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The Shadow King


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What do we learn about the story of the cook's life through her scenes with Hirut and Aster? Why do you think the cook is the only character in the novel to remain unnamed?

Created: 09/16/20

Replies: 7

Posted Sep. 16, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 2619

What do we learn about the story of the cook's life through her scenes with Hirut and Aster? Why do you think the cook is the only character in the novel to remain unnamed?

What do we learn about the story of the cook's life through her scenes with Hirut and Aster? Why do you think the cook is the only character in the novel to remain unnamed?


Posted Sep. 18, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
janines

Join Date: 11/21/16

Posts: 17

What do we learn about the story of the cook's life through her scenes with Hirut and Aster? Why do you think the cook is the only character in the novel to remain unnamed?

The cook is probably the most interesting of character because she is so mysterious yet she tells the story of Aster, giving insight into what shaped her character. I was always caught up short whenever she reappeared in the story because I had forgotten about her. I have to admit I was sometimes annoyed the cook had no name as a name is powerful in giving shape and dimension to a character's role in the story, but maybe that's why she didn't have a name. Her relevance is less as a clearly defined character and more as a free-floating specter of the past whose role in the present is less important.


Posted Sep. 18, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
ssh

Join Date: 02/04/14

Posts: 26

RE: What do we learn about the story of the cook's life?

I found myself looking forward to having the Cook enter the story each time. I thought she was interesting too and I wanted to know more about her. She seemed to be a breath of kindness that I was desperately seeking. I saw her as someone who accepted the harsher realities of life, opened herself to others when she could, and even acted somewhat as a mother figure to both Hirut and Aster. I did find it disconcerting that she was not named. I don't understand the reasoning for that, although perhaps that made her more of a powerful spirit for me rather than a human individual.


Posted Sep. 19, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
laurap

Join Date: 06/19/12

Posts: 325

RE: What do we learn about the story of the cook's life through her scenes with Hirut and Aster? Why do you think the cook is the only character in the novel to remain unnamed?

I found it interesting that the cook disappeared from Hirut and Aster's story and reappeared with Fifi. She was sort of an "Everywoman," who bore all the burdens, contemplated all the problems, and developed many of the answers -- almost like a conscience for the female characters in the book.


Posted Sep. 19, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Marcia S

Join Date: 02/08/16

Posts: 344

RE: What do we learn about the story of the cook's life through her scenes with Hirut and Aster? Why do you think the cook is the only character in the novel to remain unnamed?

I don't think she had a name because she had no life of her own. She was always under someone else's control. Yet, she managed to play an important role in pivotal parts of the story. I was drawn to her each time she appeared in the story.


Posted Sep. 23, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
acstrine

Join Date: 02/06/17

Posts: 293

RE: What do we learn about the story of the cook's life through her scenes with Hirut and Aster? Why do you think the cook is the only character in the novel to remain unnamed?

I found the cook to be one of the most powerful characters in the story. First, she tried to escape from her position, taking all of the responsibility (and punishment) when she and Aster were caught. Next, she was Aster's support on her wedding night, telling her what to expect and what she must do. Cook stayed with Aster throughout her marriage, but when she had the opportunity to DEMAND her freedom, she did so. It was the cook who snuck packets of "medicine" to prisoners to calm them as they were flung from the cliff. She also instructed them to say their own names, reminding them that they were human beings. Cook was also the one who set up a vigil of sorts when Hirut and Aster were imprisoned.

The cook was strong, brave, and persistent. She possessed so many incredible qualities and never stopped moving forward when others may have just given up. Her name wasn't important because she was "just a cook", "just a servant". Often those we deem the least worthy or least important prove to be the opposite. Not naming the cook may have been an attempt to overlook her because of her position. For me, this was a lesson that ALL people, no matter their wealth, education, or gender have something- -sometimes the most important thing- -to contribute.


Posted Sep. 24, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
janeto

Join Date: 06/05/18

Posts: 27

RE: What do we learn about the story of the cook's life through her scenes with Hirut and Aster? Why do you think the cook is the only character in the novel to remain unnamed?

The cook is a faithful servant to others whose loyalty, bravery and skill shape events but as a person she is perceived as having no agency. By not giving her a name, the author underscores this reflective role.


Posted Oct. 03, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
ireneh

Join Date: 11/22/19

Posts: 29

RE: What do we learn about the story of the cook's life through her scenes with Hirut and Aster? Why do you think the cook is the only character in the novel to remain unnamed?

I agree completely with acstrine. The cook is in some ways a character representing "everyperson" who is enslaved and deprived of identity in service to others. At the same time, she is the one who understands the pain and trauma of the lives around her. It is she who tries to mitigate pain whether by proving empathy to Aster on her wedding night, or encouraging Hirut to turn the pain of her beating into a kind of pride. Her heroic actions in providing medicinal herbs and comfort to those about to die on the cliff are equal to anything which any other character has done. She is more complex than her role and, as is the case in some of Shakespeare's characters, her lack of a name makes her like the ghost in Hamlet who can tell the truth about and to each of the characters. Her contribution to the story is also to provide a picture of consistent courage and survival in the face of others who ignore and debase her as a human being.


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