- Elizabeth, feeling the pangs of conformity lost when abandoned by the right thinking majority after the meeting, happens to meet Mr Lewis, the probably-not-a-molester music teacher
- Enid shows Elizabeth how truly wonderful Whyteleafe Prison is, as it is the school Enid should have attended had the had proper parents who knew what Enid deserved.
- Elizabeth nevertheless continues her reign of terror over the easily horrified students and staff of Whyteleafe Prison.
31 August 2015
Well, I think I figured out part of the reason I never wrote about this chapter. You know, other than my laziness and procrastination reaching epic proportions. It’s BORING! I struggled to wring any snarky comments out of myself in relation to this chapter. It’s just so BLAH! But I can’t skip it just to get to my favourite hobby-horses of this book, which is a shame. So here we go.
Only three things happen:
And none of it is particularly interesting.
Let’s review each point properly, you know, since we’re here anyway.
Probably-not-a-molester Mr Lewis. Elizabeth, from whom the upstanding students of Whyteleafe flee, like good little sheep, decides to go to play the piano for a while. Which, it turns out, she is very good at (note this, I have a rant in me on the subject of Elizabeth’s perfections). She comes to a “little room” which I assume is a room to which children regularly have access, to find Mr Lewis playing the piano. Now this bothers me a little for the following reason: It’s his time off. I know a few teachers, and they guard their breaks quite zealously. I would assume a school like this would have had a separate teachers only area in which Mr Lewis might play in peace and not be disturbed.
Anyway, after establishing that Elizabeth is to have lessons with him, they decide that he can give her a lesson now, even though she mentions she’s leaving. The lesson consists of her playing a couple of pieces she already knows and him “tapping his foot” while she plays. He also manages to sound like he couldn’t give the smallest … daily bowel movement … about anything she has to say, all “dear me”’s and other non-statements which read as though he’s not even listening. I suppose he’s meant to come across as wise and kind, but I refuse to bow to Enid’s lazy implied characterisation.
The reason I call Mr Lewis “probably not a molester” is because he manages to also (in addition to his uninterested demeanour) convey a slightly creepy vibe to the adult reader. “You will be one of my best pupils” and “you must really be a very bad little girl” in their context in the story can be innocuous, but have those vague undertones of grooming … but unfortunately not enough for me to really make anything of them.
You see why I hate this chapter. I try, but there is just nothing to work with. And if there were material to work with, what fun we could have!
The second part is Enid school porn. There’s the glory that is Whyteleafe. Blah Blah Blah. It’s a list. You can escape to the village in groups, you can go to the cinema, you can go riding every day. There’s music concerts, there’s a dance every week … It sounds like one of those summer camps – like in Dirty Dancing.
Oh dear, I just tried to picture Elizabeth as Baby. No … just no.
Also, by the by, there is the possibility of friendship For Elizabeth. Joan tries to make friends with Elizabeth, and gets rejected. I tell you I have a rant coming up about that … but not yet.
Anyway, with all the glories of Whyteleafe, Elizabeth is determined to be naughty. She puts a cat in the teacher’s desk ( … I can’t even), she turns the clock in the classroom back 10 minutes to miss arithmetic, she gets sent out of class regularly. Ho hum. Enid really isn't trying here. What does bother me is the fact that all the children laugh at her tricks, then complain about how tiresome they are. YOU CAN’T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS. If you laugh, you are complicit … but I’m still not worked up enough to rant. There are a couple in me, but just not today.
Elizabeth caps her naughtiness off by going to the village ALONE. But only after she tried to be good and everyone told her to go away. Ruth in particular, feeling her precarious social standing, makes it clear that she won’t be seen with someone who “doesn't know how to behave in the road”. Now, beside the awkward phrasing, what is this road etiquette? Is she afraid that Elizabeth will moon cars, or play chicken with a driver? They are walking down a road! What can possibly go wrong?
Anyway, that’s it really. This mediocre chapter is brought to an end when Elizabeth is caught by the head girl. I promise there’s a rant there. My sincere apologies for the lacklustre return, but this chapter is like reheated potatoes – floury and cold in the centre.
Next time: Why gossiping is NEVER acceptable behaviour and a prelude to my major squick with this book! Stick with me, people, good times are coming!