[DWJ] Cart and Cwidder Cwestion

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at Proffitt.com
Mon Mar 19 17:39:19 EDT 2012


> Minnow said:
> 
> > Clennen did one of the nastiest things I can think of: mindrape.  He
> > wanted this girl who was getting married to someone else, so he used
> > the cwidder's magic to cause her to abandon the man she loved and
> > everything she knew, and to go with him even though she had never in
> > the slightest wanted to, and to bear his children and stay with him as
> > long as he lived. And at the time, she even wanted to do his will: her
> > own will was taken over and subverted.  And this oaf constantly
> > belittled the man she loved, and there was nothing she could do about
it!
> 
and Philip replied:

> Yes, he did mindrape Lenina.  I don't think it is as clear-cut that the
spell with
> the cwidder did all you say, though.  I think it is quite clear that what
was
> keeping them together by the end was Lenina's sense of duty - part of her
> southern aristocratic upbringing.  It is arguable that the spell Clennen
cast
> with the cwidder was enough to make Lenina come away with him; he got
> the knot tied before she realised what was happening; and her sense of
duty
> did the rest.  It certainly seems to be an important aspect of her
character.

I agree about this. I'm also not sure that Clennen intended the cwidder to
have this result; when he tells the children the story, he refers to the
cwidder working only once for him in a way that I think suggests he sees it
as some kind of good fortune. Mindrape in effect but not in intent? It
surely didn't make a difference to Lenina, but it means a lot in terms of
the kind of man Clennen is. Whatever that spell was, though, Lenina was
definitely over it by the time the story begins. I lean more toward her
behavior being passive-aggressive because she's stuck in her marriage,
rather than muzzled by a control-spell still in effect. Also, like Philip, I
wonder whether Clennen had any idea that his wife despised him. He's so full
of himself that I'd bet on him not getting it--which makes him more
despicable in my eyes.

I used to think Lenina was horrible for running away to this total stranger
(from the kids' perspective) and being so very happy, but then why shouldn't
she? Whether she was magically in thrall to Clennen or bound to him by duty,
she was finally free. And I doubt Gannen was actually as boring as the
children thought; he comes through in the end, and it sounded like a lot of
people respected (or feared) him, so what I think is that he just looked
dull by comparison to Clennen, and that makes sense.

The thing that keeps coming back to me when I read  this book is that it's
all about family, *all* DWJ's books to this point have been about family.
And unlike many YA books where the adults are in the background, here they
are still not the center of the story, but they've got their own lives that
are separate from the children's story. You could write a whole novel about
Clennen making Lenina run off with him, and her coming to her senses, and
everything that must have come before Cart and Cwidder opens, because they
aren't just plot devices. I think Deborah said something about how DWJ's
stories aren't necessarily about child abuse, just crappy parents--if you
stipulate that it is not child abuse to take your kids on the road with you
(tough rocks, Lenina, Clennen is right about this one), then the kids' only
problem is that they have dysfunctional parents, which may or may not result
in abuse, and in this case doesn't.

I didn't realize that this is the first DWJ novel set entirely in a fantasy
world instead of our own. Pretty impressive, no?

Melissa Proffitt




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