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 Post subject: Re: Religion: changes through the series
PostPosted: 15 Apr 2018, 11:33 
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In Highland Twins the brother is killed and Fiona 'saw' this, just as she 'saw'Jack was safe.
Does anyone else think that it was unfair that he died but Jack was saved.Was the sighting of her brother a way of showing that Fiona really did have the second sight?


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 Post subject: Re: Religion: changes through the series
PostPosted: 15 Apr 2018, 13:49 
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Wars are unfair, but I never feel that Flora and Fiona get much sympathy over the loss of their brother. Obviously the entire school community knew Jack, whereas they didn't know Hugh, but there doesn't seem to be much appreciation of how devastated the girls must be. As you say, it just seems to be setting the scene for the big storyline with Jack.

Even stranger is when Bob Maynard's killed. Jo gets the letter in the morning, goes about her normal business - with her friends, in Rescue - all day, and then, in the evening, mentions almost in passing that, oh, by the way, her brother-in-law's been killed. Then they all discuss what a bummer it is that Jo might have to go and live at Pretty Maids, away from the school, rather than, say, praying for Bob's soul, or for Jack, Lydia, Mollie and Mrs Maynard to find some comfort. It seems so odd, when the usual reaction in previous times of trouble - usually when Jo was ill! - had been to pray.

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 Post subject: Re: Religion: changes through the series
PostPosted: 15 Apr 2018, 14:32 
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Both of those seem odd, now you point it out. I wonder if we are supposed to see the repsonses as the stoicism of war time? After all, in a school of over a hundred girls, Flora and Fiona can’t have been the only ones to lose a family member?

And in EBD’s readership there can’t have been many readers untouched by wartime losses, with brothers, fathers, uncles, cousins in the services. I guess I’m assuming that, in public at least, it was a more stoical time...? Not that people cared any less, but that they didn’t show it as much as we would now...?


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 Post subject: Re: Religion: changes through the series
PostPosted: 15 Apr 2018, 15:01 
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But then you have Erica, in Summer Term, who appears to not give her recently-deceased mother another thought once she's at the School, which I find odd, too. Yes, Erica may have grieved for her mother off the page, and we're not even told it in passing, but it reads horribly like "Oh, Mummy - but never mind, I'm at the Chalet School!" And I don't say things like that, normally.

OK, it was only just becoming acceptable for authors and publishers to include death in their storylines again, and in a children's book you don't want to stress mourning, more the adventure of a new school in a different country - but again it's a contrast to the earliest books. It would seem more normal in the Cs world if Erica at least thought of her mother and grandfather occasionally, or remembered them in her prayers - and if her mother had been too ill to spend much time with her, then to miss her governess Miss Waller (beyond making her table mats).

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 Post subject: Re: Religion: changes through the series
PostPosted: 16 Apr 2018, 00:51 
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There are a few things in the series that I have trouble with theologically. In Naomi's case, she's bitter and hates God because of the accident that crippled her. She accepts God, and then, lo and behold, the doctors are able to cure her! Faith is not a fancy form of heath care, and bad things happen (and stay happened) to people who believe deeply and devoutly.

Then there's the habit when someone dies of saying that it's for the best. There's the man who is killed in a car crash at the Platz, and Joey tells Nina it's for the best, because his beloved mother had just died and his life now has no meaning. If you look at it another way, he's spent his life so far looking after an ill mother, and now that she's gone, he's facing a whole new life of opportunity ahead of him, once the grief faded. Or for Erica, she's been told not to fret over her mother because "she'd been ill a long time and she'd missed Daddy and Grandpa and Gran so much and there was no-one else". Not very comforting for a twelve year old who has been left alone in the world.

The other one that comes to mind is the young triplets doing confession to their mother every night. I'm not Catholic, but my understanding is that confession is between the confessor and the priest (and God). Using God to get your kids to tell you everything bad they've done that day seems off.

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 Post subject: Re: Religion: changes through the series
PostPosted: 16 Apr 2018, 01:29 
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"...there was no-one else"?

What a thing to say to a child who must surely have thought "but there's me"!


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 Post subject: Re: Religion: changes through the series
PostPosted: 16 Apr 2018, 12:13 
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That sort of thing isn't too dissimilar to the conversation I've heard a lot of people say about "they've gone to a better place". The idea of suggesting to children that their parents (or, heck, even pets!) have gone to a better place when it means that place is without the people they have left behind is pretty awful!

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 Post subject: Re: Religion: changes through the series
PostPosted: 16 Apr 2018, 12:30 
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jennifer wrote:
Then there's the habit when someone dies of saying that it's for the best. There's the man who is killed in a car crash at the Platz, and Joey tells Nina it's for the best, because his beloved mother had just died and his life now has no meaning. If you look at it another way, he's spent his life so far looking after an ill mother, and now that she's gone, he's facing a whole new life of opportunity ahead of him, once the grief faded. Or for Erica, she's been told not to fret over her mother because "she'd been ill a long time and she'd missed Daddy and Grandpa and Gran so much and there was no-one else". Not very comforting for a twelve year old who has been left alone in the world.
The 'gone to a better place' notion was understandable in previous centuries, when mortality rates were so high and life expectancy, especially for children, was so low - it's very likely to have been said when EMBD's brother died young. It's never going to read as anything other than odd these days, though, as there are at least better options and choices much of the time, and we have a rather different mindset. I had a colleague whose parents and siblings all died in a bombing incident during WW2 - OK, she still had a set of grandparents, who brought her up - but her attitude was one of extreme thankfulness that she had survived, not 'my life isn't worth living without them', and I think that's quite natural for a child.


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 Post subject: Re: Religion: changes through the series
PostPosted: 16 Apr 2018, 12:43 
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A lot of medieval culture revolved around the idea that life on earth was pretty horrible and the only consolation was that you'd hopefully be going to be a better place when you died :roll:. And telling someone who's suffered a bereavement not to fret used to be very common until recently - on the grounds that life has to go on, etc, especially in wartime when so many bereavements were coming at once ... and probably dates to the First World War for that reason, in contrast to Victorian times when people would wear black for a year. Nina actually does don mourning dress after her dad dies - I don't know if that really was still done in North Italy in the 1950s?

I don't know that a lot of the comments made were so much about religion as about the natural instinct that people have to try to make people feel better, even if their well-intentioned comments are sometimes wide of the mark. The usual reaction to saying that someone is ill is for people to insist that doctors can do wonderful things these days and they're sure the person will be fine - which, whilst well meant, isn't always true. And, if you're upset about something, people will often tell you either that whatever it is really isn't important and that it's fairly minor compared to all the traumas that X, Y or Z is having, which again is usually meant to be comforting! It's just very hard to accept that something is bad.

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 Post subject: Re: Religion: changes through the series
PostPosted: 16 Apr 2018, 15:57 
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To me, as a practising Catholic, the episodes with Nina and Erica are signs of EBD's failing abilities as a writer. Perhaps as a convert to Catholicism, she thought this was what would still be said to people, even now we're in the fifties, yet when you think of the compassionate and very truthful way Jo spoke to Jacynth about her aunt's death, there is just no comparison, especially when you consider Nina is now an adult and shouldn't need babying in this way. It all gives faith a very bad name.

Jo is slightly different in asking her children to discuss their 'sins' every night with her. It is recommended that we 'examine' our souls each night, on our own and privately, but there are some parents who use it as a way of supposedly keeping in touch with their children. I have a friend who did this with her two boys each night, even as teenagers - they were the same age as my daughter -and I curled up every time I heard her talk about it. My daughter would soon have told me where to go if I'd even considered it - which I didn't. No mother should root around in their children's psyche like that, unless the children ask to discuss something.

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 Post subject: Re: Religion: changes through the series
PostPosted: 16 Apr 2018, 16:57 
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Alison H wrote:
Nina actually does don mourning dress after her dad dies - I don't know if that really was still done in North Italy in the 1950s?
.


I looked this up and was surprised to learn that it was still common in southern Italy for widows to wear black for a year "even into the 1950s" and that among the immigrant communities in the USA it only died out in the 1940s. So it is entirely possible that Nina was meeting local expectations.


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 Post subject: Re: Religion: changes through the series
PostPosted: 16 Apr 2018, 17:55 
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Apparently 19th and early 20th century Italian mourning dress was considered completely OTT by both the French and the Spanish, neither of whom were exactly behindhand in observing such matters themselves!


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 Post subject: Re: Religion: changes through the series
PostPosted: 16 Apr 2018, 18:23 
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I don't know that a lot of the comments made were so much about religion as about the natural instinct that people have to try to make people feel better, even if their well-intentioned comments are sometimes wide of the mark.

I think most of us resort to platitudes when faced with something difficult in anothers life.You feel you should say something, but what, and so resort to the old standbys.
I sometimes feel saying 'I'll pray for you' comes under that category as well and that's ok.People can get angry, some want action not prayer, they don't think it will help, they would rather you actually do something they can see, a normal sort of reaction.


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 Post subject: Re: Religion: changes through the series
PostPosted: 16 Apr 2018, 22:11 
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Victoria wrote:
I looked this up and was surprised to learn that it was still common in southern Italy for widows to wear black for a year "even into the 1950s" and that among the immigrant communities in the USA it only died out in the 1940s. So it is entirely possible that Nina was meeting local expectations.


When I went to live in France in the 1970s, it seemed that most women of a certain age wore black all the time, or a grey skirt with a black cardigan (or vice versa). I don't know if they were all widows - but you don't see them dressed like that nowadays.


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 Post subject: Re: Religion: changes through the series
PostPosted: 17 Apr 2018, 03:03 
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I know that when my granda died in 1967, my 36:year old mother wore mainly grey and black for the next month or two.

Although it was a different era, much is made of mourning colours in the Abbey books. We have Joy not wanting to go downstairs because it will mean wearing black and then her not wearing colours for five years. Then Jen not wanting to wear black after the deaths of her father and mother but having to do so in Glasgow as her sister-in-law was very conventional. We have mention of all the mourning colours - black, grey, whie and lavender.


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 Post subject: Re: Religion: changes through the series
PostPosted: 17 Apr 2018, 12:26 
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Mrs Redboots wrote:
Victoria wrote:
I looked this up and was surprised to learn that it was still common in southern Italy for widows to wear black for a year "even into the 1950s" and that among the immigrant communities in the USA it only died out in the 1940s. So it is entirely possible that Nina was meeting local expectations.


When I went to live in France in the 1970s, it seemed that most women of a certain age wore black all the time, or a grey skirt with a black cardigan (or vice versa). I don't know if they were all widows - but you don't see them dressed like that nowadays.


In rural Spain they still did when I lived in a village in1994/5. I lived with a Spanush widow, whose husband had died many years previously. She still wore black every day. She would have been in her late 60s then, as she was the same age as my mum.

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 Post subject: Re: Religion: changes through the series
PostPosted: 18 Apr 2018, 22:24 
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jennifer wrote:
The other one that comes to mind is the young triplets doing confession to their mother every night. I'm not Catholic, but my understanding is that confession is between the confessor and the priest (and God). Using God to get your kids to tell you everything bad they've done that day seems off.


The other thing with that is that it can make you terribly anxious - as a child, you're not always aware of what might have been bad that you did, unless you got told off for it, and on a day when you haven't been told off for anything and can't think of anything you did wrong, you're still expected to come up with a 'sin' to confess. Because who's going to believe you if you say you didn't do anything that day? This is my experience of it, anyway (it was my dad who asked for a confession, and he'd been at work all day, whereas my mum wouldn't have had to ask). Plus, a psychologist friend is of the opinion that calling the little naughty things a child does 'sins' is damaging in itself, if it's handled the wrong way.


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 Post subject: Re: Religion: changes through the series
PostPosted: 22 Apr 2018, 05:25 
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jennifer wrote:
The other one that comes to mind is the young triplets doing confession to their mother every night. I'm not Catholic, but my understanding is that confession is between the confessor and the priest (and God). Using God to get your kids to tell you everything bad they've done that day seems off.


I thought it was to get the kids used to the idea of confession which the triplets would be doing with a priest later on in life. The guilt trip Joey gives them is no different from the ones I was given in church by pastors and priests.

We even had a song "Jesus loves me when I'm good/And I do the things I should/ Jesus loves me when I'm bad/ Even though it makes him sad.

Even more bizarrely than this, I had a Sunday School teacher when I was about 6/7 who did weekly 'confessions' with her class.

So a) you are expected to confess to sins in front of other kids and b) they inevitably gossiped about it to their parents. So I always sat mute in those sessions and she would say "so Joyce, you've done nothing that would upset Jesus this week?"

It was actually fairly horrific.

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 Post subject: Re: Religion: changes through the series
PostPosted: 23 Apr 2018, 03:46 
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Quote:
Nina actually does don mourning dress after her dad dies - I don't know if that really was still done in North Italy in the 1950s?
.


I have seen the mourning dress (no veil) practiced by the older Italian ladies where my mil lives in Montreal.

My mil plans on wearing black for the next six months where I only plan on wearing black for one month.


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 Post subject: Re: Religion: changes through the series
PostPosted: 23 Apr 2018, 09:06 
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JustJenn wrote:
Quote:
Nina actually does don mourning dress after her dad dies - I don't know if that really was still done in North Italy in the 1950s?
.


I have seen the mourning dress (no veil) practiced by the older Italian ladies where my mil lives in Montreal.

My mil plans on wearing black for the next six months where I only plan on wearing black for one month.
Good to see you back, Justjenn. Yes, I've always felt that mourning has to follow one's instincts - and that'll be different for different people.


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