In the second half of the sixth chapter of A Wizard Alone, Nita has an epiphany. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards.
Y’all, I just got super excited over a scene that is literally expository research. Nita eats bananas and reads a book and it is THE MOST THRILLING THING IMAGINABLE. Props to Diane Duane for making this feel so huge! And honestly, it’s how she kept this information from us that matters. We got to experience Darryl in two very unique and important scenes. Instead of telling us he was a Pillar upfront, the mystery unfolded in a way that felt organic.
I figure that Nita’s growing theory – that Darryl’s “worlds” appear to outsiders based on their own preconceived notions of him – is part of the reason this works so well. Kit approached Darryl in ignorance. He had no idea what he was getting into, and I mean that in multiple ways. He didn’t know why Darryl’s Ordeal was taking so long; he didn’t know what it would be like dealing with an autistic wizard; he had no clue what he would encounter once Ponch “found” Darryl. Yes, Kit did research, and he tried to understand what he might have to cope with, and yet, that’s not always enough.
Again, I’m operating under the theory that Nita comes up with here, so I could be completely off-base. But the pieces all seem to be there! As Nita puts it:
Unless it’s just that I didn’t know that the person trying to contact me was an autistic. So maybe I got something that was more like Darryl’s own ideas about himself… just translated into my own idiom. Whereas Kit’s known from the beginning that Darryl’s an autistic, and so maybe he’s been projecting his own ideas about that onto what’s been happening.
That explains why Kit and Nita had such drastically different experiences with Nita, though I suspect there’s an additional reason for that, which I’ll get to. I’m still uncertain what the intentions were of the Powers in all this and why they needed wizards to deal with Darryl. Don’t they know why Darryl has been purposely delaying completion of his Ordeal? Or was that discovery by Kit and Nita just as important? Look, I’m jumping ahead of myself here because I haven’t even reacted to the reveal of what kind of wizard Darryl is. First, I didn’t even know there could be different kinds of wizards beyond the hierarchal structure we’d seen in wizards like Tom, Carl, S’reee, and others. But it makes sense! There should be wizards who fight entropy in ways that are non-traditional. Thus, Pillars: wizards whose strength is so immense that they are “pillars” against the assaults of evil.
I’m hoping that the text doesn’t fall into the stereotype that black people can withstand more pain than anyone else, which is totally a thing. I don’t think that’s what’s happening here, but I also don’t know a LOT about this character or how this is going to work. The idea that Darryl must suffer attacks from the Lone One for the rest of his life just seems cruel to me, but I also admit that I don’t understand how being a Pillar works in the long run. Of course, there’s a huge problem with all of this that I see no solution to:
Darryl can’t ever know he’s a Pillar. His innocence is what makes him so powerful, so incorruptible. Knowing what he is will not just make him “ineffective,” but he’ll DIE. This kinda makes me want to punch the Powers in the face because they’ve stacked the deck so horrifically against this kid, and he can’t even know how badly they’ve done so because HE’LL DIE. Right now, I can’t see a way out of this, but I trust Duane. At this point, she’s taken me on so many uncomfortable journeys that I’m willing to see this one out, too. Hell, I’m just excited that we know what Darryl is. I just want to know what it’s gonna mean for him.
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