[LMB] Children

pouncer at aol.com pouncer at aol.com
Thu Jan 24 16:45:18 GMT 2019


John Lennard john.c.lennard at gmail.com 
> On a first pass I'm happy to agree that the consistent 
>presence of children in TSK is a part of the, mmm, rebuke 
>... But there is at least one major complication 
>-- Pippin.
>He is during the events of LR, IIRC, 29, and so by both 
>hobbit custom and Shire law, not of age ; a tween, and 
>seen as such when being a fool of a Took, as with 
>dropping  a stone down the shaft in Moria and nabbing the
>Palantir. But he also connects with what I think is the 
>only child encountered, Beregond's son in Minas Tirith 
>during the siege.
Wow, this is really opening up the worm-can.  
Agreed that 29 year old tween-agers (in a population that
routinely lives 4 or 5 times that long) can be viewed as 
other-than-adult.  In real life we see that happening as 
well, more seniors/pensioners/retiree and active oldsters 
who seem to keep raising the bar for younger people to be  
regarded as "peer" adults.  In the US now the bar is, at 
least in one regard ( young dependents on  2000's era 
family health insurance plan) set at age 26 -- one year 
OLDER than the 1789-imposed minimum maturity age 
requirement to represent a distinct in our legislature. I 
expect the next RL iteration of bar-raising to get set at 
28.  This follows the very long term pattern of 
"apprentice" cultures -- a 7 year old starts learning the 
trade, a 14 year old can become a "journeyman", and a 21 
year old if he has been very diligent and successful might 
be regarded as an adult and "master".  Mastery of 
literacy, so to be included in a minyin for prayers, was 
set at age 13, near enough 14 to reinforce the long trend. 
The modern US held 21 a couple of centuries,  set it down 
for voting, in a weird reversal of the long trend,  to 18 
-- then raised it back to 21 for drinking, smoking, owning 
a weapon, and sinning in general.  (Except for 
fornicating, or managing the consequences thereof -- where 
the line gets moved up and down so confusingly it can't be 
analyzed for a trend.  I mention that only to show I'm 
aware ...) But anyhow, yeah,  28, 29 or those in their 
early "30-Somethings" being regarded as immature is not 
out of real life consideration.
But I'd compare LOTR's Pippin more to TSK's  Hod, than to 
his boat-brother Hawthorne.  Hod is young but grown enough 
to work a team of horses, learn to "man" a sweep, join a 
drinking party ...   Hod is a "tween-ager" in his culture 
and EXCEPT for Fawn (who steals her adulthood via pre-
mature experiments with Sunny) about the only one we see. 
Well, we see Whit and the twins, who escape childhood out-
of-age sequence, and following on after Fawn. And Sage...  
Well okay, there's actually a choice of tween.  Still.  
Hod and Pippen.  Both useful, in a troublesome sort of 
fashion.  And becoming moreso each and every adventure or 
mis-adventure. 
Hawthorne grows -- explicitly in stature (like Pippen 
does) -- but really doesn't become any more useful. He's 
in a stage of protacted childhood that, I'd argue, is a 
feature of industrial cultures.  Which the WGW seems to 
be.  Factories turning out interchangable parts for metal 
stoves and windows ...  Coming back to "gleaners" -- Fawn 
muses that she really really hopes Clover starts 
increasing soon, birthing a new generation of little 
helpers to work on the farm.  Agriculture, pre-industrial 
or otherwise, has a lot of economic use for human minds 
and hands of 7 to 14 years maturity.  Industry, for 
various reasons,  wants workers a bit more seasoned -- 
ideally, trained in a factory-system.  (It seems to me the 
modern school of bell-driven schedules, rows of desks, 
butts in seats and time on task and graded work ... is all 
intended to help fill factory job openings.  Too bad such 
openings are becoming fewer...) 
My lord, it's been two decades gone since Louann Miller 
and I were discussing the investment costs of raising the 
next generation of workers -- and I was arguing that our 
culture again kept raising the bar.  Raising a child from 
birth to 7 years and apprenticeship or "a gleaning" type 
job (or chunkin' plunkins) is a lot less intimidating than 
managing the process for the twenty-something tweeners of 
our era.  Yet here we are.  I find myself just this 
morning insisting my "kids" gather the forms to begin 
their taxes. We're updating "passports" for planned 
travel. (A problem Pippen and Merry needn't worry about.) 
They come begging help to pick out a used car that 
balances cheap, safe and reliable. (Hey, if I found such a 
fully three-virtued beast, you'd have to move quick to buy 
it before I took title for myself!) The investment costs 
of the next generation gets higher and higher.  
And while TSK describes Hawthorne in detail and other 
children in general, we don't really see that any of the 
adults around him or them are making that investment. 
Dag's birthday gifts reflect the expectation (mis-
communicated to the boat family) that older Lakewalkers 
will provide their "tweeners" with the tools of the bloody 
trade.  But not pens or journals to keep their own notes, 
or practice sending reports. We don't see schools or 
academic tutors. Dag takes on patrol captain duties for 
Remo and Barr for daily practice veiling, and recitation 
of geographic details from memory -- but not drawing a 
map, nor surveying (and the requisite math and geometry) 
nor estimation of travel and communication times. (A 
courier sets out from Pearl Riffle south bound by boat at 
the same time another sets out from Half Moon, north bound 
by horseback at one-third the speed: at which camp can 
they expect to meet? Assume constant speeds and crow 
flight distances ...) We read entertainments, in part, to 
escape the burdens of education but honestly we've spent 
so much of our lives immersed in acquiring it, it seems 
odd not to encounter it in literature.  Almost like going 
to the bathroom or toilet training -- there's an apparent 
taboo. We _DO_ see Natti-Mari needing a diaper change! So,  
another for TSK vs LOTR! 

So, how is Hawthorne going to get his education?  Is Berry
going to apprentice him as a boat builder and boss, 
in the way her father taught her? Or will HE become a healer
or assistant patroller for the Lakewalker side of  his tent;
and if so, what sorts of skills must he acquire?  His problems
mirror Fawns: how much healing can he master without 
ground sense -- and how much will either Farmers or
Lakewalkers pay for that help? (Whit can train Hawthorne on
the financial end, I suppose.) 

Oh well. My point: children, and the investment in them.  
An under-explored aspect of adventure novels. 
Along with the distribution of the burden of that 
investment, and the allocation of the rewards FROM that 
investment ... quite the can of worms.  
I'm so eager to see what _Knife Children_ brings into the 
mix. 







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