Conrad's Fate

Aimee Smith s4028253 at
Thu May 26 08:25:46 EDT 2005

Conrad’s Fate

I see Conrad as a mixture of his age (kids often have trouble thinking 
outside the box don’t they?), the way he has been brought up to obey 
without question and the magics that bind him to this behaviour. Plus 
the shock factor into the bargain: I’m sure I couldn’t function with 
all this suddenness, business and strangeness thrust upon me, with the 
added impetus of ‘if you don’t kill someone you will die’, all at the 
age of twelve. This is what I always thought, at least from the time it 
was explained to me. Until then I just assumed his lack of rebellion or 
precociousness was due to his age and the way he was raised.

Personally, I loved the detailed look at the inner workings of the 
house. I could tell DWJ really knew her stuff, and it was so realistic 
(though all her books are, really. This was like a period piece)! I was 
in love with the whole Agatha Christie thing, the upstairs-downstairs 
setup with the mysteries and creeping around the house out of bounds, 
witnessing secret love affairs and all. In addition I must say, though 
Chrestomanci was never a favourite adult DWJ character of mine, I did 
like him as a child, but I really warmed to him as a teenager. It 
really was quite endearing the way he was always heroically charging 
off to rescue Millie and he showed a wonderful strength of character, 
and that he’s developing.

I find the idea of Conrad acting as a foil for Christopher an 
interesting one, and wonder if DWJ had that in mind. It certainly 
worked well, and added to that ‘through another’s eyes’ dimension of 
the book that she often manipulates well (eg. Power of Three, Fire and 
Hemlock). I thought the idea of this whole story happening around a boy 
who by all rights is the main character, and yet only seems to be so by 
accident, and spends most of his time acting as the 
third-person-‘objective’-viewer to all the goings on… oh, interesting 

By acting as this ‘third person viewer’, always trailing in the wake of 
Christopher’s proactivity and witness to things going on, Conrad seems 
to echo his role in the house as the servant who should be unseen and 
unheard, and as in the book Conrad manages to melt into the background 
to the other characters, the fact of his centrality to the plot and the 
fact that he isn’t an objective viewer at all seems to not occur to us 
as much. It seems to me to be a quite sneaky way of getting a reader to 
both trust Conrad and not suspect he’s been damped down by 
enchantments, and of echoing the theme of servanthood and invisibility 
in the novel. All the while completely maintaining integrity with what 
is going on in the novel itself in terms of character and events.

I agree about some of the most interesting things happening off-stage, 
I always find that with DWJ. No matter how fascinating the book, it 
that there is always something even better happening in the wings - 
elaborate mythologies that walk briefly through the book with a smell 
snow, passionate romances which no-one hears about until they're sealed,
treachery and politics behind closed doors and marvelous characters who
appear for a scene but so obviously have marvelous stories of their own
which we don't get told. Frustrating, but wonderfully so.

YES! It’s so tantalising and it frustrates, but it never quite manages 
to alienate. On the other hand – “FIVE YEARS!!!” is what I was saying 
at the epilogue!

The scene with the rehearsal for guests arriving, with the actors, and 
the shifts, and the ghost, and everything going wrong, was a very nice 
one of DWJ's chaos scenes, I thought.
Yep. I loved the escalation, as there is in all DWJ, of increasing 
chaos. The actors were great.
Did anyone else go "hang on - how old was she?" at the age gap between 
the girl who was picking Conrad up at the end? How big is the age gap, 
do you think?

And of course, the OT bait I had to dangle: How did you find Dr Who the 
other night? (I am talking to the Aussies, or at least the 
Queenslanders primarily here, cause we only just got the new series, 
but others feel free to join in!). Who's your favourite doc, why, and 
which sideckick? Which baddies? I'm told the current reruns 
(weeknights, we're up to the fantabulous, unsurpassed-as-yet Tom Baker, 
with the second Romana, who used to be Astra. They skipped showing us 
the series with Romana's regeneration, but oh well. Leonardo's painting 
Mona Lisas at an incredible rate, and who is this fake duke with the 
green spaghetti head? It's a wonderful script for one-liners, too, this 
Sorry if this is too old news or OT!

A little bit police-box crazy at the moment.

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