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Rites of Passage: John, Nancy... Dick?

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Posted by Alex Forbes on March 02, 2017 at 11:55:24 user Pitsligo.

I think it's pretty well accepted that AR wrote WDMTGTS to be John's "graduation" to adulthood, meeting the challenge of taking Goblin across the North Sea. It's quite a rite of passage, and perfectly tailored for John both as we know him *and* as we anticipate his adult career path (in the RN).

In that light, a while back I hypothesized that PM was a similar effort by AR to provide a similar rite of passage for Nancy, as she assumes more of the role and responsibility of a woman in that era and culture. Some people here thought that hypothesis had merit, which pleases me, though I would hardly deem my speculation canon.

Those were both conclusions for the Swallows (particularly John) and the Amazons respectively. Aside from ML (unequivocally fantasy-based), they take much less active roles in the series after their "graduations", leaving the stories driven more by the younger characters and the Ds.

Building on those thoughts, was GN? meant to be yet another of these conclusions for AR? An attempt to give Dick the same sort of "graduation" into adulthood? What would be more relevant for the character than to make an enduring scientific discovery? And yet it had to be in keeping with the accidental/inadvertant nature of the trials in WD and PM and, further, for the sake of plausibility, couldn't be too grand a discovery --something that re-wrote archeology, or minerology, or something that brought Dick (inter)national acclaim. It had to be important but understated; a proof of the character's character and a validation of the character's relevance within their world.

Does GN? fall into is-it-real-or-is-it-Peter-Duck? uncertainty because AR had to walk a fine line between an adventure that was plausible for his young, largely average characters and giving Dick a relevant rite of passage --which, for a scientific discovery, required something beyond what an average youth might experience? It must thus, by its nature, touch on science that will affect a greater sphere than just the characters, and thereby be a story that stretches our willing suspension of disbelief beyond so much of the preceeding series.

So was GN? his conclusion for Dick just as WD was for John and (arguably) PM was for Nancy, and are the elements necessary to that goal why GN? reads a bit more like fantasy?


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