Re Happy Childhoods was Re on Being a Hot Babe etc

Ven vendersleighc at
Mon Mar 25 21:34:21 EST 2002

Ania asked

<Does DWJ - and other authors, too - have it
in for people who have NOT had a horrible
childhood/ are actually
good-looking/are naturally confident?> 

That's not my impression. I'd actually say that
natural confidence is quite a common feature in
dwj protagonists -- for example Jamie in Homeward
Bounders, Mitt from Drowned Ammet, Awful
(Archer's), Howl and of course Christopher from
TLOCC. Good looks in the conventional line are
rather more rare, but in part this is because Dwj
often doesn't describe people in that way. Take
Mitt, he's certainly not handsome, but, by the
way others are shown to react to him he is
attractive. As for horrible childhoods, more
<It seems to me that Rupert is seen as
a prat because he dares not to be screwed up,
isn't preoccupied in an
insecure fashion with other people's opinions and
dares to be unpleasant to
poor broken hearted little Maree. Is it an
example of confidence-envy? 

Someone else may have already said this but on
their first encounter on the bridge Maree isn't
exactly acting like a poor broken hearted little
thing and Rupert IS being a bit of a prat,
because he is embarrassed.

not-insecure people meant to be somehow inferior
because they have not been
through - or have overcome - being insecure? Is
there an implication that
they somehow deserve punishment for daring to be

Well, there are confident people who have been
through a lot and there are confident people
whose confidence has yet to be tested -- I know
which one I would follow into a fire, but it's
not a value judgement, honest. I rather think
that confident/secure/untroubled and lacking
confidence/insecure/troubled is a false
opposition, and, for that matter, there is rather
a difference between inner confidence and
projected confidence. Rupert has plenty of the
latter, but, as his continued reliance on Stan,
Zinka and his brothers shows, rather less of the
former, that may well be what makes him prattish
at times. (I like Rupert too). Then there's Nick,
not exactly an ideal upbringing and he's
supremely self assured. 

For my money, I'll stick with my idyllic
childhood and the confidence it
instilled in me, thanks. 
That's certainly your prerogative!

Melissa said

<my theory is that this type crops up frequently
because of readership
concerns.  Say you divide readers into very rough
groups of Good Childhood
and Bad Childhood, and assume that the main
character is the one the
reader's meant to identify with.> 

Brutal snippage

There is, of course a huge range of good, bad and
indifferent childhoods and surely most are a
patchwork of the good, the bad, and the boring.
And the bad (or the good)might run all the way
through or occur in one vivid flash.

My childhood certainly wasn't idyllic, but in no
way was it "an unhappy" childhood, let alone a
horrible one. I can identify with Mitt for the
happy part of his childhood on the farm, and with
his exasperation at sometimes having to be more
adult than the parent. I was never abandoned by
my parents like Polly but the episode on the
bridge evokes the way I felt when my Mum was late
coming to visit when I was in hospital and all
the other kids' Mums came in except mine (there
was a mix up over a message).

Memory varies also, some people just enjoy going
over the traumas and dramas of their lives, some
would rather remember only the happy bits, others
are unfortunate enough not to be able to forget
the bad stuff.

 <They were looking for more
"realistic" books about kids who brutalize each
other and live in miserable
homes with miserable or nonexistent parental
figures.  Never mind that all
the kids in this particular book, along with the
things they did, were based
on Kristen's own children and their friends.>

"Realistic" was certainly an unfortunate word
choice here. I would have rather have thought
this was the "happy families are all alike"

<I think DWJ, and other writers who write about
kids, usually do so from personal experience. 
But the publication ratio
makes it seem that these experiences are not only
the majority, they're the
norm.  I'd like to see more books that reflect
the way *I* grew up.  I loved
the portrayal of Rupert's brother Will's family
for that reason>

Sally said

Congrats on the award Sally

<Bad childhoods exist, but since most children
are I-centric they remember
*only* what inpinges on them. Thus my husband
remembers being "dumped" at
school on his first day while his mother drove
off, whereas the facts reveal
that his mum couldn't even drive at that time.>

Lol, as I was saying about memory above. However
I suspect this memory accurately represents how
your husband felt about going to school.


Do You Yahoo!?
Yahoo! Movies - coverage of the 74th Academy Awards®
To unsubscribe, email dwj-request at with the body "unsubscribe".
Visit the archives at

More information about the Dwj mailing list