Witch Week

Ven vendersleighc at yahoo.com
Tue Nov 11 00:26:34 EST 2003

Sarah wrote
<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.>

And don't forget the stuff about the Real boys
and girls as aopposed to Nan and her ilk!

Charlei quoted Dwj:

<"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.">

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

Much as I like this homosexual reading of Witch
Week I think that the theme is broader. Someone
was talking about how in earlier books she dealt
with real world predjudices (Dogsbody). I think
that as she has gone on she has shifted from
specific cases of exclusion to a general
treatment of the outsider (I mean when this theme
appears of course). The way Witch Week works for
me is that many readings on the theme of
outsiderdom are possible. Dwj has turned from
direct confrontation with single issues to
dealing with the fundamentals behind the issues.
Hence in Witch Week we have the situation where 
outsider children are also seen as
Which reminds me that recently I was reading
someone's schoolday reminiscences of how the
teachers would take away her books at recess
because she shouldn't be reading she should be
socialising. I should think all of us here have
transgressed that way at some time or

Deborah asked

<At the time WW was written, how much was 
homosexuality in the public

Adding to what Minnow said: Throughout the
fifties people had been campaigning for reform of
the law on homosexuality. In 1968 the Victorian
laws against male homosexualty were repealed,
and, while more limits were applied than for
heterosexuals, homosexuality was "legalised". A
particularly active campaigning group was CHE,
Campaign for Homosexual Equality. This was a high
minded kind of group, whose message was tolerance
and reassurance that the end of civilisation
would not result..... They had a great deal of
public sympathy as many disliked the way the law
was a blackmailers charter and, along with the
social predjudice, had driven too many to despair
and suicide.  The GLF, Gay Liberation Front was
something like CHE's rowdier, more radical
younger brother, but at the time I was too young
to be let out on demonstrations so I just saw
most of this on TV. Lesbians were never illegal
but, nonetheless, were invoved in both
campaigning groups, and naturally shared a lot of
the same social aims. As elsewhere the rise of
feminism (modern style)brought about a split in
groups and agendas.  All of which i think Dwj
would have been aware of by the time she wrote
Witch Week.


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