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Marai at Home - final

This is Marai Canny, the chief of the Canny farmstead in Dekan.

Oil on masonite, 18"x24"

I started the painting last spring but it took me this long to figure out what wasn't right about it and get it fixed. It's thanks to shashigai mostly and his story in yumeza here.

Because Marai is something special in Dekan, I keep running into trouble when I try to tell her story. I could list off the things people admire about her - that she takes in lost boys (meaning girls too, in Dekan slang) and sets them to work on the farm, that she sits on the Dekan council, that she's a force to be reckoned with when somebody, usually some exploitative merchant from Tapolith, sets out to harm one of her nips (kids). But that would only tell the surface of her story, and probably leave some people bored and resentful at reading about yet another perfect Mary Sue.

The truth sits out in a windy night at the edge of the woods, where Marai pins down a thrashing, yelling feral boy and forces calming medicine down his throat against his will. She hands him off to a near-stranger because those kind, the demon kids, have no place on her farm. It sits in the rafters of a secret room behind her study, where a stowaway nip watches as she argues and then comes to blows with a cruel-faced man whose orders, despite her position in Dekan, she must obey. Even knowing what he is capable of, she continues to allow him into her home, and the nips still serve him tea and stew. The truth sits in the common room at the end of a long day, where she gazes into the fire and thinks of her love, who despite her most urgent pleas, may never join her there.

The truth is also with her sister, who is the reason Marai makes her home in Dekan rather than the place she longs for. Her sister died twenty years ago, on the eve of her coming-of-age, and her sister follows her still, whenever she leaves Dekan behind and steps onto Karn. Her sister is one of the ones they call demons, and it's correct, because her sister has tried more than once to kill her.

I don't have any answers yet what will happen to Marai in the end. She might finally reunite with her lover and live out the rest of her days with him in the farmhouse, as her nips grow tall and take land and mates of their own. She might go back to Karn against all odds and face the demon girl that waits for her there. She might die tomorrow in some farm accident and never see the next harvest. I hope I can see her future clearly enough to paint it.

Cross-posted to yumeza.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 4th, 2011 08:18 am (UTC)
We are old enough to remember when the words "Mary Sue" didn't exist; when a woman in a story (by an amateur or professional author) could be strong, competent and a force to be reckoned with and Mary Sue didn't occur to anyone.

There is a movement now to put a stop to the entire concept.

If Marai's story reminds me of anything, it is Lillian Gish's character in Night of the Hunter.

Apr. 5th, 2011 02:43 am (UTC)
Hey thanks! That was a really good article. I had no idea that Mary Sue was something that people were using to attack each other's writing and really, to attack strength and competence and brazen fulfilling of dreams. I did a new post because I think it makes a really interesting comparison with certain trends in society.

So thank you for something to think about :)
Apr. 19th, 2011 05:57 am (UTC)
There's nothing wrong with writing a "wish fulfillment" character. I figure Sue Grafton's Kinsey Milhone is one of those, but that stop me from enjoying the stories. So what? All art doesn't have to be "great" art. Part of art is entertainment. There's nothing wrong with entertainment. And sometimes that "Mary Sue" helps someone work through an issue of their own.
I think it's a stupid concept meant to demean and repress writers from writing what they want to write.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )