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Chapter 57: Perspective

Sometimes I wish I'd planned this fic better-- or planned it at all. I started with a very vague idea of where it might go and no research but the Emily books and assorted other Montgomery. Of course, if I'd plotted it out properly and done all the research, I'd never have managed to write anything in the first place. Whether that would have been a good or a bad thing isn't for me to say. But there's so much I'm just fudging from clues in the books, like the fashion talk, and attitudes toward the wider world. Since Evelyn aspires to sophistication and lacks the intense place-awareness that distinguishes Emily-Maud as a writer, it makes sense that she would be aware of things like the recently-publicized atrocities in the Belgian Congo, but perhaps not that she would write much about them in her diary except as reference points for her own unhappiness.

I've been toying with the idea of posting a revisied version on Archive of Our Own if I'm feeling really initiativey after I finish it-- AO3 is much cleaner and more readable than ff.net, though I'm not sure how they handle stories with a million chapters. And I need to fix a lot of things anyway, little and big.



Early in Emily Climbs, Emily writes in her diary that Aunt Janey Milburn of Derry Pond-- a local saint-- "has made a vow that she will never wear a silk dress until the whole heathen world is converted to Christianity." Emily calls this "very fine," but shows little real regret that she could never be so good on behalf of the heathen. They are not nearly as strong a presence in her consciousness as the "rich and sheeny" texture of silk. She resolves to give some of her egg money to missions anyway, since it will be a long time before she can have a silk dress. Ruth also gives to missions, and uses the expense of boarding Emily as an excuse both to give less than usual and to encourage Emily to feel like a burden.

Whenever desperate sufferers in foreign lands edge into view in these books, it's always connected directly to their unsaved-ness, and the appeals on their behalf are first appeals for someone to make them Christians (and then feed them or stop them from killing each other or whatever). This will only change in Rilla of Ingleside, with the war and war propoganda; then chapters will be punctuated with the atrocities of the Hun and the military fortunes of previously unknown cities will be all anyone talks about.

Interestingly, Dean Priest (I can't get over how much of an anvil his name is) provides Emily with an unsual source of non-missionary, even pluralistic information about extraIslandic cultures. For all his supposed cynicism and undeniable megacreepiness, he's the one person who clearly offers Emily the possibility of a world not requiring salvation. Too bad he's Dean, eh?

There are only a few references to 'the heathen" in Emily. Newly orphaned, she imagines herself starving to death with photographs from a mission book as a reference. Later, in a letter to her father, she laments that a group of South Pacific islanders in her missionary book cut off their beautifully arranged hair when they became Christians-- but resolves to give the money she earns from raising a pig to missions just the same. The only other occurence of the word "heathen" is when Ellen calls her talk of different gods "heathenish." Apart from Aunt Janey Milburn, Mr. Carpenter tears up her "sheer Paganism" poem in Emily Climbs, telling her to stick to her own age. In Emily's Quest, Aunt Ruth becomes agitated when she learns of Emily's flirtation with the unnamed Japanese prince, whom Ruth insists on calling "a yellow pagan!" even though he has converted to Christianity courtesy of Cousin Louise's missionary efforts.

There are plenty of references to infidelism, though-- both Dr. Burnley and Dean are said to be infidels, and are, for the most part.



Anyway, in Chapter 57 there is Ilse, and ominousness, and a sordid tale involving that awful Emily Starr. Who does she think she is, letting that ridiculous Miller boy slobber all over her in the middle of the night? DISGUSTING.

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