In Chapter 6, Jack and Jill choose their roles, their guardians, and their destiny.
More choices are made here. Real choices, this time, not simply choices over what to have for dinner. Both sisters have clear ideas over what they want, and they prioritise that over everything else.
Their choices define their positions. The Master is the same type of person as their parents. This is something Jack recognises quickly. He doesn’t want them as people, he wants them as possessions, the same way Serena and Chester wanted their children to be possessions, ways for them to increase their own status. In addition, if Jack stays, Jack and Jill will remain in competition with each other, at least over the three nights of safety that the Master has allotted to them. We see this in the advice Mary gives to Jack. Dr. Bleak, on the other hand, is someone who listens. When Jack asks why he is reluctant to take her, he admits he has no good reason. He is also someone who wants to make sure this is what she wants, as opposed to simply accepting her. So it is made clear here that there is a right choice and a wrong choice, and Jack makes the ‘right’ choice.
The way the twins choose and their internal reasoning also tells us more about each character, and widens the gap between them. Jack’s decision is framed as a way to keep Jill safe, a selfless choice. Jack is also the one to take action in making her choice. Jill, on the other hand, is passive. She doesn’t try to argue Jack into staying, even though she doesn’t want them to be separate. She is the one to feel sympathy towards the Master, who the text makes quite clear is a predator. To the reader, Jack is being positioned above Jill. She takes action, she takes the role of protector. She fulfils the role of the protagonist, the one we are supposed to sympathise with.
Despite all this, Jill isn’t entirely unsympathetic. She’s not the villain here (at least, not yet). We can see that she would rather not be parted from her sister. We can see that she gravitates towards the Master because she imagines him to be like herself: chosen second, left out and rejected. At least part of her motivation is framed in being too trusting, rather than too selfish. We can pity Jill even as we watch her make the wrong choices.
It is clear to us that Jack and Jill are still are attached to each other. We see it in Jill’s disappointment in Jack’s absence, and in Jack’s desire to keep Jill safe. The problem is that neither sister can see that the other cares. Jill thinks Jack is being selfish; Jack thinks Jill is being foolish. Neither of them seem to be able to express their attachment to one another. They want to broach the gap between them, but neither can seem to see a way across.
Sadly, this gap between them will only widen.
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