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Category: Down Among the Sticks and Bones

Down Among the Sticks and Bones Analysis, Chapter 9: Someone’s Coming To Dinner

In Chapter 9, the sisters come face to face, making the rift between them very clear.

If you didn’t know which sister was meant to be the hero and which was meant to be the villain, you probably learned the difference in this chapter. Not that it wasn’t obvious before, but now, we see another side of Jill — namely, how she acts around her inferiors. She abuses the status she has, views it as her right. Jack’s conversation with the stallholder at the end makes it clear that she has acted worse than this before, and could act much worse out of jealousy. Being Jack’s friend is dangerous. We have been warned.

lightning strikes

Down Among the Sticks and Bones Analysis, Chapter 8: The Skies to Shake, the Stones to Bleed

In Chapter 8, we get a montage!

Montages are a little harder to pull off in written form. In a movie, all you need is a bunch of scenes and some cool music and you’re ready to go. In writing, you need a little more: reference to time passing, connecting tissue to link the scenes together somehow, a way to signal that we are skipping over many other things. Here, present tense is used as one such signal, which is interesting since present tense is generally used to create the effect of immediacy and immersion. This is the opposite of that—the tense helps us to zoom out and makes the scenes flash by a little faster. The return to past tense hits like a return to real time.

Down Among the Sticks and Bones Analysis, Chapter 7: To Fetch a Pail of Water

In Chapter 7, Jack and Jill get their makeover scenes.

Last chapter the twins made their choices on who they wanted to be. This chapter, we get our first glimpse of what that looks like, both in how they are treated, how they behave, and how they are dressed.

Down Among the Sticks and Bones Analysis, Chapter 6: The First Night of Safety

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.

Down Among the Sticks and Bones Analysis, Chapter 5: The Roles We Choose Ourselves

In Chapter 5, we are given a proper introduction to the Moors, and dine with the people in power.

Despite the chapter title, neither Jack nor Jill are given a real choice in this chapter, not yet. Their new nicknames were given to them. They get to choose their food, but don’t get to see what it is until after the choice is made. Instead, it is the Master and Dr. Bleak who talk about choosing.

Down Among the Sticks and Bones Analysis, Chapter 4: To Market, To Market, To Buy a Fat Hen

This chapter is the first of Part 2: Jill and Jack into the Black, and fittingly, it deals with the crossing of borders. This chapter marks the short space of time where the girls are free—free from their parents’ expectations, and free from the rules that govern the new world they are in.

They also make their first real choice. That’s not quite true, of course. They chose to go through the door. But that was framed as inevitable, the conclusion of the way they were brought up, with no other way out left to them. Here, they have a choice of where to go, and either by instinct or chance, they choose the Moors.

Down Among the Sticks and Bones Analysis, Chapter 3: They Grow Up So Fast

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.

Down Among the Sticks and Bones Analysis, Chapter 2: Practically Perfect in Virtually No Ways

In Chapter 2, the Wolcotts outsource their parenting and find moulds to fit their children.

By the standards of anyone save for her ruthlessly regimented son, Louise was a disciplined, orderly woman. She liked the world to make sense and follow the rules. By the standards of her son, she was a hopeless dreamer. She thought the world was capable of kindness; she thought people were essentially good and only waiting for an opportunity to show it.

Louise, Chester’s mother, makes both her entrance and her exit in this chapter. She is here to offer another perspective, both for us and for the twins. She provides a way for us to contrast what is happening to what could be. We can see this from her first introduction that the way Chester sees her (soppy and impractical) doesn’t match the way the rest of the world sees her (disciplined and orderly). The contrast is also shown in the stories Chester and Serena tell others about Louise. It is interesting that Serena is aware that she’s not telling the truth. This isn’t just a competing narrative that holds sway because the Wolcotts are in a position of power. This is a narrative they are forcing on the world so they can look better.

Down Among the Sticks and Bones Analysis, Chapter 1: The Dangerous Allure of Other People’s Children

Introduction: Downsides of a Prequel

Down Among the Sticks and Bones is the second instalment of the Wayward Children series. It follows the adventures of Jack and Jill Wolcott, from inception to childhood to the Moors, a world which could serve the setting for pretty much any Gothic horror.

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