Day Two, The Worthing Saga, Chapters 3-4

June 5, 2008 at 3:16 am | Posted in The Worthing Saga | 2 Comments

Note: I just wanted to remind you that you can still join in and participate on the discussions at any time. You don’t have to keep up (as far as reading goes) with the posting schedule in order to join. You can read at your own pace, and discuss at your own pace.

The Worthing Saga
by Orson Scott Card
Day Two: Chapters 3 – 4

In chapter three the narrative shifts. We see Lared begin to write his book. But very quickly, we shift the focus, attention, and narrative onto Jason Worthing. This chapter focuses on Jason Worthing’s childhood and his life-changing meeting with Abner Doon. Introduced early on is the concept of Swipe–humans that are born with extra powers, extra abilities. Swipes, for example, can read minds. Also introduced in this chapter in greater detail is somec. The sleep-inducing drug that has civilization enslaved. It has everyone wanting to live forever by sleeping away today. No extra-life is gained. You just slow down the dying process by dying gradually. Awake three years, asleep one year. (For example.) The more “important” you are. The more “wealthy” you are. The better the ratio. The more sleep, the less life.

What do you think? You can definitely see why Jason’s life is forever changed. Danger. Adventure. Excitement. The threat of death. Mistrust. Fear. What do you think of Jason’s decisions? Was it “right” for him to send his mother away to keep her safe? Should he have gone with her and lived out the rest of his life in obscurity? What do you make of his mom’s decision to forgive him? Do you think it’s genuine? And what about somec? Would you ever be tempted? I don’t know. It has to be hard psychologically to miss out so much on life. Maybe not for those sleeping months or years…but if you were to spend a decade or two asleep…and then wake up for a bit…it would have to be disconcerting. Rip Van Winkle. You’d find, I think, that you care less and less and less and less about people, about life and society. How can you make friends? How can you find love? How can you have a family? If you had children or grandchildren, you’d awake to find them older. You might go to sleep a mother and wake up with your children grown with kids of their own. You wouldn’t–couldn’t–really keep even family ties. And friendship would be among the first to go. It would be very weird. What do you think? Appealing? Or not so much?

In chapter four, we’re back to the present day. We see Jason and Lared working together, talking together, learning more about each other. Lared isn’t always fond of Jason. He’s a bit in awe–a bit scared–of what he’s learning. He’s shocked that Jason could have gone through what he’s gone through AND still like, still love Abner Doon. For Worthing to support and understand and condone what Doon has done? It seems so very wrong to the boy. Based on what you know, what you’ve learned so far, what do you think? While the situation with the twick is awful–dreadfully awful–I can understand some of his other choices. His choice to unmake the society that was so dead, so lifeless, so selfish, so pointless. To destroy the society’s reliance on Somec? I think that’s a good thing. What say you? So while I would probably never ever ever ever forgive a person if they set me up to be attacked by a monster, I can understand the other stuff. Still, to put yourself in their shoes. It must have been super-scary to have society go all topsy-turvy and crazy in your lifetime. To have everything you’ve known, everything you’ve been made accustomed to suddenly be questioned, challenged, gone.

What do you think of this conversation:

“It doesn’t depend on whether you live or die. It depends on what’s right. And what’s right and wrong doesn’t come down to your personal preference. It never does. If it comes down to what you personally prefer, then there’s no right or wrong at all.” (80)


“You’re not a human being until you value something more than the life of your body. And the greater the thing you live and die for, the greater you are.” (80)

Quite philosophical. Is the book “deeper” than you imagined it would be? I know it certainly surprised me. I wasn’t expecting such rich philosophical debate. Reading it took me right back to my two philosophy classes in college.

What did you think of our inside-look at Abner Doon? The dream Lared is sent where he “is” Doon and has his memories. This terrifies Lared, would it terrify you? Any thoughts on the game? Do you think this is really the best way to spend your time playing and betting on virtual games of world domination? Would you let a virtual game become your life? Let it define you? Do you think this society has forgotten what it means to really live? Do you think that this laziness is detrimental?

I found this a bit eery

“He engaged in pointless wars and made sure they were badly generaled and stupidly fought–but not so stupidly that there were any crushing defeats. Just attrition, a slow wearing away of the army, of the wealth of the empire.” (86)

And what do you think of this, “life can only continue in the face of death.” (89)

Jason thinks–he knows–that what Abner Doon did resurrected life, resurrected humanity’s soul. Yes, it caused pain. Yes, it caused discomfort. Yes, it caused upset and confusion and turmoil. But it was in humanity’s best interest. Or so we’re told. I’m inclined to believe Jason. What about you? It does bring up some valid points. I think people–collectively and individually–like comfort, like complacency, like knowing what’s going on, like feeling safe. But it is in times where you don’t know, times of uncertainty, times where you’re challenged, where you struggle that you learn, that you grow, that you become. Pain and suffering and endurance are often the catalyst for people becoming better, stronger, smarter, more capable. Some people fear change. Some people accept it and adapt. Some always look back to what they had before, they glamorize what once was–or what might have been. Others live in the moment. Still others live and dream about the future. I don’t know that there is a “right” way to live…but I feel certain that living too much in the past, present, or future could be a bad thing.

So what are you thinking so far? Of Jason? Of Abner? Of Lared? Of the dreams?



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  1. Not a whole lot of time here, but I did want to say that I loved this section as well. Particularly Chapter 3. I have to say that Jason reminds me so much of Ender! Or maybe it’s that aspects of the book remind me of Ender’s Game…I think that’s it. Only of course Ender didn’t have the swipe. But chapter 3 was REALLY good and I had finished reading it before I realized I had started. A definite page turner.

    I really like Jason’s character a lot. I think he’s strong, extremely intelligent. He’s been through a hell of a lot…I can’t wait to hear about MORE and how he got to live for…did they say 3000 years or something earlier in the book? When everyone else gets to live for a max of 400? I can’t stand Abner as of now. Yes he has that villainous charm, but I think I just like Lared so much that I’m siding with him :p But it’s hard to like him right now after reading chapter 4…we’ll see. And I think there’s more to the dreams than just telling Jason’s story. Though maybe not…could Jason be training Lared for something?

  2. You’re right about all the philosophical debates going on, Becky. Especially with the somec. On one hand, I would be thinking “Gee, if I could extend my life by all these years through sleep, what new things would I get to experience, or how much would the world change? Would it get better (hopefully) or would it get worse? How many generations of my family would I get to know? On the other hand, do I really want to outlive all my friends, my spouse, my children and grandchildren?” I think I would choose not to do it.

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