A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 111: Ship of Magic, Chapter 10

Read the previous entry in the series here.
Read the next entry in the series here.

The following chapter, “Confrontations,” opens with Althea waking to the sound of Ronica berating Kyle for punching his adolescent son. Kyle responds harshly before backing off of a position he realizes is perilous for him. Althea enters abruptly and confronts him, but she is soon distracted by tending to Wintrow. She rages against her nephew’s situation for a moment as he continues to try to remove himself from that situation, and, in a rage, Kyle vows that he will cede the Vivacia to Althea if any captain vouches for her seamanship. He also rages against his own son, sending him packing off to the ship under duress before rebuking Althea. Ronica quashes the argument. She accepts the blame for Althea’s disinheritance, explaining her reasons for it and noting the terms of Keffria’s enfranchisement. Althea cannot but continue to inveigh against the situation, and, in the face of the continued insistence upon it, she leaves.

This rather speaks for itself.
Meme from FitzChivalryFarseer on tumblr, used for commentary

Kyle resumes inveighing against Althea, and when Ronica rebukes him for his behavior, he turns his anger upon her–not physically, but still coercively, and partly through exploiting Keffria’s indecision. Ronica reassesses her elder daughter, not favorably, and she is shocked yet again when Kyle announces his intent to trade in slaves. When he is met with objections to that plan, he demands charts to the Rain Wild River, only to be told that they had been destroyed. He disbelieves and continues to rage, and Ronica takes herself and Keffira away from him.

Kyle’s patriarchal tendencies are on full display in the present chapter. He demands Wintrow’s obedience physically, notes that things are done well “for a woman,” and rages at the Vestrit women because they “have no sons to protect” them or “men to take over the running of the holdings.” He repeatedly asserts that he is “the man of this family” and therefore its rightful head, owed obedience by all in it. It is an all too common attitude even now, that the presence of a penis is the primary determiner of ability, and it is still an all too common attitude that command means the imposition of will despite the knowledge and expertise of others. I must confess to being guilty of some of the same follies, and I am trying to sit with the discomfort that being reminded of them produces in me. But perhaps I am overly affective a reader in doing so.

I note as I reread the ways in which Kyle approaches Kennit. Both of them appear amid the trappings of bourgeoisie success; Kyle stands in a house built by settlers over generations and staffed by servants, commander of a vessel owned by the family descended from those settlers, concerned more with money than anything else. He is not heir to that family, as such, but married into it and is imposing his own views upon it rather than even attempting to understand the people he seeks to rule. Might he, himself, be taken as a metaphor for colonialist discourse, especially given his physical description in the text? Might he point towards intersectionalities of oppressive structures? Might someone still vested in academe make such arguments?

Help me mark tomorrow’s holiday?

3 thoughts on “A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 111: Ship of Magic, Chapter 10

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