Nasty Children (in DWJ)

minnow at minnow at
Fri Dec 10 08:32:23 EST 2004

Katie wrote:

>My youngest brother was writing a summary of Charmed Life for a school
>application and my dad, who was editing it, was rather shocked at the
>fact that Gwendolen, a child, is cruel to/against her brother.

Good heavens, hasn't your father ever seen a child bullying a younger
sibling habitually?  It's distressingly usual.

>This is
>one of the good things about DWJ- nasty children do exist, sometimes to
>become nasty adults, and she includes them.

Children are no more saintly or nice than any other class of human being,
since they are individuals not a sort of amorphous mass called "the child".
If there are going to be nasty adults, whyever should there not also be
nasty children?  People don't suddenly become that way when they reach
sixteen or eighteen, having been lovely and kind and thoughtful of others
for all the years before that[1], any more than someone who has been a
complete cow all her life automatically becomes a Sweet Little Old Lady
when she hits the age of sixty and gets her pension-book.

[1] or if they do, they may well grow out of it again when the hormones
settle back down.

>Although I too think
>Gwendolen could have been better had she had better parenting.

Gwendoline had no parenting to speak of on account of her parents were
dead, but then neither did Cat, and he didn't turn into a little toad.
They were afraid that he might have -- that's one of the basics in the
story, that he was slightly assumed not to be reliable and this led to
confusion in the way he was treated at Chrestomanci Castle -- but he

I think Gwendoline was nasty all of her own accord, really.  Whether
superlative parenting might have made her less odious is moot, since she
never got it.

DWJ has every reason to point out that bad parents don't necessarily mean
the child has to be bad too.  (One only has to look at her mother to see
that she'd prefer this not to be considered inevitable.)  The Lee brat in
*A Tale of Time City* is one of the few cases where the awful parents have
simply taken the child along with them and it hasn't apparently questioned
their worldview.


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