OMG I cannot believe that I get it now.
If you look at the dedication in the front of the book, Terry says it "For Lyn". The real heart of the story is in Chapters 8 and 9. It is where the threads of the story finally come together and make sense.
Once it hit me, (between the eyes like a Fry Pan) it was a HUGE epiphany. It Is An Anti-War Story! Or at least an Anti-Kill/Hate each other story!
Starting in Chapter 8 ROLLING THE STONE
"She looked up into the gloomy roof of the hut. "I heard you because I was listening," she said. "Then listen to us, girl who can hear us who have no voices." "And you are--?" "We are the Grandmothers" "I've never heard of the Grandmothers!" "Where do you think little grandfathers come from? Every man has a mother, and so does every mother. We gave birth to little grandfathers, and filled them with milk, and wiped their bottoms and kissed their tears away. We taught them to eat, and showed them what food was safe, so that they grew up straight. We taught them the songs of children, which have lessons in them. And then we gave them to the Grandfathers, who taught them how to kill other women's sons. The ones who were best at this were dried in the sand and taken to the cave. We went back to the dark water, but part of us remains here in this place where we were born and gave birth and, often, died." "The Grandfathers shout at Mau all the time!" "They are echoes in a cave. They remember the battle cries of their youth, over and over again, like the talking bird. They are not bad men. We loved them, as sons and husbands and father, but old men get confused and dead men don't notice the turning of the world. The world must turn. Tell Mau he must roll away the stone." And they left. She felt them slide out of her mind. That, thought Daphne, was impossible. Then she thought: Up to now, anyway. They were real, and they're still here. They're what I felt when Twinkle was being born, as if the Place was alive and on my side. Perhaps some voices are so old everyone understands them." (pages 212 & 213 of the first hardcover edition)
We (women, and probably men when you get right down to it) Do Not Like To Have Our Sons and Daughters taught how to Hate and How to Kill other women's children!!
Mrs. Gurgle learns that Daphne is really another "Sky Woman" or "Woman of Power" during her "visit" to Daphne's past to the point where her mother and baby brother had died. She was there on the ancient carpet on the stairs with Dapne in her memory. Mrs. Gurgle took the tiny coffin down and opened the big coffin, then she looked at Daphne expectantly. " She knew what to do. She'd done it in her imagination a thousand times. She lifted the small, cold body from his lonely coffin, kissed his little face, and tucked him in beside their mother. The crying stopped-- --she blinked at Mrs. Gurgle's bright eyes, there in front of her again. The sound of the sea filled her ears." (page 198)
I was crying when this realization came to me. I have always had my husband's paintball business allow all military (retired, current and even new recruits) free entry for the day. It does not matter how many times they come out, or how many of them come at a time. They have, and in some cases will, be doing a service to us, and hopefully the world. I do not agree with the political reasons for wars. I do not understand why we have to send our young to die for some strip of land or why people have to be evil and kill innocents and children. But, I honor those who do serve.
As a mother, I can completely understand the reasons behind this book. I see that Mau is tortured by the shouting of the Grandfathers, and how he does not understand why they keep shouting.
Atabe the priest does NOT want Mau to learn that he doesn't necessarily believe in the gods, but that he Does believe in belief. This comes to light during their sojourn into the depths of the cave. Later, Daphne tries to comfort Mau by explaining that his people had had the technology way back in the past and had actually sailed around the world long before her people had. That they had telescopes, and saw Jupiter, the Air god and Saturn, the Fire god with his hands tied to his side by the rings.
The part about Mrs. Gurgle's new shiny Dentures is really a Hoot! As Daphne said earlier, she was "frankly, Grabby" and "It was certainly the only (meeting of the people) to have Mrs. Gurgle scuttling around in it with her new teeth. She had snatched them out of Daphne's hand when she was demonstrating them to Cahle, and it was impossible to get anything off Mrs. Gurgle if she didn't want you to take it."
"Ahem" ... it is a Big Word. Daphne understood the maids back home a lot more when the sun gleamed on Mau's shoulders. Ahem.
I adored the fact that at the end her Grandmother wound up chewing salt pickled beef for Mrs. Gurgle, indeed proving that the old woman was a Great woman of power.
This is what I gleaned from the book, other than the parts about Mau's people were indeed far more cultured years before the British had believed. They had telescopes, eyeglasses, tools, and had sailed so far that they wound up back home.
In the last chapter, Terry says about:
This book contains some. Whether you try it at home is up to you.
Aha! So, Bob's yer uncle... very clever.