Je m'appelle Jean Loup

Admin note: The Cave Canem website is reproduced here by permission of its author Robert Borski. To preserve the integrity of the original material, it's not possible for WolfeWiki users to edit these pages. However, each page has its own discussion page, accessible by the tab above, on which you're encouraged to comment and to develop the ideas expressed here.

Although the title novella of THE FIFTH HEAD OF CERBERUS is narrated in the first person, and there are countless interactions between the narrator and the other characters of the novella, the only name ever attached to him is Number Five, which comes from Maitre, his father, and refers to his clonal nature. And yet it is possible to work out Number Five's real name from certain clues within the novella.

Our first clue comes early in the text, when at the public library, Number Five attempts to locate books written by his father, the authorship of which he has found out about from the mysterious lady in pink. Where does he begin his search? In the "W" holdings, where he finds books by Kate Wilhelm, Bernard Wolfe, Virginia Woolf, and Vernor Vinge (the VV of V.Vinge having apparently been misread as "Winge" by some errant librarian). Number Five concludes his search by saying he never found any books by his father, but it now seems reasonable to assume his last name begins with W.

Later then, just before Number Five is first given his numerical nickname, he says, in response to his father's telling him he may pick his own name, "It seemed to me quite impossible that I should have any name other than the two words which were, in some mystic sense I only respected without understanding, my name."

So now we know Number Five's name consists of two words, the latter of which begins with W.

Enter into Number Five's life Maitre's sister, who introduces herself as Aunt Jeannine. Later, however, we learn that Aunt Jeannine is a female variant of Number Five's father (and since Number Five himself is cloned from the same source), so inferentially this allows us to assume Number Five's name is the male equivalent of Jeannine or Jean/Gene.

As for the "W" patronym, besides the library reference, Number Five remarks that his house is sometimes referred to as Maison du Chien (because of its statue of Cerberus) and that this "may have been a reference to our surname as well." Chien usually means dog in French, but it can also mean wolf.

Ergo, our narrator's name, is Gene Wolf(e), although given the prevalence of French in Port-Mimizon, it might just as easily be Jean Loup.

Entrance Introduction Concordance Essays Appendices Links