MemberSeptember 20, 2020 at 12:16 am
Thanks Jan and Sadye!
First, you are both asking all the right questions (or, at least, the questions I want people to ask when they read this). If your questions make you want to keep reading rather than annoy you, then I’m at least on the right track.
To offer some answers:
With regard to the ribbons and her mother, you
are right that she was young when left with her uncle (seven years old, but
that’s never revealed in the story, only hinted at). Her feelings about this
are mixed. On the one hand, she is angry and resentful, especially as (you find
out later) she really doesn’t know what happened or why she was abandoned. On
the other hand, now that she is a little older (eleven years old, you find out
on page 2), she realizes that her mother is her main connection to her family
and her past, and as the story progresses, the one person that could tell her
what is going on. One of the central plots/themes of this book is Barbara’s quest
to find her mother and the mystery surrounding her disappearance (it is not solved by the end of the book). The ribbons
likewise hold a confused significance for Barbara. On the one hand, they are
the only thing she has to remember her mother. On the other, they are a symbol
of that resentment and anger. They come up repeatedly throughout the
book and get linked with the theme of collaboration (a main theme) and string
theory (an underlying theme).
Interesting the comment on wanting to know more about what it is like to be Barbara. Everything that is written in the story is from
Barbara’s perspective (and she is the only character who gets a perspective). I’m trying to show you what it’s like to be Barbara, hence the colourful adjectives: she
dislikes her surroundings and describes them as such; she is annoyed with her
uncle; she doesn’t care about her appearance; she personifies objects because
she doesn’t have any real friends; she spends most of her days around the house
reading and trying not to go anywhere. I’m leaning heavily on the school of “show,
don’t tell”. What I don’t want to do is stray into long inner monologues where the character explains how they are feeling. I don’t think that’s what you’re asking me to do, but perhaps I have swung the pendulum too far and not included enough of Barbara’s own thinking about herself, or at least about how the world around her affects her thoughts about herself. I will think further on how to incorporate this.
Again, thanks for taking the time to read and for the good suggestions!