So. Having now actually read other Shannon Hale books, I went back to reread Princess Academy, because, well, because I needed a soak in the tub, actually. And I was in the middle of two rather weighty books, a novel and a non-fiction book, and neither was really calling to me at the moment. So I picked up Princess Academy again, and I liked it again.
Rereading this one after reading the others, I found myself paying more attention to the way that Ms. Hale depicts the loneliness of her heroine and the ways that she overcomes that loneliness. There are two major societies from which she feels excluded: the village (because her father won’t let her work in the quarry, and the village values quarry work) and the academy (because the older girls who dominate dislike her, and the tutor encourages that dislike). Ms. Hale depicts her heroine’s attempts to find value in the eyes of the society. In both cases, before she can find her comfortable social niche, she sparks a fundamental change in the social norms.
It’s one of those things you can do in books. Whether you can do it in society depends very much on the size of the society, I think; it’s easier to change the social norms in a classroom or a small business than in a college or a corporation, easier to change them in a block than a city. I would think. Although those norms do change, and they are presumably changed by people, since there isn’t anybody else.
Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,