[DWJ] Bad Mothers (was HP)

Jenny Schwartzberg schwartzbergj at newberry.org
Thu May 17 11:11:27 EDT 2007

Yes, I love the Perilous Gard too, and I don't remember Kate's being fat 
in the beginning either.  I must dig out my copy.  I always thought she 
was skinny and awkward in the way a lot of teenagers are and had simply 
grown into her body Underhill as well as learning to be graceful.  
There's also an implication of real time passing Underhill that doesn't 
line up with normal time but that is such a common trope in fairy tales 
and fantasy stories...


Hallie O'Donovan wrote:
> Oops, Deborah said what I just posted, but much better:  (Except I 
> must discuss The Perilous Gard example!)
>> Can you never make a fat character lose weight any young adult
>> novel without showing weight loss as an essential part of
>> character development and perforce showing fatness as a character
>> flaw which must be rejected? It's hard to say. Of course it makes
>> sense that the kid in Hatchet loses weight; he's starving in the
>> Canadian bush. Of course the boy in Staying Fat for Sara Byrnes
>> ends up losing weight; he's a competitive swimmer, and he can
>> barely keep the weight on at all even when he is trying to. But
>> those books exist in a canon which also includes The Perilous
>> Gard*, which includes the standard young woman coming of age
>> trope that her fat at the book's beginning has transformed into
>> breasts and hips by the book's end. In The Perilous Gard,
>> therefore, we are reinscribing the unexplored notion that fat is
>> equivalent with flawed & undeveloped characters, youth, and
>> sexlessness; character development brings maturity, sexual
>> identity, and lost weight.
> I wasn't convinced by your last mention of The Perilous Gard this way 
> and still don't buy it!  How can you fit Alicia's saying about Kate's 
> physical change 'But you know how *bony* and how stiff in the back you 
> always used to be?' with her having been fat before the 
> transformation?  (Italics-equivalents mine.) Obviously physical 
> maturation has happened with the breast and hip/waist change, but I 
> can't see describing it as an overall change from fat to feminine curves.
> Hallie
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