Witch week

Charles Butler hannibal at thegates.fsbusiness.co.uk
Sat Nov 8 04:49:09 EST 2003

When I read 'Witch Week' I find the *tone* and terms of the prejudice
against witches similar to that against homosexuals, including the
'enlightened' medical view of homosexuality from about the middle of
the 20th century - the way Miss Hodge says she's been brought up to
feel sorry for witches, and the phrase 'someone in 6B has a very sick
The whole logical muddle over whether it's something you're born to,
something you can 'catch' or be influenced into, a mental illness or a
deliberate, immoral choice seems very similar.

I think your example is actually better than DWJ's here! In fact, although
she mentioned race, she didn't limit the metaphorical power of
witch-persecution to that. Here's the relevant sentence (from 'The
Profession of Science Fiction' -

"The fact that it has been put in terms of magic (or impossibility) has
distanced the problem (which may actually be one painfully near to most
children, like secret fears or racial difference) so that it can be walked
around, followed through and, if possible, solved in some way."

Possibly she had homosexuality, amongst other things, in mind when she wrote
'secret fears'? Though if so it would be an uncharacteristically coy phrase.


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