Ballet Shoes (was RE: DWJ sans frontiers)

minnow at minnow at
Sun Jun 12 07:54:21 EDT 2005

Gili wrote:

>I happen to be translating this book into Hebrew right now
>Poor as they may have been,
>they always had Nana and Cook and Clara and who not. The bare essentials
>included servants.

When doing this translation you might want to have in mind that "Nana" is a
name given both to nannies and to grandmothers, in much of England, and
it's possible that when Streatfeild used it she did so deliberately.  It
makes Nana's position ambiguous.

When times got tough, Nana didn't actually take a wage, and was far more a
member of the family than a servant.  A quick check reveals that in Chapter
10 "It was two years since Nana had let Sylvia give her any wages."  So she
stopped taking any money when they started to have to take in boarders,
which they did when Gum had been gone six years leaving enough money to
last for five.  (He left when Posy arrived, and Pauline was then four;
Pauline is twelve at the beginning of chapter 10.)

The word "let" there sums it up: the decision was Nana's, not Sylvia's,
evidently.  It's hard to think of someone as a servant when you're an
orphan and she's known you and been in charge of your life since before you
can remember!  It's clear that "servant" or not, Nana is the matriarch, and
it is her decision on matters that is the final word, really.  Sylvia may
be the nominal head of the household, but she defers to the senior woman
always.  If Nana hadn't approved of Theo's idea for the children to go to
the Children's Academy of Dancing and Stage Training, it wouldn't have
happened: Sylvia had said "No" until Nana said "Yes".


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