“If she learns she can fill her belly from somewhere else, she won’t come back to you.”
– The falconer, Jorundyr’s Path
By Duncan M. Hamilton
In this scene, one of the story’s chief antagonists is learning about falconry. He is a petty, vicious, savage individual, so when the falcon catches a rabbit, he takes enjoyment from the sight of a predator ripping apart its prey in a bloody mess. But the falconer knows his trade, picking up the bird and prying her prize from her talons. When his employer/lord suggests letting her enjoy it, so he can enjoy the bloodshed, the man responds with the above words, before handing the bird off to be rewarded with scraps of chicken from the hand of her human master.
There is something very powerful to be learned from this exchange.
The falcon is a bird of prey, it is fully capable of hunting alone and feeding itself. But take the bird as a fledgling and teach it that food comes from a human hand, and it will automatically look to human hands for its food. The animal’s primary goal to survive is achieved, so it doesn’t look for any other way to survive. So long as it believes it needs the human hand to give it food, so long as it’s kept carefully and deliberately ignorant of its ability to survive without its master, the falcon will always come back.
The instant the falcon learns that it can survive on its own, it will do so. If it knows it doesn’t need the humans, it’s motivation to stay with them and obey them vanishes. Why live off scraps from a keeper’s hand when it can have the entire feast to itself in the wild?
Outside the obvious political ramifications, where a people will be subject to a master only so long as they think they need said master, there is something more personal here as well. I think all of us can relate to being in a bad situation of some kind out of necessity, until we find something better and jump on it.
I can scarce think of anyone caught in an abusive relationship who does not believe on some level that this horrible situation is still the best they can hope for. If they gain hope for something better, that is the moment they begin to break free.
…and then, of course, there is the obvious connotation where a man needs to keep his woman happy if he intends to keep her as his. Which, with Valentine’s Day coming in two weeks, my impish self just could not refrain from commenting on! 😉
All of you men out there with significant others (and my envy), take heed: treat your woman right, make her feel special (which she is), because if you don’t and someone else does, then you can kiss that particular relationship goodbye! 🙂
Good luck, men! 😉