criticism gone awry

Hallie O'Donovan hallieod at
Wed Aug 25 19:07:18 EDT 1999

Max wrote:
>  In some way I can't define, the ending of F&H makes me sad.
and Elise wrote:
>And I'm terminally confused and pessimistic
>about their hopes to get together between Nowhere and HereNow.

The first time I read F&H, I "got" the ending, but only if I kept my mind a
little vague about it all - the way you have to sort of unfocus your eyes a
bit to see one of those 3-D pictures.  It's become easier to keep it clear
with re-reads, and on this last one (prior to writing to the person from
Amazon), another line really jumped out at me.  "Two sides to Nowhere,
Polly thought.  One really was a dead end.  The other was the void that lay
before you when you were making up something new out of ideas no one else
had quite had before."
I think that explains why I'm not pessimistic about Polly and Tom's hopes
to get together.  I understood the logic part, about the two
impossibilities cancelling each other out, as it were, but this seems to
show the possibilities of Nowhere.  Polly and Tom _were_ making up
something new, by realizing that they could defy Laurel and get around her
set of rules, something no one else had ever managed to do (well, except
Janet & Tam Lin in the original, I suppose).  I think all they needed was a
possibility: if it could be done, they certainly had the courage, strength
and ability to do it.
But it also seems to me to tie in with Max's saying that it's sad.  However
much hope they may have had, a void isn't as friendly as a nice moving
castle with a fire-demon burning in the hearth!  Seriously, it's a rather
lonely sounding proposition.  Which of course, ties in with all those other
ideas discussed here, which might be summed up, generally, as saying that
it will never be as safe, easy or comfortable, to just go along with
expected behaviour.
As for Seb, Elise said:
>I think I dislike him all the more because I do have sympathy for his plight.
That's another interesting one.  I can't get very far beyond feeling that
he's one of those people you can feel intensely sorry for, as their
awfulness is so understandable, and yet you have to realize that you simply
cannot do anything except stay away from them.  Polly's fatal
soft-heartedness could well have been fatal with Seb, as she says in the
end that he'd managed her, and brought her to a complete dead end.  There's
a fine line sometimes, between compassion and hubris.  (Loved the "trap for
the unwary", BTW).  There's no point to making a sacrifice for the Sebs (or
the Ivys) of the world, as they'll suck you dry, leave you at the dead end,
and not be a bit the happier for it themselves.  Ohh - that just reminded
me of the Shel Silverstein book, The Giving Tree.  Does anyone else dislike
that book as vehemently as I do?   The Boy IS Seb, isn't he?  And the tree
(female, of course), is praised for that kind of barren sacrifice, which
leaves her at the dead end, and we're supposed to read this to our kids???

It's amazing where a few DWJ books, and a few like-minded people can lead you!

Hallie (who's very glad other people think out loud, and feels privileged
to be allowed to listen in)

The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft a-gley
--'To a Mouse,' Robert Burns

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