Saturday, May 26, 2012

Belonging to the earth: Dragon's Milk by Susan Fletcher

In Dragon's Milk by Susan Fletcher, Kaeldra is of Kragish descent, but grows up in Elythia.  Like the Kragish people, she is tall and fair.  Elythia is a land of small, dark people.  Kaeldra looks like a freak, and the people fear her.

"For as long as she could remember, she had tried to be like the others.  She had watched how they did things, always following, always moving a half beat behind so as to get it right: the turn of hand, the tilt of head, the lift of voice.  She weaved her gown in the the Elythian way, dyed it in the pale pastels they wore, and cut it long, so as not to look so tall."

That is me, always trying to act like a normal person, never quite able to pull it off.

The guys were never attracted to Kaeldra.  They were attracted to her foster sister Mirym, four years younger.

"No one had looked at Kaeldra that way....Boys liked Mirym.  They liked little, lithe, girls, with lilting laughs like Mirym's.  And much as Kaeldra told herself she was just an early grower, it was clear that she could never be little or lithe.   She towered over the boys; they avoided her.  She felt awkward, overgrown."

And indeed, time after time, I have seen the men around me attracted to petite girls, cutesy girls, girly girls.  I could never be that.  I don't want to be that.

Then, over the course of the book, Kaeldra saves the dragons.  She is upset about the humans who seek to kill the dragons, saying, "They belong to the earth as much as we!"

Kaeldra finds love with Jeorg, who, like her, is of Kragish descent.  Together, they set out to return to her home in Elythia.  He gives her clothes for the journey.  She says,

"They're beautiful.... But why did you pay so dearly for things I cannot wear in Elythia.  They are too bright.  People would stare."

Jeorg's reply: "People ought to stare at you....I don't see why you always tried to make yourself into something you weren't....You aren't of Elythian descent.  You're a Krag.  Trying to make yourself into an Elythian is like trying to turn a dragon into a --- a sun lizard.  You too belong to the earth you know."

That is what I long for, to feel as if I belong to this earth.  To feel like it's okay to be who I am.

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