In Chapter 3, we begin the adventure and enter the Moors.
By the time the girls turned twelve, it was easy for the people met them to form swift, incorrect ideas of who they were as people.
We begin the chapter as we ended the last, by examining the various ways Jacqueline and Jillian are unhappy in the roles that were set for them. We see all over how they act as they ‘should’, not as they wish. Jacqueline reads books she doesn’t enjoy and wrinkles her nose at spiders, even though she actually quite likes them.
Jillian’s unhappiness stems from the fact that she doesn’t fit. This is something many of us can relate to. There does seem to be a contradiction between the way the schoolchildren ostracise Jillian, and later on when it is explained that other children are allowed to have varied interests; to play sports and like dolls, to have more than one facet. Surely the girls who play sports and like dolls might take to Jillian, at least during sports time. Perhaps it is because she is never allowed to show any femininity that she is ostracised. Perhaps it stings all the more because she never got to choose the reasons for which she is left out in the cold.
We also see at this stage that Jillian is the one more invested in the relationship. She’s the one who wants to go on an adventure, at least at the start. It’s only when she sees the reality of it that she begins to get doubts.
…and she had left an old steamer trunk in the closet, filled with clothes and costume jewellery that she had been putting aside for her granddaughters, waiting for the day when they’d be old enough to play make-believe and fashion show with her as their appreciative audience. It was that trunk that had convinced them both that Gemma Lou hadn’t always intended to leave.
It’s quite significant that the entrance to the Moors lies at the bottom of a chest of fancy dress clothing left by Gemma Lou, the one person who loved them, who tried to help them. This is especially the case given we’ve seen exactly how clothes pushed Jacqueline and Jillian into the roles they don’t want. That Louise was preparing a variety of clothes, clothes that can be put on for an hour then taken off again, shows she understands how clothes can constrain and how they can do the opposite. She was providing a way for them to be free, and now that she is gone, her space is the only space where Jacqueline and Jillian can feel free to be themselves.
So it is fitting that it is in her space where Jacqueline and Jillian find ultimate freedom, a complete escape from the house and the lives they are in. That said, we have warning signs that the world they are about to enter isn’t going to be all sunshine and roses. We are told that adventures can be cruel, we are shown a long slow descent, and we are shown some reluctance, especially from Jillian.
Perhaps, if the sisters had been encouraged to love each other more, to trust each other more, to view each other as something other than competition for the limited supplies of their parents’ love, they would have closed the trunk and gone to find an adult.
The one thing that this chapter emphasises is the gulf between the twins. Forced into narrow roles, jealous of each other, they begin to hate each other. They aren’t allowed to share interests. They way they present to the world is so different it means the world treats each of them differently, which in turn means they can’t help but move apart. This is why they end up going down. They perform for each other. Jillian pretends to be brave because she’s been taught that has to be. Jacqueline dismisses her sister’s worries because she wants the freedom she thinks Jillian still has.
All the foreshadowing is there, all the more obvious because, well, we know what happens. They aren’t going to return friends. They aren’t going to return happy. This didn’t start like a fairy tale, and it isn’t going to end like one.