Outsiders' response to magic; was RE: Bedtime musings on characte r in DWJ (F & H)

Rowland, Jennifer A B jennifer.rowland at ic.ac.uk
Wed Nov 22 06:26:00 EST 2000

The relationship between the villagers and Laurel is interesting. Its 
obviously gone on for a long time. Its comparable to the townsfolk 
in Carpe Jugulum, they have allowed themselves to become 
domesticated in return for a touch of glamour. I suppose what they 
get out of it is the art of the doomed talented boys like Thomas and 

I've never thought about this before. How much do the villagers really know
and how much does Laurel keep them befuddled? How much of what they do know
do they let themselves think about? What could they do to get rid of Laurel?
Polly's Granny is strong and she couldn't do anything- if not enough people
have been directly affected, would everyone believe in the teind and try to
stop it?
In old fairy-tales there can be a sort of fatalism- the Old Ones will do
what they like and we just have to endure it- is that still operating? I
can't see music being that much of a compensation for having someone taken
every 7 years- is Laurel a patron unsaint to the village? (Could it be that
some of the victims are "foreigners" and they don't really care about them
This also makes me think about what non-magical people/non-protagonists see
of the action in dwj books. In the ones where the world believes in magic,
it isn't so much of a problem, but in the ones set in "our" world, the
protagonists are often trying to keep the normal world unaware of the magic,
and protect it, and this isolates them from their ordinary means of support
and makes them more vulnerable. (Howl and the Witch can have a fight over
the harbour and the townspeople aren't that bothered, but Rupert has to hide
the fact that there is a centaur in a hotel and this makes his life more
complicated.)It's more difficult to ask for help when the other person
doesn't believe in the danger. And if someone is meddling with something
they only half believe in or understand, this adds danger again- like Jamie,
or Maewen, or the sisters invoking whatever-her-horrible-name-is in Time of
the Ghost (I keep thinking of The Morrigan).
This is subtly done, of course, I hadn't noticed how it heightens the stakes
of the story until Ven's message made me think.
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