When Sweet Violets Sicken: The Impact of other Other Character's Illness and 
Injury in DFB's Plots

I'm afraid this paper became even shorter than intended, as I was suddenly 
asked to work more this week and lost time for research. So I might have 
forgotten a few more examples. So, please, add them if you like. 

DFB she doesn't use illness and accidents for character building like the 
Victorians and many other early 20th C writers, but more for the
building of plots. There are few permanently delicate girls in her school 
stories: Nicola Carter in the Springdale books, and Althea Stoddart in Nancy at 
St. Bride's. There is also Alison Mellish in the historical 'Colmskirk' novel, 
The King's Curate. It's for her sake that her brother Patrick accepts the 
ministry in Kirkarlie. DFB doesn't  describe illness very much from the point 
of view of the
ailing person - but I might be wrong? 

DFB's preference for psychological problems is perhaps a little conspicious: 
Mrs Maitland in the Senior Prefect; Sylvia Drummond in Dimsie among the 
Prefects; Miss Caldwell in Nancy Returns to St.
Bride's. We might add Lena Ewell in Dimsie Carries On and April in Wild Goose 

I won't mention the many instances even in DFB - common in many writers in all 
periods - when the death of parents or other relatives changes the situations 
of young characters, especially in the
'Colmskirk' novels. Or the men wounded in war or accidents (Peter Gilmour, 
Kenneth Orde, Miles Haydon) 

I will concentrate on a small aspect of illness important for many of DFB's 
books; how the absence of one character because of illness or an
accident may influence the situation of other characters or the plot at large. 
There are two main types: 

A: One character stepping into the place of somebody somebody absent. Type A 
may have either a positive or a negative impact on the school
as a community.

B: The absence of one character leading to difficulties in clearing up a 

Major Examples:

The Terra-Cotta Coat: Sylvia can't clear up her misunderstandings with Mona 
while the latter is ill with influenza. - Type B

For Mona's Sake: The death of Mona gives Daphne a chance to gradually take over 
her place as Sylvia's chum. - Type A

The Senior Prefect/Dimsie Goes to School: the Head girl Sylvia Drummond is 
absent because of a sprained knee and Daphne Maitland takes her place, until 
Sylvia returns as 'dea-ex-machina' at half term. In the same book, the former 
headmistress, Miss Darrell, must leave in order to look after an old relative, 
leaving her successor,
Miss Yorke, to face initial difficulties. The disappearance of Dimsie's mother 
is also very importance for this book. - Type A

Dimsie Moves Up: Sylvia - the accident prone - sprains her foot and Rosamund 
Garth to run for her in a cricket match; Primrose Garth's influenza gives Nita 
Tomlinson temporarily a greater influence over Primrose's chum Meg Flynn. ? 
Negative Type A

This also postpones the final reconciliation between Primrose and Meg. - Type B

Dimsie Among the Prefects: Sylvia's illness - 'neuralgia' from overwork - is 
important for the plot but a bit difficult to fit into my crude cathegories. 
Dimsie's absence from school after her
accident postpones her full information of the events at school. - Type B

That Boarding School Girl: The illness of Kathleen Hallam makes it difficult 
for Nancy?s friends to find the truth about the latter?s first term at 
St.Bride?s. - Type B  

Nancy Returns to St. Bride's: The 'Locum', Miss Warren takes over when Miss 
Caldwell has a break-down - 'brain-fewer' - Negative Type A. - This book was 
published in 1938, 6 years before Gay from China at the Chalet School!

New House Captain: Sidney Carter visits her sick younger sister, Nicola, in 
spite of the town being out of out of bounds because of the epidemic. Diana 
Stewart is isolated by mistake and Peggy Willoughby must break this isolation 
to make up their differrences. Type  B

The Best House in the School: Sidney Carter gets her chance to make good as 
games captain when Alice Craven has hurt her knee. ? Type A

Captain Anne: Nicola Carter is removed from school by her sister Sidney because 
of a weak heart, which gives Miss Marlowe a chance to
make her own favourite Selina Duncan house games captain - with disastrous 
results - until the return of Nick. - Negative Type A

As seen above, the wicked successors are only temporary: Nita, Miss Warren, 

Please add other examples if you like, either from DFB or other writers.

Question: Is DFB less 'Victorian' than EBD in spite of being 9 years older?

Eva Margareta

Sorry if this message comes out a bit messy, as it was sent via webmail from a 
busy school library<g>

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