Jack Maynard - too authoritarian?
The CBB -> The Chalet School World

#1: Jack Maynard - too authoritarian? Author: PhilLocation: London UK PostPosted: Sun Apr 16, 2006 5:26 pm


Hope I am not uttering a heresy here, Jack does seem to be a well liked character, but

I can't help feeling he is a bit unpleasant at times.

I know customs and standards of behaviour, child discipline etc were different in the days EBD was writing, but Jack seems aggressive to me. Not all the time.

Just little incidents, like throwing water all over hysterical women, and the way his temper is described when Margot and Mike have really crossed the line. yes, Margot and Mike did terrible things, and Jack is really provoked, but I can't help feeling he is brusque and explosive.

Does anyone agree? How does he compare with Jem? (Prime comparison being Jem's treatment of Sybil, but does Jem treat any of his other kids that way?)


#2:  Author: FatimaLocation: Sunny Qatar PostPosted: Sun Apr 16, 2006 5:56 pm


I can't come up with any handy quotes to support me here, but I think they were both too authoritarian. I would not have liked being married to either one; both too sure that they knew what was best for everyone for my liking. Julian Lucy was another of the same kind of SLOC - but they are products of their time, I feel. Nowadays we expect men to be treating their wives more as equals and less as the 'little woman'. Both Jack and Jem would be well and truly at home in the Arab world of today, though!


#3:  Author: jenniferLocation: Taiwan PostPosted: Sun Apr 16, 2006 6:05 pm


Yes, by modern standards I find Jack rather authoritarian and high handed, but not as bad as Jem. We see some nice scenes with Joey and Jack and the children, and a view of a teasing, affectionate relationship, but when he goes into 'doctor mode' he can be a bit much. And personally, I think shunning your children for a period of weeks for misbehaviour is downright cruel - giving them the message that if they don't behave, he won't love them.

I think part of it is EBD's view towards doctors - she had an obsession with illness and frailty, and doctors having the power of curing illness would have had a great deal of inherent authority in her eyes, both with medical matters and in general. In her view, as well, husbands were very much the head of the household.

Jem comes across as much more prone to asserting his authority - one he and Madge marry, it's Jem who has the final say over Joey and the Robin, and he seems to dictate school business as well. We don't really see much of Madge and Jem's home life to offset the doctor persona either.

What I find worrying about Jack's behaviour is his almost unhealthy need to protect Joey. He sends her off for breaks when she overworks herself, gives her sleeping tablets when she's overwrought (with and without her knowledge) and keeps information about her children from her if he thinks it will upset her too much. Mike falls over a cliff and comes very close to a serious accident and there's no concern about him being frightened by the experience - and he's only seven at the time! Not only is he not being cared for but he's being actively shunned by the only parent whose capable of attending to him.


#4:  Author: LesleyLocation: Allhallows, Kent PostPosted: Sun Apr 16, 2006 6:55 pm


That's one episode where Joey comes across far better than anyone else - she insisted that Mike be told he was forgiven, refused to allow her sister to take him until she had been able to put his mind at rest.

Jack and Jem seem to have the same response to children misbehaving - ignore them for weeks even when it's known that they are hurting and are only very young - Mike was only 7, Sybil about 8. Hardly adults either of them.

I also feel their attitude toward Joey and her 'delicacy' is ridiculously extreme - the woman had gone through seven pregnancies - she was not delicate!!! Yet she's dosed without her knowledge, has to be put to bed after that silly box incident at the beginning of Oberland, and is not told about what happened with the triplets because she's too weak????

A product of their time? Perhaps, but maybe a product of Victorian times really - the rest occurred in the 1950's.


#5:  Author: Alison HLocation: Manchester PostPosted: Sun Apr 16, 2006 10:16 pm


I think Jem is worse than Jack - in A New Chalet School he grabs Mario Balbini, a kid he hardly knows, from behind a bush or wherever it was that Mario was hiding and whacks the kid's backside! But Prince Balbini seems perfectly OK with it, which I suppose shows that by EBD standards Jem was actually a really good bloke, and in the same book we see Jem raising his hat to Maria Balbini which seems to be meant to show that he's the perfect gentleman!

Jem and Jack do both seem to have a rather Victorian "paterfamilias" attitude. Jem does in particular - in Exile he seems to be taking all the decisions about what to do about the school Madge founded. The Russells just seem very old-fashioned generally - when Kevin and Kester are born they go on about how they hope one of them will go into the Army and one into the Navy, which seems a rather anachronistic way of talking by the late 1940s. & the way both Jack and Jem constantly drug their wives is very worrying Rolling Eyes !

Jack and Joey seem to have quite a weird relationship - we see them teasing each other in the kind of way that you'd expect in a more modern relationship, and then at other times Jack seems very authoritarian.

Sorry for waffling - it's late! I think EBD saw both Jem and Jack as really good husbands and fathers though!


#6:  Author: TaraLocation: Malvern, Worcestershire PostPosted: Sun Apr 16, 2006 10:42 pm


I'm quite sure EBD thought both Jack and Jem were great, and their attitudes are so typical of a way of thinking that extended far beyond the Victorian era, particularly in religious circles. People in many churches are still being taught that the husband is the God-appointed head of the household - don't get me started! The dichotomy between father-love and mother-love is so strong in children's books of the time, the father is the ultimate authority, the law-giver, the dispenser of justice, the one whose love has to be earned by good behaviour - the God figure, if you want your God to be like that! Mother-love is the one that is unconditional, dependent on relationship not on deserving, always there. always protecting, always forgiving, though not condoning. Personally, I'd much prefer my God to be like that ... Where EBD is different is in the measure of equality she gives to Jo and Jack (and Janie and Julian Lucy)and the modernity (in many areas, obviously not all) of her child rearing theories compared to her comtemporaries. As Lesley said, Jo comes really well out of the Mike incident.
As for Jo's fragility, I feel it's all of a piece with her extended schoolgirl-ness, as if her fragile maturity can't stand up to the pressures of real life. In 'Exile' she has to be helped when there are much younger girls involved, and Bill with her injured foot - but there's a thesis in that!


#7:  Author: SamLocation: Essex, UK PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2006 12:23 am


RE: Mario Balbini, wasn't it more accepted in those days to disipline any child, even if he wasn't your own? I have heard stories from Grandparents (born around 1925) that any adult would clout them and they would think nothing of it.

Even in my mums childhood (1950's), apprantly any adult would disipline any child they saw misbehaving.

I do think a beating was a tad OTT however.


#8:  Author: jenniferLocation: Taiwan PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2006 3:38 am


If I was being randomly attacked by a child with a slingshot, I'd certainly be inclined to take the weapon, and would probably consider notifying the police. Although hitting the kid would be a problem by modern standards, I think it was unremarkable by the standards of the thirties.

I had forgotten the incident with Maria, though.

Quote:

Unfortunately, Maria, your foolish behaviour has brought its own
punishment. Your mother asked for you repeatedly before she died, and
she had to go with her last wish for you ungratified. You will always
remember that. And the pity of it is that it need never have been.


This is Jem, immediately after Maria has been told that her mother has died - keeping in mind that the children were not told how ill she was.

I'm not an advocate of corporal punishment, but given a choice between smacking a kid, and piling on life altering guilt when it's too late for the child to do anything about it (as with Sybil), I'd say the former is much less cruel.

Jem's behaviour when Joey discovers Margot and the kids is illuminating too - he's very angry at Joey for going off with them, and more so for mentioning the reason to anyone else. I get the impression is pride has been injured by the though that anyone would find out about his sister's shameful past, and he's taking it out on his sister in law.

I'm actually surprised Joey reacts to Jem's parenting as well as she does. It's always been her and Madge, and having an older, more authoritarian man come in and lay down the law to her (she'd have been 15 by this point) seems like something that would cause more problems.


#9:  Author: jontyLocation: Exeter PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2006 8:13 am


Sam wrote:
Even in my mums childhood (1950's), apprantly any adult would disipline any child they saw misbehaving.
I do think a beating was a tad OTT however.


There was a saying, and I can't remember where on earth I read it, that went something like: 'If you see a boy, beat him. For he is either in mischief, is about to be in mischief, or has just been in mischief'. That's not it exactly, but words to that effect. Jack and Jem obviously took it to heart!


#10:  Author: RayLocation: Bristol, England PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2006 8:54 am


jennifer wrote:

Quote:
Unfortunately, Maria, your foolish behaviour has brought its own punishment. Your mother asked for you repeatedly before she died, and she had to go with her last wish for you ungratified. You will always remember that. And the pity of it is that it need never have been.


This is Jem, immediately after Maria has been told that her mother has died - keeping in mind that the children were not told how ill she was.



What you need to bear in mind about that point, though, is that it's just after Jem's own child (Sybil) has been kidnapped by Maria. To my mind, Jem is remarkably restrained in his response - if it had been my child that had been kidnapped, I'm not sure I'd be entirely responsible for what I did to the kidnapper.

As for whether Jack is Authoritarian or not, he is; there's little argument about it, but then again, about 90% of EBD's male characters are (it's not just Jem and Jack!) - witness Professor Fry, for example! Out of all of them, Jack's probably the character who comes off best (because we do get to see other sides to his character), but none of the male characters are ones that I (as a twenty-first century woman) would want a great deal to do with, unless I could liberally employ a bludgeon from time to time!

Ray *isn't violent and may hit the next person to suggest it*


#11:  Author: JennieLocation: Cambridgeshire PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2006 7:21 pm


I think the portrayal of doctors is a mark of EBD's exaggerated respect for the profession, so she writes them as authoritative, in her view, and we see them as being over-authoritarian. And the fount of all wisdom, etc.

Nowadays, we judge our doctors by their performance, and the word soon gets round if they are substandard. One of our local doctors is being sued because he's so hopeless at diagnosis, and even worse with treatment.


#12:  Author: moonlitsparkleLocation: Yorkshire, England PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2006 7:51 pm


Just thought I'd add some snippets from an article I've just read in the Sunday Express magazine on how parenting has changed over 80 years.

According to one bestselling childcare book of the twenties, "The sensible way to bring up children is to treat them as young adults. Never hug and kiss them. Never let them sit in your lap. If you must, kiss them once on the forehead when they say good night. Shake hands with them in the morning."

And it also said that babies should spend a large proportion of their time sat outside in their pram - in summer from 7am to 10pm and in winter from 8am to 5pm!!!

So at least Jack isn't as hard as that.

Apparently in the forties books began to say that playing with children and being affectionate was allowed. Jack is at least affectionate in his own way...


#13:  Author: Cath V-PLocation: Newcastle NSW PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2006 12:09 am


The phrase that stuck in my mind was when Jem commented that "I intend to see that David grows up to render absolute and unquestioning obedience to both of us." - I think that's in Camp. It's interesting as given that he has little to do with the day-to-day minutiae of child-raising - his job and status, regardless of anything else preclude that - he will be relying on others to do this for him, And to me, this does relegate Madge to a very subordinate position here. Apart from the whole point that "absolute and unquestioning obedience" was about to take centre stage in a very unpleasant way.....


#14:  Author: jenniferLocation: Taiwan PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2006 3:25 am


There are comments Madge makes when David is born about him spending time in his pram -

Quote:
He spends a good deal of the day in his pram, I can assure you!
I don't believe in spoiling babies; and David knows that when he's put
down, he has to stay there!


There are a number of parenting techniques that seem odd by late 21st century standards. The matter of fact way parents sent their children back to England to live with relatives or off to full time boarding school was one - Rix, for example, is raised by his Aunt and Uncle to the age of 13 and is sent to boarding school at age nine. The only time he spends with his parents after the age of three is on school holidays.

The unquestioning obedience issue is another - it comes up with the continental girls and Robin, and Joey and Jack raise their kids to be implicitly obedient as well. It has always struck me as as dangerous to have children taught to be instantly and unthinkingly obedient to all authority figures, because this includes adults who are abusers, and in adulthood can lead to statements like "but I was only following orders".

On the other hand, if children are raised with no expectation of obedience whatsoever, you get characters like Emerence Hope, who is not an improvement.


#15:  Author: RosyLocation: Gloucestershire-London-Aberystwyth PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2006 7:23 am


Quote:
He spends a good deal of the day in his pram, I can assure you!
I don't believe in spoiling babies; and David knows that when he's put
down, he has to stay there!


I always thought that was a bit harsh on poor David. I mean yes, babies need to nap, and need to stay down when they are put down to nap but they need more stimulation than a pram.

My father was a bit of an advocate for unquestioning obedience. Sadly for him, I was a bit cheeky and used to answer every instruction with "Why?".


#16:  Author: JennieLocation: Cambridgeshire PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2006 11:04 am


Tha same article in the Sunday Express magazine also said that one leading doctor advocated that a child of six months old should spend about twenty-two hours a day asleep, so that settles the question of why Jo's children were always asleep until they were about one.

Though how their legs got strong enough to allow them to walk I'll never know.

The same idea was current when I had Andrew. They taught us to look on the child as the enemy, to be subdued by any means possible.


#17:  Author: FatimaLocation: Sunny Qatar PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2006 1:34 pm


My mum told me that she always put the pram out in the garden with me in it; I was born in January, so I hope she waited a few months before she started that! Apparently I used to spend most of the day outside, getting stimulation from the clouds perhaps, unless it was raining. Now, though, I am seldom ill and wonder if that is why.


#18:  Author: SamLocation: Essex, UK PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2006 1:56 pm


Wasn't there also a bit somewhere in the series about leaving David to cry in his pram? (I think it's Jo returns- something about Jo "disobeying all orders" and cuddling him).

In the context of the time, I suppose these methods were commonly used.


#19:  Author: RayLocation: Bristol, England PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2006 2:14 pm


Not just that time, either. I've been told, by mum, that her parents (who were staying over the the first Christmas I was around) more or less made mum leave me alone in my cot if I started randomly crying (I presume after having checked that I didn't actually need something!) - and that was in the late 1970s. I hasten to add that it didn't mean I wasn't loved and/or played with (for one thing, I rather think my dad and bot sets of grandparents were quite happy to otherwise spoil me rotten), it just meant I learned that if I was put down, I was supposed to stay down and not scream because I'd stopped being the centre of attention.

(There was no question of putting me outside in my pram - there was actually snow on the ground when I was born and though that had gone by the time I was let out [December 24th], it was cold enough that my parents were rather, ah, concerned when the central heating gave up on Christmas Day...!)

Ray *been causing trouble for 28 years*


#20:  Author: Mrs RedbootsLocation: London, UK PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2006 6:40 pm


I knew a child of nearly 4 who spent most of its day asleep, and that was within the last 20 years! I always felt sorry for it....

But I've often wondered if Jack saw rather too much of himself in Mike & Margot - after all, their slightly difficult characters didn't arrive out of nowhere!

And yes, parenting standards were very different - even when I was a small girl, in the 1950s, babies were supposed to spend most of the day out of doors (Joey, you remember, keeps her nursery out of doors whenever the weather is fine enough), and naps were taken in a perambulator in the garden. And there was one set of friends - actually, the mother was a friend of my mother's, but she had two boys our sort of ages - that when we went to play we were absolutely required to stay out of doors, you simply couldn't come inside (except for tea) unless it was raining. Mind you, that might have been that particular mother had a low tolerance for noise.... but for bookworm me, it was torture and I hated going to tea with that family (plus you had to finish all the sandwiches before the biscuit-tin was opened, and we were always allowed to leave a sandwich to finish with!).


#21:  Author: MaisieLocation: St Albans, Herts, UK PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2006 6:41 pm


Quote:
The same article in the Sunday Express magazine also said that one leading doctor advocated that a child of six months old should spend about twenty-two hours a day asleep


Gosh! I wish my six month old would sleep for 22 hours a day!

Or just 8 at night would do....


#22:  Author: KBLocation: Melbourne, Australia PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2006 1:51 am


Sam wrote:
Wasn't there also a bit somewhere in the series about leaving David to cry in his pram? (I think it's Jo returns- something about Jo "disobeying all orders" and cuddling him).


It's in CS and Jo:

Quote:
But David was upset for some reason or other, and he refused to be quieted. He howled lustily, and not even when his young aunt, with a complete disregard for rules, lifted him up and cuddled him against her, did he stop.

 




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