F&H and Austen

christian nutt ferricide at hotmail.com
Fri Jan 10 12:56:17 EST 2003

>From: Katarina Hjärpe
>And besides, constructing a book so that a teenage kid has to get together 
>with a man nearly twice her age for the happy ending to work is shady in 
>itself. If that's the way the F&H world works, then that's a problem with 
>the F&H world, isn't it?

well, there is very little that is comforting or good about the world of 
fire and hemlock. polly's grandmother is about the only unmixed-good 
character in the book, and iirc she even has some strange foibles (can't 
recall what they might be, though. apologies. it's been awhile.) i don't 
know -- it seems that she got irrationally suspicious of something in the 
midst of the book at one point. maybe someone else can set me straight on 
this point.


the world of F&H isn't meant to be reassuring or pleasant, in fact i think 
it is probably DWJ's most oppressive book (and she has a lot of oppressive 
forces throughout her books. maybe the word i am looking for is 
"insidious".) just because an author writes about something happening 
doesn't mean they necessarily condone it on every level. DWJ is definitely a 
realist (yeah, i said it) if you look at her perspective from her 
talks/essays -- and the actions of some of the really bad characters in her 
books --  then you know she doesn't have many illusions about what Really 
Goes On. (anyone else here read 'the true state of affairs'?)

so (to charlie) if your friend was offended by it, that seems to me like an 
appropriate reaction, if a bit stodgy. i can definitely see the problems in 
the courting of polly but if you look at the evolution of tom's character as 
he ages (and you have to read behind the lines for some of it), you can see 
the stages by which he came to grips with what he'd initiated.

i don't think anyone (not DWJ, not polly, not tom) is particularly thrilled 
with the way things turned out even if they're happy (relieved?) at the end 
of the book after the main problem is solved and everyone has the 
opportunity for lasting happiness for once in their lives, finally.

i can easily imagine polly and tom going home, flopping down on (and/or 
around in) their beds for a week, and then being like "erm, what the Hell 
have we just done then?" on a most definite and real level. i think there's 
a tone of ambiguity even in the midst of the rejoicing of the (as per DWJ's 
usual) abrupt ending. but maybe it's just me being suspicious about the 
whole thing.

[ christian nutt - ferricide at hotmail.com ]

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