Friday, March 9, 2012

Urtiz and Ashmari

So I just finished listening to Beka Cooper: Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce...

SPOILER ALERT

One scene that I find very interesting is when Beka talks to Urtiz about coles. In a way it doesn't seem to fit with the rest of the story, just like another interesting scene I wrote about last year. It's also one of my favorite bits of the novel.

First, a brief summary: Beka shows up to ask Urtiz about a counterfeit coin ("cole") that he used to try to buy bread. He tells her that he got it gambling, and that once he knew he had coles he bought a slave (Ashmari) with them and threw what was left over in the river. Beka points out to Urtiz that that's against the law, Ashmari attacks Beka to protect Urtiz, Beka ties Ashmari up, and then Urtiz tries to bribe her into letting him free Ashmari before he's arrested. Beka tells them off, unties Ashmari, gets the info that she had gone to Urtiz for (about the cole...remember the cole?) and gets out of there.

So, here are my questions:

1) Why does the scene not entirely seem to fit with the rest of the novel? I'm not sure how to explain.

2) Why does Urtiz admit so easily to Beka that he broke the law when buying Ashmari? Someone that stupid shouldn't have survived to his age.

3) Does this move the plot along in any way, or otherwise contribute?

I still don't have an answer to #1. But as for the other two...

My assumption is that Urtiz wouldn't normally admit so freely to breaking the law (especially to an officer of the law) but that he was feeling over confident or cocky. Then again, we don't see any more of him, so I can't say for sure.

The information that Beka gets from Urtiz does move along the plot. In fact, what she gets from him is really important. But she could have gotten that info without the whole mess with Ashmari. So, why is Ashmari there?

Ashmari doesn't move along the plot, but she does show something important about Beka's character. Not only does Beka love the trick played on the slavers when Ashmari is bought with false coin (Beka may be a follower of the Trickster, in a way), but even more of Beka's character is revealed when she turns down Urtiz's bribe. And it's a pretty hefty bribe, too:
"I'll give you five gold nobles. Let me free her, let her escape, before you hobble me, [...] Guardswoman, I swear, the coin is right here. Only let me free her, and I'll go with you quietly. She was trying to protect me! Not just five nobles -- I have jewels. Let me buy Ashmari's freedom and you can have the rest. It's enough for you to retire on" (51).
Beka had already intended to let the two go. She could have taken this bribe, pretended to think it over, then go ahead with what she'd already decided on. Not only that, but she knows that her superiors would not be pleased with her turning down the bribe:
"The truth is, I must think of a way to write this up for Ahuda so she, Tunstall, and Goodwin don't suspect about Urtiz's bribe. They'll never forgive me for turning it down" (51).
I guess it shows that Beka cares more about justice, and what's right, than about money. One might go so far as to say that she cares about justice more than the law, since Urtiz did break the law by buying Ashmari with coles.

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