The Ferryman

As we pointed out at the end of class, no one really discussed Alcofibras as the ferryman in chapter eight, and as I look at it closer I realize that this role is quite significant. The religion that has been featured in this novel up to this point has been primarily Christian. However on page 135, there is a direct connection made to the Greek Mythological figure, Charon, the ferryman of Hades who carries the souls of the dead from the land of the living for the price of a coin (obolus or danake). As Ginny described her journey from her “four-square kingdom” she said, “I parlayed in the moonlight with a ferryman who looked me up and looked me down and said he needed no coin from me because I had already paid” (135). Perhaps her payment was the suffering she experienced under Zinnia and Cleome. I also believe that she did indeed move on from the world of the living, where she had a husband and house and some vitality, to the world of the dead, where she could not accept love or forgiveness. Furthermore, in researching the etymology of the name “Charon,” I discovered that it means, “of keen gaze, referring either to fierce, flashing, or feverish eyes.” As we know, Alcofibras’ hands were covered in eyes. He was a very interesting character within this novel because he was so aware of everything, especially death it seemed, and so I think it was appropriate for him to be the ferryman.


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