Attic term

Aug. 25th, 2009 06:06 pm
[identity profile] posting in [community profile] trennels
1. Nick and Lawrie are still on the Junior netball team, even though so much of the switch in EofT was because Nick would never again have the chance to do this because they'd be too old?

2. There seem to be so many more rules than ever before at school.  I guess there must have been before, but somehow they just seem more prominent now.  Nick and Miranda shopping for the play in End of Term didn't seem to involve nearly so much fuss as these shopping saturdays do - I know they were sent by a staff, but they seemed to be a lot more trusted then than later on.

3.  What, exactly, were the millions of shopping party rules that they broke?  OK, not telling Gina exactly where they were going - but surely girls didn't always know what shops they'd be in or what they'd be buying, specially as they were looking for things like birthday gifts, where they were undecided already about what to buy.  Buying clothes?  Did they know that was such an offence?  they don't seem to have been aware at the time that they were breaking so many rules.  Buying things for others?  Well they were gifts, so was that really a problem?  I know that it led to others finding Changegear, and doing illegal things like swapping clothes or getting Day Girls to provide things to swap.  But what was so wrong about what Nick and Miranda did that day?

4.  And why the sudden emphasis on Day Girls?  Just a plot device?  Or were they there all along and just not mentioned as much.  Or perhaps schools by the time Attic Term was written did have a lot more day girls. (and a lot more rules!).

5. Miranda's Jewishness being such a problem at school Xmas events.  (not just Attic term, but also End of Term).  Why do they all care so much?  I know that sometimes Jewish girls objected to being made to participate in Christian events, and fair enough, but she seems to want to do it, and is never allowed - not because her family would object, but because other people would, a feeling that it's somehow not proper/respectful etc of her to being doing it.   That way around is something that seems less common, with everyone somehow worrying that someone else woudl object, but we never actually see anyone who finds it a problem.  Is anyone really offended?  Maybe people like Ann?

6. Patrick really does seem to be in love in Ginty at times.  I tend to think of him as mostly just fancying her because she's there and she is so obviously keen on him - but that's probably because I know how it ends up.  At the time, he seems quite keen on her, too, wishing she'd phone, wishing he could magic her there to be with him, etc.   When he and Claudie are discussing sex, and he says he is innocent, and she gives him a long look - he then says 'no' - is she offering?  I tend to read it like she is, but then sometimes I think she is just somehow questioning the fact that he doesn't want it.  I don't really understand/like Patrick so much in this book.  The whole crying at classical music, and just lots of other interactions, don't seem realistic to me, somehow. 

Date: 2009-08-25 08:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
1. This was my reading of it - that it would be the last term either would be eligible to be in the team.

3. Mmm. The 'not telling Gina which shops' thing is a bit much in some ways, especially as she doesn't actually ask because she's nervous and inexperienced. Is Miss Keith suggesting Nick and Miranda should have made the poor girl feel worse by telling her how to do her job and more or less telling her she's incompetent? Or that, because she didn't ask, they then shouldn't have gone in to any shops? (I often think it must have been petrifying to have to prefect people like Miranda, Nicola and co - even Lawrie, who certainly has her own moments of being utterly wet, has no hesitation dismissing Gina as a 'steaming nit' or something along those lines...)

I agree that Miranda and Nick don't appear to be consciously breaking rules - they even obey the rules about not eating in the street in uniform with an air of conscious virtue - and Nick knows she's not allowed to borrow from Miranda - which suggests the reverse of some kind of intentional escapade.

I have to say I always find the move from Miranda simply wanting to buy herself some clothes to the idea of buying half the form clothes a bit unconvincing - why the sudden philanthropic urge to brighten up the dinner table?

4. Day girls as plot device, definitely. Otherwise no one to provide the clothes to be swapped and cause all the hooha. Also maybe it heightens to pathos of Meg Thingie's horrid father/no extracurricular fun situation. I mean, I assume they were there all along, but don't feature much as the boarders would never really see them out of lesson time. Ginty certainly fantasises about being one at some point.

5. I don't think the concern is about anyone at the school objecting to a Jewish girl taking part in Anglican events - it's Miranda's parents' feelings about their daughter taking part in them that Miss Keith is concerned about, and I think there's an implication in Attic Term that her parents weren't best pleased about the nativity play participation. Doesn't someone say they'd taken the view she'd been 'more or less shanghai'ed into it'? I know Miranda herself doesn't present her family's religious belief as particularly fervent, but remember her mother still won't talk, years on, about the aunt who became a Catholic nun...? That they sent her to an Anglican school doesn't necessarily mean they're happy for her to get involved repeatedly in Anglican religious ceremonies.

6. I think Patrick is just self-absorbed, lonely and bored during the school term - he's isolated at school, and can't indulge in any of the country pursuits he loves, and he even realises that he'll partly miss Claudie when she leaves, even though he doesn't much like her, because she seems to be the only young person he ever sees outside of his schoolmates. I think Ginty is just available, and better fun than sexually-savvy Claudie twisting his hair around her finger and being patronising about his inexperience. I always think it's significant that he wants to 'whistle up' Ginty as if by magic when he wants her (and presumably magic her away again when he needs to do his Latin Unseen... I've never seen him as even in calf-love with her.

Date: 2009-08-25 09:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That they sent her to an Anglican school doesn't necessarily mean they're happy for her to get involved repeatedly in Anglican religious ceremonies.
Right. And worth noting that most (not all, but a very high percentage) boarding schools at that time would have been Anglican. I know the Wests sent Miranda there because of being evacuated during the war, so it seems very likely indeed that they chose Kingscote simply because it was a good school. Had they tried to find a non-religious school they would have severely limited their choices.
Edited Date: 2009-08-25 09:04 pm (UTC)

Date: 2009-08-26 09:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I don't think Miranda ever asks the others 'whether it would be all right', though.

In Attic, Tim is the first one to assume Miranda can't take charge as director as it's carols, and Miranda says that anyway, she's already Games prefect. Tim thinks it's 'stupid' that Miranda shouldn't be involved as the obvious music person, but then acknowledges that, as it's in the school chapel (rather than the theatre or assembly hall, presumably?) that it's 'real holy stuff'. Then she says that as Director, she can co-opt Miranda to do the music part, and it's only nervy Esther, who's terrified of misbehaving, who worries about authority finding out. Tim says 'you were in the Christmas Play, and no one hurled thunderbolts.' To which Miranda replies that 'I know Keith took the line that I'd been practically conscripted, and it wasn't really my fault, but I don't think she cared about it too much.'

No one seems to give a toss, apart from Miss Keith, who is presumably primarily thinking of the sensibilities of the West parents and whatever arrangements are made for non-Anglicans like Miranda and Peggy Levy (who is more Orthodox, and doesn't even watch the Christmas Play and whose parents are presumably stricter about such things) to opt out of religious instruction and prayers etc.

Later Miranda says again 'I'm sure I shouldn't,' to which Tim responds that she'll be playing, not saying words, and that no one could possibly object', and though Miranda doesn't entirely agree, she lets herself be overruled - which I doubt she would if she thought it was a serious situation) and the chief thing is where to get her a chapel cape (as she clearly doesn't attend school prayers and services in the chapel as a rule) And in the event, there's no indication Miss Keith objected to Miranda's participation, even though she was presumably prominent as the sole violinist. Miss Latimer certainly doesn't seem to think anything is untoward when she's told Miranda and Tim wrote the little introductory carol verse.

Date: 2009-08-27 09:40 am (UTC)
ext_22860: Dr Who in a t-shirt reading 'trust me, I'm a Doctor' (blood for breakfast)
From: [identity profile]
Going back to End of Term, I think there are at least fears that 'people' will object to a Jewish person in the Christmas play, and that Miss Keith is probably one of them, and not because they think the parents will mind. When Nick, Miranda and the others arrive at the Minster to explain their grand plan, Val Longstreet says 'That's quite out of the question' which I think refers to Miranda, as she goes on to object separately to Lawrie being Shepherd Boy. Miranda certainly takes offence, from the fierceness she's exhibiting when Nick goes to find her later. And Nick defines it in her mind as 'the worst thing... Miranda snubbed in that particular way'.

Earlier in the book, Marie Dobson triggers Lawrie's 'Christians weren't Jews' discussion by saying that obviously Miranda can't be in the Play because she's Jewish, and I don't think she means because the Wests would object. Then when Kempe, Cromwell and Janice are discussing Miranda, Kempe says it doesn't matter to her that Miranda is Jewish 'But obviously some people would take great exception. And on the other side - what sort of trouble should we be letting ourselves in for from her parents?' On Christian objections she later says 'The thing is, however illogical it may be, there are people who would mind.' Miranda is also conscious of two issues - when they're discussing whether to try to do the swap she says 'practically everyone' might mind that she's Jewish. Then when Nick goes to fetch her from the Minster and mentions the possibility of her father minding, 'Miranda, to whom this particular objection hadn't occurred, frowned, considering.'

I think therefore that all this is in the background to Attic Term, and the objections that Miranda is thinking of are the ones that Miss Keith appears to feel and that 'other people' (such as Val Longstreet) feel, Christians objecting to a Jew taking part in what they consider an act of worship. (Of course, if the issue is faith, what anyone is doing allowing Lawrie in a religious event at all...)

Date: 2009-08-27 11:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Hmm. That changes the context a bit - I haven't a copy of End of Term, and know it less well. In those circumstances, then, I'm slightly surprised that a decisive character like Miranda doesn't absolutely refuse to be involved in the carols in any way, after the nativity play snub (especially if you consider it in relation to comments like the kind of thing Wendy Tredgold appears to come out with regularly.) Yet she says no more than 'I'm sure I shouldn't', and that people might object even to her playing rather than saying words (it's actually kind of interesting that AF keeps putting Miranda into Christian events but carefully not giving her anything to say), but then, after resolving to stay in the background, goes on to take a very active and presumably conspicuous part in the carols.

Maybe the reason I didn't remember the extent to which the contrary view is put in End of Term is that it's either indirectly presented as 'some people might object' - those people never appearing - or put into the mouths of characters who are specifically presented as idiotic, like Val Longstreet and Marie Dobson...?

Yes, one feels Lawrie would have been astonished to be told that the nativity play intended the audience to think the Shepherd Boy was in fact less important than the child Jesus...

Date: 2009-08-27 02:05 pm (UTC)
ext_22860: Dr Who in a t-shirt reading 'trust me, I'm a Doctor' (blood for breakfast)
From: [identity profile]
Definitely the text suggests that the people who would object are wrong and endorses Janice's alternative view. I do tend to read 'I don't think she cared about it too much' as suggesting Miss Keith is one of them, but we never get to hear the blood for breakfast scene in the study after the play, so I don't know how important that was compared to what Mr West might think (which is obviously also on her mind, since she says she'll write to him).

It's a good point, though, why Miranda is prepared to get involved in the carols; perhaps because she was backed up at the time by people she respects, like Miss Cromwell and Janice, as well as her friends. And she does like to be in things.

Date: 2009-08-27 08:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
To what extent is Kingscote an Anglican school?
Anglican convent schools in the 1950s accepted Jewish pupils - and any exclusions were made by the parents, not by the school

Date: 2009-08-25 09:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
1. Right. Things change. AF makes mistakes. *shrugs* Imagine them on the Middle Netball team if it makes you happier.

2. There are not more rules. Rules are inherently pretty dull things to write about except when they are being broken. In this book, a lot of rules are broken and we are told about some of them.

3. Who knows? AF didn't write the school rule book. And, if Kingscote was anything like my school (or indeed every other school I've been involved in as teacher or student) rules are constantly changing. There are rules which are implicit, rules which exist but are usually ignored, rules which are very general and can be invoked in a range of situations, and rules which are formed to deal with very specific things. It's clear that both Miranda and Nicola accept that they have broken the rules that they are accused of breaking, so the rules must have been sufficiently well-recognised. Eating the crisps is a good example of this - they know perfectly well that what they are doing isn't allowed, even though it is within the letter of the law, but they do it anyway because they know they'll get away with it. And with that one, at least, they do.

4. Selective storytelling. There were definitely day girls around in the earlier books, just not in Nicola's personal circle, nor relevant to the plot. This is how books work.

5. I think it's perfectly reasonable, actually, from Miss Keith's point of view not to have Miranda taking an active part in what she views as an act of Christian worship. I suppose it's possible to debate whether the Nativity Play was such an act, but the fact of it happening in the Minster and lots of Dr Herrick's comments indicate to me that this is how it is viewed. Similarly with the carol service. The Latimer tells them it was a quasi-religious event which I suppose gives a little bit more leeway, but still it is not a secular 'holiday' celebration.

6. Nah, Patrick doesn't love Ginty. He quite likes the idea of being in love with her and he is definitely dazzled by her beauty. He's mostly just lonely, especially in London, and it's always pleasant to talk to someone who panders to your ego the way Ginty does. Claudie is certainly offering. And indeed when she kisses him and Patrick decides he'd like to do that again, I expect she'll offer again. I think he will still say no, but I am not certain.

Date: 2009-08-25 09:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Eating the crisps is a good example of this - they know perfectly well that what they are doing isn't allowed, even though it is within the letter of the law, but they do it anyway because they know they'll get away with it. And with that one, at least, they do.

Oh, am I misreading this then? I haven't the book to hand, but thought I remembered that the rule was about not eating in uniform in the street, so they 'virtuously' ate the crisps in the Cathedral Close, which presumably didn't count? I genuinely thought they were obeying, or believed they were obeying, the spirit as well as the letter... Clearly I would have been the steaming nit variety of shopping prefect.

I think both carol service and nativity play arguably come under the rubric of acts of collective worship - what the Latimer says is a passing on of a rebuke from On High that Nick and co's carols were too much of a performance, and not enough of a Prayerful Occasion. And that the audience in the Minster indicates appreciation by standing rather than applause takes that largely out of the secular for me, too...

Now wondering whether Patrick will confess to kissing Claudie the next time he goes to confession, and whether he will take it seriously if his confessor tells him to avoid Claudie in future as an Occasion of Sin... Will he have to give up his evening creme brulee? I always find it vaguely funny that the Patrick who blushed and stammered at Claudie's revelation that she's having her boyfriend to stay the night, has begun by the end of the novel to initiate kissing of Sophisticated Jolie Laide, and is even getting a bit of seductive banter going...

Date: 2009-08-25 09:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The point about 'in the street' is 'in public spaces', whether or not they happen to be streets, closes, avenues, squares... I'm very sure that if Miss Ferguson, say, had caught them at it, a defence of 'But it's not actually a street...' would not have got them very far. And Miranda and Nicola are sharp enough to know it.

Yes, Patrick is definitely Growing Up in Attic Term. Which is, I think, part of the reason why things with Ginty come to a crashing halt, because she really isn't.

Date: 2009-08-26 08:50 am (UTC)
joyeuce: (Default)
From: [personal profile] joyeuce
This is how I read it too. We had a similar rule about not eating in the street in uniform at my boarding school (early 90s), and it was similarly stretched/broken by eating in the park.

Date: 2009-08-25 10:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Patrick doesn't love Ginty, but as Rupert he's exploring the idea of love with Rosina. Isn't it only in his Rupert persona that he says he loves her?

Day girls - Meg features significantly in Cricket term - she doesn't get the Prosser.

Is Kingscote overtly an Anglican school? I should think at that time most non-denominational schools had a big majority of "official" Anglicans, both pupils and staff, so their daily worship etc was geared to this, without the school proclaiming itself as an Anglican establishment. Apart from Miranda, there's Peggy Levy, from a much stricter practising Jewish family, if it was advertised specically as Anglican, I doubt if she'd have been sent there.

Date: 2009-08-25 10:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yes, quite right about Rupert.

Many boarding schools do have an Anglican foundation and it seems to me that Kingscote fits that pattern, with church on Sundays, hymns in assembly, links to the Minster and so on. I don't think that in the mid-20th century it would have been that easy to find a public school which didn't have a religious affiliation. There were certainly some, but not many. It's not a question of advertising but of foundation: who set the school up and why? My own school was by no means a 'Christian school', in that there were pupils of many different faiths and none, and there was nothing particularly Christian about the education we received, but it was very definitely an Anglican school.

Where else do you think Peggy Levy's parents would have sent her? Plenty of suitable day schools around London, but I'd struggle to think of a boarding school that would fit. Besides which, I just don't think people would have thought of the decision in those terms. Provided she was allowed to be exempt from all the things her parents disapproved of, why shouldn't she go to an Anglican school if it provided the best education?

Date: 2009-08-25 10:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Okay, I checked. The Independent Schools Council currently lists 72 girls' boarding schools in England. Less than ten call themselves non-denominational. A few describe themselves as 'Christian', 'ecumenical', or 'inter-denominational'. There is a fair sprinkling of Roman Catholic, Methodist and Quaker schools. But by far the majority are Church of England schools. Forty to fifty years ago, I'd bet that this was even more the case.

It's not just a question of what happened in assembly, it's the formal links with the Minster, the compulsory church attendance on Sundays (unless exemption is specifically given), and the whole pattern of school life, including things like the carol service. I can't see how it could be meant to be anything other than a Church of England school.

Date: 2009-08-26 12:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This is how books work.
Yes indeed. And one of the ways readers work is by trying to figure out the 'rules' of the universe within which the book is set, in order to make sense of the storyline, ie by asking questions like this...

AF didn't write the school rule book

Well, if she didn't, no-one did! One of the big differences between Kingscote and the schools you've been involved in is that it's, well, fictional. As you say earlier in your comment, the rules only 'change' in that AF invokes them differently, for purposes of story-telling, not for the purposes of making an actual school run more smoothly. It's a question of world-building, I guess - like in science-fiction, you don't need to write the Operational Manual to the USS Enterprise, but if you're going to write a plot revolving around the capacity of the starship to escape or not escape through a wormhole at the Moment of Danger, you do need to let the readers know what the parameters are. Similarly, I have never understood any of the rules that are supposed to be in operation (written, unwritten, spirit, letter) in Attic Term, and so the plot has never made sense to me, because I can't tell what's at stake in any given plot development. I've always seen that as a lapse in worldbuilding in the later books.

Date: 2009-08-26 08:57 am (UTC)
joyeuce: (Default)
From: [personal profile] joyeuce
To me, it makes sense because it chimes with my memories of childhood and adolescence, where the rules didn't seem to make sense, and did change frequently, and did have loopholes some of which (but not others) could be exploited by some people (but not others). This was especially the case at boarding school, but to some extent at my day prep school as well, and even extended into college life.

Date: 2009-08-27 01:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
But the thing I love about AF's early books is the way she gets that experience of the messiness and difficulty and changeability of the rules across in a way which is completely clear, so the reader has a clear experience of inclarity. The matches incident with Lois Sanger on the Guide walk and the 'trial' afterwards is a perfect example of that - we know what the parameters are and we understand why the situation is unclear and muddled and confusing to the characters. To me, the worldbuilding in Attic Term just doesn't work as well, because there aren't clear parameters for the reader within which we can experience/understand the characters' lack of clarity.

Date: 2009-08-26 10:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
AF's world building has always been on the loose side. Look at the careless way she set up the Marlows' ages and birthdays! She has admitted (somewhere) that she makes plot errors, which bother her readers far more than they do her, and this must be something to do with the swathes of time between each book.

Date: 2009-08-26 11:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This is how books work.
Yes indeed. And one of the ways readers work is by trying to figure out the 'rules' of the universe within which the book is set, in order to make sense of the storyline, ie by asking questions like this...

Yes, this. Why would one bother being a member of Trennels, seemingly just to attempt to shut down discussion of the books by that kind of comment?

Date: 2009-08-27 12:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
1. If we want a wholly logical universe, how about this - the County Netball Association decided, as these bodies occasionally do, to change and/or standardise the rule regarding "Juniors" to cover up to 13 years old instead of up to 12. To accommodate prep schools, presumably. (Though as the twins are going to be 14 by the end of their Lower Fourth year, and presumably a year behind where they should be strictly based on age, that opens a whole new can of worms. There's another discussion on that somewhere on this board, connected with the whole Marlow children's ages.)

2. Miss Keith is an old fusspot where rules are concerned, or she can be. Miss Kempe and Miss Ussher certainly don't like being overruled in their choice of cast, from earlier in the book, and quite possibly think Keith's over-zealous. I dare say it's permitted for staff to send children out on errands at the end-of-year relaxation of rules, but I bet if Miss Keith found out after the play that those Nicola and Miranda had been sent into town, she'd be very sniffy with Kempe and Ussher.

5. I think Miss Keith's great care over Miranda being Jewish is just taking excessive care over not offending someone who she doesn't really understand. Neither Miranda nor her father show any signs of being religious Jews - there's absolutely no evidence that she goes off to the synagogue on Saturday, or has kosher food, for example - and I would think they avoid ham and go to the synagogue on holy days, rather as quite a lot of Catholics avoid meat on Fridays and go to church on holy days. Maybe Peggy Levy's parents, for example, would take offence where Miranda's wouldn't, and Keith's just being careful.

And as for other people's reactions, things have changed a lot in attitudes since then, and not just in terms of numbers of people attending church. I remember 25 years ago certain people, the older generation, objecting because our Methodist minister (a) lit a candle in church, and (b) looked up at the cross on the front wall before the sermon. They thought both practices were somewhat Roman Catholic. Now, no-one would dream of objecting. End of Term was published in 1959, when religious observance (possibly as opposed to Christianity) was much more significant in people's lives.

Date: 2009-08-27 09:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thinking about any of Kingscote's productions (and apologies from moving away from Attic Term) the casting is always quite potty. Why should Jan suddenly be given a major part in The Tempest, for instance, after years of being passed over? Why does MK choose Nicola to be Shepherd Boy when, not only has she has been drummed out of the netball team for apparent over confidence which MK dislikes above all things, but also the cast already includes two Marlows acting major roles?

Naturally, none of his takes away the pleasure of AF; it almost adds to it.

Date: 2009-08-27 12:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Maybe it's that word "Query?" in the margin of Nicola's record. We never did find out who wrote it. But we do know Miss Keith doesn't like guides, and I wonder if perhaps she doesn't like Miss Redmond or trust her judgement. My guess would be that Miss Craven was outvoted on Nicola's dropping from the team, and when she reported to Miss Keith (I presume Craven would do that, not Redmond) Craven expressed some doubts. Maybe Miss Keith has a very fair idea of what Lois is really like. Hence, having doubts about Nicola's true character, she decided to give her a second chance.

Or even maybe, she knew Lawrie is a terrific actress and would do the job brilliantly, but doesn't trust her and/or consider her record good enough to be allowed to try. But she thinks Nicola would do a good job as well, and so allows her record to pass muster.

In spite of what Nicola thinks, I reckon Keith does like her. She certainly stretches a point to give Lawrie the Prosser so Nicola can stay on at school.

Date: 2009-08-27 12:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
PS - maybe Jan's singing in the Christmas Play (which was cast by Dr. Herrick) brought her back into the pale? Plus some good diligent work as librarian?

Date: 2009-08-27 02:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That's another unlikely scenario. If one of the Marlows has to leave through lack of funds surely Ann is the obvious candidate. Not only will she not mind so much (I can see her easily settling into being an asset to the local Grammar for her A' levels) but she is at a good point academically to leave. And I don't see why MK would leave it so long, last day of term practically, before telling Mrs M about the Prosser even if the twins aren't to know.

Date: 2009-08-27 08:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Second thoughts - while maintaining that own experience of Jewish pupils in Anglican convent schools was that it was the parents who made the rules of what was acceptable -
second thoughts are that, since the author is Jewish, but didn't board at an Anglicsn school - convent or otherwise - perhaps she simply didn't know what was usual/acceptable?

Date: 2009-08-28 06:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think perhaps an actual Church school might be less tolerant of Jews' alternative faith than a non-church school like Kingscote. A Church school would expect that children are there to learn about Christianity (among other things!) and will not make exceptions unless specifically asked to. And sometimes not even then.

A school like Kingscote, with a Christian ethos but not specifically a Church school, is far more likely to try not to discomfit the non-Christian. Possibly, in Miss Keith's case, being a bit too careful here - maybe with eyes on Mr. West having paid for the swimming pool - by which I don't mean she's being greedy and hoping for more, rather that she feels she owes him a special debt and so takes extra care not to cause offence.

Date: 2009-08-28 06:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I don't agree - i was on the staff of an Anglican convent school where there were several Jewish pupils. They didn't come to chapel, but they attended RE (as opposed to Catechetics) because they could make really useful contributions to the historical background of monotheism
I suspect that some non-Christian schools would have been less accepting

Date: 2009-08-28 07:51 pm (UTC)
ext_22860: Dr Who in a t-shirt reading 'trust me, I'm a Doctor' (Default)
From: [identity profile]
I think it would depend very much on the school and the staff - I'm sure there were/are Christian schools where toleration is considered important, and equally schools which are a kind of default Christian and end up being intolerant because religion is not thought about too carefully. But I think we can reasonably assume that Forest is drawing on her own experiences of being a Jewish girl attending Hampstead High School, and that therefore the kind of unspoken exclusion she describes is part of what she remembers. And (see comment above) I don't think Miss Keith is only concerned about what Mr West will think.

Date: 2009-09-01 04:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
With regard to 5) I think it's explicitly stated in End of Term that Miss Keith sees the play as an act of collective worship. So a religious event more than a theatrical event, which I guess does make Miranda's participation problematic, because she is particating in something she cannot be expected to believe. Also, there is that conversation in ET during art lesson. All the girls EXCEPT Lawrie (including interestingly Miranda) assume that to make the audience feel religious it is necessary to be/feel religious - Lawrie, professional actor in the making, states that is nothing to do with it, but simply the quality of the acting - and everyone else is a bit shocked. So there is a sort of assumption, even among Nick, Tim, Miranda etc that if it is a religious event, religious sincerity of the participants is required, if it is to succeed - they are, in a funny way, on Miss Keith's side. Though actually Lawrie is shown to be right, not them.

Suspect AF probably wrote about these issues because they were ambiguous.

Date: 2009-09-01 08:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
And also, it occurs to me, Miss Keith is right about Ann. Because she turns in a great performance as Mary, even though there is no indication anywhere else in the books that she is interested in or good at acting, and it is hard to imagine from her character that she would be. So the implication is that it is the sincerity of her belief that makes her give such a compelling performance.

Although of course sincerity of belief is not enough to make Jess a good actor, while Lawrie can do a fantastic job without it, so obviously it is complicated.

Date: 2009-09-27 11:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
1. I think you're right about the junior netball team.

2. Agree, it doesn't seem a massive deal, but schools can be like that if the consequences are dire.

4. - There are day girls mentioned at other times. In Autumn Term, after the first few get to Third Remove and have teh desk argument, the rest, "including day girls" come in.
Then there are day girls Meg Hopkins and Berenice what's-her-name, mentioned in Cricket Term as well as Attic Term.

5. I think Keith sees both Christmas Play and Carol Concert (in Attic Term) as religious services. And hence only for Christian girls, if only nominally Christian such as Lawrie and Nick.

6. I think Patrick makes it reasonably clear he's not in love with Ginty - interested, but not in love. He tells Claudie that he doesn't want his relationship with Ginty to be sexual, and then says later sex should only be with someone you really care for (or pay for!). Seems to knock Ginty out of it altogether, I reckon.


Miranda and the worst snub of all

Date: 2010-01-23 07:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
When I was a teen-ager, I was absolutely obsessed with Nicola's comment about Miranda (referenced above), that Miranda being told that her participating in the play was out of the question was the worst thing about the whole evening. I'm half Jewish and was almost the only Jew at my school; I identified a lot with Miranda; but I could not see how her situation was clearly worse than, say, Lawrie's. Why did Nicola think it was? I'm sure that whatever had been intended by the authorities, Nicola thought that Miranda was not to be allowed in the play simply because she was Jewish, and pretty clearly this is what Miranda things too because isn't she furious when Nicola comes to tell her it's alright, and Nicola has to kind of talk her down?

But why was this SO bad? Presumably because AF herself would have been mortally offended by the thought that as a Jewish child she was not fit to participate in a play about the birth of Christ. I suppose.

I was so bothered by this, however, that I actually wrote to AF when I was about 17, asking her why Nicola thought that Miranda's snub had been so much worse than what was clearly going to come down on herself, Lawrie, and Tim. Alas, she never replied.


Date: 2010-02-09 01:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Patrick's a shy romantic. The whole Ginty affair is play for Patrick. I think when he realizes that Ginty is serious (and when she treads on his conscience by pretending she's going to read him the exam) that he gets spooked. Probably over the might-bes rather than the is. Having been a Catholic teenaged boy at about the same time as the later AFs were written I can see some similarities with my own experience.


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