[DWJ] corporal punishment

Hallie O'Donovan hallieod at gmail.com
Thu Mar 10 04:07:46 EST 2011

Gili's question sent me into a frenzy - which I passed on to Becca - as I
was *sure* I remember the same scene.

But it was kind of interesting how many books I checked for it had extreme
humiliation of the schoolgirl rather than corporal punishment, somewhat to
my surprise!  FWIW, Gili, Helen in _Jane Eyre_ doesn't die because of being
punished by being made to stand out in the rain.  Helen is made to stand
with the 'slattern' board on her, but the typhus infection which tears
through the school later is because of the situation, "a cradle of fog and
fog-bred pestilence", and "semi-starvation and neglected colds".

In _Anne of Green Gables_, Anne is first made to stand in front of the
blackboard where the teacher has written "Ann Shirley has a very bad temper.
Ann Shirley must learn to control her temper," and Anne says she'd have
"infinitely preferred a whipping".  Later he makes he sit with the boys,
which is so humiliating that Anne refuses to go back to school.  But the
stupid teacher soon leaves and then there's the lovely teacher.

Katy - before the accident, obviously - goes to a school run by a lovely,
gentle woman, who goes no further than a severe scolding, even when Katy
incites the others to riotous games.  When they go off to school in the next
one, I think the limits of the head-teacher's cruelty is to change their
rooms, punishing Katy for something she hasn't done (writing letters to a

And the worst that happens to Laura is in - _Little Town on the Prairie_ (I
think!) where Almonzo's horrible sister is teaching school and punishes poor
Carrie, who is small and not terribly strong (she's already fainted in
school) by making her rock the heavy desk because she did it accidentally
while studying.  She pushes too far and then Laura takes over and rocks it
with a vengeance, after which they're both sent home from school.  An almost
mythological punishment in their minds.

More recent and horrifying is in Rachel Manija Brown's _All the Fishes Come
Home to Roost: An American Misfit in India_, where one child is nearly
killed, and it's a minor miracle many don't.


On Thu, Mar 10, 2011 at 6:33 AM, Gili Bar-Hillel <hptranslator at gmail.com>wrote:

> Thanks a bunch to all of you! Many of the books you mentioned are on
> project
> Gutenberg, so I imagine I'll easily find the quotes by running a search.
> Problem is I then have to look them up in Hebrew translation for my
> class...
> or maybe I'll just make them suck it up and listen to English. (Reading
> level English is a university requirement and we are assigned many readings
> in English, but the students do grumble about it). I think I have plenty of
> examples, and the more I think about this topic, the more fascinating I
> find
> it. I'm beginning to think there might be an MA thesis in this...
> One lister raised the hypothesis, and I'm thinking she may be absolutely
> right, that I mixed up the punishment of Amy March with the punishment of
> Danny in "Danny the Champion of the World". Interesting also that some of
> you mentioned scenes in books I know I've read, such as Jane Eyre, but I
> had
> absolutely no recollection of these scenes.
> In the Narnia books, C. S. Lewis sneaks in a couple of words in favor of
> corporal punishment. He states quite clearly in Dawn Treader that one of
> the
> elements lacking in Eustace's education was corporal punishment; in the
> conclusion of "The Silver Chair" Eustace and Jill and Caspian give the
> bullies at Experimental School a whacking which we are lead to read as long
> overdue.
> Asides from corporal punishment, there are many examples of more
> "educational" forms of punishment in literature - giving the child a "taste
> of their own medicine" or having their lies come true on them - sometimes
> framed as quite entertaining: Nurse Matilda (aka Nanny McFee) and Mrs.
> Piggle-Wiggle come to mind.
> It is a gruesome topic and one about which there is a frightening wealth of
> material. I've just read four different memoirs of Jewish authors who
> studied in "Heder" (a word meaning "room", because usually this would be
> one
> room in the house of a private teacher) in 18th, 19th and even early 20th
> century Europe, where teachers mercilessly flogged children as young as
> three and as old as twenty. Students would leave injured, sometimes
> crippled
> for life, one of the stories is about a boy who died at the hands of his
> teacher - and this was socially accepted, even expected. Beatings were
> considered an inseparable part of education. Perhaps, indeed, the only way
> to get a group of children to learn to read a foreign language at three was
> to make it essential to their survival that they do so. I'm getting carried
> away, but the topic has hit a sensitive spot with me and one which is
> unfortunately on my mind in recent days.
> ObDWJ: in "Time of the Ghost", the fact that the girls are NOT punished by
> their parents for various misdeeds is a sign of their neglect. If they are
> punished, it is randomly, not immediately connected to what they did or did
> not do, making their entire interaction with their father an extended
> blanket punishment for being bad girls and unworthy of his attention.
> I'll leave you with this thought from Astrid Lindgren, author of the Pippi
> Longstocking books. This is from a controversial speech she gave in 1978 in
> Germany; one year later, Sweden passed a law forbidding parents to beat
> their children:
> "When I was about 20 years old, I met an old pastor's wife who told me that
> when she was young and had her first child, she didn't believe in striking
> children, although spanking kids with a switch pulled from a tree was
> standard punishment at the time. But one day when her son was four or five,
> he did something that she felt warranted a spanking - the first of his
> life.
> And she told him that he would have to go outside and find a switch for her
> to hit him with. The boy was gone a long time. And when he came back in, he
> was crying. He said to her, "Mama, I couldn't find a switch, but here's a
> rock that you can throw at me."
> "All of a sudden the mother understood how the situation felt from the
> child's point of view: that if my mother wants to hurt me, then it makes no
> difference what she does it with; she might as well do it with a stone. And
> the mother took the boy onto her lap and they both cried. Then she laid the
> rock on a shelf in the kitchen to remind herself forever: never violence.
> And that is something I think everyone should keep in mind. Because
> violence
> begins in the nursery— one can raise children into violence."
> On Thu, Mar 10, 2011 at 5:46 AM, Gin <kalaidiscope at gmail.com> wrote:
> > Hi,
> >
> > There is definately caning in Tom Brown's schooldays, and there is also
> > caning in Rudyard Kiplings'  " Stalky and Co" . Would you like me to find
> > the quotes for you?
> >
> > Gin
> >
> > On Thu, Mar 10, 2011 at 1:10 PM, Roslyn Gross <rosgross at bigpond.net.au
> > >wrote:
> >
> > > In _Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix_, Harry is physically
> > > punished in a particularly sadistic way by Professor Umbridge.
> > >
> > > Ros
> > >
> > > On 10/03/11 4:25 AM, "Gili Bar-Hillel" <hptranslator at gmail.com> wrote:
> > >
> > > >Dear DWJers,
> > > >
> > > >I'm straying off topic, but this list is so wonderful for identifying
> > > >books
> > > >that I can't help myself.
> > > >I'm trying to remember a book in which a schoolgirl gets caned across
> > the
> > > >palms of the hands. It's something like "What Katy Did" or "Anne of
> > Green
> > > >Gables"... Her hands hurt so badly she can hardly hold a pencil
> > > >afterwards.
> > > >Does anyone remember such a scene?
> > > >And in general, I'm looking for references in works of fiction to
> > children
> > > >being punished by adults, in particular memoirs and fiction from the
> > 19th
> > > >century, punishment at school, and corporal punishment. I've come up
> so
> > > >far
> > > >with the paddling in "The Great Brain", Silas Marner sticking Eppie
> the
> > > >coal
> > > >shed... I'm sure there are tons more that I can't recall right now.
> Help
> > > >appreciated!
> > > >
> > > >Gili
> > > >_______________________________________________
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> > >
> > >
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