Study Guide

The Ear, the Eye, the Arm Wisdom and Knowledge

By Nancy Farmer

Wisdom and Knowledge

"Knowledge is a house that must be built from the ground up," said the instructor. "We know how to make the roof. The information is useless if we don't understand the foundations on which it is to be placed." (2.4)

We love the idea of knowledge being like a house. There are many rooms, after all. Tendai's teacher tells them this as a way of motivating them to learn even the most basic information. It's not just about learning what you want or think is important; first you have to build a foundation before adding in the crown molding.

"Believe me, I've tried it. He thinks too much. Thinking has its place, but not during battle." (2.20)

Who knew thinking was a bad thing? The martial arts instructor tells the General that it's not going to get Tendai anywhere when it comes to battle. Of course General Matsika and Tendai are really disappointed at this—Tendai is supposed to be a tough-as-nails warrior, not some scholar. It's almost as though thinking isn't valued all that much. So what do you make of the fact that Tendai's mom is a brainiac?

Grumbling, she applied herself to memorizing the anatomy of a frog. Kuda practiced his writing. Tendai studied algebra, a subject he found soothing. You always knew when you had the right answer in math. (3.74)

That is one great thing about math: 2+2 = 4 every single time. Tendai likes the predictability and certainty of math. This is one of the differences between knowledge and wisdom. Tendai might have math knowledge all over the place, but he still lacks the wisdom to feel comfortable in other, more open-ended subjects.

What was it the Mellower said? The General was a great tree whose branches protected them—or something like that. The Mellower certainly knew how to put things. She was lucky to have a live-in Praise Singer. Amadeus was suspicious at first. He thought compliments were for sissies, but he changed his mind after the first few sessions. (4.2)

It doesn't take the General or Mrs. Matsika long to realize something is not right, and they suspect the Mellower put them in a trance right away. That's wisdom for you. We see how much wisdom and experience the parents have by watching how maturely they deal with a tough situation.

"It's not like anything I've experienced before. It's not a thousand thoughts scurrying in all directions like the Cow's Guts, but one mind. The closest I can describe it is the feeling I get from an ant nest. The queen is at the center, and all the workers mirror and feed on her thoughts." (15.18)

Arm's mind doesn't work like anybody else's—like, at all. For one thing, he can read people's minds and emotions and do this sort of mind-meld thing. It's particularly rough for him when he's around Sekai, who can't handle the knowledge that Arm already has. Knowledge is a good thing, but too much, too fast is scary.

It gazed at him from a vast distance, full of deep knowledge he couldn't begin to understand. It neither approved nor disapproved of him, but it knew him right down to the soles of his feet. (23.42)

The Spirit Medium has wisdom for days. Tendai tells us that he doesn't even comprehend all of it. He might not be knowledgeable about how things work outside of Resthaven, but he knows more about spirits and the supernatural than anybody else. We can tell that there are different types of knowledge and wisdom, and one type isn't necessarily more valuable than another.

His first impulse was to denounce Mrs. Horsepool-Worthingham as a traitor. That is what Rita would have done. But first impulses weren't always wise. (30.43)

Finding out that the Mellower's mom is just keeping them for the ransom money cuts Tendai to the core. He wants to make a big scene, complete with stomping and flailing, but he's learned enough to know that might not be the wisest approach. Sometimes, stopping and coming up with a plan is more effective than reacting quickly.

"The point is, at every turn the children have behaved with courage and intelligence. I'm sure they'll keep on doing it." (34.38)

If you think about it, Arm is right: The kids aren't that wise when it comes to the ways of the world. If anything, they are naïve. Yet somehow they make smart decisions and manage to outsmart their captors time and again. You go, kids.

Tendai remembered his last birthday. It seemed one shouldn't make wishes idly. Who knew which spirits were listening? (40.46)

At the beginning of the novel, Tendai is self-centered and immature, and all he can think about is going on an adventure. By the end, he's grown older and wiser. Yes, he's only fourteen, but he knows he shouldn't waste a birthday wish any more because it might help him out later.

He praised the wise farseeing eyes of Eye and the keen hearing of Ear. He recited the virtues of Arm and described the fantastic cleverness of all three. Ear, Eye and Arm listened until they were so filled with happiness, not another kind word could slip in. (Epi.15)

Ear and Eye might have super-heightened senses, but Arm is really the wise one of the bunch. He doesn't just take what's on the surface at face value; instead he processes info and comes to conclusions rapidly. His measured approach to being a detective shows wisdom.

This is a premium product

Tired of ads?

Join today and never see them again.

Please Wait...