[DWJ] McKinley and racism (WAS recommendations)

Eleanor Joslin eleanor at dreamvine.org.uk
Wed Jul 31 10:28:26 EDT 2013

My head canon has Millie as white with mousy hair.  I don't remember her 
world's people being described as anything else, and I imagined her 
country as being sort-of congruent to Britain - after all, they speak 
English there.  For me, imagining stodgy, blotchy pale people like me 
being Heathens was part of the fun.  I also read Charmed Life first, so 
maybe I'd already internalised a pale Millie from there.

I think DWJ liked to play with expectations about how race and culture 
match up.  Another example is The Homeward Bounders, where Joris, who 
comes from a poor, third-world, non-English-speaking country where his 
family sold him into slavery, is white, and his owner (who must be the 
nicest slaveowner I've ever read about) is brown.  Because they're from 
another world, so why not?  Possibly with a gentle hint to white 
children to think twice before assuming their skin colour entitles them 
to anything.

I have trouble visualising the two peoples of Dalemark as truly 
different races though.  I tend to think they must be two different 
kinds of what I'd call white, like maybe Nordic and Slavic (not 
literally, those are just examples).  I think that's partly because the 
invaders come from the north (and I'm pretty sure from the weather 
descriptions that Dalemark is in the northern hemisphere) and partly 
because I can't easily picture people with brown skin and naturally fair 
hair, unless their skin is only a little bit brown (e.g. white + suntan).


On 31/07/13 13:57, Lucy Pearson wrote:
> Ah yes! I had forgotten that part. In which case Tanaqui and her family are
> also presumably darker skinned, since they can be mistaken for Heathen.
> I had forgotten Helen! She is indeed awesome.
> My head canon also has Millie as darker skinned, although Roger and Janet
> are described as pale. Mind you, that could be relative. Also, I think
> that's in 'Charmed Life', and the Millie I imagine in 'Charmed Life' does
> not look at all like the  Millie who grow up from being the Millie in 'The
> Lives of Christopher Chant', though. 'Charmed Life' never does fit
> comfortably into the series for me - obviously it does in terms of plot,
> but the characters hadn't quite grown into being themselves.
> Lucy
> On Wed, Jul 31, 2013 at 12:37 PM, Kyra Jucovy <arykiy at gmail.com> wrote:
>> <i> In the Spellcoats, one of the things that
>> marks Tanaqui's family out is that they look like the Heathen: they are
>> fair while the villagers are dark. (I don't remember whether it's clear
>> whether the difference extends to skin colour, though - the main reference
>> is to their hair.) </i>
>> I was under the impression that the Heathens were fair-haired but
>> darker-skinned compared to the villagers, but in looking at the Amazon
>> search inside the book feature it's hard to confirm my impression - the
>> closest quotation I could find was Duck saying to Tanaqui, "They were real
>> Heathens.  They had hair a bit like ours [ie, fair] and brown faces. . . ."
>>   Also, at one point, Kars Adon's "face grew red under its Heathen brown."
>>   This does sound as though there is a skin color distinction and the
>> Heathens are darker.
>> Tacroy is "brown," and I have read other people's headcanons that Millie is
>> non-white and generally assume this to be accurate though I can't remember
>> if there is any textual evidence.  And in THB Adam thinks that Helen looks
>> "Pakistani."  Helen is so awesome.  That's irrelevant but needed to be
>> mentioned anyway.
>> ---Kyra

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