Friday, August 05, 2016

Back to Daddy-Long-Legs: Control Freak

Jerusha's Sharp Tongue

Jerusha's benefactor - the man whom she refers to as "Daddy-Long-Legs" - has offered to send her to Europe for the summer, but she has already offered her services as tutor to a girl who begins college as a freshman at summer's end, so she declines the offer. When her older friend Master Jervie 'hears' about this - he's the benefactor, of course, but hasn't yet informed Jerusha - he has a strong reaction. Jerusha tells us:
[Master Jervie] is going abroad too this summer; not with Julia and her family, but entirely by himself. I told him that you had invited me to go with a lady who is chaperoning a party of girls. He knows about you, Daddy. That is, he knows that my father and mother are dead, and that a kind gentleman is sending me to college; I simply didn't have the courage to tell him about the John Grier Home and all the rest. He thinks that you are my guardian and a perfectly legitimate old family friend. I have never told him that I didn't know you - that would seem too queer!

Anyway, he insisted on my going to Europe. He said that it was a necessary part of my education and that I mustn't think of refusing. Also, that he would be in Paris at the same time, and that we would run away from the chaperon occasionally and have dinner together at nice, funny, foreign restaurants.

Well, Daddy, it did appeal to me! I almost weakened; if he hadn't been so dictatorial, maybe I should have entirely weakened. I can be enticed step by step, but I WON'T be forced. He said I was a silly, foolish, irrational, quixotic, idiotic, stubborn child (those are a few of his abusive adjectives; the rest escape me), and that I didn't know what was good for me; I ought to let older people judge. We almost quarrelled - I am not sure but that we entirely did!

In any case, I packed my trunk fast and came up here. I thought I'd better see my bridges in flames behind me before I finished writing to you.
We gain a clearer image of Daddy-Long-Legs (Master Jervie) through focusing on his terms of abuse, which are yet another means of control, or would be if Jerusha allowed it, but she doesn't allow it.



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