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 Post subject: Forgiveness and redemption
PostPosted: 30 Aug 2017, 21:42 
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I'm just watching Maria Sharapova's second round match at the US Open, and there's a lot of talk going on about how the feeling in the American media is that she's paid for her sins (failed doping test) and that it would be some amazing journey of redemption if she were to go deep into the tournament and even win it. In the media elsewhere, and amongst most of the other players, the feeling seems to be that someone who's been found guilty of cheating shouldn't be getting all this attention and certainly shouldn't be getting wild cards into events - and that was also the feeling at the World Athletics Championships in London, where Justin Gatlin, who's served two doping bans, was booed when he won 100m gold.

I dread to imagine how many people would fail doping tests at the CS, with all those doses around :lol:, but the CS view is definitely all about forgiveness and redemption, as you would expect from a school with a strong Christian ethos. But are there times when it doesn't seem realistic, or when it maybe doesn't work that well? There's always a lot of discussion about Margot, who seems to get away with all sorts, and Jack, whom Jane very generously forgives for bullying her and then becomes friendly with. And Juliet is very quick to forgive Donal. But Jo blames Eustacia for Robin's health problems - which is an interesting one, because normally any grudge-bearers are people like Eilunedd whom we're meant to dislike.

I'll stop waffling now :lol:. All the talk about redemption was just so CS-ish!

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 Post subject: Re: Forgiveness and redemption
PostPosted: 30 Aug 2017, 21:54 
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Justin Gatlin, who's served two doping bans...

Don't forgiveness and redemption require remorse on the part of the sinner? Getting caught a second time doesn't suggest a great deal of remorse...

Most CS sinners are remorseful, aren't they. I think Thekla was the only one who wasn't, which was why they were left with no option but expulsion.

Hilda always wanted to be merciful when she could. I'm not sure Nell would always have been quite so forgiving, but it's generally Hilda we see dealing with major transgressions.


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 Post subject: Re: Forgiveness and redemption
PostPosted: 31 Aug 2017, 01:30 
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In a non-theological sense:

Forgiveness can be external - you can forgive someone even if they haven't acknowledged that they've done something wrong, or made amends. But redemption is more of an internal thing - you are forgiven, but redeem yourself. (Theologically, it's a lot more complicated, and opinions can vary depending on denomination).

For the redeeming yourself part - I see there being stages. The first is recognizing you've done something wrong. The second is being sorry for it. The third is attempting to make amends. And the fourth is going forwards while trying to not doing the same thing again.

When it comes to practical stuff, like raising children, making friends, or getting married, sometimes being sorry is not far enough. Margot is often sorry when she misbehaves, but that doesn't help the next time she flares up - she needed more than her school and family were giving her to help her master her faults.

Jack goes from righteous vengeance, to feeling sort of bad for reasons she can't articulate, to feeling sorry for Jane because her mother was hurt, but I don't think we ever see her be sorry for her behaviour, or really understand why it was so bad, and there are zero repercussions. No one protects Jane, and once Jack stops tormenting her everything is just dandy. Having been bullied at around that age, I can't see going from being systematically tormented to being good friends in a term or two, just because the bad behaviour had stopped. I'd know that this person was vindictive, and treats people badly when upset, and wouldn't really want to have any more to deal with her than I had to.

Joey makes Donal see sense, but he's still the grown man who ditched his girlfriend because his sister told him to, and took her back because a random stranger lectured him. He may be remorseful, but I'm not sure he's particularly good husband material, at least until he's had some more time to grow up.

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 Post subject: Re: Forgiveness and redemption
PostPosted: 31 Aug 2017, 03:12 
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Alison H wrote:
where Justin Gatlin, who's served two doping bans, was booed when he won 100m gold.


He came across as an arrogant SOB as well! And the fact that he 'cheated' Bolt of going out with a win.

I think it also comes down to the disrepute they bring to their particular sport. And that the IAAF have failed to explain why a drug cheat is still allowed to compete, and it forms a perfect storm of why the crowd booed him.

And this leads me to Margot. She consistently shows an inability to control her temper leading to consequences for other people and what happens to her? Nothing.

She knocks out Betty, she scares the middles so much they don't want her to be their coach and NOTHING happens. She doesn't get demoted or even scolded. It's strange EBD does not see the favouritism shown to Margot compared to someone like Hilda who accidentally hurts Nina.

Quite bizarrely we have Miss Annersley say in Challenge to Margot: "Nowadays, there isn’t a girl in the school who has a better influence for decency and straight thinking."

But a few weeks later Margot causes an accident on the hockey field and Janice Chester shows the girls think the exact opposite: "You all know what she’s like when she loses her rag. She just let loose. If she’d sat on her rage it wouldn’t have happened." In other words, the girls know darn well Margot has no self control and DON'T admire her.

While it is true Margot is contrite every single time, the redemption never goes very deep. Forgiveness is one thing. Lack of punishment is quite another.

The Jack/Jane friendship never struck me as realistic. Grizel and Deira were friendly before the rock throwing and had known each other for years, so they were able to put what happened aside and go back to their previous friendship.

But Jane was not only bullied by Jack the minute she appears at the school, but Jack encourages her gang to join in. And suddenly Jane is able to put all that aside and be friends with her even when Jack never apologises? The whole scenario sounds very unreal.

Cheers,
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 Post subject: Re: Forgiveness and redemption
PostPosted: 31 Aug 2017, 15:03 
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There are times when EBD's desire, and perhaps need, to show the quality of forgiveness for past offenses, verges on the ludicrous.

It was all meant to show how perfect the CS was, but as we see on this board, no institution is perfect.

In fact, I feel that the CS failed Margot, because the ready forgiveness never taught her the most important lesson - that she couldn't always blame her sins on 'My Devil', in fact she never learned the need for self-control because as a Maynard, she never had to.

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 Post subject: Re: Forgiveness and redemption
PostPosted: 31 Aug 2017, 16:32 
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Is the point of Jack/Jane to convey to young readers that they should forgive when the other person indicates friendliness? Does EBD perhaps intend to exemplify the magnanimity of Jane as opposed to the shortfalls of Jack? This is Jane's book and arguably her behaviour should be the focus of it. Perhaps EBD wanted to inspire young readers to be like Jane and cheerfully put the past behind them, regardless of what happened -- that the point is to absorb that Jane chose to forgive rather than scrutinize whether Jack deserved forgiveness.

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 Post subject: Re: Forgiveness and redemption
PostPosted: 31 Aug 2017, 16:44 
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It would certainly be nice to think that that's what EBD intended, rather than that it was just that the quality of the writing was deteriorating :D.

I think the forgiveness and redemption thing works very well in Head Girl, when Grizel generously forgives Deira. And that's not just for the snowball incident, it's also for destroying Grannie's letter. I know Deira didn't realise that the letter was there, but it was still her fault that something of such great sentimental value was lost. But she does seem genuinely sorry at the end of the book, and Grizel accepts that. In Peggy, the focus is more on Eilunedd, but we still see that she's genuinely sorry, and that Peggy realises that when she forgives her. In the later books, the wrongdoers don't seem to be sorry at all, and we don't get to see how their victims feel. We hear absolutely nothing about how Ted feels at being the victim of Margot's intended blackmail plot, and we don't really know how Ted feels about Margot afterwards, or how Betty feels about Margot after the bookend incident, because it isn't mentioned. We don't get a scene in which the wrongdoer apologises and the victim accepts that they are sorry, as we do with Deira and Eilunedd.

The trouble is that, when someone's forgiven without being sorry, they're probably just going to keep doing bad things, and more people are going to suffer.

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 Post subject: Re: Forgiveness and redemption
PostPosted: 31 Aug 2017, 17:28 
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This all reminds me of something I read recently about when someone apologises you should say "I accept your apology" rather than "that's all right", because forgiving them isn't about suggesting what they did was okay, it's about moving on from it with learning. That's a distinction CS-land people don't really seem to make. It's "forgive and forget" with emphasis on the forget, so people don't necessarily learn from their mistakes.

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 Post subject: Re: Forgiveness and redemption
PostPosted: 31 Aug 2017, 18:08 
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EBD is big on preserving the overall harmony of the school, so she probably sees it as a good thing if girls can forgive and forget quickly, plus become friends. Anything else suggests disruption in the community.

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 Post subject: Re: Forgiveness and redemption
PostPosted: 31 Aug 2017, 20:16 
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EBD was religious. Could the forgiveness theme actually be what she genuinely thought was right? The code by which she lived as opposed to something she just stuck in her writing for the fun of it?

Regarding Margot, I don't think she was turning out as EBD would have wished . She just doesn't reform.


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 Post subject: Re: Forgiveness and redemption
PostPosted: 01 Sep 2017, 01:02 
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That's a good point, Alison - the situations where it works is when the person in the wrong is able to apologize, not in tears in the heat of the moment, but after things have calmed down, and of their own volition.

With Margot, we don't see the aftermath. She's devastated by Jack's shunning after the Ted incident, but we don't see her going Ted and saying "I was really meant to you and I'm sorry. I'm happy Len has such a good friend". She breaks down in tears over her temper after the bookend incident, but we don't see her apologizing to Betty. She loses her temper as Games prefect, but we don't see her acknowledging to the younger girls that she was being unfair and inflaming the situation.

I think with Margot, her focus when she loses her temper and behaves badly is very internal. She's thinking of her filthy temper and her devil, and how she has such a hard row to hoe, and why don't Len and Con have problems like this. So she feels really bad, but she feels bad about herself. She's not feeling bad because she tormented a new girl out of sheer jealousy, or nearly killed a friend in a fit of temper, or was turning Games practice into misery for the younger girls.

With Jack, she doesn't feel bad for Jane until Jane's mother is nearly killed. Before that she backs off of the bullying, but still doesn't like Jane much, and it's more because she feels vaguely uncomfortable.

Making someone break down in tears when they're caught behaving badly is one thing, but it doesn't necessarily mean that they understand what they did wrong, or feel empathy for their victim, or are planning on doing better in the future. The follow up apology/forgiveness scenes give a sense of that process.

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 Post subject: Re: Forgiveness and redemption
PostPosted: 01 Sep 2017, 06:31 
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Alison H wrote:
It would certainly be nice to think that that's what EBD intended, rather than that it was just that the quality of the writing was deteriorating :D.


Indeed! :D It might be because EBD overdoes the writing when she mentions the bullying incidents, that it makes Jane look saintly rather than cheerfully unable to hold a grudge, when the 'forgiveness' scene comes along.

jennifer wrote:
With Jack, she doesn't feel bad for Jane until Jane's mother is nearly killed. Before that she backs off of the bullying, but still doesn't like Jane much, and it's more because she feels vaguely uncomfortable.


Jack's internal thinking shows she's only worried because she's upset her idol Len. And at the thought of her gang follow her blindly like sheep and she doesn't want the responsibility. There's no real sense that she understands how she made Jane feel and is ashamed of herself, which is part of the repentance process.

EBD does carry the forgive and forget part too far. I agree with not holding grudges, but I simply cannot believe Ted and Betty swept what Margot did to them under the carpet and were perfectly OK with being with her every day.

cheers,
Joyce

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Last edited by Joyce on 01 Sep 2017, 10:35, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Forgiveness and redemption
PostPosted: 01 Sep 2017, 08:10 
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What would be the result of Margot's behaviour when she went on to train as a doctor? Or as a nun? She doesn't seem to learn how to control her temper, as discussed above. There will be no pro-Maynard bias in either of those professions.

Where there is an understanding by a character that they have been wrong, and attempt to grow as a person, particularly in the early books, it is easier for me to accept. Perhaps that's why the later books are read less frequently in my collection.
Whoever (can't see the post now) put that perhaps Jane forgiving is the message of the book over the incidents is probably right. The problem for me is that Jack's behaviour is so unpleasant it overshadows that message. I am left feeling that Jack, like Margot, never really learns that much about themselves at school.


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 Post subject: Re: Forgiveness and redemption
PostPosted: 01 Sep 2017, 09:54 
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That's a good point Jennifer that we don't see the apology scene, especially as EBD sees apologising as one of the most difficult things to do (as well as confessing). Even Robin the angel-child has a struggle saying sorry to Eigen after she has drenched him with water through a window. That seems so odd as surely the most basic reaction would be to call out immediately 'I'm so sorry Eigen!'


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 Post subject: Re: Forgiveness and redemption
PostPosted: 01 Sep 2017, 12:48 
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Kate wrote:
This all reminds me of something I read recently about when someone apologises you should say "I accept your apology" rather than "that's all right", because forgiving them isn't about suggesting what they did was okay, it's about moving on from it with learning. That's a distinction CS-land people don't really seem to make. It's "forgive and forget" with emphasis on the forget, so people don't necessarily learn from their mistakes.


There is one really interesting scene where Joan asks Mary Lou's and Katherine's forgiveness for eavesdropping on them at Half Term and Mary Lou tells her to forget it, but Katherine says no, don't forget it as it will help you to remember to not do it again. And EBD describes Katherine as being wiser; something along the lines of: "Katherine who was wiser...."
It suggests EBD didn't always think forgetting was the best policy and that there was value in remembering.

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 Post subject: Re: Forgiveness and redemption
PostPosted: 01 Sep 2017, 15:49 
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scrabble wrote:
What would be the result of Margot's behaviour when she went on to train as a doctor? Or as a nun? She doesn't seem to learn how to control her temper, as discussed above. There will be no pro-Maynard bias in either of those professions.

Where there is an understanding by a character that they have been wrong, and attempt to grow as a person, particularly in the early books, it is easier for me to accept. Perhaps that's why the later books are read less frequently in my collection.
Whoever (can't see the post now) put that perhaps Jane forgiving is the message of the book over the incidents is probably right. The problem for me is that Jack's behaviour is so unpleasant it overshadows that message. I am left feeling that Jack, like Margot, never really learns that much about themselves at school.


Would Margot necessarily be accepted as a trainee doctor or later on, as a nun?

The medicine part should have been okay especially at Edinburgh which apparently placed great emphasis on having a medical background. She was also clever and, on the surface, charming.

Would she have been acceptable to a convent though or would her struggles have made her even more acceptable?


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 Post subject: Re: Forgiveness and redemption
PostPosted: 02 Sep 2017, 03:48 
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Audrey25 wrote:
Would she have been acceptable to a convent though or would her struggles have made her even more acceptable?


I think we are meant to believe because Margot understands the struggle to control her temper, then she will be a good nun, i.e. she knows the struggle with temptation. But don't we all?

But the problem is we don't see her conquering her temper or temptation. Only ONCE when she doesn't get on the sled with Emmy. In Challenge, we see the other girls, even the younger Middles, know all about Margot's lack of self control and avoid her.

Quote:
What would be the result of Margot's behaviour when she went on to train as a doctor? Or as a nun? She doesn't seem to learn how to control her temper, as discussed above. There will be no pro-Maynard bias in either of those professions.


This is where the CS attitude of forgiveness with no punishment is doing Margot no favours. When she gets out on the real world, there is no way she could show up for work or training in a bad temper and take it out on everyone around her. She really should have been demoted in Challenge after the Evelyn incident, to drive the message home.

Ironically, Jack tells Reg he had to snap out of his sulking behaviour if he wants to be a doctor. But he doesn't tell Margot her temperament is not suitable either for different reasons - is she going to argue and lose her temper if another doctor disagrees with her diagnosis? Will she insist she is right and possibly harm the patient?

Cheers,
Joyce

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 Post subject: Re: Forgiveness and redemption
PostPosted: 02 Sep 2017, 06:48 
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I think EBD consciously applied both of the classic fictional paths to a vocation as a nun. Robin stars in the more angelic route, while Margot plays the superficially "bad girl" who must first struggle to overcome her own demons. She's not just taking the path of least resistance toward a goal of serving as a doctor for the less fortunate, but building a character that will help immensely in her future work. Possibly because of this, I've always seen Margot as working hard to control her faults, particularly after her nadir in Theodora, and in fact succeeding, but with realistic setbacks along the way. When she does give way in later books, it's usually triggered by, say, toothache, rather than envy, hatred or intrinsic nastiness. It is true, though, that EBD does a better job of showing Margot's internal struggle than of presenting external evidence of the growth that must have occurred for her to be appointed to positions of such authority in the CS. (I believe the CS authorities are sincere when they try to avoid even the appearance of nepotism.) I think Margot's biggest problem is that, because readers and editors are conditioned to demand action rather than boringly responsible behavior, we see much more of Margot as handy-agent-for-conflict than during her mundanely competent and even-tempered periods.

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 Post subject: Re: Forgiveness and redemption
PostPosted: 04 Sep 2017, 15:11 
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We never see the interview Hilda had with Margot after the Ted incident, which is a shame, as it might have satisfied all our theories re Margot, although Hilda does say to herself when alone one night, that she didn't spare the girl. I'm quite sure she made sure Margot apologise to Ted. She always demanded such, and, you know, having to spit out those words can actually make you feel sorry, when you really weren't to start with. Hilda also persuaded Jack to allow Margot to keep the clock, adding that it wouldn't give her much pleasure then, as it would be a constant reminder. Margot herself told Hilda, when she was leaving the school, that that little clock 'had helped her time and again to stop short when she had been going wrong.' (from Theodora)

Alas, it didn't stop the incident with the book-end! :cry: However, I am inclined to agree with much that Kathy says above.

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