This entry originally appeared in slightly different form on October 28, 2009 at 1:45pm.
Me, she had dispensed from joining the group; saying, “She regretted to be under the necessity of keeping me at a distance; but that until she heard from Bessie, and could discover by her own observation, that I was endeavouring in good earnest to acquire a more sociable and childlike disposition, a more attractive and sprightly manner — something lighter, franker, more natural, as it were —– she really must exclude me from privileges intended only for contented, happy, little children.”
“What does Bessie say I have done?” I asked.
“Jane, I don’t like cavillers or questioners; besides, there is something truly forbidding in a child taking up her elders in that manner. Be seated somewhere; and until you can speak pleasantly, remain silent.”
(Charlotte Brontë. Jane Eyre. Cornhill: Smith, Elder, & Co., 1847. pp. 3-4.)
Do you remember the positive indignation of adult severity in the face of your early self-expression? I think the knife really twisted because you knew they were just flying by the seat of their pants, arbitrary jerks running scared, threatened by your stabs at mastery. They had no more particular power or experience than another kid facing you down in a play war.
Don’t forget that. Every person who attempts to wave some type of banner of authority in your face is probably prickly-sweaty under the arms and hopped up on 90% couch fort bravado. Poke their pile of cushions with a stick and see if it tumbles down.
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