by Mel cross posted from her blog When Cows and Kids Collide
All quoted text from Sarah Mally’s book ‘Before You Meet Prince Charming’ in blue text.
At the end of Chapter Four’s allegory, Sir Eloquence disappears from the story. I find that disappointing for a few reasons.
First, for all that he was portrayed as brash and probably lying about his exploits, he’s the real person to have shown up so far. The King and Queen have no negative traits at all; the King is the ever-benevolent, all-knowing Father and the Queen is a nebulous figure in the background. The Princess allegedly has some negative traits, but the only one we’ve seen so far is that she’s lightly questioned her Father’s dictates without rebelling openly in any way. Sir Eloquence was more like a real teenage boy in that he misjudged the right way to approach the Princess, bragged about exploits that he probably didn’t do, and had the audacity to be more interested in the Princess than her parents. (How shocking!).
Second, I’ve always liked it when rejected suitors simply disappeared from my life. Alas, that’s only happened twice – and mainly because I met them online for the express and sole purpose of dating to find a marriage partner. (God, that sounds so romantic, I know….) In real life, dating – and courting – often involve people who are going to be in your life even if the romantic relationship ends. I’ve yet to see a CP book for unmarried singles deal with that outcome so that’s a niche waiting to be filled.
Well, now that Sir Eloquence is gone, the Princess has returned to her usual activities which seem to be standing near the moat and daydreaming. In terms of the King’s goal of having her help the people, we are still at “picked up some veggies for an old woman once”.
There’s a saying that a stopped clock is right twice a day. In this allegory, Ms. Mally write a few surprisingly insightful moments along with the usual tripe. Here’s one:
“The Princess was glad that the knight had stopped pursuing her hand, and she did not expect him to be bothering her in the village anymore. Yet, now that he was gone, she did miss him just a little bit – or maybe it was simply his affectionate words and attention that she sometimes wished for…” (pg. 85)
- This is a poignant moment. The Princess misses someone who she has talked to a handful of times at the market and who was at the castle for a single day. She’s been so systematically isolated from all other humans outside of her family that she misses someone she barely knows and didn’t like very much during their interactions.
- This is the only CP book I’ve run into so far that doesn’t have anyone bash the Princess for missing Sir Eloquence’s company. Now, this might be because she never tells anyone she’s missing him, but it’s still a nice change of pace.
The Princess and the Queen are walking to the village to get lunch and go shopping. (I know…the anachronisms hurt….) The Princess is still angsty about Sir Eloquence and asks her mom for some advice leading to this conversation:
“Stop worrying about him, dear. Thy father and I are proud of thy decision. You never have to fear what others think when you know you have done what is right.” (pg. 87)
- The last sentence is spoken with all the privileged that a white, middle-class woman can muster.
“I know, Mother. But no one understands why I do not go to any of the dances or parties. They say that I will never meet anyone and that I do nothing but sit in the castle and dream.”
“Nay, my daughter. They admire thy beauty, thy graciousness, and, most of all, thy purity. A few will always criticize. Perhaps they are jealous. In addition, it is likely that they feel guilty due to their own carelessness, and rather than changing their ways, they think it easier to find fault with any who take the narrow way.”
“But they speak lies of me,” said the princess. “Instead of being a candle as Father says, I fear that I am merely discouraging any from following the way of purity. Everyone says my example is foolish and ridiculous.”
“Not so, for many more respect thy ways than thou knowest. But as the crow flies noisily and interrupts an otherwise peaceful world, so the few critics are usually verbal while the many admirers remain silent.”(pg. 87)
- The Princess has correctly judged the mood of her People – and anyone reading this book who has not already drunk the Kool-Aid. No one’s explained why the dances and parties are evil. She’s not met many people; only Sir Eloquence and possibly some unnamed young women so far. Really, the only thing the People are slight off about is that she mostly stands by the moat and dreams.
- Physical beauty isn’t a Christian virtue, but this book can’t stop signaling that the Princess is lovely.
- Notice that the Queen warps the People’s real viewpoint of “Boy, the Princess has some weird life choices” into “We are so darn guilty and jealous of the Princess’ life choices”. As someone who grew up in the lost liberal world, running into CP/QF folk doesn’t trigger jealousy or guilt. At best, I felt vague curiosity and mild tolerance of the span of human cultures. At worst, I tried to get the hell out of Dodge before they tried to convert me.
- I can’t imagine that the People are as enthralled about the Princess’ emotional purity as the Queen states they are. That is a weird, weird thing to think about so I doubt the People have ever even thought about it. Honestly, I think it’s more like the reason people visit Amish country or watched the Duggars; you get a whiff of the “good old days” nostalgia without ever wanting to live like that.
- There has been no evidence that anyone outside of the Royal Family view the Princess as being a shining candle of virtue for anyone to follow. More importantly, I don’t see how anyone outside of her family would know about her virtues! She’s not friends with any of the People and she spends most of her life daydreaming in the castle. The Princess’ conceit that she doesn’t care about what people think of her (well, in the even-numbered chapters, anyways) will not draw people to her example. Her conceit in odd-numbered chapters of being friendly but separate from people her age is even less attractive to outsiders.
- The “crow” proverb didn’t land with me. Crows are really amazingly smart; if a crow is calling, you can be sure there’s a reason for it.
- The Queen’s conceit of “No, really, the peasants LOVE us; we just only hear from the vocal minority about how stupid they think our life choices are” tends to end badly for royalty in overthrow or exile. Of course, I’m using my interest in history and habit of reading well-researched historical non-fiction books to make that connection – you know, the kind of habits found only in sheltered, home graduates like Ms. Mally, not public/private/parochial school graduates like me.
- Truthfully, SAHD written books have done more damage to the image of home schooling as a fail-safe way to raise highly educated daughters than anything else I’ve found so far.
“”But I must explain my motives. I must tell them the rumors they hear are false.”
“Oh no, thou cannot defend thyself,” explained her mother. “It only will give credence to the lies. A princess must let her life and good works be her defense against any who seek to slander.”( pg. 87)
- The Queen’s not the best advice person, is she? The Princess can’t defend herself because she has no allies among the People. When the Queen and King committed their family to the “we are a people set apart and untouchable” method of demonstrating purity, they also committed to being looked at askance by every other human being in the community.
- Slander is far too strong of a word – again. Slander implies that the views and beliefs of the People can do real, irreparable harm to the Princess. Even in the historically inaccurate world of this book, that doesn’t ring true at all. The fact that people are confused about how keeping the Princess on a short leash away from all non-relatives will lead to a happy marriage isn’t malicious or vicious; it’s honestly sweet. The People want their Princess to be happily married and have valid concerns about how the Royal Family is managing her with that view in mind.
Mel is a science teacher who works with at-risk teens and lives on a dairy farm with her husband. She blogs at When Cows and Kids Collide She is also an very valuable source of scientific information for us here at NLQ. Mel is also blessed with the ability to look at the issues of Quiverfull with a rational mind and break them down to their most basic of elements.
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