The Viper’s Humor

The Viper’s Humor is only mentioned once in Ship of Theseus, yet its reference bears significant meaning and provides clues to Straka and FXC’s relationship, Jen and Eric’s relationship and S.’s evolving mindset.

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A line similar to that of The Viper’s Humor in Ship of Theseus is “can it possibly matter what one man wants?” (433) which is part of the passage, “does it matter what he wants? Especially now, at this moment, a moment of opportunity that might justify decades of flight and struggle and terror and blood? Can it possibly matter what one man wants?” (432-433). The actual line uttered by Dr. Hull in The Viper’s Humor is “it does not matter what one man wants.”

Why Does This Line Matter?
This passage suggests that Straka is communicating the evolution in his beliefs. He originally seems to believe that it doesn’t matter what a man wants yet he reveals through his writing that it does matter what a man wants. Likewise, S. also comes to this conclusion in the novel. He has an epiphany, and believes that what a man wants has always mattered. This revelation is crucial because it affects the ending of the novel- S has been told what to do all of his life and he has obeyed mindlessly. At the end of the novel, however, he makes a conscious decision not to kill Vevoda, withdrawing from his initial goal.

Jen and Eric’s comments
Eric relates this line to his personal life. He confesses, “Moody was baiting me. Over and over. Trying to get me to blow up; just like before.” (433). Although Moody berates him and he believes the truth about Moody stealing his work will be revealed, Eric prioritizes Jen over outing Moody.

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Connections to Straka’s Life
This passage which originates from The Viper’s Humor may have some relevance is Straka’s own life experiences. Eric believes Straka wanted “to write; to change the world; to be with Filomela; to make sure Signe grew up safely.”
Perhaps Straka has made a mistake by living his life in total secrecy. Jen argues that “it still ended up hurting Filomela”and“they should have been together.” (432). On the contrary, he could have been trying to protect Filomela by hiding. Either way, he seems regretful because he realizes that not doing what he desired was the wrong thing to do.

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