Spoiler on Black Maria and other things (was: Re: poll which is far too full of washing)

Philip.Belben at powertech.co.uk Philip.Belben at powertech.co.uk
Fri Sep 10 03:49:03 EDT 1999

Mellissa, quoting Helen:

>>...the ending seemed to me to be rather similar also.  ie, Black Maria was
>>imprisoned in a box and sent to sea while Chesney was imprisoned in a
>>bubble.  Both of which had their own universe running.  (I may have got some
>>details wrong, it's hot and I haven't read them for a while!)
> I was thinking exactly the same thing.  The impression I got was that DWJ is
> saying there are some people you just can't change and killing them wouldn't
> be enough of a punishment.  Not that DWJ ever makes political statements
> about capital punishment--that's not what I mean.  But when you're talking
> about Ultimate Justice, living can be more of a punishment.
> Well, and that's not quite right either.  Because for both Chesney and Aunt
> Maria, they're the sort of person who would live in denial rather than admit
> that they're wrong and that they LOST.  Putting them away like that isn't a
> punishment; it's the only way to keep them from coming back or starting over
> somewhere else--because you just know that neither of them thought they were
> doing anything wrong, or else they thought that their actions would have
> been wrong for anyone but THEM.

The impression I got in Maria was that Tony Green was taking the view (with
which I don't wholly agree, BTW) that since Maria had acted correctly according
to a certain set of standards (I'm not sure whether these are her personal
standards, or those of the community where she grew up), and had (her words)
"nothing to reproach herself" for, punishment would be inappropriate, since the
purpose of punishment is to bring the wrongdoer to a sense of their

He therefore favoured isolation, which protected the (past and potential)
victims, but didn't punish Maria.  He even admits the possibility that she may
eventually emerge from isolation and start again.

(My view, FWIW, is that if what she did was right by her standards, Maria's
_standards_ need changing.  Punishment may be a part of this process.  I agree
with TG's other argument, though, that allowing the community their revenge
would be to sink to her level.)


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