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 Post subject: Joan Baker, slapping, and Tauchnitz
PostPosted: 29 Jun 2011, 16:43 
Inspired by the thread on the triplets and maturity.

Why doesn't Joan Baker leave the CS? She originally goes there, when her father says he wants her to go to a good school, because she wants what Rosamund has:

Quote:
Now Joan's real motive for insisting on coming to the Chalet School had been one of jealousy. [...] When her father, backed up by her grandfather, insisted that she and Pamela must go to a good school for at least two more years, it had struck her that it would be quite pleasant to go as a paying pupil to the same school.


Quote:
I wonder if I'm going to like it here after all? Oh, well, if I find I can't stand it, Pa will take me away and send me somewhere else." She turned over and her jaw suddenly squared itself. "Oh no; that shan't happen! Ros Lilley's not going to have a single thing I don't have. I'll stick it somehow.


So why doesn't she ever ask her parents to take her away? She's miserable enough to run away by halfterm, but she returns after the summer, despite an only partial reform, and spends three years in total at the school.

Is her jealousy of Ros really strong enough to keep her longterm in an alien environment that considers her common and 'cheap', even after she's gone to enormous lengths to reinvent herself, where she has no real friends, and finds it difficult to keep up in lessons? If not, what does keep her at the CS? Stubbornness? A recognition that CS values are the 'right' ones? A desire not to let her family know what has transpired? (Though she must have said something at home, as her sister doesn't attend the CS...?)

For some reason I never noticed this before - I think the detail may have been cut in the Armada version? It's when Hilary says that Joan saying 'Go to hell!' reflects badly on her mother:

Quote:
Besides, she knew very well that if ever her mother had caught her swearing she would have received a pretty sharp slap across the mouth. Mrs. Baker was lax in many ways, but she had never allowed bad language.


How normal would EBD have expected her readership to find facial slapping of children by adults? We know that various CS authority figures advocate caning as a last resort, and Richenda's father does cane her on the hands, but does EBD intend us to think Mrs Baker's style of corporal punishment is different? Are we supposed to read it as a class thing?

Also, I noticed this in a re-read of Problem, when Hilary and Rosamund are looking for English-language books at halfterm:

Quote:
"And there's always the Tauchnitz editions if the worst comes to the worst. They're English books published by the Tauchnitz firm in paper covers for the use of tourists. You aren't supposed to take them out of the country, I believe, but I know we have a lot at home from the times when Dad's firm used to send him abroad.


Why weren't you supposed to take Tauchnitz books out of the country?


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 Post subject: Re: Joan Baker, slapping, and Tauchnitz
PostPosted: 29 Jun 2011, 17:19 
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I don't see any particular driving force for Joan to leave school, once she's past the first term - she seems to settle down all right. But then, as I've said before, I don't read Joan as being an outcast in the day-to-day sense; she's often seen in the background of the Triplets/Ros/Ricki/Ted gang, and seems to get on with others ok. There are lots of people (in real life) who don't have particularly close friends throughout their schooldays, but who get on well enough with their peers to be fairly happy, and I'd put Joan in this category. And as she wants to help support her younger sister, I'm sure she'd be aware that this was a good chance to get a decent education.

I assumed the reason her sister didn't go to the school was because the Bakers had frittered away all their pool winnings, but maybe there's a reference somewhere to it being because Joan gave the CS a poor review?

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 Post subject: Re: Joan Baker, slapping, and Tauchnitz
PostPosted: 29 Jun 2011, 17:46 
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Cosimo's Jackal wrote:
Quote:
"And there's always the Tauchnitz editions if the worst comes to the worst. They're English books published by the Tauchnitz firm in paper covers for the use of tourists. You aren't supposed to take them out of the country, I believe, but I know we have a lot at home from the times when Dad's firm used to send him abroad.


Why weren't you supposed to take Tauchnitz books out of the country?


It looks like it's something to do with copyright and international rights:

http://www.abebooks.co.uk/books/RareBoo ... nitz.shtml

I love the rather melodramatic warning "Not to be introduced in to the British Empire or USA" :)


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 Post subject: Re: Joan Baker, slapping, and Tauchnitz
PostPosted: 29 Jun 2011, 18:30 
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jayj wrote:
I love the rather melodramatic warning "Not to be introduced in to the British Empire or USA" :)


Goodness, just like decent bread, proportional representation, and Speaking Your Mind. (For the UK, at least)

Am now unable to resist making a list of other things Not To Be Introduced... :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: Joan Baker, slapping, and Tauchnitz
PostPosted: 29 Jun 2011, 19:45 
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In CS-land, the Bakers would, presumably, have administered clips round the earhole for minor offences, smacks across the face for more major offences for girls and thrashings with Mr Baker's belt for boys, whereas people like the Frys would have used a cane. Everything the Bakers and the Lilleys do has to include a class reference :banghead: . When Mrs Lilley writes to tell Ros that the Bakers are moving away, we just have to be told that Mr Lilley found this out when he was talking to Mr Baker over the garden fence : we can't just be told that Mr Lilley was talking to Mr Baker.

I'd think pride was the main reason Joan stayed at the CS, and maybe a realisation that learning languages would help her to get a good secretarial job - although I don't think anyone in the entire series leaves the school at her own request (i.e. telling parents/guardians that she wasn't happy there). It's the same in most school stories: girls do sometimes say that they're going to ask their parents to take them away, but either they never ask or the parents say no.

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 Post subject: Re: Joan Baker, slapping, and Tauchnitz
PostPosted: 29 Jun 2011, 20:19 
I think that also, Joan is a particularly intelligent character/person. She understood fully her own background and what the Chalet School could help her do in life. And she was willing to grasp, firmly and with both hands, whatever it was that could help her have a better life - her and her family.

Unlike people who didn't have to earn money or had financial and family support and help, she knew that she was alone and what she didn't work for she wouldn't have.

Most of the others don't have this as an impetus, and I think that's why Joan stayed. Personal and family gain - and hats off to her.


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 Post subject: Re: Joan Baker, slapping, and Tauchnitz
PostPosted: 30 Jun 2011, 11:12 
jayj wrote:
It looks like it's something to do with copyright and international rights:

http://www.abebooks.co.uk/books/RareBoo ... nitz.shtml

I love the rather melodramatic warning "Not to be introduced in to the British Empire or USA" :)


That's very interesting - thank you!

Alison H wrote:
Everything the Bakers and the Lilleys do has to include a class reference :banghead:


You're right! Joan doesn't eat a piece of cake, she 'wolfs' cheap shop cake, Mrs Lilley doesn't just pour out tea, she pours it out of a Britannia Metal teapot at the kitchen table, Mrs Baker's slap isn't just a non-specific smack but a sharp slap across the mouth etc etc.


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 Post subject: Re: Joan Baker, slapping, and Tauchnitz
PostPosted: 30 Jun 2011, 11:25 
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Cel wrote:
I assumed the reason her sister didn't go to the school was because the Bakers had frittered away all their pool winnings, but maybe there's a reference somewhere to it being because Joan gave the CS a poor review?


I always thought Pamela didn't go to the Chalet School because she didn't have the same interest in languages that Joan had. As much as I think the Chalet School seems to be a good school, it would not be a good school to send your child to unless they had an interest in foreign languages. It would be even harder, if they had to catch up with their general schooling as well. It can't have escaped the Baker's notice, that Joan was well above her form's age group.

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 Post subject: Re: Joan Baker, slapping, and Tauchnitz
PostPosted: 30 Jun 2011, 16:02 
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Cosimo's Jackal wrote:
You're right! Joan doesn't eat a piece of cake, she 'wolfs' cheap shop cake, Mrs Lilley doesn't just pour out tea, she pours it out of a Britannia Metal teapot at the kitchen table, Mrs Baker's slap isn't just a non-specific smack but a sharp slap across the mouth etc etc.

To me, oblivious to the objectionable "class markers" some of you seem to find under every bush, all of these are examples of strong writing, with the kind of detail that makes words come alive. The alternatives sound positively insipid! And what on earth is wrong with talking over the garden hedge? It emphasizes that the Bakers and Lilleys are next door neighbors. I get the impression that EBD was bending over backwards to show the bully and the more sympathetic character as coming from the same socioeconomic status (though Joan presents hers as slightly higher), lest she (the author) be accused of lumping all of (whichever class it was) together.

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 Post subject: Re: Joan Baker, slapping, and Tauchnitz
PostPosted: 30 Jun 2011, 16:13 
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No no no: talking over the garden fence is something that only the common amongst us (like me :lol: ) do. In Rosanna at the Wells, Rosanna's snobby aunt goes mad when she catches Rosanna talking to their neighbour over the fence. That sort of thing certainly adds detail and colour, though, as you say. Instead of just being told that Joan was eating a piece of cake, we're told that Joan was wolfing (bad manners) a piece of shop-bought (suggests that Mrs Baker is a slovenly housekeeper, unlike Mrs Lilley who makes her own Leafy cake) cake in (definitely not something a good CS girl would do) the street. So we learn an awful lot about what we're supposed to think of Joan and her family just from one sentence about eating a piece of cake :D .

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 Post subject: Re: Joan Baker, slapping, and Tauchnitz
PostPosted: 30 Jun 2011, 18:22 
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Alison and the others, did you actually notice the subtext at 12 or 14 or did it only become apparant as you re-read as an adult? Like Kathy, I think of them as little details that add another dimension to the books and yes, they might give an indication of the type of home the Liley's and the Baker's lived in but we get that about every family when there is a "at home scene". I think it's a pity that Elinor decided that she should portray Joan as "uncouth" but at least she did include someone of working class and she included little details about their lives just as she did for the BMR clan. Those details just help to set the scene for kids who perhaps are growing up in a different socio-economic group. Personally I have always read shop bought cake as Mrs B was too busy to bake, as she had no help at home. If Jo hadn't got Anna and Rosli I doubt the maynards would have had home made either.

As a COT point when I was teaching in a RC school a few years ago, we sent home a letter asking for contributions of baking reinforced by the HeadTeacher asking the kids to ask their mummies to make cakes in assembly. One of the kids in my class piped up in assembly that her mummy couldn't bake and when asked why replied that mummy was too busy making poorly babies be born! His mum was a doc on a NICU. The next letter asked for cakes!

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 Post subject: Re: Joan Baker, slapping, and Tauchnitz
PostPosted: 30 Jun 2011, 18:45 
Kathy_S wrote:
To me, oblivious to the objectionable "class markers" some of you seem to find under every bush, all of these are examples of strong writing, with the kind of detail that makes words come alive.


Class markers often aren't evident to someone who isn't thoroughly well-versed in the class system of that particular environment. I lived in the US for years, and am fairly well-read in American literature, but I couldn't hazard anything like a properly informed reading of class markers in an American novel.

It's as Alison H says, the bits dealing with the Lilleys and Bakers are particularly stuffed full of class markers - everything from Joan eating fish and chips on the street, the Bakers' cheap shop cake, the Lilleys' tea in the kitchen, calling school teaching staff 'teachers' rather than 'mistresses', Mrs Lilley in her letter calling Ros's sister 'our Dorothy' etc etc. And absolutely, it is good writing - Mrs Lilley's letter to Ros at school rings absolutely true in its 'voice' - but part of its vividness is that EBD is characterising a class, the English urban working-class, that hasn't really appeared in the CS before now, apart from the odd character like Grandma and her family in Gay. EBD is showing us in a quite didactic way that we should despise Joan's working-class background ('cheap', poor manners, running about on the streets with unsavoury local youths etc), but admire Ros's (same socio-economic level, but decent, unpretentious, etc etc) and the different ways in which both Bakers and Lilleys aspire to 'better themselves' when the opportunity arises.

The Lilley's fresh, home-made leafy cake vs the Bakers' cheap shop cake is highly symbolic! :)

Sugar wrote:
Alison and the others, did you actually notice the subtext at 12 or 14 or did it only become apparant as you re-read as an adult? [...] Personally I have always read shop bought cake as Mrs B was too busy to bake, as she had no help at home. If Jo hadn't got Anna and Rosli I doubt the maynards would have had home made either.


I did notice the Lilley's lack of bathroom, because we didn't have one either when I was small, but I can only see EBD's own class consciousness more clearly as an adult, and since living in England. Class works a bit differently in Ireland, where I grew up.

You forget Mrs Lilley has no help at home either, but is still pictured as making lardy cake - I don't think it's accidental that the 'good' working class mother is associated with baking, good manners etc and the 'bad' working-class mother (even though we never meet her), is associated with buying shop cake, letting her daughter out on the streets in the evening, and giving sharp slaps across the mouth. :D


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 Post subject: Re: Joan Baker, slapping, and Tauchnitz
PostPosted: 30 Jun 2011, 18:52 
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I'm not sure that I picked up on them as a kid, but I do think that some of the apparently trivial details are there to make big points. That's not a criticism in any way: it's clever writing to be able to say much in one apparently minor point. I could well be reading something into nothing :lol: , but the way it comes across to me is that, for example, Joan's "shop-bought" cake, Mrs Carrick's "fashionable" clothes, Matron Webb's "loud" voice and Peggy's big shady hat as opposed to the untidy appearance of the Winterton girls are meant to tell us a lot about the characters and their backgrounds which isn't actually spelt out.

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 Post subject: Re: Joan Baker, slapping, and Tauchnitz
PostPosted: 30 Jun 2011, 18:53 
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I grew up in a working-class area in the 70s and no-one had home-made cake for their birthday, it always had to come from the bakers. I only had home-made cake after my mum died and my dad had to give up work. You were rather pitied if your parents couldn't afford to buy you a cake from the bakers :lol: .


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 Post subject: Re: Joan Baker, slapping, and Tauchnitz
PostPosted: 30 Jun 2011, 19:16 
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For us, boughten cake (except perhaps for a celebration) would have had spendthrift connotations, unless the family had money to burn -- so, had I stopped to think about such things as a kid, it could be seen as foreshadowing of the rapidly depleted winnings. The sign of a time-stressed mother would have been cake mix cakes, without frosting except for special occasions.

Not eating cake in the street reminds me of Rilla of Ingleside's mistaken idea that being seen carrying a cake would be totally humiliating....

But not talking over the hedge still sounds like snob disapproving of the people next door (or perhaps of talking with next door's servants) more than a characteristic to be avoided as "common." A true lady should be polite to everyone. (I can now hear that last sentence being said with one's nose in the air. :lol:)

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 Post subject: Re: Joan Baker, slapping, and Tauchnitz
PostPosted: 30 Jun 2011, 20:41 
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Quote:
You also forget that for the truly middle-class, it isn't a hedge, it's a yew divider.


Or a non-yew divider?

Sorry.


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 Post subject: Re: Joan Baker, slapping, and Tauchnitz
PostPosted: 30 Jun 2011, 20:45 
JS wrote:
Quote:
You also forget that for the truly middle-class, it isn't a hedge, it's a yew divider.


Or a non-yew divider?

Sorry.


:D :D

RubyGates wrote:
I grew up in a working-class area in the 70s and no-one had home-made cake for their birthday, it always had to come from the bakers. I only had home-made cake after my mum died and my dad had to give up work. You were rather pitied if your parents couldn't afford to buy you a cake from the bakers :lol: .


An extremely middle-class English friend who was a at a posh primary school in the 1980s remembers her very middle-class classmates being delighted when invited to one of the few working-class girls' birthday parties, because they had 'proper cake, with additives and refined sugar', whereas the middle-class parties were much more home-made and wholemeal. :)

Of course, the point about Joan's shop cake is that it isn't from a bakery, it's from the grocer at the end of the road - so not from a specialist shop which might imply forethought or maybe a treat for a special occasion. This cake is presumably some kind of mass-produced, 'cheap' 1950s equivalent to Kipling's Iced Fancies which gets 'wolfed' by Joan. Proper CS girls are allowed to 'munch', but 'wolfing' is clearly a Bad Thing. :D

(EBD isn't by any means anti- shop cakes in other situations where indicating social class isn't an issue - when Joey and Grizel first have tea with the Mensches at the Tiernsee in School At, the cakes have been bought in Innsbruck.)

Kathy_S wrote:
Not eating cake in the street reminds me of Rilla of Ingleside's mistaken idea that being seen carrying a cake would be totally humiliating....


I was baffled by that when I was little! But eating anything on the street is still bad manners for the Right Kind of Person:

Quote:
From Times Online November 13, 2006

Modern Manners
Philip Howard answers your questions on contemporary etiquette


What is the etiquette about eating in the street? My girlfriend tells me that it is bad manners. Paul Atcliffe, Manchester

Your girlfriend has good, old-fashioned manners. She is also a voice crying in the Wilderness of the High Street. For the strictly educated, it is offensive to eat in public, except in a public restaurant or other place devoted specifically to eating. There may be exceptions. By the seaside, where manners are more breezy, it is just about acceptable for young persons to lick an ice-cream cone in public on the esplanade. It is piggish, Low Life bad manners to eat (especially smelly food, such as burgers with onions) on public transport. Vulgar. Chav.
[...] At my old-fashioned school, boys were flogged for socking (eating, scoffing) in the street. Manners have loosened. But it is still offensive to eat in public. Well, the scars of ancient flogging have persuaded me so


AF's Kingscote has a strict rule forbidding eating on the street in school uniform. And Joan eats fish and chips, presumably out of a newspaper, which would have been viewed as beyond common, even leaving aside the 'unsavoury' Vic Coles...


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 Post subject: Re: Joan Baker, slapping, and Tauchnitz
PostPosted: 30 Jun 2011, 20:47 
Kathy_S wrote:
But not talking over the hedge still sounds like snob disapproving of the people next door (or perhaps of talking with next door's servants) more than a characteristic to be avoided as "common."


But I think you're exactly correct here, Kathy. For all we're told, time and time again, that snobbishness is wrong, and that no True Chalet School Girl would be a snob, at the same time, by subtly showing some characters as having 'undesirable' habits, Elinor is exposing her own limits of accepting other people.

It is clever writing - Elinor never actually says what she doesn't like, but it's there all the same, and the reader is drawn in to agreement with her. Very interesting ...


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 Post subject: Re: Joan Baker, slapping, and Tauchnitz
PostPosted: 30 Jun 2011, 21:14 
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The exceptions seem to be the Barrasses. Mr Barrass swears his head off in the butcher's, Mrs Barrass wears dirty clothes, the house is covered in dust and they have loud slanging matches, all of which, even allowing for the "arty people are different" idea, makes the Bakers look the epitome of refinement. Normally, that sort of behaviour is associated by CS people with the working classes - Grizel and Gerry say something about the St S's girls yelling "like council school children" and Miss Slater tells her form off for yelling and fighting as if they're in a "back street" - but we know that the Barrasses are middle-class and have considerable inherited wealth.

Yet somehow - is this just me? - I get the impression that we aren't really meant to disapprove of them, and that we're actually meant to have a quiet chuckle at the two prim and proper Mrs Trelawneys, who are horror-stricken by it all and don't want Mary-Lou hanging around with Clem and Tony. The way it comes across to me is that Mary-Lou running wild with the Barrass children is quite a positive thing compared with being an "old-fashioned little maid" as she was before, and that Clem and Tony are actually much better friends for her than the two prissy girls (the vicars' nieces?) her mother and grandmother try to push her towards.

Maybe it's something that changes over time: attitudes in the Swiss books are different in some ways from those in the earlier books.

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 Post subject: Re: Joan Baker, slapping, and Tauchnitz
PostPosted: 30 Jun 2011, 22:01 
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Alison H wrote:
Yet somehow - is this just me? - I get the impression that we aren't really meant to disapprove of them, and that we're actually meant to have a quiet chuckle at the two prim and proper Mrs Trelawneys, who are horror-stricken by it all and don't want Mary-Lou hanging around with Clem and Tony. The way it comes across to me is that Mary-Lou running wild with the Barrass children is quite a positive thing compared with being an "old-fashioned little maid" as she was before, and that Clem and Tony are actually much better friends for her than the two prissy girls (the vicars' nieces?) her mother and grandmother try to push her towards.


It sort of cuts both ways, IMO, and I think what makes the Barrasses work is actually Clem - we know that the Barrass parents aren't everything they ought to be, but Clem is easy-going and responsible and, therefore, not actually an actively bad play-mate for Mary-Lou. If Clem had also been untidy, swearing, etc, then I that would have very obviously earmarked her as Not the Right Sort. And because Clem has miraculously turned out alright, it helps make her parents' foibles humorous.

Sugar wrote:
Alison and the others, did you actually notice the subtext at 12 or 14 or did it only become apparant as you re-read as an adult?


I definitely noticed it when I read it as a kid - particularly the phrase "wolfing down cheap cake" struck me as showing that Joan was "wrong", although I didn't understand about class divisions then (and still don't, a lot of the time - some things are generational and cultural and if it wasn't for the CBB I'd never understand - like Grandmother drinking black tea!)

Quote:
I think it's a pity that Elinor decided that she should portray Joan as "uncouth" but at least she did include someone of working class and she included little details about their lives just as she did for the BMR clan.


I'm not really sure that it's a case of "well at least she included a working class character". It's not really inclusive when the character you introduce is portrayed as a rather negative stereotype, and especially since once again (for what I think is the third time) we have a Bad Girl who is working class / nouveau riche and who therefore shown to be a snob. If Rosamund had been introduced with a snobby middle-class antagonist, then having Joan as a New Girl With Issues - in a separate book - wouldn't have looked nearly so bad.

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