Children's literature and frightening ideology

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On reading the Redwall book, "Loamhedge" by Brian Jaques and read recently before that, "Lord Brocktree".

I feel like I'm a communist commissar, finding fault with what is essentially children's literature. But the ideological implications of the Redwall series are just not possible for me to ignore. Plus John Hockenberry's now sensitized me to the portrayal of the disabled. I do want to make clear that I don't want to ban any books, but if I were writing similar books:

Fixedly dividing the animals into good and evil by species, with no exceptions that I can think of, is pretty unsettling when you realize that all the characters' actions -- feelings, social organizations, attitudes, alliances -- are fundamentally human, except that quite contrary to reality -- but fitting right in with the war propaganda of any given time and place -- the bad guys are intrinsically bad. Little Red becomes the nasty, greed, if incompetent gang leader Baddred as soon as he gets the chance inexorably, because he is a fox. Rats, weasels, stoats, frogs, snakes, big lizards, wildcats, etc. are inherently bad by nature. Mice, squirrels, shrews (though both are sort of warlike), hares, moles, hedgehogs, and badgers are inherently good.

I guess the closest we got to ambiguity is a species called Gerbilrat. But a rat rising above what's expected, or a mouse being a traitor, or really any of the human motivations that would play into a real story of good and evil, simply are not present. The abbey mice don't have to wait to see if the searats prove themselves evil, their justified in attacking when the make-believe beseeching gets on their nerves. I'm being petty in my example, but this totally unreal division of good and evil, also too common in science fiction, is really very frightening.

I guess that's one reason such books are enjoyable, we can take in the pleasure of military strategy and epic battles knowing one side is completely right -- not just in overall goals or circumstances, but at the individual level -- while the other side, even as Jacques portrays daily life in the enemy groups, is wholly wrong, evil down to each individual.

The scary part is, that's not reality, never was and never will be, but our leaders (who generally are a tad on the evil side, whatever species) frequently want us to act and think that way (about, if you're in the U.S., Germans, Japanese, Vietnamese, Iraqis, maybe Iranians or Chinese) when the only hope of stopping war is reaching across artificial boundaries before our governments set us on the path of attacking each other.

Right, and the other political incorrectness was the author's evident need to have Martha walk. She couldn't be a wheelchair-bound hero, and though she put on a good face the wheelchair had to be a horrible, horrible fate-- no, she had to have a miracle and be able to walk. I think the plot would have been stronger, and way more inspiring, with her staying wheelchair bound. She could have speared the rat with a windowhook, or catapulted herself against him with a stick. Lowered herself out the window onto her chair. But no, a hero can't be in a wheelchair. Good thing John Hockenberry couldn't read over my shoulder what I read between reading chapters in his book.

I can't believe I'm spending my time at 12:51 a.m. on a Monday morning writing about this. Good night.

Comments

They aren't children's books

I don't think Brian Jaques' books are meant to be children's literature. I'd never read those to the kids! Maybe they could be teen level books, I think at 12:51am you are reading far too much into it

Eva

... I'm not the only one a little concerned

From http://xkcd.com/370/ "Redwall"

"a world of moral absolutes and racist undertones."