Friday, March 17, 2017

Before You Meet Prince Charming: Chapter Three - Part One

Chapter Three is entitled "Guard Your Heart".

Nothing like some more empty threats of how your life is going to massively suck if you fall in love more than once in your life.

Random - and rather sleep-deprived - side tangent: How do widows and widowers fit into this Emo-Pure scheme?  The Bible mentions that widows and widowers existed.  Both the Old and New Testaments allow remarriage for people who have lost their spouses to death.  One of the Epistles strongly encourages young widows to remarry.  Does that mean the second marriage is decimated by memories of the original spouses?  Is the second marriage a holding pattern until death comes?


Chapter Three's allegory is simple because it is extremely formulaic.  To prove my point, I'll give you two hints then see if you can guess the outcome of the chapter.  I've already given you the first hint: it's the title of the chapter.  The second hint is that the Princess decides to go to the Spring Fair after discussing it with her parents.

*hums the theme from Jeopardy*  Time's up!

Here's the synopsis:
The Princess has decided to go to the Spring Fair. While leaving the castle, the Princess is stopped by the Alligator. The Alligator congratulates the Princess on beginning to socialize with others her own age and gaining exposure to the ways of the world. The Princess denies that is what she is doing. At the Fair, she hangs out with other young ladies. She meets Sir Eloquence, a young Knight who seems brash and over eager by CP standards. The Princess interacts with him in a friendly fashion, but does not let him accompany her home. She is confused over how to act around Sir Eloquence and decides to ask her parents about the situation.

You get points if you predicted:

  • A conversation with the Alligator - one extra point for predicting that the Alligator makes more sense than the Princess
  • Meeting an unsuitable young man
  • The Princess feeling angst or confusion 
  • The Princess deciding that she just has to talk to her parents about her love life.
  • Bonus point if you predicted that Victory the horse reappears.
Please, someone needs to let Sarah Mally ride a horse - for my sanity if nothing else.  The chunks of the story involving Victory are memorable because I lose any ability to suspend my disbelief around equestrian details that both excessive and wrong.  

"She fed Victory an apple, mounted him gracefully, and enthusiastically begin her journey. Victory seemed excited today too. "(pg. 45)
  • The first sentence grates on my nerves because there is no purpose to the sentence at all.  There is no need to tell us that she gave her horse a snack, climbed on him and was super-duper happy at the whole thing.  All of those ideas are so mundane that including them in the story detracts from the allegory.  
  • A running theme in the CP writings for young women is the frequent use of sexual metaphor unintentionally and this is one of the good ones as well.  
The next bit of horse-work made me pretty sure she'd never ridden a horse.
"As she was riding across the bridge just outside the castle she was stopped by a voice. [The alligator is in the moat. The two of them chat.] " Thou art mistaken, sir," she replied, and she turned Victory to face the moat, (....)" (pg. 46)
  • I'm working on two assumptions here.  First, the bridge runs perpendicular to the moat.  Second, the princess is of normal human height and proportions.
    • When she is riding across the bridge, Victory is facing parallel to the bridge and she is facing forward.  
    • When she hears the Alligator, she reins in Victory so he's facing along the bridge and she turns her head to face the Alligator in the moat.  This is reasonably comfortable, allows her to see the Alligator and lets her continue on her journey quickly if she wants to move.
    • Then - mid-sentence no less - she pulls Victory's head to one side, nudges him forward from a stop to turn 90 degrees, waits for the horse to re-settle himself and continues a conversation with an alligator whom she can no longer see!  Victory's body is now acting as a screen between the Alligator and the Princess and no one seems to notice this.
Last horsey bit for this chapter - I promise.
"Upon her arrival, she entrusted Victory to the town stable and began to mingle with the young ladies chatting in the park." (pg. 47)

  • The anachronisms are causing me to go a bit batty.   
    • Is a town stable the same thing as a municipal parking lot?  You know, the local horse care board collects a tax on locals to fund a stable (complete with horse feed and attendants) so that the landed class can ride their horses into town from the suburbs and shop at the local boutiques.  
    • I don't know anything about these "young ladies".  Is the local nobility having a meet-and-greet in the local park (funded by taxes collected by the park board)?  Is a princess gallivanting about with commoners?
  • Why set an allegory in a historical time period if the author isn't going to bother and research the period at all? Why not create a fantasy land after Tolkien, Lewis or Pratchett?  

""The princess made friends quickly. She never acted as if she believed she ought to be treated as royalty. Rather, she was quick to serve, to fellowship with the villagers, and to put others first. Her kind words, gracious manners, and loving action were obvious to all. In fact, if she had taken note, she would have realized that she received much more respect and honor as a result of these humble actions than she ever would have gained had she demanded admiration from others or proclaimed her own importance. But she did not even notice what others thought of her, for, as I said before, she was a true princess." (pg. 47)
  • Dear God.  That might be the most smarmy passage I've ever read.  
  • The princess was at a picnic according to the passage and an accompanying drawing.  I can force the ideas of "fellowship", "gracious manners" and "kind words" to fit a teenage girl at a picnic - but "not being a bitch" isn't really something to write home about.  More importantly, I can't figure out what she could do to be "quick to serve", "put others first" and complete "loving action".  The closest I can get is waiting in line for a buffet and saying "No, you go first.  You can have the last cupcake".  Again, this is not the kind of behavior that deserves such an asinine passage.
  • I find the idea of the people at this party racking up honor and respect points to the Princess an overreach.   No one cares that much about a sheltered Princess who is slumming it.  (And yes, this has the feel of slumming....)
  • The main theme of the last chapter was that the Princess cared A LOT about what other people thought of her.  The King kept saying that she didn't care - but the Princess cared - and still cares as far as we know - what people think of her.   Having the omniscient narrator proclaim otherwise doesn't change the Princess' thoughts and actions from the previous chapter. This is true even if the omniscient narrator decides to switch from third-person to first-person for a single sentence and the editors don't bother to change.

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