In the first half of the fourth chapter of A Wizard of Mars, Nita is given an ultimatum from her father. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards.
Oh, Dairine. It’s easy to understand why she’s behaving as she is, but the first half of this chapter forces the reader to think about what recent events have meant to someone else: Mr. Callahan. It’s an interesting move on Duane’s part, and it’s one I respect. Young adult fiction doesn’t often successfully pull off the whole, “But what about the parents?” thing, but it feels compelling here. Why?
Well, it’s a means to an end. After Nita’s father reveals how much Dairine has been skipping school and disobeying very basic rules, he requests more responsibility of his eldest daughter. It does seem unfair, especially since Dairine is the one misbehaving, not Nita. Yet there’s a major reason why all of this is happening: death. Grief. Absence. Nita’s mother’s death still hangs over everyone, and this sequence is no exception. Harry has had to deal with the loss of his wife, but he also lost a means to be a parent to Nita and especially Dairine. He was always closer to Nita, and given what’s happened with her, he has even less of a chance of reaching her than before. In another context, it might be strange to ask your own daughter to do what he asks for her. That’s not to say that Nita shouldn’t feel like this is unfair, because it is. But I understood the general idea behind it. Harry is tired. He needs a break! And he knows that Nita is responsible and can be depended on, so for the time being, it’s the only way he can find some peace.
So yeah, it’s unfair. I don’t argue that. I did love that Nita thought about this new predicament in a creative way, though:
So treat it like a challenge from the Powers… because maybe it is. Figure out what to do, and maybe the rest of the summer won’t turn into a horror story. Nita let out a breath. Think of Dairine as just another intervention, one more problem to be solved.
As far as we know, this is exactly why this is happening! At the same time, it’s an interesting way to look at the problem because it allows Nita to detach from it a bit. That’s probably going to be necessary because of how emotionally volatile this situation is for Dairine. I’m guessing that Dairine finally looked up the Wellakhit directory and discovered the same thing Nita did in this chapter: that Roshaun’s entry shows no physical status for him. No death, no life, no anything. It is both the worst and best answer for Dairine. Terrible because it is shrouded in the unknown. The blank space implies a vacancy and an absence, and in the end, Roshaun is still missing.
But that blank space also means he isn’t dead yet. The unknown might be anxiety-inducing, and I’m sure we’re going to see just how upset Dairine is in the second half of this chapter. However, it’s a huge key to her behavior. Why would she focus on such trivial things as school or chores when she could be focusing on finding Roshaun?
I think that’s what Nita is going to find. As for the whole sun thing… maybe Dairine is learning to use the “new” powers she has??? I DON’T KNOW.
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