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Flowers in the Attic: Momma's Story

Maggie Mae

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Chapter 6: Momma's Story 

The Grandmother (yes, Cathy refers to her captor as "the grandmother" which is somewhat awkward, but I suppose it makes sense.) has left the room. Momma is still half naked and Cathy's "heart fluttered madly" as she watched her mother button up her blouse. Momma, unsurprisingly, downplays the abuse. Momma says that she should have warned the children that the grandparents are fanatically religious. 

"Momma" then details her upbringing. It's all very boilerplate fundie; they (she has two older brothers) were forced to go to church even if sick. Normal pleasure were sinful. No swimming, because bathing suits expose too much. No card games or gambling. No dancing, no fun. Basically, it was Maxhell. Only with violence and money. Lots and lots of money. Apparently grandfather tithed very well, and basically owns the church. 

All that is well and good, and somehow the very bland descriptions of "no fun" has captivated Cathy whose "eyes widened" and is spellbound. Even the twins are "spellbound" while 'momma' talks about religion. Has VC Andrews met a 5 year old? 

Corrine continues to detail her past. "A beautiful young man came to live" His father was Corrine's grandfather, Garland, Christopher Foxworth. His mother, Alicia was only 16 when she married Garland (who was 55, and we are going to gloss right over that, aren't we?) Half of his estate (Garland's estate) should have gone to the three year old son of Alicia. But Malcolm, Corrine's father, contested it and kicked Alicia and her son out. They moved away. She remarried (this is important, why?) and died of breast cancer. Christopher then went to live at Foxworth (he was allowed back, why?) and his real name is Garland Christopher Foxworth the Fourth. 

Corrine grew up with two older brothers. One day she hears that her mysterious half-uncle is coming to live at Foxworth Hall. She wants to make a good impression at 14 and decides to "prepare herself" by primping. She put on her best clothing, bathed, curled her hair. She also claims that 14 is an age when "a girl just begins to feel her power over men." Gross. 

Quote

And I knew I was what most boys and men considered beautiful, and i guess, in a way, I was ripe for falling in love.

As an aside, when I was somewhere between 8 and 14 I was watching Baywatch, and I think the Beach Boys guest starred and for some reason there was a music video of "California Girls" or whatever that song is called. I remember watching it and thinking how gross it is that these old men are fantasizing over stereotypes. I never did figure out if I was a "northern girl" "East Coast Girl" or a "Midwest Farmer's Daughter" ... So I clearly did not get my "power" I just felt objectified. But, I also realized that different people like different things. Just like I didn't find David Hasselhoff to be super attractive, my cousins often argued over which baywatch babe was the best looking. It was not Pamela Anderson, btw. 

Back to VC Andrews. 

Momma is going on about how Christopher was poor and impressed by the great display of wealth and how her home was "exceptional" and how Chris was poor and his eyes lit up and bla bla bla. 

Fortunately she is not going to share the details of her romance with Chris. I mean, she IS talking to her children. NO ONE wants to hear the details of their parents romance. She's shared enough. 

For some reason, her parents sent Chris off to Yale. I mean, earlier, he was cast out of the house so he couldn't challenge their inheritance, but by all means, let's educate him and let him live here. Corrine isn't all concerned about his, though, she's yammering on about how her father thought of her as "his" and she would never get out and no one was good enough. 

They educated him after Corrine's older brothers died tragically in accidents. (Of course.) So basically they decided that Corrine, being female, wasn't fit to inherit and the other heirs were gone, so why not? 

This also leads me to believe that there was no reason for her to lock the kids in the attic (we knew that.) There are no other heirs. Her brothers are dead. Her half-uncle husband is dead. She could have just been a normal human who, when faced with the death of her husband, filed claims on his life insurance, sold the things of value, downsized the house, filed for welfare and social security for the dependents, got a job, and waited out her parents eventual death. 

For some stupid reason, they had to hide the fact that Chris had a master's degree from Yale when they went out in the world. 

And Cathy's take away is: 

Quote

Love at first sight. Oh, that was going to happen to me, I just knew it would and he'd be as beautiful as Daddy had been, radiating beauty, touching my heart. You had to have love or you withered away and died. 

 

Corrine then tries to reassure the kids that they are not "deformed or mentally retarded" (hello, 1980s vocabulary!) It's several paragraphs of how perfect Cathy and Chris Jr are, along with some cheerleading. "Who are you?" "The Dresden Dolls!" 

Momma claims that she will go enroll in business school to learn how to be a secretary. Man, I don't know why anyone needs to go to school to learn how to type and file, but then again, we go through admins like the Duggars go through tater-tot-casserole. 

Corrine: 

Quote

 

When you are born rich and you're educated in boarding schools only for the daughters of the extremely rich and powerful, and then you're sent to a girls' finishing school, you are taught polite rules of social etiquette, academic subjects, but most of all, you're made ready for the whirl of romance, debutante parties, and how to entertain and be the perfect hostess.I wasn't taught anything practical. I didn't think I'd ever need any business skills. I thought I'd always have a husband to take care of me, and if not a husband, then my father would - and besides, all the time I was in love with your father.


 

You are so dumb, Corrine.

She leaves, going on and on about how she too is a prisoner, only of circumstances. That they need to keep to the rules. She'll bring them toys and games. 

The kids go to bed. It's hot and there is no breeze. Cathy wants to be called "Catherine Doll" as her stage name in the future. 

They discuss how they didn't get the ice cream they were promised as the chapter ends. 

 

 

Links to previous recaps 

  1. Prologue and "Good-Bye Daddy"
  2. "The Road to Riches"
  3. "The Grandmother's House"
  4. "The Attic"
  5. "The Wrath of God"

6


7 Comments


AnywhereButHere

Posted

Reading these recaps, I realize just how gothically dramatic my preteen self was. God, I loved these books! :pb_biggrin:

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Destiny

Posted

I sorta liked these books as a kid, but it wasn't till the meanie known as @HerNameIsBuffy made me reread them about a year ago that I realized how truly gross and horrible they were. I tried to read the trilogy, and just couldn't get into how creepy one of their kids was, with the killing of the dog. I noped out.

They are rapey and gross books, and worse, poorly written. Even in the 80s we didn't say golly gee!

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FloraDoraDolly

Posted

No, we didn't say golly gee or golly lolly in the 1980s, but to be fair the story is set in the 1950s. That was before President Johnson's War On Poverty, so that might explain why Corrine doesn't go on welfare. I'm not sure what would have been available to her then.

Re: why the Foxworths took in Christopher Sr... I guess this wouldn't be considered too much of a spoiler, but in "Garden Of Shadows" (the prequel written from the grandmother's POV), she was the one who talked her husband into letting Christopher live with them after his mother died. Christopher had spent his early childhood in Foxworth Hall, growing up alongside Corrine's two older brothers. The grandmother (whose name is Olivia) was fond of Christopher when he was little. After Christopher was left alone in the world, Olivia felt that God was sending him to her to replace the two sons she had recently lost. She also thought it was the fair/right thing to do, seeing as how Malcolm had more or less swindled Christopher's mother out of her inheritance. (She did get SOME money when she left Foxworth Hall-- more than Corrine lets on in the story she tells the children-- but she lost it all in the Depression. Corrine wouldn't have known about any of that, and it would be too spoilery for me to tell that part of the story here.)

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Cleopatra7

Posted

Welfare would have been available in the 1950s, but as with most things at the time it was largely limited to whites. The Great Society programs were race-neutral, which is probably why the program to aid single mothers that Corrine is referring to went from being widely supported by whites to being condemned as a "handout" for "welfare queens."

My real question is how did these books become so popular? Isn't the incest taboo one of the few universal prohibitions? And yet VC Andrews wants us to think that the incestous love between Corrine/Christopher and Chris/Cathy are the most beautiful things ever to happen in the history of relationships? I know romance in general tends to glamorize a variety of abusive and/or pathological situations, but this seems extreme even by the low bar set by the genre.

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FloraDoraDolly

Posted

These books were popular BECAUSE they were so full of taboos. I don't know of any adults who were reading them at the time they came out. The audience was mostly tweens and teens. The prevailing attitude was something along the lines of:

Lisa: Ohmigod!!! Chris is touching Cathy's BOOBS!!! And he's her BROTHER!!!

Heather: Eeeewww, that is so gross!!!! How could they?

Michelle: I heard they DO IT!!!

Lisa: Noooo!!!!

Michelle: Uh-huh. My cousin read the book and she says they go ALL THE WAY!!!

Heather (flipping through her copy of FITA): Where??? What chapter is THAT in???

Keep in mind, only a year or two earlier these same kids were reading books like "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "The Mouse and the Motorcycle." Six months earlier, they were reading "Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret." (Lisa: Ohmigod!!! I remember that book!!! It actually talks about PERIODS!!!) Eventually, they would progress to Judy Blume's "Forever", but it was actually harder to get your hands on that book than it was to walk into the corner drugstore and buy a copy of "Flowers In the Attic." The adults were much more aware of-- and disapproving of-- Judy Blume than V.C. Andrews, who wasn't on their radar.

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WhatWouldJohnCrichtonDo?

Posted

On 7/14/2017 at 5:44 PM, FloraDoraDolly said:

Eventually, they would progress to Judy Blume's "Forever", but it was actually harder to get your hands on that book than it was to walk into the corner drugstore and buy a copy of "Flowers In the Attic." The adults were much more aware of-- and disapproving of-- Judy Blume than V.C. Andrews, who wasn't on their radar.

Haha! I was fortunate enough to have a rather older sibling who checked out "Forever" from the restricted section of the library and let their two little sisters read it. I think they were also the one who bought all sorts of V.C. Andrews books and let us read them. (We never discussed the books that I recall.) Thanks for the education, D!

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AnywhereButHere

Posted

I love that my mom never censored much (if at all). As she put it a few years ago when we were talking about our childhood - Well, you had to learn somewhere. I think we all knew any knowledge wasn't going to come from her. Awesome mom but a legit prude when anything regarding sex came up. :pb_smile:  My elementary school (school went K-8) librarian contacted her when she saw some books I was checking out of the "older" kids section, and my mom told her that as long as I understood the words there was no issue. The librarian was  - Yeah, it's that she understands the words is the issue. :pb_razz:

Flowers in the Attic, Forever, Clan of the Cave Bear, Forever Amber - these were all reading staples for me. Add in Stephen King, John Saul and the  like for variety, and Agatha Christie and Ngaio Marsh to round it out, and I was all set!

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