[identity profile] nnozomi.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] trennels
( I hope it’s all right suddenly to post here; have lurked for some time but not contributed before. Please ignore my ramblings if not interesting/pertinent.)

So I finally read Spring Term and on the whole enjoyed it much more than I expected to, am looking forward to pleasant rereads. Didn’t agree with everything, but there you are. I did take issue, though, with something the author mentions in her afterword: that the Marlows in general and Nicola in particular, usually very much against lying, depart from this point of honor in Run Away Home, and that she has decided to assume this was a temporary aberration and return them to their previous stance in Spring Term.

It seems to me, thinking about this, that Nicola (used as a proxy for most-Marlows-in-general) admits of two kinds of lying: lying for one’s own convenience, which is a bad thing (cf Lois, Marie, Tim and the pears, etc.), and lying in a good cause, which is acceptable. For instance, Nicola’s conscience seems untroubled, at the time and thereafter, by lying her head off to Foley (over Peter’s “death”) way back in The Marlows and the Traitor. This was necessary to save their lives, therefore it isn’t a moral issue. I think the whole Edward Oeschli Project was filed under “a good cause and therefore acceptable to lie about” by the Marlows, excepting Ann. (And possibly, after the fact, Rowan—now there’s a fic I’d like someone to write. I always had the feeling that the last scene of Run Away Home was a major emotional turning point for Rowan, and would have liked to see something of that in Spring Term.)

It also interested me to think about Tim, specifically Tim being told off for lying (about Esther’s absence) by Miss Cromwell just before the Play in End of Term. We’re given the impression that Tim is deeply shaken by Miss Cromwell’s calling her a liar, which—while rather moving—seems a little out of character. My guess would always have been that Tim would think to herself “But obviously it wasn’t a bad thing to do, because if I had come out with ‘Esther’s not here’ the whole Lawrie substitution plan wouldn’t have worked out, but I can’t tell Crommie that because she’ll never see it my way,” and have remained silent, resigned rather than upset. But not? (As well, chance has allowed Nicola here to let the more morally flexible Tim do the lying, a handy escape route which does not seem to give Nicola any qualms.)

I don’t know what I’m talking about any more, but those are some of the ideas I had about the way lying works out in some of the books. Any thoughts…?

Date: 2013-04-22 01:09 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Hi! Interesting points...

I think that lying is an interesting one - and I think it often seems to depend, in Marlow-land, on how much respect you have for the person you're lying to! Cf - Rowan trying to fool any Pc Plods into thinking she's 18 so can drive home from school with the younger ones (another dazzling bit of responsible parenting from Mrs M!); all Lower IVA not telling Marie that Lawrie is really Nick in the netball match...Nick lies on the train home to 'Sharon's mum', they all agree not to tell Edwin about the farm log (though Rowan later concedes this was childish). I think the Marlow upright honourableness is a tad more class-bound and flexible than they might like to think!

I think that when Tim is shaken to be accused of telling an outright lie, it's partly that she's a bit shocked not to be above the law - and in her head, it wasn't a lie because she knew best and so didn't trouble herself about the rights and wrongs, or consider that by any objective measure, she behaved quite shabbily.

I don't think Rowan would have changed much after Run Away Home - rather, I always saw the almost-crying as a rare moment of us seeing some interiority and emotion in her. I can't imagine AF doing Big Emotional Rethinks Of Character - I think going off for a little stroll saying 'this really isn't me' is just probably about as openly emotional as Rowan Marlow is ever going to get in her life!

Date: 2013-04-23 08:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] charverz.livejournal.com
Oh, I think Rowan has emotions, but I think she keeps them in cold storage, lest it reveal her (I believe) doubts about the choice she made in taking on the running of Trennels.

I think Rowan operates on the edge, and in RAH she practically has a meltdown over Giles and Peter.

Date: 2013-04-22 09:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lilliburlero.livejournal.com
I had a similar reaction to that note, viz.; what are you on? the Marlows lie all the time! I think the problem with Spring Term is that Hayward is rather too pious* all round -- she takes the honour code stuff at face value, and draws her characters into a plot that is not so much out of character for any one individual as the sort of big daft worthy flap that they'd all normally flinch from. I liked the detail that Ann freaks out when she has to deal with misbehaviour by her own sisters, because I thought it might develop towards my fanon notion of Ann, which is that she martyrs herself because she's aware that she doesn't really like her family (who after all, seem to compensate for severe emotional repression with occasional episodes of hugely self-destructive risk-taking) any more than they like her, and is conventionally shocked by the notion. But I cringed long and hard at her conversation with Nicola re: Patrick.

I think Rowan's qualms in Run Away Home are subtly done, though I'm not sure I'd write any substantial change in character for her, more a re-alignment of her relationship to everyone. I think that's what you meant anyway, isn't it? Possibly involving a re-think about her decision to run the farm--I keep wondering in my post-canon musings when Marlow mère and père are going to notice that the daughter with the dangerous aptitude for self-denial isn't Ann. I think the events of Run Away Home are actually the sort of thing on which enormously destructive family awfulness yea, even unto the seventh generation, is made on (my own attempt at a fic in this line turned out rather a character assassination of Giles, though I'm confident that a jury of my peers would find that he was asking for it.)

*as a side note, I found her treatment of Nicola's religious life rather yuk; I like the character of Dr Herrick, and there's no real reason why Nicola shouldn't develop some kind of faith, except in canon, she's very clearly drawn to Patrick's Catholicism (I think because she likes family skellingtons, as Patrick likes being The Cat That Walked) and repulsed by Ann's evangelical tendencies, so I would take a lot of convincing that she'd be drawn to even the low-ish end of the spectrum. (Though my favourite Forest fanfic, [livejournal.com profile] ankaret's "Term of Duty" makes a case for Nicola cheerfully participating in 'holy pop' because, well, sod you, Merrick, which I do think is in character.)

Date: 2013-04-23 06:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lizzzar.livejournal.com
It's true that the Marlows lie when they think there's a justification for it; you could say when they think the person they
are lying to does not deserve the truth, although I think that might be more criticism of them then AF intended. I always
doubted that Rowan fundamentally changed after the events in Run Away Home, but I think she does genuinely regret
lying to Ann, and perhaps that is something. Although it takes Giles and Peter nearly dying to bring her to that point. Ginty
does lie by omission in Attic Term, and is heavily criticized for it, but I've always felt that the reason AF is so hard on her
is that she felt Patrick deserved the truth ( so do I - but I think what Ginty did was maybe understandable in the circumstances)
not because the rest of them have a code of honesty that is really that strict. I still haven't read Spring Term, or I could commit
more, but condemning Ginty for behavior the rest of them show in different ways is not something I'd agree with.

Date: 2013-04-23 11:38 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I don't think the Marlows are that bothered about lying either: the scene with the pears in autumn term is when Nicola is quite young and naive and easily shocked. And Autumn term does feel like a more dated, traditional story than the later ones in many respects - not surprisingly when so much time lapses over the writing of the series - and I don't think a Nicola in one of the later books would have felt the same way, though she still might not have entirely approved of Tim.

I think a revealing incident takes place in Ready Made Family when Nicola is charged a lower rate to go up the tower in Oxford because the ticket seller assumes that she is younger than she is, but she confesses she is actually older and should pay the higher rate. She does this because she knows Mrs M has strong views on such things, but obviously her strong impulse is not to confess and save the money. The ticket seller obviously thinks she is being a bit prissy and says most people wouldn't be so honest - Nicola is tempted to agree with her - she certainly thinks it.

I think all the social research shows that most people lie constantly...it's necessary, and I don't think the Marlows would be believable if they weren't prepared to: the question is about situations where there's going to be some kind of harm.

I haven't read Spring Term, but I find a return to the rather straightforward morality of the earlier books a bit unlikely to work -surely in the later books that kind of prissy "no lying in any circumstances" would really only apply to Ann.

Date: 2013-04-23 11:42 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
That was Antfan, by the way - have forgotten my login.

I'd also add that when they all lie to Marie over the netball, the real issue is that they haven't considered Marie's feelings. By making her the only person not in the conspiracy, she has been painfully left out - it's that failure to see her as a person rather than the lying that bothers Nicola (though not Lawrie of course, who famously never believes that anyone but her has feelings anyway!)

Date: 2013-05-08 02:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] colne-dsr.livejournal.com
It was once pointed out to me that the 10 Commandments don't ban lying per se - the commandment is "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour". Lying in a way that is not against thy neighbour isn't covered. I think that's the way the Marlows look at it.

The "Marlow code" would not lie to get other people into trouble, and it would not lie to deceive its friends about anything which was their friends' business (so Lawrie could lie to Tim when Nick nipped off to Port Wade, but Ginty shouldn't have lied to Monica about being caught going to the beach in Spring term). I think Tim looked so dropped on because she was thinking that her lie about Esther was one of these harmless lies, and Miss Cromwell made it clear that it was seriously dishonest. Tim can live with being mildly dishonest, but not seriously dishonest. She might steal a pear from a garden, she wouldn't steal one from a shop.

In Cricket Term, Nicola wouldn't have bothered lying about missing a lesson because she was on the roof, it that had been all it was. It was because of the reasons she didn't want to go into that she lied. And that's where she quoted to herself Rowan's dictum that an honest-to-godness whopper was less deceitful than prevaricating. Very much in contrast to more traditional stories such as the Chalet School, where prevarication to the nth degree is considered not to be dishonest as long as the words you say are literally true.

Date: 2013-09-16 10:48 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I always thought that Tim thought she didn't care what people thought and then was a bit disturbed to find that she actually did. Pip

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