rosefox: Green books on library shelves. (Default)
[personal profile] rosefox posting in [community profile] girlycon
I just stumbled on this entry of mine from a couple of years ago, which is perhaps not 100% Girlyconnish--it's much more about me than about books, in the end--but might be of interest to people here. This is the looking-at-books bit:
[ profile] sylvanus_urban pointed me at a very thoughtful review of A Little Princess which makes most of the points I would make, except for one. I left a comment there and decided to expand on it further.

One of the key relationships in the book is between Sara Crewe and a maidservant known simply as Becky. When they meet, Sara is 10 going on 11 and Becky is about 14. Sara is the child of wealth; Becky is one step up from the gutter. When Sara falls suddenly upon hard times, on her 11th birthday, she is sent to live in the garret next to Becky's and to share in her chores. Nonetheless, Becky continues to treat her as a member of the upper classes, a treatment that Sara graciously accepts and repays as well as she can (though it's clear that Sara always keeps the best for herself, giving Becky her leavings; and this is not seen as mean, but as right and proper). When Sara comes into money again, she hires Becky on as her maidservant. To drive the point home, Sara always speaks nobly and eloquently, while Becky is given a coarse accent in which to voice her few stammered words. It's also implied that Becky is not very bright, though possibly she's just never been taught; either way, one of the things Sara never passes on to her is education, despite Sara's vaunted love of books and learning.

One of the things that kept nagging me about their relationship is that Becky is older. I think because I live in quasi-egalitarian here-and-now, where increased age is supposed to bring increased privilege and wealth, the idea of 14-year-old Becky fawning at the feet of 11-year-old Sara somehow struck me as deeply weird and wrong.
I'd love comments on any part of this: the concept of age-appropriate behavior, interactions between girls of different ages in literature, personal experiences, whatever.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-07-16 12:02 am (UTC)
badgerbag: (Default)
From: [personal profile] badgerbag
I was thinking of this the other day and Sara and Becky in contrast with Rose and Phoebe from Alcott's Eight Cousins! Phoebe starts out as the servant girl and as Rose starts to include her in her education and share things, they become more and more equals. But Becky is content and all is right and proper that she become a more well fed and rested servant.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-07-16 05:32 pm (UTC)
al_zorra: (Default)
From: [personal profile] al_zorra
I've noticed this kind of relationship in much fiction, particularly popular fiction, of the period.

It's also a trope of popular fiction (even if the works are now categorized as 'literary fiction' as well) at least from Gaskell, Dickens and Thackery that a lower class person or persons function as the magical saviors of Our Heroes/Heroines, or as in Gaskell, remain so loyal and loving to their master / mistress as to stay on and use their own savings to help the beloved fallen upon hard times.

Shoot, we even see this with Claudius in Robert Graves's I Claudius novels.

This is one of the many reasons I've stayed with Alcott all my life -- her determination that anyone who is in any way better off must share and help others to reach at least their level -- oh, that is SO Marmee teaching!

Love, C.


girlycon: A white girl in a school uniform with her horse, from the cover of Leader of the Lower School by Angela Brazil. (Default)

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