Children's Fantasy

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Children's Fantasy

While listening to the other students reading in class today, I realized that being different makes everyone similar in a bizarre way. I must admit that I was very nervous to read my fairy tale in front of the whole class and even though I still haven’t read my aloud I am not quite so scared. In listening to Yasmin’s story and Pat’s and Katrina’s critical analysis it dawned on me that we are all so different. This individuality that all of us encompass makes us the same in the fact that we are all weird. Pat’s paper was very precise and to the point, while Katrina’s wound around with lots of detail, and Yasmin’s story was fun and full of imagination; all very unique and all respected in their own right. They even had their own style of reading their works to the class. I don’t really know why this all seems so profound to me right now but I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

I believe some of my thought was inspired by Katrina’s essay which included an analysis on individuality verses conformity. I know I never give myself enough credit for anything I do and really do not feel confident in this type of class setting. I am used to math and science classes where there are no opinions and there is not a sliding scale of performance; it is right or wrong. I didn’t think I would fit into this class but after today I feel like everyone is so different that it makes us the same in that one way; our uniqueness. So I feel like being an individual is the way to conform and allows one to fit into a group in the midst of maintaining her own style.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Writing Fantasy

I have found the process of writing about a fantasy world both challenging and refreshing. When I made the decision to write a fairy tale instead of the critical paper, I had a glimpse of the story I was going to write running through my head. I knew the setting I was going to use, where it was going to fit into the story, the characters, and I could visualize a few small events. I finally got through my procrastination and started to put my ideas down on paper, the process being surprisingly slow. I knew my story but it took me so long to write all the detail needed to pull a reader through my vision. I didn’t realize how big the jump was from the outline of my story and its events to the actual telling of it with dialogue and descriptions of everything.

Once I got passed the initial realization of what it would take to write my story, I began to feel myself become lost in my little part of Narnia. I tried to walk with my characters and explain what I saw and what I felt during each step. I worry that my writing as I read it tells the story perfectly because it is the same story I vision, while my story to another reader is completely different. I don’t necessarily need them to have the same visual but I want them to grasp the essence of the world I see. However, my world may be different from C. S. Lewis’s world.

I am adding a chapter to book I didn’t write, with characters I didn’t create, in a land I didn’t form. C. S. Lewis and I are drawing on our experiences to form a fantasy world and it is quite obvious that our lives are extremely different. My writing seems to flow with his because it is my vision of his story that I am adding to but another reader who has been developing her own vision through C. S. Lewis may not have pictured the same world as I did, so my story would not flow with hers. I understand that there is no possible way for my writing to meet the standard of the Mr. Lewis but I feel that it is important for me to try to draw the same visual for the reader.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Fitting In

The way good and evil relates to individuality was a recurring theme throughout A Wrinkle in Time and now it is showing up in A Wind in the Door. The A Wrinkle in Time the characters seem to be struggling with the concept of being different from the other children on earth and portray it is a fault if one can not find a way to fit in. Then when they find there way to Camazotz they realize that being like everyone else is even more evil than individuality. In this book as in A Wrinkle in Time, L’Engle uses pure conformity as an infestation of evil. The entity that takes Mr. Jenkins’s form over and creates exact replicas in looks and mannerisms is a truly evil power. When individuality is lost and ones name is taken away, she or he loses the sense of humanity and that is why Meg must conquer the evil and accept the true Mr. Jenkins.

In this book fitting in is not accomplished by dumbing one’s self down but by rising up to another level of intellect. Instead of struggling with fitting in with their peers, Meg and Calvin have to learn to work with non earth creatures. Both of them seem to be put in the unfortunate position of being superior to other humans but beneath the capabilities of the foreign characters. Calvin seems to have an easy time fitting in with classmates but has never been pushed to a higher level but Meg along with Charles Wallace struggle with lowering themselves down. Unlike Charles Wallace Meg never feels adiquet enough whether it is in comparison to her six year old brother, to Calvin, or to her mother. To make matters worse in the A Wind in the Door, the non earthlings remind the children of their inferiority constantly, reinforcing Meg’s unfortunate pattern of being a poor decision maker. Proginoskes did not want anything to do with Meg in the beginning but starts to trust her after the first task: “I, too, had misgivings about earthlings. But the girl earthling and I have just come through the first ordeal, and it was the girl who did it.” Sporos is even more belittling with his jabbing comments such as, “Neither are you. Nothing important is. Blajeny, is it my misfortune to be paired with one of these earthlings?” I feel it is obvious that the rest of the book will show the children working to finish the tasks and as a side affect the creatures will start to respect the unique qualities a human has to offer. With this gained respect Meg and Calvin will create a balance between the evils of conformity and individuality.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Losing Faith

I am beginning to lose faith in Madeleine L’Engle; I hope my heart changes as I read more of the next book. The first few chapters of A Wind in the Door did not draw me in like A Winkle in Time did. I feel it is all too much over the top. For a child I believe the science would get old and the significance lost in the jargon. I personally enjoy the science but do not like the rest of the story. I feel that all of the characters and events are becoming too over exaggerated causing the base story to be lost. Meg and Charles Wallace are so overly odd that I can no longer relate to them or desire to be in their abnormal world of science and fantasy. L’Engle tries to create a sense of the surroundings as well as the events with so much detail that it becomes confusing. For example a quote such as, “He’s been away a lot this autumn. He ought to stay home with his family at least some of the time. I think the sauce is okay” shows that L’Engle wants to create an atmosphere for the reader but I don’t find this type of writing particularly appealing.

Along with her style of writing, I don’t find the tale of this book very alluring. There has been very little action in sixty pages and the events that did happen were poorly illustrated. One incident in particular was when Mr. Jenkins disappeared into the sky and there was screaming and odor but nothing was explained. Calvin showed up, Mr. Jenkins was forgotten, and the dragons became more important. I am sure there is more meaning in this bizarre disappearance at a latter time but it left me so confused. I believe I had to reread that page three times just to make sure I did not miss anything, coming to the conclusion that L’Engle must have missed some of her detail that she is know for.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

A Wrinkle In Time

I continue to be enthralled by the enchanting story of A Wrinkle in Time, but I do miss the more light hearted writings of C. S. Lewis. The reading I did today invoked a lot of emotion as I felt myself feel Meg’s pain. I felt that L’Engle did a glorious job portraying a fear and hatred so real in the mind of a child. She constantly reaches out for Calvin’s and Charles Wallace’s hands in hopes of comfort. Meg shows both fear and her uncontrollable childhood anger as she lashes out at her father even though she feels that it is all wrong inside. I really began to feel the depth of her emotions with the details of L’Engle’s writing style. I feel C. S. Lewis never made me feel the emotions quite like L’Engle does; however there is defiantly a desire to read a more bright fantasy like the Cronicles of Narnia.

As I read I could not help picturing another plot; Camazotz has a strong resemblance to the Orwell’s 1984. It has been sometime since I have read 1984 so the details are fuzzy but I get the same feeling as Calvin, Meg, and Charles Wallace travel through Camazotz. The sense of ultimate control is present in both situations but Camazotz takes it to the extreme. The fear in the woman with the son who drops the ball is the same fear I felt in the people living in the 1984 hell. Then the boy is tortured in the looming building of the all powerful, it was all a little too familiar.

I also felt that there were some unanswered questions within the storyline. The three ladies said that they could not help but I don’t yet see their role within this whole story and why, being so powerful and already beating part of the evilness, that they can’t help out the children more. I do not necessarily think they should help them but I would like an explanation of why they stay so distant. The second question is, why did Mr. Murry allow the children go towards IT when he knew Calvin and Meg could not handle it? It says “there was nothing for Meg and Mr. Murry to do but to follow,” but they knew what was going to happen and it was too much so I don’t understand why they just refused to follow.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

A Wrinkle in Time

After class today I was not looking forward to starting A Wrinkle in Time after Dr. Sullivan stated his lack of enthusiasm about L’Engle’s writing. Much to my surprise, I thoroughly enjoyed the reading I did this afternoon. I found the details she used refreshing in contrast to C. S. Lewis’ lack of detail, forcing me to picture the story as she sees it. For example, a passage as detailed as this one would never be found in a chronicle of Narnia: “She was a marble white body with powerful flanks, something like a horse but at the same time completely unlike a house, for from the magnificently modeled back sprang a nobly formed torso, arms, and a head resembling a man’s, but a man with a perfection of dignity and virtue, an exaltation of joy such as Meg had never before seen.” Although all of the fancy descriptions may cause divergence from the main story line, it allows the reader to dive into the wild imagination of a fantasy writer.

Even more than I enjoy the detail and the story line, I love the bizarre characters. They are far more dynamic than the four children in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and even though they are not the typical neighbors that every child can relate to, they provide an interesting world which I want to be a part of. Meg with her obviously unattractive glasses and braces to go with her improper attitude makes me root for her as the underdog of the story. Calvin, Charles, the twins, and the parents are all weird in their own regard allowing child readers to realize that all families are strange. However, nothing makes me giggle more than the three old ladies; Mrs. Whatsit is somewhat kind but quite bossy, Mrs. Which speaks in long drawn out words, and Mrs. Who only speaks by quotes in foreign languages. I find the whole bunch of them quite amusing, sucking me into the world of Mandeleine L’Engle.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Susan and Edmund Switch

The roles played by Susan and Edmund as components of the group dynamic switched from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to Prince Caspian. In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Edmund was portrayed as the troubled sibling that wanted to go against the others. He denied Lucy by lying to Susan and Peter about experiencing Narnia for himself; however, we saw him transfer throughout the story and end up as a devoted servant to Aslan and his family both as King and sibling.

In Prince Caspian Susan assumed the role as the uneasy child who was struggling internally and showing it externally. When Lucy saw Aslan, Susan made the comment, “Where did you think you saw him?” doubting the fact that he was actually there. When Lucy saw Aslan the second time Susan was first to refute Lucy again when she said in her most annoying grown-up voice, “You’ve been dreaming Lucy. Go to sleep again.” Susan was battling against her fear within and surrendered to her desire to leave the woods rather than gamble on Aslan, showing the lack in trust of Lucy as Edmund showed an absence of trust in the family during The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. In fact Edmund was the first to believe Lucy in Prince Caspian: “Aslan! Hurray! Where?” As to be expected by a Narnia tale, Susan transformed, saw the light, and became a believer. Susan was told by Aslan that she should never doubt his presence, which provided one of the moral actions C. S. Lewis loves to include in his child fantasies.