to have the acquaintance of gamblers because it will help them on their hunt. And even though Beka really does have feelings for Dale, Goodwin pushes for her to be friendly for the sake of the hunt, as seen when she says "At least one of those coves will be there to see you, [. . .] They took to you during that riot, and you're going to be friendly even if I have to shove you all the way" (241). Beka even takes advantage of the relationship to do some snooping, although it's obvious that she wants to think more with her heart than with her head: "I will search Dale's rooms, as I should. That is how I shall think of tonight. And if I were to say that to Goodwin, she would laugh until she popped something" (367).

But Dale is smart. Even before the storm really breaks he's questioning the reason given for Beka and Goodwin's presence. "I'd been hearing the word coles of late, so I looked at my own coins. [. . .] I'm not the only one who's getting bit this bad. So I'm wondering, here are Beka and Goodwin, fresh in town. Maybe they're looking for colemongers" (410). Of course Beka denies it by way of pointing out how young she is for such an important hunt (which it is true that she's unusually young for something with such a high stakes). Yet even though Dale seems to agree that she's too inexperienced for hunting colemongers he probably revisited that theory of his after Beka caught the queen rat almost single handed. He may have also realized that she didn't deny his question about it with an outright "No."

My assumption is that in the end Dale figures out that Beka and Goodwin were on the hunt, because he's smart enough to figure things out for himself, especially in retrospect. That being the case, he probably questions Beka's reasons for becoming his lover. Sure, the reasons he gives for ending it are valid: that they'll be in two different cities, and that those kind of relationships are tough. But an unspoken reason is probably that he doesn't trust her to not lie, and/or because he suspects that she used him.

I wonder if Beka ever realized that he probably guessed. If so, did she regret that she didn't come clean in the end? After all, it couldn't have done any harm at that point, and although Dale wasn't unpleasant to her (aside from dumping her, that is) things might have ended slightly more pleasantly if she had told the truth.

If Beka wanted to have any hope at all of continuing the relationship or picking it up again she should have told Dale the whole truth. Yet, in addition to the reasons Dale gave, she knew there were other reasons it couldn't have worked. "Still, how would we have managed? Him in Port Caynn, when he is home, me in Corus. Him wanting someone to be his luck at games, me being on duty when he begins to play and weary and cross, like as not, after my watch. And he had yet to be in my bed the nights I woke, screaming or sweating, from some dark dream of Rats, blood, and death" (528).

...and from my writing classes I know that I should have some comment following that quote, but because I don't know what else to add I'll just leave it at that.

2 comments:

Toriz said...

It sounds like an excellent read; not to mention an excellent example of why one should be honest in a relationship.

Sarita Rucker said...

Or else, if honesty simply isn't possible, why the relationship shouldn't be pursued.

And it definitely is an excellent read. The Beka Cooper books are my favorite, I think.

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