dwj-digest (Diana Wynne Jones) V1 #739

Charles Butler hannibal at thegates.fsbusiness.co.uk
Fri Nov 7 04:30:56 EST 2003

> When I taught Power of Three to an almost all-white classroom, the
> students who understood it all -- many were frightened of fantasy
> (undergrads and graduate students) -- said "well, yes.  it's about
> racism."  Which  seemed to me to be a huge simplification of Po3.
> There's much more there (individual personalities, intentional
> stupidity, selfishness, etc) than just "racism".  But that's how they
> felt comfortable talking about it.  Odd, I thought.

That's interesting - and reminds me a bit of what DWJ herself said about
'Witch Week' and how prejudice against witches in that book might be
recognized by a child reader as resembling prejudices (such as racism) they
came across in their own lives. Which it might, though I thought that too
was a little reductive (I wrote a bit about it in my *Exciting and Exacting
Wisdom* essay). These questions seem to figure more prominently (or more
overtly) in DWJ's early work, don't they? Think of the anti-Irish prejudice
in *Dogsbody*, for example. But what about *Wilkins' Tooth/Witch's
Business*? There's an early book with a prominent black character, and a
gang of bullies who set about him and are given to 'colourful' language, and
yet (from what I remember) they never mention his race/colour. It's curious.


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