Millie to Milly

Mary Ann Dimand amaebi at iwon.com
Wed Jun 21 12:33:31 EDT 2000


Jennifer said:

> After I read LoCC I did feel that Millie would have to shrink
> to become Milly, being a witch or whatever herself, but maybe
> she takes the same view of it as she did of going to school-
> what ripping fun to bring up children?

I suspect that part of what's going on here isn't so much shrinkage as
compartmentalization. Milly is likely to act primarily as a parent toward
Cat and Gwendolen as well as Julia and Roger. And where children see an
adult primarily as a parent, they're not likely to see more.

A passage I have always remembered about Milly is that at her advent "...the
little spring ran bubbling out of the grass again. Cat was looking down at
it, wondering why it should, when he noticed a sort of gladness come over
the anxious Family around him. Chrestomanci was looking upwards, and a light
seemed to have fallen across his face. Cat turned around and found Milly was
there at last. He supposed it was some trick of the hillside that made her
look tall as the apple tree. But it seemed no trick that she also looked
kind as the end of a long day." And her advent turns the tide entirely.

We are also seeing things from Cat's point of view, and Cat is mistaken
about and unaware of quite a few things. I think there are several reasons
for this, by the way, beyond his youth and individual character. He's
recently and narrowly survived the death of his parents, for one thing. But
perhaps more importantly, he's gradually stumbling his way out of
Gwendolen's domination. But that's a difficult sort of process. Cat's been
trailing along behind Gwendolen rather haphazardly, and now he's supposed to
doubt that she establishes The Truth? But she sounds so very sure about
things! What's so confusing is that one feels as if one must be mad on
either path. Cat can no longer truly believe everything Gwendolen
pronounces. But how can he trust himself more than he trusts her, when she
is so effective and there's "no limit to Gwendolen's glowing confidence"?

Cat is still practicing disagreeing with Gwendolen, who is terribly
contemptuous of Milly. Isn't it going quite far simply to like Milly?

I think that what with the loss of his parents and struggling away from
quasi-parent Gwendolen, Cat is in a sort of walking shock state for much of
_Charmed Life_. At any rate, that's how he typically sounds to me. So he
misses seeing more in Milly than lies right at the surface, just as he's
long unaware that Chrestomanci is a magician.

Long list of citations indicating what I believe is Cat's hesitant progress
(much aided by Janet)-- from the 1977 Greenwillow hardcover:

p. 3: "Looking back on it, Cat supposed that it was from this time on that
he was certain Gwendolen was a witch. He had not been sure before."

p. 16: "It was not that [Cat] disliked Mr. Nostrum...."

pp. 21-23 and later: I think Cat finds Chrestomanci mystifying and difficult
to deal with because he keeps wondering about Cat's thought processes and
doesn't tell him What's What and Where to Go all the time. Cat's been
accustomed to mudding things out in his little personal corner, unnoticed.

p. 25: Gwendolen: "And Chrestomanci was bowled over by me. You saw that,
didn't you?"

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