In the fourth chapter of Page, Kel begins to make progress with Lalasa. Intrigued? Then it’s time for mark to read Page.
Chapter Four: Woman Talk
YES. YES. MORE LOVELY WOMEN ALL THE TIME.
Trigger Warning: We must talk about misogyny below!
The aftermath of the brawl in the stables is openly addressed here in this chapter, and the entire group of pages seems to have finally realized the gravity of what they did. Well, at least that’s the appearance. I agree with Kel’s statement that just because they can’t find people misbehaving doesn’t mean they aren’t. Which is kind of scary, you know? What if Joren and company are planning something even worse to get rid of Kel? And given that there’s a lot more of Kel for me to experience in this quartet, I’m curious as to when they’ll stop. Is there ever going to be a point where Wyldon accepts that Kel is in this for the long run? I think he might be moving in that direction, given that I find Prince Roald’s assessment of Wyldon’s punishment for Kel to be a fairly astute reading of the situation. I think he is trying to get her to face her fears while punishing her for her behavior.
Bah, this is so complicated! I WANT TO KNOW EVERYTHING.
The vast majority of this chapter (which is one of the shorter ones in any Tortall book thusfar) deals with Kel’s relationship with Lalasa. Again, it is incredibly easy for me to put myself in Lalasa’s shoes because that’s who I was for a long time. Kel is close to a deeper understanding of her maid, and I’m hoping that after witnessing what Hugo did to Lalasa, she might develop some empathy for her. Regardless, this is tough territory for Tamora Pierce, and I’m really pleased with how a lot of this unfolds, especially since it leaves me wanting so much more. Yeah, I really want to see where this leads because women supporting one another. This is fucking great. Of course, I can’t ignore the fact that Lalasa’s conversation with Kel most likely means something different for many of you. How many fantasy series deal with the pressures young women feel about puberty? The talk here is frank. You can’t get around it at all, and that’s what I love about it. It’s there, and deal with it. Which is probably more of a reaction to the idea that someone would read this and be like EW GROSS WHY WOULD YOU TALK ABOUT THIS. But this is very much what Pierce does! You know, I only just realized this, but people go to the bathroom in this series. WHEN DOES THAT FUCKING HAPPEN IN FANTASY EPICS? Do you know how many times I wondered this while watching the Lord of the Rings films? DOESN’T ANYONE PEE IN THIS STORY? But now I’m sure there are weird golden shower fics involving Aragorn and Legolas, so I’m sorry this thought has now popped into your brains and will most likely ruin your day. IT HAPPENED, I HAD TO SHARE IT.
Anyway, let’s talk about Lalasa in a more serious way! It’s easy for me to read Lalasa’s fear as one specific thing since I am projecting all over her, but I also wanted to discuss how so much of this chapter deals with Kel’s changing body. It’s written in a way where other folks can find empowerment in what Kel is discovering about herself, and yet it doesn’t ignore the context of where she is. She is essentially in a massive government school with a bunch of disgusting boys who are already sexualizing her as a way of getting her kicked out, and now her body is changing in a way that will probably earn her even more grossly sexualized attention. So it’s not that she hates being a woman; we’ve seen her proudly wear a dress every single day at supper. It’s that she is stuck in this ceaselessly misogynistic society, and she can’t change that part of it. Like, this part in particular made me really sad:
A could thought overbore everything else: They’ll never let me hear the end of this. She accepted that as soon as she thought it.
She is so used to this culture that she accepts her own sexist bullying the very second she thinks it. It makes me sad because I know that many of y’all must have had a moment like this in your life where you realized that you’d be demonized or fetishized for being a woman. I mean, okay, you probably didn’t think of it with those words when you were eleven, just as Kel doesn’t do that here. But from what little I know of misogyny as an outsider to the experience for the most part, this is a thing that happens to so many people!
So what I’m hoping, then, is that Kel is able to realize that this very same culture is what’s causing Lalasa to act the way she is. Kel hasn’t quite made that connection, though she has picked up on the classist undertones to how servants are treated, as well as the fact that older men have been taking advantage of Lalasa. Y’all, fuck Hugo Longleigh. My god, the hatred I feel for this loser knows no end. I’m glad Kel caught him in the act, I’m glad she doesn’t blame Lalasa for a single bit of it, and then she purposely takes it upon herself to teach her maid how to protect herself. That, too, is a manifestation of this culture, because Kel already knows she can’t change sexism as an eleven-year-old page. Instead, she has the power to fight back, and she wants to give that power to Lalasa.
Oh god, can I project again? (Who am I kidding??? This is what I do every day.) I wish I had someone who had given me that power, too. I know I’ve said that before, but I like stating that bias out in the open, so that people can try and understand why I interpret things the way I do. Plus, it helps establish that my experience informs my thought process, and that means your experience does the same. AND THEN WE ALL HAVE DIFFERENT READINGS, AND IT’S FASCINATING.
This chapter ends with a bit of foreshadowing to Kel’s service during midwinter, which will either go super well or be an utter disaster, and that makes me so nervous. I feel like she has even more pressure to perform well than she did in the previous book. I REALLY HOPE THIS IS NOT A DISASTER, Y’ALL.
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