Polly and Nina (FIre and Hemlock, was Hexwood

Nat Case ncase at hedbergmaps.com
Mon Feb 4 14:15:12 EST 2002

Ven wrote:

>He does doesn't he? Isn't that horsey woman, Mary?,
>another of
>the same type? However I think something else is going
>on here

Not as sure. I don't think she is described as any more than horsey. 
I pictured her with nondescript light brown hair. Mousey.

>We're told that Polly's grandfather was one of Laurel's victims
>which makes her (Polly) a sort of in-- law, giving her a toehold of a
>right to be at the funeral. Her looks would seem to
>imply an actual family relation, giving a stronger right (cf the people
>allowed into Hunsdon House at the end) and I think Tom recognised that.
>(could the business with the vases have been a test?). I have a feeling
>there were part Leroys all over the neighbourhood -- Laurel's people have
>been interbreeding with the locals for yonks. However  we know that Laurel had
>her claws into three men from the same family, Tom, his brother and
>Leslie, so there may have been a preference for certain lines.

It makes a lot of sense. I know some modern reinterpretations of the 
faerie ballads imply that Faerie interbreeds with humans because 
essentuially of inbreeding. I don't think that is made clear in F&H, 
but it would be appropriately backwards if in breeding with humans, 
they end up breeding in an inbred way...

>Nat continued
>>  >Nina's sense of making herself attractive later--she shows off her
>  > >developing bust, dyes her hair, chases boys, etc., while superficially
>  > >about beauty, stand in contrast to Laurel's literally stunning
>  > >elegance. Polly is in the oddly powerful position of growing into the
>  > >physical ABILITY to give Laurel a run for her money, but not wanting to
>  > >be judged on that OR on the vulgar sorts of things Nina gets into in
>>  >her teens.

ven replied
>Interesting. I'm not sure I'd exactly characterise Nina's
>outfits/behaviour as vulgar -- cetrtainly not in intent. I sort of see
>Nina as probably despairing of her "faults" frizzy hair, glasses etc, and
>putting on a big show as a way of attracting attentionaway from them. Of
>course she is, in fact, an attractive girl and the effect is to draw
>attention to that and to give her the enviable air of being confidently

I'm thinking especially of the 19-ish Nina that Polly runs into on 
the street towards the end, who says something like "we were never 
friends, you little prissy ****." I always picture her giving Polly 
the finger, but can't remember if that's in the book or not.


>  > Your comments did go a long way towards reconciling me to Tom's
>  > "thing for fair-haired females", though.  The only sentence in that
>  > whole book which consistently irks me is Tom's telling Polly that he
>  > always loved her hair - just as he's about to be done in.  Somehow it's
>  > now fallen into place as consistent with that whole idea of Polly,
>  > Laurel and Ivy as aspects of the Three-Formed Goddess.  So Tom's
>  > attraction to the Goddess is first misplaced in Laurel, his next one
>  > gets it right.  I suppose it *could* also suggest an explanation for
>  > Polly's puzzling mistaking of Laurel for Nina.  If another grouping of
>  > three is Nina, Polly and Fiona, it could be the (physical) association
>  > of Laurel and Polly transposed on the (non-physical) association of Nina
>>  and Polly.  Maybe?


>Another group of three is Polly, Ivy and Granny. I'm
>going to have to read F&H again real soon....

I'm having a hard time with the three-formed goddess idea, partly 
because so much of the book is based in one-on-one interaction, 
partly because there is no crone: Ivy is obviously the mother, Polly 
the maiden, and Laurel is something else altogether. There are 
certainly subsets of characters in her life, some in threes, some 
twos, and the quartet is a four:

Polly's two girl friends: Nina and Fiona
The two boys: Lesie and Sebastian
Polly's three parents: Ivy, Reg and Granny.
Tom's three loves: Laurel, Ann, and Polly
The three fair-haired ones: Laurel, Ivy, and Polly.
The quartet, variously named.

The Quartet strikes me as a more important structure: A pair of 
violins, a viola holding down the middle, and a cello on the bottom. 
Not as stable a structure as a trio, but that does seem to me to be 
the shape the whole book is based on (and she has professed Eliot's 
"Three Quartets" as being one of her startign points.

>As I was typing the above I found myself singing "The Polly and the
>Ivy". You know, she could have been named "Holly", in an earlier
>draught, only "Polly" suits her better and "Holly" might have been
>too obvious. Or maybe not!

"Of all the trees that are in the wood, the Polly bears the thorn"
"They'll turn me in your arms, an adder or a snake..."
I'm guessing that's not DWJ's intent, but I like it...


Ok, breathe deeply and repeat after me: "Computers will make our 
lives easier. Computers will make our lives easier. Computers..." Ok, 
now write a subroutine so the computer can keep saying this for you 
while you do something else...


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