[DWJ] Mothers

Elizabeth G. Holtrop elizabeth at bouma-holtrop.com
Wed May 16 18:31:26 EDT 2007

Farah Mendlesohn <farah.sf at gmail.com> wrote:

>DWJ's parent figures are rarely abusive per se, they are 
>just wound up in themselves. <snip> 

>Every single one of them pays attention when an actual 
>demand for attention is made, it's just that in most 
>families, children don't have to actually ask. Dark Lord of
>Derkholm was an interesting book for me because it was the 
>first time we saw these "parent constructs" portrayed as 
>sympathetic without actually changing any of that. 

Thank you for identifying what I love about Dark Lord!!  As 
soon as I read what you had written I realized that what 
draws me over and over to Dark Lord is the family construct.
I grew up with deeply loving parents who nevertheless did
not have much time to give to their children.  As academics,
they wandered in and out of our lives, providing not only
the necessities such as food and clothing and shelter, but 
also educational materials, abounding books, art supplies,
dance and music lessons, and fascinating theoretical
discussions at a young age.  But what they did not do was
provide what I would consider to be adequate emotional support.
Because they homeschooled us but they were both gone for most
of the day by the time I was an adolescent, my siblings and
I were left on our own most of the time, much like I remember
DWJ writing about in her online autobiography.  I think I must
have recognized the same sibling-bonding and survival instinct
in the Dark Lord family that I remember from my childhood.  The
upside to this is that I have fabulous relationships with my
sister and brother, and we have helped each other work out our
various issues with our parents with the outcome that we are
extremely close with our parents as well.  But as I type, I'm 
realizing that I trust my siblings far more than I do my parents,
because my parents have at times abandoned me, emotionally if not
physically, and my siblings never have.  I see the exact same
pattern in Dark Lord.  

Thanks so much for sparking that in me.  It drives me crazy
when I can't figure out why I'm drawn to a book; I like to be
able to pinpoint what's drawing me to a particular story.

Sorry for the rambles about my own life. :)


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