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Discussion of Dragonsong: Family

As this is for the book Dragonsong, we will be talking about family. Family plays a big role in the novel, mostly for the fact that the roles are closely held together for the main character. She is mostly defined by being the youngest daughter of the Masterholder. So, what did you make of the use of family as a theme? Did you like Menolly's family or did you see them mostly as the villains? What do you think about the family that Menolly adopts? How are they better or worse than the family Menolly comes from?

Please note, as with all discussion posts, there are spoilers within.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 16th, 2010 04:58 pm (UTC)
I hated her family. I don't want to say villains because I don't think they were 100% horrible (ok, so 99.99999% horrible), I just don't think they knew what to do with the youngest. They seemed to forget that their other children were young once, and just don't have a care in the world.

I also think that the Hold was too far isolated, Where Menolly goes, everyone else seems to know the other places, and they have shut themselves away from the rest of the societies.

I think the new family that Menolly adopts is good, because they understand her talents and her needs. I do worry for her at the end of the first book though.

(though now I'm incredibly hooked and am trying to find the rest of the series as my library sucks and doesn't have the other two books).
Jan. 16th, 2010 05:51 pm (UTC)
The second book, Dragonsinger is awesome and I highly recommend finding it. That's mostly so you know the second half of the story and it's really good. :)

I know villains is a bit of an extreme, but I do slowly go towards that word for them. I do agree with your assessment that they forgot how to deal with a child, considering that there is an age gap. As the book goes on, I feel their treatment of her goes to borderline abusive, if not full out abuse due to the way her hand is treated.

I think her new family is perfect, mostly for the fact that they do really depend on her and give her comfort/love. Plus, they sing with her, which is just wicked cool. This book makes me want a firelizard everytime I read it. :)
Jan. 16th, 2010 07:31 pm (UTC)
I also HATE her family. But I wonder just how much of it was due to Anne McCaffery wanting this to be YA and Menolly's POV.

At first, I thought it may be the POV. When we were teenagers (or since we are) there are times that we know we thought our parents were COMPLETELY unfair and cruel. Now, these parents really ARE, but I have to wonder just how far.

But when we get to the Weyr and learn that Menolly's hand could have been fixed, I have to wonder if it was on purpose or if Mavi doesn't know what she's doing. I have to shy toward on purpose, though the idea of a mother doing that to their daughter kind of disgusts me.

Either way, the family life was not one that I could be happy about at all.
Jan. 17th, 2010 12:00 am (UTC)
Menolly's family issues.
I definitely didn't like Menolly's family. I didn't really see them as villains, or hate them -in general I didn't see them as malicious, just very close-minded and traditional, which probably helped them to survive as the leading family of a coastal settlement far from civilization. But the fact that a girl as passionately creative as Menolly should be born to such a 'hidebound' family is the central tragedy of the book, as I see it, and everything that Menolly goes through to escape them - running away, living alone, ruining her feet, trying to establish herself as a young 'lower cavern woman' at Benden, and daring to stand up to some of the most powerful women there - all of it is seen as ultimately worthwhile, especially at the end where she gets an opportunity to go to THE place on Pern where the primary focus is on nurturing and training musical talent.

Alemi, of course, stands as an exception to the rest of Menolly's family, the one who understands her and she can confide in. Alemi is very much a kindred soul of Menolly, I think, disapproving of his father's way of doing things and wanting more from his life than to run a fishing boat out of Half-circle. On the other hand, he understands where the rest of the family is coming from a bit more than Menolly does and can successfully 'pass' as one of them, particularly because his talents are appropriate to their view of gender roles - our son, the fine captain. (I did like finding out in a much later book that Alemi finally leaves Half-circle and has some adventures of his own.)

For the record, I do believe that Mavi did her best with cleaning the packtail wound - not because she really wanted Menolly to have the option to play music, but out of a combination of love and the desire to have Menolly capable for keeping up with the labors of the Sea hold. Menolly blames her for botching things out of spite, but I think that she actually gives her mother too much credit for skill in nursing - it was a job that had been beyond her.

And then, there is Petiron, who does not appear in the book outside of flashbacks, but remains a strong presence in the plot, paradoxically, for the effects of his absence. Petiron is a surrogate father of Menolly's, the one person from Half-circle who cared about the things that she cared about and nurtured her talent, her hunger for all things musical. It is his loss, leaving her suddenly creatively alone, that triggers the crisis of the book - that, and the removal of his indirect influence that sheltered Menolly from her father's disapproval. Later on in the series, we find out that Petiron had a son with a musical talent very like Menolly's, and his jealousy of his son tore their family apart. So the fact that even as a crotchety, grumpy old man, he was trying to do the best by Menolly is a redemption of that part of his life.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )