Teach Your Children Well

24 Feb

Have you taken the The Portrait of a Lady quiz?  If you do, and get the answer to the first question right please explain in the comments.  I take issue with that one, but I’m not here today to complain (again) about the fairness and accuracy of the sparknotes quizzes.

I want to talk about a “What if . . . ” idea that they gave me.  Here’s the question that spurred my thought:

Where does Pansy Osmond attend school?

(A) A private school in Massachusetts
(B) A Lutheran school in Germany
(C) A convent in Italy
(D) A New York City orphanage


I don’t think I’m giving away to much by telling you that the answer isn’t B.  But what if it had been?

In case we haven’t explained this before, all three of us (not to mention all three of our husbands) have been Lutheran school teachers.  And although we all taught in the good ol’ US of A, to some extent all Lutheran schools are just an extension of Germany.

So, what if Pansy had learned English from Christine, science from Jeannette, and music from me?  What if she had memorized Luther’s Small Catechism by heart?  What if she had been schooled in Grace Alone, Faith Alone, Scripture Alone?  What if she had been taught the doctrine of vocation?

Well, the fourth commandment would have told her to honor her father (and mother.)  So, that might not have impacted her respect for her father, but would she be so strictly obedient to his every wish and command?  It’s hard to say, but I believe she is reacting in fear toward him, and I’d like to think that the love of her Heavenly Father and forgiveness through his son would have curbed that paralyzing reaction to his demands.

I’d also like to hope that having teachers who were preparing her for a life in the world, while actually living a life in the world would provide her models of adult women to respect.

I think James paints an accurate picture of the sisters in the convent loving Pansy and certainly doing their best within their means to provide her with the education for which they have been trusted.  But the poor child, who should actually be an adult, is imprisoned in a life without an understanding of familial love, independence, and a proper understanding of how to love her neighbor.

It’s silly to think a Lutheran education would solve her every problem.  It wouldn’t.  There are no panaceas.  But, I can pretty much guarantee this much:  No Lutheran School I know would ever take back a 20 year-old student just because their Daddy didn’t approve of their choice of husbands.


Posted by on February 24, 2013 in The Portrait of a Lady


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6 responses to “Teach Your Children Well

  1. lauratfrey

    February 24, 2013 at 9:26 am

    I got nine right, and I think that’s pretty good, since I haven’t read it in five years, possibly longer. Time for a re read!

    • Christina Joy

      February 24, 2013 at 2:36 pm

      Wow, I can’t imagine I would do that we’ll after five months, let alone five years!

      • lauratfrey

        February 24, 2013 at 5:10 pm

        Some were guesses! The first question was pure guess. You asked about that question in your blog post, do you think the answer the quiz gave is wrong or something?

      • Christina Joy

        February 24, 2013 at 6:31 pm

        We all guessed three – Lord W., Caspar, and Osmond. So, is the fourth Ralph, or do they consider Caspar’s as two, or are we missing one somewhere?

  2. Ruth @ Experiment with The Well-Educated Mind

    February 24, 2013 at 10:05 am

    Maybe the convent was hoping Pansy would become a nun, too, considering she spent enough time there; but that is, after her father’s approval, of course.

    • Christina Joy

      February 24, 2013 at 2:38 pm

      But didn’t the sisters who delivered her to her father at the beginning of the book say that she was not for the convent, but for the world?


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