Not just for kids

Not that anyone of a certain age needs such a thing, but here’s a perfectly good justification of Joan Aiken’s The Wolves of Willoughby Chase:

I like a lot of these “kid’s books” because of the clear moral arc: there is good and there is evil (or perhaps, in milder books, “bad,” rather than true evil) and good wins over evil in the end because good is persistent and honest and has kind people to help it. (Simon, the goose-boy, helps Bonnie and Sylvia; there are one or two girls at the orphan’s asylum who risk severe punishment to help them, partly because Bonnie has been so kind to the other girls … and yes, there’s also that idea of “you get back what you put out into the world” — that if you are a kind and good person it eventually comes back to you). Real life isn’t so clear cut, and that’s one of the great tragedies (for me at least) of adulthood: that you can be kind and good and still not prosper, and it can look like people who break every rule in the book get ahead, and the reason I keep coming back to these “children’s chapter books” is because they give me hope that what I see as an adult is wrong, and that there WILL be a reward to being a decent person (beyond merely being able to live more comfortably with your conscience) and more importantly, the bad people thwarting those who would do good (or even who would just live their lives unmolested) will wind up paying for it in the end.

“Evil will always triumph,” said Dark Helmet, “because good is dumb.” Of course, he said this to Lone Starr, and Dark Helmet is Lone Starr’s “father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate,” or some such business.

I persist in believing that what goes around does indeed come around, though I am forced to admit that it’s not very satisfying unless you actually get to watch the revolution in progress.





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