The Squad

Apr. 5th, 2008 10:20 am
alixtii: Player from <i>Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?</i> playing the game. (Default)
[personal profile] alixtii
On the basis of [livejournal.com profile] fox1013's recs here and here, I ILL'd Jennifer Lynn Barnes' The Squad: Perfect Cover. It came in yesterday (which is a lot sooner than I had expected) and I read it during the train ride to school and while waiting in the station for the train home (where I finished it and thus resumed listening to The Silver Chair on my train ride home).

And, yeah, I enjoyed it quite a bit. *puts in an ILL request for The Squad: Killer Spirit*

The contents are what you would expect in a young adult novel about cheerleading spies: enough homosociality to power a small lesbian separatist commune, a healthy helping of high-school teenaged angst *glances at Spiderman <3's Mary-Jane and Supergirl and New X-Men on comics shelf*, and will-to-powery plots. Indeed, to my delight the book takes the spy plot much more seriously than I expected, capturing a tone more reminiscient of La Femme Nikita than of D.E.B.S. (Not that I don't love the latter movie with all my passion, but it relies so heavily on its visual aesthetic I don't see how it could possibly translate to book form. Fanfic is another story.) It plays it straight in a way which I really liked.

There's even a brother, although he's not quite as 'cestastic as he should be (although I did enjoy his squee at seeing his sister in cheer shorts) and, frankly, I don't quite buy him as a complete human being. Which could go for a number of the characters in the book, but in general the point of the book is that the cheerleaders act like cardboard cutouts while actually having unexpected depths, and Barnes' nicely foreshadows where those depths might lie in a couple of places, and I'm interested in learning more. Whereas the brother is the protagonist's frakking brother; his sister should be aware of his depths beyond "horny heterosexual teenage male" since, you know, she's known him his entire life.

At the same time, there's an emotional realism and down-to-Earth-ness to the characterizations, rooted as much in feelings of pain, frustration, and alienation as optimism and pep, which is refreshing. Insofar as it goes easy on the camp, it actually works that much better as a wish-fulfillment fantasy, because one can actually see oneself as the protagonist. It's more realistic than D.E.B.S. while still being more will-to-powery than Bring It On, which is really a totally awesome place to be.

It might just be me and my particular privilege, but I've always seen D.E.B.S. less as a movie about a lesbian romance than as a a quite brilliant deconstruction of a certain type of pseudolesbian mythology. In its way, The Squad is much less radical/postmodern in its method but just as important for its liberal/modernist move: while the former work of art interrogates the het male gaze (and its relation to the queer female gaze), The Squad sidelines it altogether (mostly anthropomorphized in the supposedly-laughably-pathetic portrayal of the brother, see above). Fashion and cosmetics and clothing--yes, including the skirt--are thus, I think, more forceably reclaimed as nexuses of female power. Part of this is the medium: there's a process of objectification inherent in film which can be avoided in the novel. When the Squad equips the protagonist with the necessary equipment and knowledge to seduce a man, it's clear that she's doing so as an agent in her own right and not as a het male (or even queer female) fantasy, a fact which the first-person narration emphasizes. Rather than destabilizing a narrative, it provides a new one--something that the young readers who would make up The Squad's primary readership need desperately in our world.

This is not, of course, to say that this alternative narrative is not unproblematic from a radical feminist perspective--what isn't? Like in both Bring It On and D.E.B.S., the female homosocial community is empowering but at the same time embedded in the larger structures of male power. All three texts problematize this embeddedness, but in different ways and to different degrees. Bring It On, I think, mostly leaves it intact, as the characters settle into heteronormative relationships and remain within the sphere of the socially-sanctioned sport. D.E.B.S. recognizes the way in which the queer relationship is unsustainable within that structure and requires an exiting from it. I don't want to spoil the book (I'm assuming you've already seen the movies--if not, go do so), but The Squad does make moves in places to problematize the legitmacy of the specific male power structure which is making use of the female labor--in particular in one specific (spoilerish) way that I expect will be taken up in books to come.

And The Squad never glorifies the situation or pretends it is ideal. Some of the girls manifest their "cheerleaderiness" as an authentic aspect of their femininity--and part of the protagonist's journey is coming to terms with the conclusion that that's okay. But for others that is not the case, and each girl gets her own unique (well, the twins share one) path and history which, while filtered through the somewhat opinionated perspective of the protagonist, is ultimately treated with sympathy. There is no wrong way to be a female, but there is a sense of loss in the idea of a society that won't let girls play with lightsabers.

The premise of the book is based on the assumption that cheerleaders are never taken seriously and thus make the ideal covert operatives, but this isn't painted as just or fair. The novel recognizes the pressures a young woman feels to conform, to be pretty, to not be too smart, to be an object, and it shows a group of women subverting those expectations, but without ever justifying them. Instead, it simply takes the assumption that we live in a frelled-up world and women simply have to live in it as best they can (perhaps while doing their best to change it). In the very process of working to preserve patriarchal society, the Squad by its nature reveals the sexism inherent within it.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-04-06 07:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] http://users.livejournal.com/peasant_/
To an outsider, cheerleading is an odd thing. That the pinnacle of female sporting achievement in schools is the visual servicing of male sports teams leaves me with a very nasty taste in my mouth. It doesn't surprise me that they are hated and belittled, what astonishes me is that the social pressures are strong enough to make girls want to do it. If I was an American feminist one of the first things I would do (seriously) would be to set up decent female sports teams to suck the talent out of the cheerleading squads.

Anyway, I didn't actually come here to snark about cheerleading. I was wondering if there was a U.S. equivalent to the strong and very influential genre of girls' boarding school stories that we have in this country. They were standard reading in my youth and provided female homosocialism and independence of action in reams. Also some odd 'second best' vibes because the very institutions they were describing were based on a male model. (I am personally very grateful that my own school completely rejected almost all tradition, which, possibly unintentionally, removed much of that imitatory and hence 'second best' feeling.) What do American girls get to read whilst they are growing up that serves that purpose? I hear Nancy Drew mentioned quite often but I don't know anything beyond the name and the fact she is a detective.

Part I

Date: 2008-04-06 06:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alixtii.livejournal.com
According to Title IX, every female sports team should have equal access with boys sports teams to cheerleaders. As with so many things, this is not always put into practice (although it seems to be at the high school where The Squad takes place).

While cheerleaders certainly have an immense amount of cultural capital in the economy of high school, I don't think they're seen as "better athletes" than female track runners or lacross or basketball players. And there are plenty of school with excellent girls' teams in these sports, but I think it requires different skills; perhaps a gymnastics team or a dance team might be able to suck the talent out of cheerleading, but a) I'm not sure what effect having less talented cheerleaders would actually have on anything, and b) it would need to find a way to provide an alternative to the cheerleader's cultural capital.

Will there (be able to) be cheerleading in the feminist utopia? I don't know. Certainly there would have to be a greater influx of boys into the sport, like we see in college-level cheerleading. I am not, of course, an enemy of desiring gazes as such. Certainly there wouldn't be the devaluing of the traditionally-female virtue/value of encouraging school spirit which historically we see under patriarchy.

As for YA/children's lit, the person to ask would be Amy herself, since she's the one who studies it, but looking at my own reading and what was going on at the time, it seems to me it comes in a variety of categories. There's a canon of stuff we read in school which may be relatively recent (Madeleine L'Engle, Lois Lowry, Avi, any winner of the Newberry Award) but is approached with some reverence due to its imprimateur.

There's the "classics," those older (relatively speaking) works imported from the UK (Frances Hodgeson Burnett, Lewis Carrol, C.S. Lewis, E. Nesbit, maybe Rudyard Kipling) or elsewhere (Johanna Spyri), and older American texts which remain in the consciousness (Louisa May Alcott, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Elizabeth Porter, Kate Douglas Wiggin). Since these texts are in the public domain, they can be reprinted and sold very cheaply, which helps to continue their visibility. While the way they speak to children may well be universal, they do speak to a particular set of material conditions which will be foreign to any American schoolkid.

Re: Part I

Date: 2008-04-07 01:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] http://users.livejournal.com/peasant_/
While cheerleaders certainly have an immense amount of cultural capital in the economy of high school, I don't think they're seen as "better athletes" than female track runners or lacross or basketball players. And there are plenty of school with excellent girls' teams in these sports
Oooh, this is one of those fascinating spaces between the cultural output of a nation and the perceived reality from within. I was trying to think of representations of girls' sports that I had seen on US TV or film and I could only come up with two. One was Meadow playing football on The Sopranoes, and the other was that little baseball player at the end of Chosen. And they are both rather weak - the Sops one was being used as a signifier of middle class values rather than showing sport for its own sake, and the girl in Chosen was noticeable for being the very youngest of the girls portrayed, implying that sport is something only very young girls (those allowed to be tomboys) will do. Otherwise, as portrayed, sport is something only boys do in school, whilst girls become cheerleaders, and in university the men still play sport whilst even the cheerleaders seem to have vanished. Even Buffy - someone who logically should have been the star of every team at Sunnydale - never even hinted that there was such a thing as a girls' sports team.

a) I'm not sure what effect having less talented cheerleaders would actually have on anything, and b) it would need to find a way to provide an alternative to the cheerleader's cultural capital.

I was envisaging creating a situation where those who could did sport and those who couldn't did cheerleading. It is actually not hard to engender a culture of contempt for an activity in a school situation, but of course you have to do it by elevating an alternative, not by trying to deride the thing head on. However, whether it could be done with something so strongly entrenched that is has become as stock a cultural representation as cheerleading - well, it would be fascinating to try, but it would doubtless be a slow process if it could be done at all.

I am not, of course, an enemy of desiring gazes as such.
No, of course. Sexual display and competition is far too instinctive and natural a part of teenagers, one couldn't prevent it even if one tried and I don't see why one should wish to. The whole history of sport in schools is about virtually nothing else but a continuous circle of trying to sublimate sex only to have it emerge as one of the most potent means of displaying sex that there is. It is having cheerleading perceived as the highest achievement, so that all other female sport has become invisible, that I dislike. But then of course the mating dances of other tribes always look odd from the outside, and I am having a devil of a job to work out how much of what I am saying is just my own prejudice.

Story of my life, really :oD

Re: Part I

Date: 2008-04-07 02:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alixtii.livejournal.com
Even Buffy - someone who logically should have been the star of every team at Sunnydale - never even hinted that there was such a thing as a girls' sports team.

Depending on the school, girls' sports teams may not be as well-funded or well-equipped (although that would be a Title IX violation) or prestigious or whatever, and they're pretty much never as popular in terms of audience, and the sports played by the genders will usually be different (e.g. girls play softball while the boys play baseball) but having boys' teams but not girls' teams at a coed school would be such a blatant Title IX violation I don't see how anyone could get away with it.

And while there's definitely a path that allows for one to be both feminine and athletic (at least in high school; there may be an implied built-in shelf life)--and female athletes do tend, I think, to be popular--there's probably much be said about how exactly that path is constructed.

Canonically, we know SHS had a football team and a men's swim team. If it had a men's one it probably had a women's swim team as well, and if it was like most high schools it probably had a half-dozen other sports for each gender as well (again, not the same sports).

I was envisaging creating a situation where those who could did sport and those who couldn't did cheerleading.

Many--perhaps most--people would claim this is the current state of affairs. (Certainly cheerleading requires a somewhat different skill set than most of the other sports, at least.) My understanding is there's a vast uphill battle by cheerleaders to being taken seriously as athletes engaged in a legitimate sport. Of course, not all cheerleaders may necessarily identify as athletes--some may well consider themselves as popular and attractive eye-candy. But there are definitely those who see themselves as athletes as well and fight to be taken seriously as such.

I tend to encourage the athleticization of the perception of cheerleading (and am willing to believe the reality is athletic already), because I find the idea of the prestige of cheerleaders being given to young women with no talent other than being eye-candy to be even more problematic.

Non-cheerleader athletes are valued as athletes and cheerleaders are valued as sexual objects. The fact that cheerleaders have more cultural capital and more representation in media shows where the priorities of young boys and our society in general, respectively, lies--not the status of women's sport in the country per se.

It is having cheerleading perceived as the highest achievement, so that all other female sport has become invisible, that I dislike.

This is I can definitely agree with. But in high school, where everything is motivated more strongly by a sense of community pride linked to it being one's son or daughter or nephew or niece engaged in the game, I think it's most even. Colleges and universities may comply more closely to the letter of Title IX requirements, but if men's ice hockey games have packed, standing-room only rinks with fans of the opposing side coming in by bus while women's ice hockey games are attended maybe only by a couple of the players' friends--as was the case at my university--there's not much the institution can do. And of course the meaningful existence of women's professional sports is extremely young, and hasn't really captured any significant portion of the American imagination--when sports is indeed one of the main American pasttimes. So it's part of a larger, systemic problem, which most high schools are, I think, doing their best to resist by encouraging girls' sports as best they can (at least until $$$ enters the picture).

Re: Part I

Date: 2008-04-07 05:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alixtii.livejournal.com
One was Meadow playing football on The Sopranoes, and the other was that little baseball player at the end of Chosen.

I haven't watched The Sopranos--is this a girls' soccer team, or an American football team (which would presumably be all-boys except for her)? Because there'd be a huge difference there in meaning, obviously. How do you see it operating as a symbol of middle class values?

Hmm. Baseball is a "boy's sport," so, yes, the age of Demetra Raven's character in "Chosen" is significant--any older, and there's a sense she'd be expected to either switch to softball or else give up the sport. So you got the main point of what is going on, only it comes from the specific sport she's playing rather than the fact she's playing a sport in general. ([livejournal.com profile] nwhepcat's character Jenny Grimaldi is based on the idea of the baseball girl aged up and, before she becomes a Slayer, shooting to be the first woman in the major leagues.)

Re: Part I

Date: 2008-04-07 06:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] http://users.livejournal.com/peasant_/
Meadow was in a girls' soccer team. My understanding was that soccer is a middle class game in the US (as in soccer moms). The point being that Meadow is Tony Soprano's daughter (he is the Mafia boss) so it was a way of showing how his daughter was being brought up as a nice, normal, middle class girl, which is one of her main themes.


So little girls can play 'boy's sports' but then they switch to 'girl's sports' later? Hmm. Apart from 'it's always been done like that' is there a reason for that? American football I can understand because of the strength requirement, but why isn't there women's baseball? Surely baseball doesn't require much strength.

Re: Part I

Date: 2008-04-07 06:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alixtii.livejournal.com
So little girls can play 'boy's sports' but then they switch to 'girl's sports' later? Hmm. Apart from 'it's always been done like that' is there a reason for that? American football I can understand because of the strength requirement, but why isn't there women's baseball? Surely baseball doesn't require much strength.

I don't really know. I can't think of another sports duad like that--either the men's and women's varieties are the same (like with soccer) or the sport is played by one gender with no equivalent for the other gender (like with American football). Although now that I think about it, I think women's tennis might have less matches or something then men's, and there's probably difference in the minutia of one league to another in most sports. I know a softball is larger and lighter than a baseball, and . . . that's really all I know about how softball is different than baseball. Looking at the wikipedia entry, there aren't a whole lot of diferences (some of the distances and whatnot are different, and it may be played with less innings).

Re: Part I

Date: 2008-04-07 01:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] http://users.livejournal.com/peasant_/
Certainly there wouldn't be the devaluing of the traditionally-female virtue/value of encouraging school spirit which historically we see under patriarchy.
Hang on, are you saying that in your culture encouraging school spirit is a) seen as a feminine thing and b) devalued accordingly?

Wow, that is so different from over here. In the British tradition, school spirit, as experienced almost entirely through sport, is, well worshipped isn't too strong a word, and it is very strongly male. And it is expected to arise naturally from the achievement and struggle itself, not to require any sort of artificial stimulus. As I say, female sporting participation tends to feel imitatory as a result. That is probably one of the reasons cheerleaders are looked down upon and considered very silly in this country. A woman who wishes to raise her social status may well play sport, but by doing so she is sacrificing her perceived femininity in the same way that a woman power-dressing for the office does. And for a male activity to require a female audience or encouragement would be seen as weak and effeminate in its own right - now that of course has its origins in the way sport in schools was used to sublimate sex. If you have an all male boarding school you need to do something about sex, and once Victorian morality made it unallowable for the boys to use prostitutes in the nearest town (the eighteenth century solution) they started to worship sport instead. So any suggestion of performing in front of the female gaze would undermine that, hence the strong notion that women and sport don't mix.

I find it hard to believe that some of those notions don't exist across the Atlantic, which then raises the interesting question of how cheerleaders came about.

Re: Part I

Date: 2008-04-07 02:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alixtii.livejournal.com
Hang on, are you saying that in your culture encouraging school spirit is a) seen as a feminine thing and b) devalued accordingly?

Hmm, yes. There is a certain machismo which rises organically out of the desire to conquer the opposing team which is not devalued, but they're not quite the same thing. In many ways, it's the cheerleader's job to try and direct this machismo into productive outlets: a traditionally female role.

That is probably one of the reasons cheerleaders are looked down upon and considered very silly in this country.

The thing that I think must be stressed above all else is that, despite the power they may or may not wield (in, let's face it, extremely constrained parameters; like in academia, politics in high school are petty and intense between the stakes are so low), the fact nonetheless exists that cheerleaders are looked down upon and considered very silly in this country, too.

A woman who wishes to raise her social status may well play sport, but by doing so she is sacrificing her perceived femininity in the same way that a woman power-dressing for the office does.

This may be something which has changed over time (my mother and her sister played field hockey in school, but my grandmother was a cheerleader) but I don't feel this is the case (at least outside the softball/lesbian stereotype) today. In part, I think this is because female athletes are able to continue to be sexual objects even as they succeed at sports. (I can't quite bring myself to feel guilty about the fact that, were I to watch a field hockey game, I'd enjoy them watching the players running around chasing a ball while wearing skirts. Or, for other sports, in basketball shorts or a soccer uniform or whatever. Then they'd get hot and sweaty and rosy-faced and breathe heavy and--guh.)

Re: Part I

Date: 2008-04-07 02:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] http://users.livejournal.com/peasant_/
In many ways, it's the cheerleader's job to try and direct this machismo into productive outlets: a traditionally female role.
Oh very traditional. You know what this reminds me of - all those miniatures of medieval tournaments and in every one there is the row of ladies in the gallery observing and to some extent controlling the whole thing. (Note to self, must go to Amazon and find something on the medieval notion of the female gaze.) And yet it is a role that the British have almost entirely eliminated. It is just beginning to sneak back in now that women spectating at football matches has started to become more normal. The exception would probably be tennis, which always had a female audience and was always used as a social and sexual exchange.

The desire to separate sport from sex still lingers though in the controversy over the wives and girlfriends (the infamous WAGs) being allowed to accompany our international sports teams. The assumption being that they will sap the men's stamina in not just a physical but a moral way, by their mere presence. If the cricket team does badly, one of the first things the press does is turn on the WAGs.

The thing that I think must be stressed above all else is that, despite the power they may or may not wield (in, let's face it, extremely constrained parameters; like in academia, politics in high school are petty and intense between the stakes are so low), the fact nonetheless exists that cheerleaders are looked down upon and considered very silly in this country, too.
Noted. You have made me realise that the equation of female social power = spoilt bitch is very clear in cheerleader narratives. I hadn't given that enough weight in my analysis.

I can't quite bring myself to feel guilty about the fact that, were I to watch a field hockey game, I'd enjoy them watching the players running around chasing a ball while wearing skirts. Or, for other sports, in basketball shorts or a soccer uniform or whatever. Then they'd get hot and sweaty and rosy-faced and breathe heavy and--guh.
Hee.

Inspector Morse put it best:
I do wonder about the man who invented the sports skirt. It was as if he sat down, described his best sexual fantasy, and then made it compulsory uniform.

(Not an exact quote, but the fact I remember it at all tells you something ;o)

Re: Part I

Date: 2008-04-07 02:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alixtii.livejournal.com
Oh very traditional. You know what this reminds me of - all those miniatures of medieval tournaments and in every one there is the row of ladies in the gallery observing and to some extent controlling the whole thing.

Yes, exactly!

Noted. You have made me realise that the equation of female social power = spoilt bitch is very clear in cheerleader narratives.

Yeah. Other than Bring It On itself, I can't think of a single movie in which the cheerleaders are good guys. (Well, Cheerleader Ninjas, but B-movie sexploitation hardly counts, and even that was doing something clearly postmodern with the tropes.) Which makes feminist critique of cheering so necessarily complex, as there is this huge tradition of being insulting to cheerleaders that one doesn't want to encourage.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-04-06 06:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alixtii.livejournal.com
And there's the stuff that comes from the YA industry. There's the series, of course, both those that began being written by one person and got taken up by a house (BabySitters' Club, The Boxcar Children, Sweet Valley High), and those that began that way (The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew). Many of these are mysteries; yes, Nancy Drew is a detective and so are the Hardy Boys (and besides that, there's really not a whole lot to be said about them), and while not all the original Boxcar books were mysteries I think all the newer ones are. (Hell, there are even BSC and Sweet Valley mysteries.)

And there's the single books (and the trilogies and quartets etc.), published for a contemporary YA audience. These can be divided up a lot like adult romances: there's science-fictional YA, and historic YA, and paranormal YA, and realistic YA, etc. These (lke the series, but often less formulaicly) tend to try to speak to the experiences of today's young readers in a context they'd understand, so a huge amount of these are set in elementary or middle or high schools, as appropriate. Independence of action on the part of the young protagonist, male or female, is always a crucial element.

Insofar as homosociality in American children's/YA lit, one would best look to books like the BabySitters' Club ones (which have a decent-sized femslash fandom for a book fandom) which focuses on close-knit groups of female friends, I think. That's the sort of tradition The Squad is coming out of, I think.

I think an important question to remember is to ask if the children of my generation read at least as much as what they read. But the YA industry continued (and continues) to print books, so apparently someone was.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-04-07 01:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] http://users.livejournal.com/peasant_/
Louisa May Alcott - I had forgotten her. One of the few children's authors I think to successfully cross back to this side of the pond. (Actually that is an interesting thought in its own right, you may export your moving media to us, but the written word does not travel with even remotely as much ease and if anything we seem to export more to you. Hmm, I wonder why that is.)

Insofar as homosociality in American children's/YA lit, one would best look to books like the BabySitters' Club ones (which have a decent-sized femslash fandom for a book fandom) which focuses on close-knit groups of female friends, I think. That's the sort of tradition The Squad is coming out of, I think.
This makes sense in a culture where education tends to be mixed and female sport has become invisible. Most female homosociality would have to focus directly around friendship rather than pre-arranged social groupings.

Yeah, very interesting stuff to think about. Thanks.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-04-07 02:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alixtii.livejournal.com
I suspect (well, I'm certain, really) that such books grouped around women's sport in the way that you suggest do exist. I don't have any--I always needed at least plausible deniability in my reading as a kid, so that female homosociality wasn't a big theme in the YA lit I read, but I do have a quartet of mysteries about a co-ed baseball team as well as a book from a series from a bunch of boys who did karate (the gendering there being interested since that's often taught and practiced as a co-ed sport)--but I suspect these tend to have limited appeal outside of players of that particular sport, so that girls who liked field hockey would buy books about a field hockey team and girls who liked soccer about a soccer team and girls without a huge amount of crossover appeal. Note that these sorts of books, cookie-cutter and commodified, would be ones which it would be silly to try to export to the UK. (Not that more ambitious children's lit doesn't exist, but again, not my field--I'm trying to articulate and distill what I take for granted, which is never easy.)

(no subject)

Date: 2008-04-07 02:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alixtii.livejournal.com
Louisa May Alcott - I had forgotten her. One of the few children's authors I think to successfully cross back to this side of the pond. (Actually that is an interesting thought in its own right, you may export your moving media to us, but the written word does not travel with even remotely as much ease and if anything we seem to export more to you. Hmm, I wonder why that is.)

While I was in London, I watched the end a telemovie of Pollyanna which reduced me to tears (not hard to do, and I think the Disney Haley Mills version does the same). It was set in Britain, and I thought, "It's interesting to see a movie adaptation set in Britain like the book--the Disney move puts it in America." I was so used to my favorite children's lit being British that it took me a moment to remember that Elizabeth Porter was American and the book set in America--and drawing on certain cultural, religious, and class differences that existed in America at the time the book was set (Pollyanna is the daughter of a poor Protestant minister from the midwest) and which I would have been interested in seeing how it had been translated to a British context had I been able to see the whole thing.

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