Hexwood again

Gross Family argross at bigpond.net.au
Tue Feb 5 09:14:58 EST 2002

I want to bring something else up about _Hexwood_ that I've wondered about.
find it interesting that Mordion, despite having being terrorized and
brainwashed in the most dreadful way, has not been brutalized by the
experience--that he was able to protect a part of himself during the
process. Not only that, but it's clear that he hasn't really internalized
the brutalization at all, not really--he has managed to remain a profoundly
decent juman

Thinking about this led me to realise that this pattern appears quite often
in DWJ. Although she does recognise that upbringing has effects on people,
overall she seems to take the view that people are the way they are because
of some inner temperament or perhaps some inherent moral sense. I'm
thinking, for instance, of the way Gwendolen is simply a spoiled,
narcissistic brat from the beginning, and Cat is humble, diffident and
decent--not because of their parents or circumstances, but just because
they are the way they are. I can think of lots of other examples--despite
her selfish mother and weak father, Polly in _Fire and Hemlock_ is very much
what she is, with all the qualities she has; unlike Seth and Leroy, Tom is
simply unwilling to do *anything* to save himself (yes, I know he uses
Polly, but not in the blind, uncaring way that the other two men do). We
don't know why Tom is decent--he just is. Then there's the boy who takes the
necklace in the very beginning of _The Power of Three_ (for the life of me,
I can't remember his name, and I don't have the book with me), who is just
cruel and arrogant because that's the way he is.

But maybe this is all just too obvious to point out?  It it did suddenly
strike me that DWJ appears to have an approach on this matter of good and
evil that is different from a lot of other modern writers. It flies in the
face of other views of personality that would explain cruelty in terms of
childhood deprivation. She seems to be portraying
good and evil in people as somehow inherent, not all that influenced by
parental ubringing or environment. Of course, she doesn't see good and evil
in black and white terms--that's one of the things I love about her
writing--and her characters often come to realise how inadequate they've
been. But she does seem to think that characters/people will either learn
and grow for their mistakes, attain insights and act decently and so on--or
they won't. Whether or not they do seems to have little connection with what
their parents are like or whether they were treated kindly by others in
their babyhood. I'm not trying to draw any conclusions about this at
all--I'm curious about whether others see this in DWJ or if others see
something totally different.


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