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 Post subject: Sin and punishment in the wartime years
PostPosted: 17 May 2017, 09:20 
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Starting a new thread for this rather than hijack the one about Gay :D.

During the wartime years:
1. The accident to Josette is blamed on Sybil's vanity and wilfulness. Sybil is made to feel so guilty that she never gets over it.
2. Margot, after her toddler tantrum in Rescue , is told that God's given her a hard row to hoe. Jo and Jack have a long talk about how she needs to learn to control her temper and she'll make a "finer woman" for it.
3. We are told that Rolf Maynard died because of disobedience, and that Lydia was told by the doctor that it was her fault.

By contrast, in other periods of the series:
1. Deira throwing a stone at Grizel is immediately forgiven. The two become best friends, and the school authorities do not punish Deira.
2. Emerence is immediately forgiven for the tobogganing incident, which seriously injured Mary-Lou. She does feel bad about it, but isn't made to feel the sort of guilt and self-hatred that Sybil does.
3. Margot doesn't even seem to get told off for throwing a bookend at Betty's head.

The Deira and Margot incidents weren't even accidental. OK, they happened in the heat of the moment, but there was intent. Sybil never meant to hurt Josette.

The wartime stuff (I don't know if it's linked to the war in any way, just that that's when it happens) reminds me of Mr Brocklehurst, the hellfire and damnation supervisor of Lowood School in Jane Eyre. There's also something very early Victorian about Jack taking on responsibility for Reg's education, but that's a completely different sort of storyline.

Just interested to know what people think is going on here. Was it linked to something that EBD was reading or experiencing at this particular time? There's also Eustacia, who, like Katy Carr, suffers long term injuries because of her "sins", but that, as with Rolf, is blamed on nurture rather than nature. What is it about Sybil and Margot? Especially when they're both so young at the time that all this is going on?

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 Post subject: Re: Sin and punishment in the wartime years
PostPosted: 17 May 2017, 10:02 
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I didn't see this and answered regarding Sybil only in original thread.


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 Post subject: Re: Sin and punishment in the wartime years
PostPosted: 17 May 2017, 10:10 
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The Deira and Margot incidents weren't even accidental. OK, they happened in the heat of the moment, but there was intent. Sybil never meant to hurt Josette.


Not to mention Sybil is very young at the time. Both Margot and Deira are both in the mid-late teens and should have some level of self control. And Margot to the very end of the series is STILL losing her temper and has no self control.

What about poor Mike? OK - he deliberately disobeyed causing his mum to violently overreact. But his father was so angry he needed to be sent away because Jack could not look at him and then he is shunned and exiled from the rest of the family. Who does that to their own son?

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We are told that Rolf Maynard died because of disobedience, and that Lydia was told by the doctor that it was her fault


What kind of doctor tells a grieving mother that? How is it any of the doctor's business?

And any ideas on how Rolf died? I always thought he ran onto a road.

Cheers,
Joyce

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 Post subject: Re: Sin and punishment in the wartime years
PostPosted: 17 May 2017, 10:29 
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I think EBD ties herself in knots over the issue of parenting, as well. Emerence and Rolf's disobedience is blamed on bad parenting. Sybil's is blamed on mysterious visitors who go on about how pretty she is, and Margot's is blamed on God for giving her a bad temper :shock: :roll:, whilst we are repeatedly told that the Russells and, ad nauseam in the Swiss years, the Maynards are perfect parents. I don't think that bad behaviour is necessarily a result of poor parenting, but EBD usually insists that it is, and maybe that's partly why we get all this guilt and sin stuff with Sybil and Margot - she didn't want to suggest that Madge or Joey had done anything wrong, so it all had to be to do with their intrinsic natures. Does that make any sense?!

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 Post subject: Re: Sin and punishment in the wartime years
PostPosted: 17 May 2017, 11:42 
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Alison H wrote:
I think EBD ties herself in knots over the issue of parenting, as well. Emerence and Rolf's disobedience is blamed on bad parenting. ...
I don't think that bad behaviour is necessarily a result of poor parenting, but EBD usually insists that it is, and maybe that's partly why we get all this guilt and sin stuff with Sybil and Margot - she didn't want to suggest that Madge or Joey had done anything wrong, so it all had to be to do with their intrinsic natures. Does that make any sense?!


It makes perfect sense. But is it also because she didn't want to face the paradox of why one child would 'go bad' while the others are well behaved? It is any coincidence that Rolf and Emerence are only children so she doesn't need to answer that question? :D

There are plenty of real life incidences of one child 'going bad' while the siblings are well behaved etc. And often the parents blame themselves - but it brings up the question of 'if it was only parenting to blame, then how come the other kids are fine?'

It must therefore be other factors and she chose an intrinsically 'bad' nature. Whereas today we would be more likely to blame external factors e.g. got involved with a bad crowd, got tricked into carrying drugs etc.

Of course it comes down to personal responsibility. I would argue both Margot and Deira should have been held more personally responsible while Sybil was careless and foolish than cruel.

Both Margot and Deira knew darn well throwing a block of wood at someone's head is going to cause an injury, while Sybil really had no idea what damage she would cause.

But I have a soft spot for Sybil. I actually wrote a drabble which 'uncovers the truth'. Sybil goes to a therapist who encourages her to unblock her mind to what happened that day and we find out who is really to blame :o

Cheers,
Joyce

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 Post subject: Re: Sin and punishment in the wartime years
PostPosted: 17 May 2017, 11:57 
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Can't manage quotes from the ipad, but isn't Joyce's comment like the"good-enough parent" theory?

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 Post subject: Re: Sin and punishment in the wartime years
PostPosted: 17 May 2017, 12:26 
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I think it must have been such a strain for Sybil to live with the huge amount of guilt she must have felt. We never hear of her being anything but perfect in all the books which followed. No human being is perfect so she must have been keeping her true feelings under wraps.

With Margot and all the talk about her devil, did she become a nun because she thought she was so bad this was the only way she could be redeemed?

Going back to Sybil, it mentions in earlier books she used to say that she and David belonged whilst the Bettanys were only cousins. This does not seem like the action of an assured, confident person - albeit Sybil was only a child. Maybe in some ways she felt the outsider. The Bettanys were a unit of four with Peggy and Bride being very close. David does not seem to have cared so maybe Sybil felt out on a limb.

EBD cared a lot about religion and it could all be tied in with this and what had happened in her own life. Maybe EBD was trying to make sense of her own guilty feelings about something she had done?!!

Edited to add - This also replying to Joyce, and Alison's original post.


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 Post subject: Re: Sin and punishment in the wartime years
PostPosted: 17 May 2017, 15:01 
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Joyce wrote:
Alison H wrote:
I actually wrote a drabble which 'uncovers the truth'. Sybil goes to a therapist who encourages her to unblock her mind to what happened that day and we find out who is really to blame :o

Cheers,
Joyce

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 Post subject: Re: Sin and punishment in the wartime years
PostPosted: 17 May 2017, 22:00 
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Joyce wrote:
Quote:
We are told that Rolf Maynard died because of disobedience, and that Lydia was told by the doctor that it was her fault



And any ideas on how Rolf died? I always thought he ran onto a road.



There was one drabble which had him going into a river to save his pet dog, when he'd been told to stay away from the river. I've stuck with that one in my head


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 Post subject: Re: Sin and punishment in the wartime years
PostPosted: 18 May 2017, 02:22 
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There's definitely a clash between a more modern, psychological based view of child rearing, and a very Victorian sin and punishment variety.

It's interesting that we're told multiple times that the Robin is petted and praised by everyone she meets (random strangers call her "angel child"), but it doesn't affect her sweet nature. So the fact that the almost as pretty Sybil is corrupted by the exact same behaviour implies that it's Sybil's fault for not being pure enough to resist the flattery.

I think part of the issue is that by this point Madge and Joey are such key characters that they can't be shown as seriously flawed parents. But having a big brood of perfectly behaved children is not all that interesting narratively (c.f. the blandness of teenage Len). So their problem children have to be inherently flawed. Joey explicitly tells Sybil that Madge was a perfect parent to her, and at some point in the Swiss days is complaining to Miss Annersley about how Margot has had the best of training at home, but still turned out wrong, and she doesn't understand it. And for both Margot and Sybil, we actually see the parenting flaws. Margot is indulged as a small child, and is allowed to slack and be the centre of attention. Joey is actively hiding her temper tantrums from Jack when Margot is three. Later, she's constantly compared to her super-over-achiever sister, told it's a disgrace that she's in an age appropriate form, and constantly set up to fail (being promoted part way through the year, only to be held back the next fall, being given a prefect position that isn't suited to her temperament. Not to mention the whole "my devil" thing.

On a more general note - the term I usually see is "nature vs nurture". In other words, how much of how a child turns out is due to their personality and brain wiring, and how much to how they are raised. I think for most kids, it's a mix, and some kids are a lot harder than others. So a parent can try really hard, and still have a kid go off the rails, or they can do a bad job and have a kid turn out just fine.

I can see this with some friends. They each have a kid who is challenging - high energy, stubborn, one is impulsive, the other is moody and dramatic. But I also see totally different approaches. One family is thoughtful about it - they notice problems, adjust their parenting style to mesh well with the kid's needs, seek outside help when needed. They know what kind of person they want to raise, and are working hard at it. The other family alternates between letting him get away with stuff and bellowing at him, and then moans about how hard he is to deal with.

With Margot and the bookend - I really think she shouldn't have been made a prefect the next term, on the strength of that incident. And I do think that Deira should have been demoted, not so much for the snowball fight (because she didn't know it was a rock, and it was in the middle of a snowball fight, where you're supposed to throw things), but for deliberately destroying another girl's property as an act of petty revenge. For what it's worth, I also think that Joey should have been demoted after getting thrown out of art class for deliberate bad behaviour - it would be inappropriate in the worst middle, let alone the Head Girl.

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 Post subject: Re: Sin and punishment in the wartime years
PostPosted: 18 May 2017, 03:01 
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judithR wrote:
Can't manage quotes from the ipad, but isn't Joyce's comment like the"good-enough parent" theory?


I'd never heard of that term before so I Googled it, and yes, that's kind of what I was going for. Do your best but realise sometimes the kids will not turn out well and don't stress over that too much. But of course, parenting is so much more complicated than that.

But firstly, I would like to stress that I am not criticising anyone's parenting technique and I apologise if my comments came across like that. I was simply trying to understand EBD's ideas of parenting based on how she talks about families.

jennifer wrote:
There's definitely a clash between a more modern, psychological based view of child rearing, and a very Victorian sin and punishment variety.


Yes, definitely.

Quote:
I think part of the issue is that by this point Madge and Joey are such key characters that they can't be shown as seriously flawed parents.
And for both Margot and Sybil, we actually see the parenting flaws.


It would have been fascinating to have Madge/Jem or Joey/Jack talk about where and when they went wrong with Sybil/Margot but I think that would have been beyond EBD's level of introspection. A conversation between Jack and Joey after her blackmail attempt would have been interesting, but we find out years later that Joey was never even told about it.

We get one glimpse of Madge considering Sybil's sins after Joey criticises her for being a snob to the Highland Twins, and she makes some crack about Robin not being in the family. Madge realises Sybil will need very careful training in her early life ... And that's that.

Quote:
With Margot and the bookend - I really think she shouldn't have been made a prefect the next term, on the strength of that incident. And I do think that Deira should have been demoted, not so much for the snowball fight (because she didn't know it was a rock, and it was in the middle of a snowball fight, where you're supposed to throw things), but for deliberately destroying another girl's property as an act of petty revenge.


It's very much connected to the concept of contrition and forgiveness. Both Margot and Deira were very upset afterwards and asked for forgiveness. However, while Deira improves, Margot does not. And she is told bluntly that she always says sorry but then proceeds to do the same thing again. For that alone, she shouldn't have been made a prefect or demoted for it

But one imagines her pride would be severely dented if Len, Con and her friends are all made prefects and she is not. So .... favouritism?

And you can imagine Joey as HG going to town on someone else for disrespecting a teacher the same way she did. :roll:

claire wrote:
There was one drabble which had him going into a river to save his pet dog, when he'd been told to stay away from the river. I've stuck with that one in my head


That's a pretty good interpretation - he was at least trying to save his dog. :D Could it have been something medical? Rolf may have been ill but refused to take his medication and Lydia didn't make him? That would make more sense about why the doctor told her it was her fault.


keren wrote:
Joyce wrote:
Alison H wrote:
I actually wrote a drabble which 'uncovers the truth'. Sybil goes to a therapist who encourages her to unblock her mind to what happened that day and we find out who is really to blame :o

Cheers,
Joyce

Where?


I wrote it but never posted it. However, I want to have another look at it. I've never had therapy myself so I made up what happened at the sessions and in hindsight they are a bit basic. I don't want to denigrate or simplify therapy sessions in any way, so I think I need to change the 'way' Sybil realises the truth of what happened. But I will post it here when I am done. :D

Cheers,
Joyce

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 Post subject: Re: Sin and punishment in the wartime years
PostPosted: 18 May 2017, 12:56 
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Joyce wrote:
I wrote it but never posted it. However, I want to have another look at it. I've never had therapy myself so I made up what happened at the sessions and in hindsight they are a bit basic. I don't want to denigrate or simplify therapy sessions in any way, so I think I need to change the 'way' Sybil realises the truth of what happened. But I will post it here when I am done. :D

Cheers,
Joyce


I'd also like to see this when it's typed up.


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 Post subject: Re: Sin and punishment in the wartime years
PostPosted: 11 Jun 2017, 18:56 
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jennifer wrote:
For what it's worth, I also think that Joey should have been demoted after getting thrown out of art class for deliberate bad behaviour - it would be inappropriate in the worst middle, let alone the Head Girl.


Um - she wasn't. I can't now find the quote (of course), but as I understand it, Herr Laubach was so infuriated by her inability to draw that he threw his pencils, etc, at her, whereupon she walked out of the class, and Mademoiselle said she had better not go back, but could do extra mathematics during that time.


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 Post subject: Re: Sin and punishment in the wartime years
PostPosted: 11 Jun 2017, 21:38 
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It's mentioned at the end of Chapter VIII of Exploits as having happened the previous week, and frankly, neither of them comes out of it well. Jo was in a bad temper that particular morning, and Herr Laubach was in a bad temper most of the time. She "lost her patience, never very great, and had done her level best to annoy him. She had dropped her rubber, broken the points of her pencils; dug the lead so deeply into the paper that there was no hope of rubbing out wrong lines - which were plentiful! - and had made such an appalling mess of the freehand design he had given her, that he had lost his head, and picking up pencils, rubber, and paper, had flung them at her. At the same time he had vowed that she was too utterly stupid to continue..."

ETA: Regarding the 'should Jo have been demoted?' aspect, it does seem to be regarded as something fairly minor by all concerned, and of course there is the highly apt punishment of extra maths for her instead of art. But then I'm never quite sure why Herr Anserl, Herr Laubach and Grizel get away with such an irascible teaching style...


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 Post subject: Re: Sin and punishment in the wartime years
PostPosted: 13 Jun 2017, 03:12 
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Noreen wrote:
But then I'm never quite sure why Herr Anserl, Herr Laubach and Grizel get away with such an irascible teaching style...


I agree! All three of them consistently traumatise students so much they start crying.

We are told girls are scared to go to classes with Grizel, and EVERY SINGLE art and/or music prefect asks to be excused from the job when these three are involved.

There is a teaching style that says you get the best out of students by scaring the heck out of them. But it only works on certain personalities.

And I wonder how many girls were actually interested in art or music, but decided to not to take those classes because they were too scared to attend?

Cheers,
Joyce

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 Post subject: Re: Sin and punishment in the wartime years
PostPosted: 13 Jun 2017, 16:41 
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My grammar school career was from 1957-1965, and we actually had three teachers who terrified us, even when in the sixth form, and no one suggested they should be sacked. :cry: The history teacher wasn't even qualified, looked as though she was constantly sucking a lemon, and most definitely put me off history - which I now find fascinating. Our English teacher had such a down on me, even in lower sixth, that I chose to re-do that year with a new English teacher - who I got on with very well, and who told me bluntly to be careful, as this other teacher talked about me very nastily in the staff room. Why? :shock: And why was she allowed to get away with it? Funnily enough, I had that villainous teacher again in upper sixth, as the new teacher joined the Carmelites, and she never once turned on me. Had I become less afraid, or had she been warned off somehow?

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 Post subject: Re: Sin and punishment in the wartime years
PostPosted: 13 Jun 2017, 22:04 
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Sounds very nasty and horribly personal, Mary.

We had a most unpleasant English teacher when I was 14 who was nicknamed "the Beast". She terrified everybody and once belted virtually my entire class of "good" girls for not taking in a book which she had not told us to bring. She addressed girls she did not like by their surnames.

Around 1971 my sister had a female science teacher who lost control when strapping her for a triviality one day and ended up belting her about nine times. My parents complained to the head teacher who apologised and told them the teacher had health issues. My parents accepted the apology and I do feel sorry for the teacher if she was ill but imagine what would have happened to her if it was recent times?

Herr Laubach does not sound as if he had enough control to be a achool teacher but Jo was also extremely childish.


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 Post subject: Re: Sin and punishment in the wartime years
PostPosted: 14 Jun 2017, 10:59 
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Bizarrely the teachers have a conversation about using sarcasm carefully as the more sensitive girls won't be able to handle it.

In other words, they need to understand the temperament of the girl they are talking to and act accordingly,

So being sarcastic to a girl is not OK, but terrorising her to the point that she is crying and too scared to attend lessons, is fine?

cheers,
Joyce

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 Post subject: Re: Sin and punishment in the wartime years
PostPosted: 14 Jun 2017, 11:53 
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I had a female teacher in infant school that adults thought was wonderful but in reality she was a bully.I was a shy kid, unsure and she mocked me.I hated her,she certainly made my first few years at school unpleasant.


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 Post subject: Re: Sin and punishment in the wartime years
PostPosted: 15 Jun 2017, 02:32 
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At a more run-of-the-mill school of that era, a teacher that terrorized students into obedience wouldn't have been particularly unusual, but it t does seem odd in the context of general CS teaching practices. There's such a point made that the CS is advanced in teaching methods and the staff are pretty much all excellent teachers and are firm but fair and well liked by their students. The exceptions are the two male visiting masters, and Grizel (and three bad hires that were quickly fired).

I do see the three of them differently. Herr Anserl comes across as loud and volatile, but passionate about what he is teaching, and can be strict but not mean. He also only gets advanced pupils, so they're not inflicting him on the bulk of the school. Grizel is quieter, but unhappy. She doesn't particularly like music, she doesn't like teaching, she's unhappy in her personal life, and it comes out in her interactions with the school. Herr Laubach just comes across as a bad teacher - he's moody, has no self control and hurls childish insults at his classes. And every student in the school has to have him as a teacher.

Interestingly, Grizel's flaws as a teacher are acknowledged as such by her peers - they recognize that she can be unpleasant, and this isn't good, but her history with the school is such that they're willing to keep her on. But with the two men, the staff regards their fits of temper and lack of self control as endearing personal quirks. Even after Naomi's accident, Joey and others blame the 16 year old girl, who has come to the school with known psychological issues, for not having better self control that a 66 year old teacher with more than 20 years of experience at the school.

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