Back to DWJ (was: Re: Elitism was Tam Lin)

Mary Ann Dimand amaebi at iwon.com
Thu Sep 14 21:25:04 EDT 2000


>From Melissa:

> ... the first impression that Gair and everyone has of [Halla]
> is really negative, and I think that would be unfair if
> everyone kept reacting to her based on this first meeting. But
> Halla doesn't get any nicer.  She's insulting to the Lymen and
> the Giants, standoffish, and unwilling to compromise--every
> suggestion for alternatives to flooding the Moor, she counters
> not with reasons, but with mulishness ("it's happening, and we
> don't want to stop it, so it's your responsibility" and so
> forth). Reasonable for her to react like this, reasonable for
> them to dislike her for it.

> Then the situation changes.  Halla starts explaining why the
> Dorig need the Moor flooded: they need living space, they're
> overcrowded, all their aggressions are for the good.  And Gair
> sees that Gerald has "formed a very low opinion of her mental
> powers" and agrees: "Judging by the unreflecting way she
> spoke, he suspected she was simply repeating what other, older,
> Dorig said."  And for the rest of the book, it's repeatedly
> shown that Gair and Gerald are right.  Halla is sort of
> shallow.  She would like to be more important than she is, but
> she ends up being simply boastful and a parrot of others'
> ideas, without really understanding them.  She likes being
> important and being the daughter of the King.  In fact, she's
> a lot like another DWJ character--Polly's friend Nina, who
> gets treated with the same kind of disdain for being shallow,
> a follower of fads, and "unreflecting."

You see, what troubles me is that DWJ is not reacting to a person she met
somewhere. She's invented Halla, and also invented the universal disinterest
in Halla of everyone else in the book. And it seems so unnecessary.

I like Melissa's description of Halla as someone who picks up unreflecting
adages from her set-- but is it the experience of most of you that this
leads to universal opprobrium or neglect? It certainly isn't mine!

I don't have the same trouble with Nina. She seems to me a better-presented
character, someone I have known, and she's not supposed to be sneered at by
one and all the same way. Sure, Polly and Gran come to find her a bit of a
type, but that's all right. Nina hasn't all that much time for them.

I also agree with Melissa that Moril's evaluation of Brid has as much to do
with Moril as with Brid. (Gair, OTOH, is pretty much supposed to be reliable
at that point in Power of Three, I think.)

(As for meeting authors-- I can't often make conversation with anyone,
sadly. All I can ever do is to say things when I happen to think of them! So
DWJ would have to take her chance with me, I suppose. Isn't she lucky that
the question's unlikely to arise?)

Mary Ann


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