[DWJ] offtopic dialect question

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Wed Mar 8 14:16:49 EST 2006

Sue wrote:

>> To be honest, I *know* that Gwendolen's hair is not really in fussy
>> ringlets
>> because of the Janet issue, but I *imagine* it in fussy ringlets all
>> the same .
>> . . does that make sense? I guess the Gwendolen who exists in my
>> mind's eye is
>> different from the Gwendolen who exists on the page of DWJ's book: I
>> think
>> probably because she's such a character that she takes on a life of
>> her own
>> when I'm reading. So, not a case of character running away from
>> author, but a
>> case of character runing away from the reader! Do others experience
>> this?

Otter wrote:

>I guess I don't have much visual imagination -- well, I know I don't --
>and it
>never occurred to me that their hair would have to look the same.  I
>of Janet as the sort of person who would keep their hair out of their
>face --
>in pigtails, maybe?  Maybe Janet's hair looks like Gwendolyn's hair when
>she takes it down.  I guess that might work ....

DWJ refers us to the text on this one, but I don't think *all* the info is
there.  Some of it is, though.  The bit that isn't is "naturally curly".

Gwendolen has long, golden hair which she combs, in Chapter 4.  Combing it
makes her cross, because like DWJ's own hair, it's naturally curly, and it
gets tangled while she sleeps.  When it's worn long and encouraged to do so
it will form ringlets; that's what Gwendolen does with it.  She ties it up
with hair-ribbons (which Janet finds in the bottom drawer of the golden
dressing-table, at the beginning of chapter 9) and these help when one is
forming ringlets, apparently.

Janet too has long golden curly hair: at the end of Chapter 8 "the golden
hair hanging over her shoulders was an inch longer than it had been last
night".  When it hasn't been brushed or combed and disciplined a bit, it
forms untidy curls.  She can make it into ringlets, just as Gwendolen can,
but she doesn't bother, she just lets it do what it wants.  When she climbs
a tree her hair gets full of twigs, which Julia later turns into
caterpillars at lunch.

DWJ suggests that "Gwendolen"'s hair not being in tidy ringlets when she's
Janet *is* noticed, but everyone is so fed up with Gwendolen that they
don't mention it to her.  And Chrestomanci, of course, knows at once that
Janet isn't Gwendolen, hair or no hair.

The other way that Janet looks different from Gwendolen is that she's
thinner, and that her expression is more "downright", at the end of Chapter


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