For a long time, Ham claims he fears nothing and from what we see of him, I would not wonder why. There are certain fears common to a group of like status. With children, we see the fears of losing parents, of bogeymen in the dark, and once they’ve learned to group themselves with peers, of being embarrassed, i.e., wetting their pants.
With males in particular this fear changes form but not its basis which is, I think, a loss of what they’ve learned to control. In Ham’s wanderings through the woods, while he boldly walked away from his mother, it was just a manner of controlling the situation–once he understood that his mother truly would leave him there. Alone, hunger cramping his insides, he stumbles on in fever, vomits, shits his pants and lays there sick and broken. His worst fear has been realized. He has lost control.
From here, Ham learns to allow the Butlers to become his family, learns how much of himself–of what he knows–he will reveal. Wrapping himself in the safety of their welcome, he learns to fear new things:
(Ham on being)
And it wasn’t that I feared just what was behind, as Dorothy Jones had intimated, but also what lay ahead and that which would become behind. I feared middles, being between the crush of the past and the crush of the future. My mother, the past, my brother, the future, who couldn’t be found, who may not have even been flesh.
Without a defined past, Ham, with his determined passion for a sense of order that’s been missing and yet he seeks in the balance of numbers, attempts to align and name that fear with something stable, something known.
I had to keep my memory, find a way to store it, make it permanent but in a form proper, in numbers, equations. Hypertext for hyperlife.
Does he know? Is Ham aware that he has already left a trail of textboxes that mark the way he’s come, that lead out in strings of story that are his possibilities in life and can be read in 900,000 ways?
As narrator, in the the process he can control the paths he chooses to offer (via Storyspace) but once it has been done, does he understand that as Barthes insisted, the reader–particularly in the hypertext environment–takes over the control?