Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I for one, cannot be Aunt Linnie

For the uninitiated, Aunt Linnie is a character from Enid Blyton's book .. the six cousins and mistletoe farm!

It is a nice book.. takes me way back to my childhood when I used to read Enid Blytons.. the rosy apples, the sparkling streams et al..

This book is basically about a family staying in the country side and are basically into farming. Their "townie" cousins come and stay with them as their house gets burnt in a fire.
And of course the town bred look down upon all farming activities, the chores everyone needs to do around the house etc.

And being a typical Enid Blyton book, both the sets of cousins learn from each other. The townies learn the value of helping out at home while the other learn how to be well groomed and be courteous.

So Aunt Linnie who is the farmer's wife - she is shown to be someone who is always on her toes.. cleans hen house, counts eggs, cleans, cooks, not just cooks meals but makes preserves, makes butter and sews .. you get the picture. She does everything in the house.. doesnt spend a single paisa on herself.. is a plump lady with a face that is always red (because of slaving over stove.. really, thats how the book describes her) .. the last time she got a dress was about 12 yrs back before her 3rd child was born. She whips a giant meal when having a party..obviously everyone loves her, adores her, husband waxes eloquent about her..

And on the other end, is the mother of other set of cousins.. who is only bothered about personal grooming, needs household help and doesnt do much work at the farm.

Both the characters are so starkly painted black and white.. not a twinge of grey.

I assume the times Enid Blyton was in, the "Aunt Linnie" character was what you had to be.. she would be the epitome of a good woman .. a good housewife and a good mother.. a self sacrificing wife..

And I wonder, if this book were to be set in today's context, what would Aunt Linnie be like? What balance would Enid Blyton find her? I cannot imagine a woman in these times to be like this character drawn up - not having a new dress for 12 yrs??????????? And of course the author keeps punctuating the story with things like.. even though Linnie is worked off her feet, her joy is in seeing to everyone.. and it is fine as you must think of your family everytime before you think of yourself. Which actually we all do, but its just that its too extreme!!!

What do you all think?

ps: loved the book. :)


besunni said...

Loved all Enid Blyton books. So what's interesting for me is how we revisit her books when we are old and read so much more into her characters - most of whom we simply loved and assumed to be like every "English mother", when we were children.

Scarlett said...

Hmmm...I wonder where the concept of 'the ideal Bhartiya naari' came from. Are the English to be blamed for this as well?

Bluestocking said...

Phew...can't imagine being Aunt Linnie either :-) I generally enjoy Enid Blyton school stories like Malory Towers & St. Clare's more than the Famous Fives. I guess considering she was writing for kids in a time when everything had to come with a clearly defined moral of the story, shades of grey would have been an extravagance.

Moonshine said...

@besunni I agree For me, it offers an escape into another world altogether. Much like PGW where there is no evil that exists. Or nothing more depressing than falling for the wrong people!!! I find seeking solace in Enid Blyton very often..the older I grow, the more of Enid Blyton I revisit.

@Scarlett Perhaps? In Indian mythology you find women to be more liberated in some ways!!!

@Bluestocking I liked St Claire's and Malory Towers also. My favourite Enid Blyton book till date remains the magic faraway trees series which incidentally I dont remember reading or liking so much as a child..I love it as an adult. It deserves a separate post. :)

SGD said...

Bumped into your site and what do i find ... enid blyton..one of my favourite authors while growing up! Love the idea of revisiting these books!!
And yes, Aunt Linnie sounds just like the 'bharatiya naari' of the 'nirupa roy' kind!! ;))

Moonshine said...

@SGD Thanks for dropping by!!! Enid Blyton remains one of my favourite authors even now.. as an adult!!!

Nirupa Roy minus the tears :))