Thursday, May 5, 2005



It appears as though nothing is left to chance in the world of 'Lost'. Clothing, books, numbers, names... everything seems to have relevance, hidden meanings, and/or connections to the other characters.

So with this week's episode of the show, Charlie Pace started calling Claire's baby "Turnip Head". Claire wasn't too thrilled by that idea, which is understandable - it's not exactly a term of endearment. In fact, in British slang, a "turnip" is just another way of saying "idiot". Although I couldn't find it listed in any online Aussie slang dictionaries, I'm sure Claire shared the same idea about the name.

Being from the United Kingdom, Charlie probably knows the term "Turnip Head" best from childhood memories of Halloween, also known as Samhain.

Here's what I found on the web about a certain tradition:

"The carved turnip head is essential for the creation of a proper Celtic atmosphere for Samhain-Halloween - October 31. The turnip is not a turnip at all (well, that is, for Americans!) We call them rutabagas (Swedes after the proper name: Swedish Turnip for those of the British Isles!).

Once they are carved and lit up with a candle they glow with an eerie yellow-ivory -you might say skull like quality! When they are suspended they look just like skulls floating in the night! Their shape is much more scull like than any pumpkin could ever be! (The ancient Celts had no Pumpkins!)"

Children's fantasy novels have made their presence known on the island. Boone had a copy of "Watership Down" in his luggage and Sawyer was seen reading that as well as "A Wrinkle In Time".

A popular author of such works is Philip Pullman who has penned the trilogy of "His Dark Materials" books. He has also written a book called "The Scarecrow and His Servant:", in which a scarecrow is constructed by an old man who hides a letter inside it. The old man dies, and the scarecrow is stolen repeatedly by farmers.

One day, struck by lightning, the Scarecrow comes to life. He has a turnip for a head and a kindly, serious, profoundly stupid nature. Luckily for him, he acquires Jack, a poor orphan boy, as his servant and adviser.

It could be that Claire was familiar with that book and so was not pleased by that name at all.

I'd hate to think that Charlie and Claire could also have been familiar with a fantasy TV show from the United Kingdom called 'Worzel Gummidge'. It had a similar theme to Pullman's book, as it was about a living scarecrow who had several heads made of turnips. The series starred Jon Pertwee (the third Doctor of 'Doctor Who').

Later in its run the show was produced in New Zealand and was known as 'Worzel Gummidge Down Under'. This might have been the version Claire might have been familiar with, but I'd rather discount the whole idea. After all, this being Toobworld, the TV Universe, 'Lost' and 'Worzel Gummidge' should be existing within the same dimension.

I'd much rather support the idea that at some point after 1987, Claire actually MET Worzel Gummidge Down Under!

However, they could be familiar with the series of books about the character which were written back in the 1930s and which might have been inspiration for Pullman's book. I'd have no problem with that as there should be a clear division between the creative universes for Literature, Cinema, and Television. (Of course, it doesn't always happen......)

There's another source for Charlie's inspiration for the nickname of "Turnip Head". There is a Japanese animation movie called "Howl's Moving Castle", which was directed by Miyazaki who also created the new classic "Spirited Away".

But that won't be released in Britain until September of this year, a year after the crash of Oceanic 815. And even the Japanese version didn't premiere until after the plane crash.

However, the movie is based on a book by famed fantasy author Diana Wynne Jones, which was first published in 1986. And why would this be of interest? Because there's a character named Prince Turnip who just happens to show up just when he's needed most.

Could it be a harbinger for a role the baby may one day play?

Finally, there are two sources for the nickname which most likely are totally unknown to both Claire and Charlie.
During World War I, Kaiser Wilhelm was portrayed in propaganda cartoons as a turnip head. And it's also a derisive Cantonese nickname for Japanese at the time was loh baak tau — literally, turnip head. The Chinese believed that Japanese heads were shaped like turnips. Not many use that phrase these days; it’s considered rude.

So the idea of being a turnip head has international significance as a symbol for a simpleton.

Of course, all of this might be over-analysis. The origin for the name might not go any further than it being a pet name used by Leonard Dick (who wrote this 'Lost' episode "The Greater Good") for a baby he knew.

At any rate, I'm sure Charlie has figured out by now that Claire is not going to accept her baby being called "Turnip Head". So until she actually names the baby, perhaps he'd be better off using the nickname that Sawyer had for it: "Baby Huey".

Then again, maybe not......


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