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Sisters of Rail (Afternoons with the Wilisons)


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Over in the Maxwell thread, @CyborgKin recommended the fundie-inspired web serial „Sisters of Rail“. The main character, Charity Wilison, is one of ... so many children that I lost count, all of their names starting with Ch (my favourites are Chalice and the twins Chyler and Chyley). The first chapters are an excellent look into what an intensely scheduled afternoon in Maxhell must feel like. In fact, the chapter titles could just as well be some of the Moody books. There is of course more to everything (the story is tagged as fantasy and adventure), but the fundie themes are obvious and very well done. 

Spoiler

A few chapters in, Charity gets talking to a stranger from a different culture which doesn’t differentiate between genders (pronouns are instead based on other roles in society). I’m very excited to see where this will lead — seems like a great tool to further explore patriarchal life.

Would love to discuss the story with other readers here! The latest chapter was uploaded just a few hours ago, and the story is ongoing.

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This bit in chapter 7 is eerily familiar to maxblog readers:

Spoiler

I had enough breathing room between washing last night's dishes and dusting the ceiling fans to take a few minutes changing the bandage on my hand.

And regarding chapter 2:

Spoiler

The Maxwells also talk a lot about misbehaving children facing 'consequences' so the Consequence Book fits right in.

Recording every infraction in indelible ink really sends a message to kids and it's not a good one.

The large tribe of similarly named kids is obviously Duggeresque though.  I need to count how many there are!

Oh and the color of the farmhouse is off-red.  Offred.

What other hidden references might there be?

 

Oh and not a specific reference but at the start of chapter 3

Spoiler

"I am sorry that took a little long. I dropped the scissors." Both those statements were completely true. I was no liar. However, that did not mean I was exceedingly generous with the truth. I did not have anything to hide, but I preferred not to be made to justify every little thing I did, said, or thought. That was tiresome and unnecessary.

this is a mood

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1 hour ago, CyborgKin said:

Oh and the color of the farmhouse is off-red.  Offred.

Ooooh I didn’t catch that! A more careful reread might be in order :D

Another instance that felt very Maxwellian, right in chapter 1:

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I forced myself to meet Father's eyes, and stated the unwelcome truth. "My hand. It's getting worse."

"It is getting worse," Father corrected. "Speak properly."

I have no idea if Steven insists on no contractions, but given how very controlling and pointless this is, it should be right up his alley. Then again compared to the Maxwells the ties to the married sons are almost nonexistent:

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Charles lives a mere five minutes walk away, and we dine with his family twice each moon.

A five minutes walk sounds alright, but only biweekly family dinners? ?

I hope we will find out more about the mother. Her absence from pretty much every scene fits well with just about any fundie family, but right now I’m mostly getting Lisa Metzger vibes with how hard pregnancies appear to be for her. Lisa also strikes me as the kind of mother wo won’t say anything other than admonitions.

I’ve tried to compile a list of all the children. So far I’ve got:

  • Charles (oldest son, has married and moved out)
  • Channing and Champion (“Young men, not boys”) 
  • Charity Marion (Oldest daughter)
  • Chalice Aura (2 years younger than Charity)
  • Chastity (1 year younger than Chalice)
  • Chynella, 10
  • Chester
  • Chadwick
  • Chyley and Chyler, mostly known as the twins (among the four youngest)
  • Chase, 5 (was the baby before Cherish)
  • Cherish (the current baby)

Charity is one of seven sisters, so either Chyley and Chyler are both girls or there’s one sister who hasn’t been mentioned by name yet. That’s only 13 or 14 children. Really brings the Duggar and Bates numbers into perspective when I can‘t even keep track of this number of fictional kids...

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I think I found Chadwick and Chester's ages in chapter 1:

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At nine and eleven they were two of the noisier siblings, outside of baby Cherish.

I also found this implied extreme punishment:

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Father had selected and purchased the chair fourteen years ago.  I had been too young to remember much of anything.  But I could never forget that the chair was 'comfortable, but not too comfortable'.  Father reminded his family of that fact on a regular basis.  Nor could I ever forget that no one but Father was permitted to sit in the chair.  Channing - one of my elder brothers - had sat in the chair, once.  A long time had passed before he could bear to sit again.

 

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Ah, great! So if Chester and Chadwick are 9 and 11, that’s quite the consistent spacing between the middle kids. If the older kids are spaced similarly, the birth order would be:

  1. Charles, 17
  2. Channing, 16
  3. Charity, 15
  4. Champion, 14
  5. Chalice, 13
  6. Chastity, 12
  7. Chadwick, 11
  8. Chynella, 10
  9. Chester, 9
  10. The Twins, probably around 7
  11. Chase, 5
  12. Cherish might be closer to 2 or 3 than an actual baby

I really hope that there’s been some miscarriages or early deaths between Chastity and Chadwick that would push the daughters‘ ages back a bit. Such young kids getting married off is even more creepy than standard fundie behaviour!

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Charity mentions being 17 in the first chapter.  And I think Champion is older than her.  Since the wedding is after the winter I presume they're waiting until she's 18 so at least that's something a bit less terrible.  Not that she's really given any choice of chance of providing any input so it's not much less terrible.

I figure Chyley is a form of Kylie which I believe is a girl name. (I went to school with one a very long time ago.)  The only Chyler I know of is Chyler Leigh, but a baby name site tells me that it's been used 16% for boys (and is a family name too).

So we can't say for certain that the twins are girls (and does real life data really mean anything here?  Is anyone real named Chalice or Chynella?  Actually knowing humans, probably :P ) but it's likely, and there's probably not a yet unnamed extra sibling in the story.

...

Okay so Chynella is definitely a real name.  Chalice was really hard to search for but then I realised I could just use a common family name and searched for Chalice Smith.  Not that I doubted it was used as a name, cos everything is.

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Whew, that’s (slightly) better. I even had Charity pegged as 17 before I put together that list, but of course didn’t think to recheck. I swear my reading comprehension tends to be better than this ? 

Chyley/Kylie makes sense! Or, well, as much sense as a name like Chyley can make. I had never heard of the name Chyler before and will take the real life usage as evidence :D The -er ending always sounds more male to me, but well, naming is just weird. Also, I feel sorry for anyone out there named Chalice. I hope they go by Cups. Or Lisa. Or literally anything else. 

On a different topic: I‘m very curious when we‘ll see Kim again. She could be an interesting deconstruction of the Fundie Princess once her baby arrives (think Bethany Beal) — maybe a future interlude?

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'Cups' sounds more like a, er, 'stage' name.

I wonder what Kim thinks of cats.

 

New chapter!

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@Exchange Atheist

new chapter clarifies the twins, and you were right about their ages.  And everyone has middle names.  Father is 'Robert James'.

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Finally got around to catching up on the story — yay for clarity on Charity‘s family! “Chyler Floriana“ is such a horribly fundie name, although “Chadwick Vigil” certainly comes close. And “Cherish Taylor” has got to be Worm reference, no way is that combination of names a coincidence. 

And Dreamtime 3 is a treasure trove of fundie references, I love it.

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 If you show off your face, and not buttons and lace, then trouble you need not endure. 

Maxwells say Hi.

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To hold back your choices from error, stay under your father's umbrella. 

 

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For this is the way that we live: a girl is her father's to give, to the husband correct, who will lead and protect, and whose wallet is not like a sieve.

Obvious references are obvious.

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For she'd taken some looks at her brothers' old books, and had hidden them under the floor. 

Wasn‘t Deborah Feldman of Unorthodox hiding books under the floor? (Though to be fair that’s not the most original hiding space). I also got a kick out of Chastity eventually reading her books on the roof. When I was living with a fundie lite family at 16 (student exchange, thus my screen name), I loved getting on the roof to read my sacrilegious books that I had checked out from the school library.

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On 7/22/2020 at 1:51 AM, Exchange Atheist said:

Wasn‘t Deborah Feldman of Unorthodox hiding books under the floor? (Though to be fair that’s not the most original hiding space). I also got a kick out of Chastity eventually reading her books on the roof. When I was living with a fundie lite family at 16 (student exchange, thus my screen name), I loved getting on the roof to read my sacrilegious books that I had checked out from the school library.

I'm not familiar with her.  You read on the roof?  Awesome!

And wow, It's great to run into another Worm fan 'in the wild'.  That almost never happens!

I don't know if you ever read Wormfics but... well this proves that wasn't an accidental reference https://forums.sufficientvelocity.com/search/1828666/

Chyler Floriana would be an ironic fundie name cos this is what a google search gives me:

https://ew.com/tv/2017/04/02/chyler-leigh-floriana-lima-supergirl-lesbian-relationship-love-story/

I think it was 'Virgil' not "Vigil'.

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  • 1 month later...

@Exchange Atheist I SEVERELY hope you like the latest interlude chapter.

(hmm looks like my 'search' link in my previous post is dead now and I don't remember what the point of that was now.)

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