"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. " -Helen Keller

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Barren Bitches Book Brigade Tour #15: Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

Believe it or not, this was the first time I read Harriet the Spy. I somehow missed this little gem of a book when I was younger. With all the press the story got when they made the book into a movie, I'm sure most if not all of you who are reading this have a clue about the story. So, I'm not going to waste a lot of time recapping it. I'm just going to say I thoroughly enjoyed it and can see how someone close to the age of 12 could get sucked into the emotions of the book.

Now...onto the questions...

Would Harriet have been a blog writer or just a blog reader? Do you think she would have ever commented on other people's blogs? If she did write her own blog, do you think she would have written about her own life or do you think she would have replicated her spy notebooks and only written about other people?
I think Harriet might very well have been a blog writer. I think her blog probably would read a lot like the pages she wrote for the 6th grade newspaper...informative, snarky, and a wee bit judgmental. There probably would have been occasional insights into her own life (just as there were in her notebooks) but they would have been few and far between. She might have occasionally commented on other peoples' blog but not on a regular basis.

When Ole Golly leaves after her engagement, Harriet notes that things feel the same but she seems to have a little hole in her heart. When was the first time you remember feeling a similar loss and does it still remain with you today?
The first time I remember feeling a similar loss was when my Grandpa died. I was out in Wyoming at a Girl Scout camp when my Grandpa finally passed away. I remember getting the news and my mom telling me I should stay and finish camp because he would have wanted me too. I remember how surreal it felt that life went on, camp went on, everything was "normal" but a big part of me was missing. That was almost 25 yrs ago and I still feel that hole that he filled today. I think its like that whenever you lose a loved one.

This book was written in 1964, when gender roles & stereotypes were much more rigid than they are today. In Chapter 4, Harriet & Janie feel the pressure to conform, to go to dancing school and be steered away from "unfeminine pursuits" -- while later in the book, Marion, Rachel, Laura & Carrie imitate their mothers by playing bridge & drinking tea in the clubhouse. I was reminded of Carol Gilligan's work on how girls' "voices" change as they become adolescents. What do you think happened to Harriet & Janie as they became teenagers? Do you think young girls today still feel similar pressures to conform?
I honestly don't know what might have become of Harriet and Janie as teens. Somehow, with Harriet's rebellious streak I can see her being involved with the counter-culture of the late 60s...protests and such. I guess I can see Janie continuing her obsession with science. She strikes me as someone who has found her true passion early in life. That's something she and Harriet have in common.
I do think young girls feel an enormous pressure to fit in and belong. However, unlike the pressure Harriet, Janie, and the others felt to be like their mothers, I believe more of today's pressure to fit in comes from peers and the media.

Hop along to another stop on this blog tour by visiting the main list at Stirrup Queens. You can also sign up for the next book on this online book club: An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken.

8 comments:

Deb said...

I didn't read this before either.

Good point on her blog most likely being like the newspaper. I think she would definately have a local gossip blog.

My early loss is also associated with my grandparents but not due to death and I don't know if it was such a big one because I was so young or because of the role they should have played in my life.

I agree with you that today's pressure is different and is based on the images that the kids see.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Megan said...

I absolutely loved this book as a girl - I should read it again! I've been on a kick recently, rereading kids books I loved.

Delenn said...

I hadn't read this book before either. I agree that peer pressure and pressure from society is a lot different from the time period in the book.

loribeth said...

Thanks for answering my question! : ) I think you're right about the media & peer pressure being influences today.

I still feel my grandparents' absence very keenly too.

Annie said...

Don't you think Harriet's blog would've been so fun and interesting to read? Especially her blog at 20 or 30 years of age? I imagine it would be one of my daily reads :)

Lollipop Goldstein said...

It's so interesting this idea of Harriet's blog. I think of blogs as such a personal expression of a person's point-of-view. But you're right--she would have written about everyone else, only revealing pieces of herself in what she chose to write about...

Queenie. . . said...

I'm soooo jealous that you got to go to Girl Scout camp in Wyoming. I had applied, and they accepted me, and then my mother wouldn't let me go. She said that she let me apply because she didn't think I would be chosen, but she didn't think it was a good idea! I was so upset with her at the time!

I didn't read this book as a child, but I think I would've liked it more if I had. I always loved books about independent kids, maybe because I lived in the middle of nowhere and didn't get to do much on my own.

Cassandra said...

Or perhaps would Janie have been brainwashed by ideas of femininity and changed her chemistry passion into something girly like designing perfumes?

I actually know a very nerdy, tomboyish chemist whose job it is to make perfumes, though because it pays well rather than succumbing to femininity.