Kids, reading, and "good" lit...

McMullin, Elise mcmullea at
Tue Aug 10 11:22:57 EDT 1999

>On 08/09/99 18:54:21 deborah wrote:
>>Hmm.  The way I'm phrasing it in The Dreaded Thesis is that
>>Ingary is telling Sophie many stories of how she ought to be....

And Mary Ann responded:
>"I very much prefer this concept. It seems to me to avoid the torts
>perspective and 
>unilateralness of Howl's attribution. I do understand that many list members,
and presumably others, like that a lot. I just don't."

Hee hee, that was a great moment in the story.  The first time I read
it, I was struggling to understand why Sophie went into a towering rage.
 Also, I was like "what?! She's doing it to herself??"  Completely
blindsided. I knew then I'd have to re-read it immediately.  It's nice
to know the author knows what's going on better than you do -
unfortunately I read many books where this is not so. (Hmm, is that an
opportunity for me to take responsibility for myself??)  Although, I'm
still not entirely sure why he said the thing most calculated to
deliberately provoke Sophie to sputtering wrath.  I'll just have to read
it again to figure it out.  I don't think I've thought as much about
Howl and who he is as I have some of the other characters.

Another favorite moment of mine is when Mrs. Pentstemmon (oh I always
get her name wrong - Persimmon? Penstimmon?) observes that Howl's suit
has a drawing charm which shows a downward trend into the black arts.
What a scream!  Consternation!  Sophie can't avoid the fact that she put
that charm there herself, muttering about jealous aunties.  I can't help
laughing just thinking about it.  But the point is, it's another facet
of accepting yourself and your gifts.  I take it this way; if you refuse
to acknowledge you have gifts and (ergo) to take responsibility for what
you put out there with your gifts, then you can't possibly be paying
proper attention to what you do with them.  The situation naturally
gives rise to irresponsible actions on your part.  Like we used to say
when we were kids - she did it by accident on purpose.

 But seriously, I think dwj is saying - yes there are these influences,
often insistent, but it is *still* up to you - the influences are *not*
stronger than you are.  You *don't* just have to bow your head and
accept them.  You *don't* have to go so far as to reinforce them.  I
don't have my copy right by me but I recall that when Sophie talks to
Martha, Martha reminds Sophie that Sophie had her two sisters scripted
into their roles as well.  So Sophie not only bought the standard
herself but was propagating it upon her two younger sisters.  Luckily,
she was also kind and her sisters saw her misapprehension as just that -
and didn't hold it against her.  Too, it was part of the process of
accepting themselves, that they should put the old story line aside.  So
luckily also, her younger sisters are wise to the difference between
what you are told and what you can actually do, because they help teach
Sophie this. Sophie had set herself up to be well on her way to truly
becoming a jealous auntie herself, somewhere down the road, when her
sisters would have been living their lives and she would have been
>continuing to talk herself out of living hers.
>"I am reminded of a story one of my best friends, Lisa, told me. She and her
>roommate, our good friend Roberta, attended a workshop on human
>relationships. The focus of the workshop was on how relationships are the
>outcome of behaviour by all involved parties. Lisa was enormously gratified
>to be convinced that not everything was her fault. Roberta was shattered at
>the feeling she was deprived of thinking of herself as a Hapless Victim of
Fate. Temperaments differ considerably when it comes to such issues."

Heh, good story!  Temperments differ, but they both were made aware of
the individual ways they could redress the balance for themselves.
Being deprived of the Hapless Victim security blanket is disconcerting -
and so embarrassing to realize you were clinging to it in the first
place(!) (Voice Of Experience), but it leaves the door open for R. to
say - next time something happens she does not like "No. I'm not a
hapless victim and I refuse to passively accept this situation as it
is!" - it opens the mind to new possibilities, is what I mean.  And if
L. thought everything was her fault, then she can learn to identify
where her own responsibility boundaries are and not be finagled into, or
volunteering for, schlepping about with the weight of other people's
responsibilities on her shoulders.

It's like in Deep Secret (watch out if you haven't read this - it's a
spoiler) when Grammos looks accusingly at Rupert - a primo example of
someone who is totally refusing to take responsibility for their own
actions and the consequences of their own actions - here he is killing
himself and basically saying to Rupert "See what you made me do!
Meanie!"  If Rupert was susceptible to that, he would have felt
crushing, continuing guilt.  And he says he is trying to not feel
disabled by that guilt because Grammos spent his life the way he wanted
to - it was Grammos's responsibility what choices he made, I mean.

This is soooo long, but I just wanted to mention I've read Hexwood again
over the weekend and I'm really interested in figuring out Mordion in
this context - he heightens the stakes of these issues, doesn't he?
What do folks think about Mordion?

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